Positive Thinking (Part 3)

Steph Wagner

February 21, 2019

Positive Thinking and Weight Loss

It’s probably not sabotage. It’s probably normal.


Help me please!

For this edition of positive thinking and weight loss surgery I want to focus in on one particular word that I hear, in my opinion, far too often. I get a lot of emails every week from patients trying to get back on track after regain since their weight-loss surgery. A lot of messages that have an SOS type of commentary! They know there’s little I can actually do to help them on the other side of the computer screen except to bring them encouragement and positivity that hope is not lost for them.

These messages are often laced with negativity because it has been such a difficult process for them. Of course it’s hard to stay upbeat! Of course if you are emailing a dietitian for help positive statements are not exactly the first thing on your mind. However, there is one word in particular that I really want to focus in on for the topic of today’s conversation. Sabotage.

The definition of sabotage…

Patients will tell me that they will do good all day but “self sabotage” at night.

Sabotage? Or normal human behavior?

While I am not a licensed therapist, and do think very highly of them, I would say the majority of the time there is not truly a spirit of destruction because someone is eating poorly at night.

There is an incredibly long list of reasons that lead us to fall off track. Several of them are biological, and not mental at all. If you did not eat enough throughout the day, it will be hard to say no at night. If you did not drink enough water, your thirst is often mistaken for hunger and that comes up even more so by the time you stop running around and are at home at night.

If you have been trying to get back on track and get high sugar, high carb foods out of your diet, the first 3 to 5 days are the hardest so the evenings of those first few days are going to be the hardest to stop snacking. If someone has one or two good days but they fall apart on day three it’s because they truly had not gotten through the hardest part of getting back on track.

What I need to say here is that when someone is describing to me self sabotage, it often sounds like incredibly normal behavior. Could it be when we think we are the only ones that struggle with something we think there is something more wrong with us than there truly is?

Are other people struggling this way?

Ask several people in your life if they snack at night, or if they eat more in the evening than they should.  Interview other people if this time of year when it is dark and cold outside, do they develop a bad habit of eating more desserts than they usually do?

My guess is that if you do ask these questions, you would start to hear very soon that it is normal. It does not meal it is healthy it just means that you are not mentally unhealthy because you fall into these bad habits too!

In fact, people that understand that it is normal have more of an ability to make a clear plan for improving their habits.  They accept the bad habit for what is is and make a new plan going forward to re-wire their evening routine.

The true danger? Calling it something it isn’t, calling it self sabotage.

Negative or positive words, the fork in the road.

In my opinion, the word sabotage is about as negative as you can get. The synonyms include wreck, vandalize and cripple.

To say the word sabotage over yourself is to blanket yourself in negativity. You have just told yourself that you are damaging and destructive. I would not use those words to describe someone that finished off a box of girl scout cookies :)

In using that negative narrative over yourself, you will start to believe it. Then when you do eat the cookie after dinner you eat five more because you must be a destructive person anyway. Then you start asking questions like what’s wrong with me?  It brings in so many emotions it makes it very hard to think clearly, clear the fog and make a legitimate plan for improving the habit.

If you ate a cookie after dinner and you did not say “this is self sabotage” and instead you said WHOOPS! I should probably move those cookies somewhere else! I should text my friend and tell her I need help stopping with cookies! I should probably give the cookies to my spouse and tell him to hide them from me!

What if instead you laughed it off, asked for help, and made a practical change that removed the cookies from your presence?  These are all very healthy responses to a very normal thing. Brush it off, stay positive and move forward.

To me, it really is the fork in the road. Negative statements really do change the course of the long-term journey. In our live chats during this current 28 Day Focus Challenge we have talked a lot about how we would not speak to a friend the way we speak to ourselves. Would you call a friend destructive or damaging to themselves? Not likely.

What would you tell a good friend if she called you, crying, saying she can’t get control of herself and she ate a sleeve of cookies and half a bag of chips and would’ve eaten more if they could find it? Would you be kind to your friend or would you hurl negative statements that sent her further down a negative path? We are all so quick to be harder on ourselves than we are to everyone else we love. Why hold ourself to standards we don’t expect someone else to hold?

A few personal belief statements

I shared in my last post that as a women of faith I like to stay honest with myself and share some personal belief statements. For those of you practicing the Christian faith, I pray these truths are helpful to you.

If you struggle with falling off track and it spins you into negative statements, there is one incredibly powerful thing you can do. Talk to the very one who created you. Share with Him so specifically where you are struggling and ask for His help. The Lord wants complete freedom for you and in your life.

Jesus paid it all on the cross that you and I could be completely free and He wants us to walk in freedom today. Freedom from mental negativity. Freedom from the stress food and weight bring our human mind. He wants you to live life fully and without chains! He can bring you through things that feel big and things that feel small.

Sometimes we assume weight and food are things we should handle on our own and we do not bring the Spirit of Christ into the equation. That is what the enemy wants! He loves to cover our eyes to what Christ can do and he loves to cover us in shame and lead us to think we are not good enough to follow the diet plan like we are supposed to.

These lies are what hold us back from walking in the freedom God has for us. Ask the Lord for complete freedom, for peace and for strength in the day-to-day moments when the pull to food is stronger than your will to say no. Also ask him to help you receive grace when you make a very common mistake and you need help to release it and not think anymore about the decision you made.

It is my firm belief that God wants more for you than a healthy body weight. He wants you to live in freedom from shame related to the food you eat and the weight that you do or do not lose. Being at your goal weight but still consumed by thoughts of food is not true freedom. He can do more than that!

Action Steps

If you do find yourself tempted to speak things like this over yourself and assume there is something wrong with you I would instead encourage you to take a big step back and look at the big picture.

⇒Practice self compassion and see if the things you are doing seem “normal” or not.

⇒ If they do not feel normal reach out to a couple friends and asked them if they think this is normal or if they think you do need more help.

⇒ I am a firm believer in mental health therapy and I’ve had a Christian counselor in different seasons of my life that have truly brought me through seasons that could’ve look differently had I not met with them. Perhaps you feel it’s time to get someone else on your team, and call your insurance provider to see if there is a counselor in your area you could meet with.

⇒ Chances are everything is normal but you need help working through the emotions so that you can clear the fog and start making decisions, including food decisions, more clearly and without extra emotions.

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