Frumpy To Fabulous: How To Stop The Self-Sabotage

“If you could kick the person in the trousers responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” Mr & Mrs Anonymous

Let me ask you something laydees.

How many of you do stuff that is completely incongruent with your weight loss goals?

You’re smart enough to recognise this stuff as being detrimental…..and yet….you DO IT ANYWAY?

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“I ordered pizza AND fries? I was going to order salad.”
“Ohhh helicopter, I hit the snooze button instead of hitting the gym.”
“Scoffing a bag of jetplanes isn’t ideal but …um…well……mañana I’ll eat fruit…”

Logically we know exactly what we need to do (and to stop doing) to lose weight … and yet like some numpty:

We. Still. Do. The. Very. Thing. That. Prevents. Us. From. Being. Our. Happy. Weight.

No erudite chica would purposefully do something that keeps ‘em from their goal weight.

Or would they…

Why? Why? Why?

Here’s why.

Whenever you do something that moves you away from your weight loss goal you’re in the grasp of a juicy payoff.

You want that in English?

It means you perceive more pain around change, than you do pain around staying the same (key word here is ‘perceive). Because of this perception, you do crazy stuff which keeps you in the same ole spin cycle.

Phew. . . so this craziness has a name?


The key to appreciating our payoffs is this:

You’re getting something out of it. Read that again, it’s important you get this, gorgeous one.

Everything we do…even the detrimental stuff… we do because we GET SOMETHING OUT OF IT.

Don’t bother telling yourself that you are the exception to this rule.
There are zero exceptions to this rule.
If you breathe …you’re under the influence, sweetheart.

I’ll say it one more time.

No juicy payoff, no repetition. Period.

“But I reaaaaaaaaaaally want to lose weight.” I know you do, darling.

At least consciously you want to. Remember though… our actions stem from the unconscious mind.

When you sabotage it’s because your unconscious mind reckons there’s benefits to staying overweight.

I know you’re thinking, “Well that’s just crazy because there’s NOTHING I like about being overweight,” but hang in there with me for a second.

This is where it gets really interesting.

Here’s a bunch of the most commonly-cited payoffs from my clients. Which of the following ring bells for you?

If I lost weight:

– It’d change the dynamics of my relationships. I’d probably leave him or have an affair.
– I’d have to get out of my comfort zone and that’s scares the sh*t outta me.
– I don’t know who I would be I’ve been overweight for so long.
– I’d need to deal with conflict rather than hiding.
– I’d have to learn to say no to people, opportunities and food.
– I need to handle rejection and learn how to deal with bad days without food.
– I might have to look at other areas of my life that aren’t working.
– It’d make all those people who have criticised my weight “right”.
– I’d have to take responsibility for myself.
– I might still be unhappy.

Essentially we’re giving ourselves mixed messages: the conscious one, “I want to lose weight’’, and the unconscious one, “yeah, if I lose weight then I don’t get to hide” (or whatever it is for you).

No wonder we do sabotage-y stuff!

Here’s how to eliminate this destructive, illogical, cray zay behaviour. Nail this and you’re removing one of the biggest obstacles to you being your happy weight.

Step 1: Get real about what your payoff is. There might be more than one.

Next time you even consider embarking on a destructive behaviour (or you catch yourself smack bang in the midst of said harmful behaviour), ask yourself:

“What am I getting out of doing this?
“What do I get to avoid by staying the same?”
“What are the benefits of not losing weight?”

And think, darling. Really dive down beyond the shallow waters.

We ALWAYS know why we’re doing crazy stuff and how it is serving us. Sometimes, we’ve just forgotten or don’t want to admit it to ourselves because if we live in denial we get to stay the same and we humans LOVE familiarity.

Be gentle.

It is vital that you’re gentle with yourself when you’re exploring you’re payoffs. No need to beat yourself up. They were originally installed as self-protection and survival mechanisms, they had a positive intention.

Safety’s a big one.

Let’s go back to caveman days for a second. The feeling of a full stomach was a biological signal of comfort in that, for the moment at least, we’d avoided the famine. We were safe from harm.

Fast forward to now and, take it one step further, we get that same feeling of ‘safety’ whenever any uncomfortable or unfamiliar feeling threatens to take us over.

And here’s the interesting twist.

If we grab for a comforting food fast enough, we can avoid consciously feeling that unpleasant emotion in the first place.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Step 2: Hold yourself accountable and look at the big fat cost.

When you find yourself doing the old thing…..STOP.

Congratulate yourself for noticing that you were running that old, crappy, unresourceful habit.

And ask yourself this: “Am I prepared to pay the price this behaviour will cost me in the long term?”


It’s breathtaking how quickly the appeal of overeating is lost when you are honest with yourself and you see the impact on your health and confidence, versus some ephemeral oral sensation.

So there you go, darling.

You now have a couple of carefully-crafted questions which, when used, will free you from the hostage-holding shackles of your unconscious mind and allow you to move towards your happy weight easily and effortlessly.

Remember you have to USE these questions. Knowing them and not using them will not help you lose weight. Knowledge – WITH ACTION – will bring results.

