Stop Sabotaging Your Diet: 6 Proven Strategies to Get Out of Your Own Way

male and female athletes on their hands and knees butting heads

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Why is it so difficult to stick to a diet or workout routine?

The fact is, we live in exceedingly stressful times. We’re constantly bombarded with tasks and choices and stressors that make it difficult to eat healthy foods and stick to a consistent movement regimen. And willpower is a finite resource, so after the never-ending slew of decisions you have to make each day about work, family, money, transportation, time management, etc, it’s no wonder you run out of energy to stay committed to your health goals.

If you want to stop sabotaging your diet and finally get out of your own way, it’s time to set yourself up for success with these 6 proven strategies to stick with your diet or workout routine.

6 Strategies to Stop Sabotaging Your Diet

Problem #1: Not having a strong “why”

The truth is, just wanting flat abs isn’t going to cut it when it comes to sticking to your nutrition and fitness goals. When cravings hit or you’re feeling especially stressed or tired, you’re going to need a stronger reason than losing a few pounds.

Strategy: Flesh out a strong, emotional reason or reasons for embarking on your health journey. What results will it yield? Feeling more confident? Being able to play with your children? Having the energy and stamina to do your best at work and get that promotion?

Write down the top five reasons you’re on this health journey and keep your notes handy for days when willpower is running thin.

Problem #2: Your blood sugar is out of whack

Anyone is bound to lose a battle against cravings or low energy when blood sugar is out of balance. And that’s what you’re up against when your blood sugar is spiking and dipping throughout the day. You’re literally fighting biology.

Strategy: If you find yourself craving sweets or high carbohydrate foods like pastries, pasta, and bread products, or if you crash hard after eating, it’s time to replace sugar with protein and healthy fats.  

Ditching the sugar and processed carbs is a non-negotiable if you’re experiencing monster cravings and massive energy dips. You won’t win this war without tons of clean protein and quality fats.

Make sure you start your day right with a high protein meal to curb cravings and keep you feeling full for hours. A high-quality whey protein smoothie is a great option. Add some low-sugar berries and nuts or try this high protein, fat-burning smoothie recipe.

#3: You’re feeling too restricted

Jumping into a super restrictive diet or exercise plan isn’t easy for anyone. But the fact of the matter is, you chose to do this. No one is making you. You’re choosing a healthier lifestyle for a reason. When in doubt, go back to those top five reasons you wrote down from #1 in this list, then try this strategy to get your mindset back on track.

Strategy: The best thing you can do when you’re feeling like you’re missing out is to shift your thoughts from the negative (“I can’t eat anything on this diet!”) to the positive (I’m so privileged to get to choose what and how I eat for my health.”) Also, choose to focus on what you get to eat. “I get to feed my body healing, nourishing foods that will support my goals.”

Problem #4: You’re not eating enough

This is especially prevalent when you’re severely restricting calories or pairing your new diet with a hardcore workout routine. Not eating enough will send your hunger hormones into overdrive, which can result in cravings and energy crashes.

Strategy: Slow and steady wins the race. You’ll hear it a million times, but it’s true: crash diets never work. And even when they do, they’re NOT sustainable. Instead of focusing on calorie restriction, focus on eating whole foods with plenty of protein and healthy fats to keep you feeling full and energized.

If your workouts are leaving you drained, back off the CrossFit and try some yoga or lighter lifting. You’re much more likely to stick with a sustainable routine and you’re in this for the long haul, so plan accordingly!

Problem #5: “All or nothing” mentality

This is a big one. Diet and exercise are not moral issues. And no one is keeping score on you. If you find yourself straying from a strict diet or exercise plan, don’t continue sabotaging your diet by using it as an excuse to eat whatever you want for the rest of the week – or even the rest of the day.

Strategy: Look at every time you eat as an opportunity to do something nourishing for your body. And if you do sneak a donut in, make sure you enjoy it. Feeling shame around your food isn’t going to help you stick to your diet. Simply choose something nutrient-dense for your next meal and hop right back on the wagon.

Problem #6: You’re not getting to the root cause of why you’re sabotaging your diet

No diet or exercise regimen will fix the emotional or environmental stress that can cause habitual or compulsive eating. Or the other unhealthy habits we often turn to like binge-watching TV instead of heading to the gym.

Strategy: If you’ve tried everything outlined above and still can’t manage to stick to your healthy habits, it’s time to dig deep and/or ask for help. Start journaling every time you reach for sugar or alcohol. Simply ask yourself why.

Set Yourself Up for Diet Success

Remember, willpower is a finite resource and you can’t fight biology. If you set yourself up for success with adequate rest, stress-busting techniques, and the right diet and exercise regimen for your unique needs, you’ll be able to stick with any diet and reach your goals.

What are your strategies to prevent self-sabotage? Leave a comment below and let us know!