Let us know in the comments section what payoffs have until now been holding you back and, what action you’re going to take, right now? Inspire us all with what’s going to be different now. Share and we’ll keep you accountable : )

Juicy love etc, Avril

PS: If you’re sitting there saying, “none of those payoffs ring any bells for me”, it’s probably the old power of familiarity.  If you’ve been overweight for years, it’s VERY familiar! Human beings have a deeply coded need for familiarity, so track down a new way of providing consistency and familiarity… something with fewer calories : )

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5 Responses to Frumpy To Fabulous: How To Stop The Self-Sabotage

  1. Cherie says:

    AMAZING TIMING AVRIL. Mine pay off (juicy payoff ha ha) is that i get to stay unnoticed. which sounds wierd since there is more of me to see. but i get to stay in the background and nobody expects much of me so I stay home instead of going out and meeting people, because i have no fashionable clothes that fit me so i sit on the couch watching tv. i get to stay unnoticed at work because nobody at work who is big gets promoted. so i knda get to complain and blame other people. Like you said I get to stay safe becuase my life is predictable. SO. I sorta new this before but i feel like you whooped my bum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so ta for that!!!!!

  2. Avril says:

    GOOD ON YOU CHERIE. Well done for being honest with yourself. It’s a brave conversation to have and one that many people don’t have the balls to embark on. I salute you! Really well done Cherie – you’re exactly where you need to be. It sounds like you’ve had enough of the old pattern and you’re ready to step up and make some changes. Slightly scary hey, and that’s completely normal, as we label anything that’s new and unfamiliar as scary. Tell me, now that you’ve identified your juicy (!!!!) payoff, what are you going to do different? How will your actions be different? How will you meet your need for certainty and safety without using food? Good on you!!!!

  3. Elizabeth Topadzhikyan says:

    Hi Avril! How are you doing? I’m so happy I saw your profile on Twitter, otherwise would never have come across your website and motivational words. I concur with Cherie – “Frumpy To Fabulous: How To Stop The Self-Sabotage” could not have reached me at a better time. I’ve been overweight since I was 10-11 years old. I’ve been trying to lose weight since I was 13. I’m now 29 & still fighting the battle…with myself, that is. Just like you mentioned, I embark to lose weight I have the best intentions, then I sabotage all my efforts because I’m pissed off @ someone, who was not worth the energy in the first place. I sabotage myself because my automatic thought is “I’m going to fail anyway, so why try in the first place?”

    I’ve embarked once again, as of July 11th, I am more conscious of what I’m eating and why – am I hungry? Or just emotional and need to nurse that emotion with food? It’s been tough, I’ll pick up something at a cafeteria or market, know it’s not what I need to eat or even want to eat, and I have to force myself to put it back. And I know I’ll tougher days, and some easier days, but I’m determined to win by replacing negative thoughts to positive self-talk, taking a few extra steps, and loving myself because I know I deserve the best me.

    Once again I thank you so very much for having your website & being on Twitter. Keep up the awesome job & looking forward to learning much more from you.

    :) Elizabeth

  4. Avril says:

    Hi Elizabeth

    Thank you for the warm Twitter welcome : ) I’m new to the social media world and am loving the interaction. Lots to learn and all good! You’re soooo right, timing is crucial. We don’t ‘hear’ things until we’re ready for them…. and it sounds to me like you’re ready to rock n roll honey!!! WOOHOO!!! You know how it is, if you keep doing the same old thing, you’ll get the same old results, so keep taking baby steps and DO something different.

    Well done for taking responsibility for your feelings Elizabeth. It’s a turning point in our lives when we realise that WE are responsible for creating our own happiness. It can feel easier to point the finger at other people – but by making it someone else’s fault, we give away our power to do anything about changing the situation : (

    Sounds like you’re asking yourself some REALLY great questions by exploring what’s behind your overeating. So much of eating is a reaction to some emotional trigger. We ‘run’ from the emotion rather than deal with the ‘thing or situation’ that caused the emotion. The reason emotional eating can become a problem is that you’re essentially taking one thing that causes the overeating and making it into three problems:

    1. you overeat to numb yourself from feeling the scary emotion and you beat yourself up for overeating (oh maaaan!), 2. you put on weight (oh no!) 3. the thing that caused the emotional eating in the first place is still there un-dealt-with.

    So by getting to the heart of what’s causing the unease in the first place, your need to ‘numb’ yourself with food will decrease. YAY!

    Something I found useful when I was dealing with my emo eating was this:

    – if I started heading for the fridge, I’d ask myself “Am I really hungry or do I just want to change the way I feel?”

    Use it for yourself to help you pause for thought before opening the pantry door. I look forward to hearing about your journey Elizabeth. Thank you for being so brave as to share your words here, you’ll be inspiring lots of others, well done.

    :) Love always, Avril

  5. Ella says:

    Thank you so much for this! This is absoultely on time for me. I found your site from a google search of “weight loss sabotage”. I have lost 50lbs thus far and have been able to maintain that, despite a few fluctuations. I have so much more to go, but along the way I have struggled with self sabotoge. Each time I have a success, or reach a mini goal, I go on a binge which I know delays any success I hope to have. I have gotten a lot better at this (trust me) by doing the internal work and asking the hard questions. I know that losing weight means no more being a “side liner” in life, and that I have to become responsible which for me means growing up. Even though I have identified these things, I am still having episodes of self sabotage. *sigh* I guess I have to dig a little deeper and work more at it. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction with your insightful article.

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