Ep #124: How To Stop Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Progress

So many times I witness my clients starting off with significant successes and then grinding to a halt or even backtracking due to self-sabotage. If you have ever experienced this, you may be thinking that you just don’t have control over yourself or that this success-to-sabotage cycle is part of who you are, but that is just not true. In this episode, I’ll explain what’s happening, why it happens, and why it’s actually simple to fix.

Knowing how to manage your brain is one of the most important things to learn in order to create long-term weight loss. When you go from being successful to messing up again, it’s because you’re not doing what you did before. Our brains love to confuse this and make it more complex than it really is, but I’ll walk you through why what used to be simple seems so much harder and what you can do to turn things back around.


Listen To The Episode Here:


In Today’s Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • Why the success and sabotage cycle is so common and why it’s simple to fix.
  • What is happing in your mind during this cycle.
  • The importance of going back to the things that created results for you in the first place.
  • How to separate facts from thoughts.
  • The stories we tell ourselves that are calming but damaging.
  • How to get my Busy Doctor’s Quick-Start Guide to Effective Weight Loss.

Featured In This Episode:

  • Email me!
  • Text your email address to 414-877-6220 and reply with the code word GUIDE to get my Busy Doctor’s Quick-Start Guide to Effective Weight Loss.
  • Interested in working with me? If you’re a practicing MD/DO physician, click here to sign up.
  • Sign up for my email list!

Get The Full Episode Transcript


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Read the Transcript Below:

Katrina Ubell:      You are listening to the Weight Loss for Busy Physicians podcast with Katrina Ubell, MD, episode number 124.

Welcome to Weight Loss for Busy Physicians, the podcast for busy doctors like you get the practical solutions and support you need to permanently lose the weight, so you can feel better and have the life you want. If you’re looking to overcome your stress eating and exhaustion and moving to freedom around food, you’re in the right place.

Hey there, friend. How are you? Welcome to the podcast. It is finally becoming a beautiful time of year here in Milwaukee. We have been waiting super patiently. I’m actually in a temporary workspace today, literally just holding my microphone to my face. I don’t have my usually set up, but I think the sound is good. I am having some painting done in my house. I found myself a little coworking space, and they were so gracious to give me this empty office that is nearby, so I could have a super quiet workspace.

It’s very loud at my house, and I’m excited to be able to record something for you that does not have a bunch of workers chattering and vacuums going and all of that stuff. Nobody wants to hear that, for sure. Listen, before we get started on today’s topic, which is going to be super, super good, I wanted to let you know something really special and new that I’m offering, and that is that you are now going to be able to send a quick text to be able to get my Quick-Start Guide for effective weight loss.

Many of you probably are like, “What are you talking about? What is this Quick-Start Guide?” Many of you probably don’t know and haven’t downloaded my Busy Doctor’s Quick-Start Guide to Effective Weight Loss. This is a crucial, crucial component of getting started with your weight loss. Even if you are on the path to weight loss, you’ve been losing weight, you’re going to definitely want to check this out as well.

This is my tips for how to get started, what you should be focusing on, and what you should be doing. If you’re new to the podcast, definitely, you’re going to want it. If you’ve been listening for a long time, if you have lost already all your weight and you’re maintaining, you should be taking a look at this if you don’t have it, so you make sure you’re setting yourself up for the best success that you possibly can have.

The cool thing about being able to text for it is if you’re anything like me, I’ll be like, “Yeah, that sounds awesome. I totally want that,” but by the time I actually can type something in on my phone and look for some web address or do it on my computer, I just, basically, have completed forgotten about it. It’s not that I don’t want it. I really do. It’s just not top of mind.

What’s going to be so great is I know many of you listen to this podcast right on your phone, so you can just text right now when you’re listening. We found the easiest number that we could find. I’m a terrible person at remembering numbers, like super duper bad, so when I could basically remember it immediately, I thought, “Oh, I think this is a good one.” The number is 414-877-6220, 414-877-6220.

What you do is you text that number with your email address, the email address that you want the guide sent to. Okay? You text 414-877-6220, and then what you’re going to send is your email address, and you’re going to hit send. Then you’ll get a little response asking for what the code word is. The code word is just how it’s going to know what to send you. All you have to type in is guide, G-U-I-D-E. Okay?

It doesn’t matter if it’s upper case, lower case. You can do whatever you want. Just write G-U-I-D-E, and hit send. Okay? What you’ll find then in your email is that you’re going to get that guide emailed directly to you, super simple, super easy. If you don’t have this already, you definitely need to go get it. There you go. Again, one more time, 414-877-6220. Text your email address to that number, and then the code word is guide.

Okay, let’s talk about how to stop sabotaging your weight loss progress. I know for so, so, so, so, so many of you, you have had so much success. Right? You can lose weight, a little bit or a lot, and then you end up sabotaging yourself, and you end up just gaining it all back, and then some. Maybe, even as you’re going through the weight loss process, you lose some weight, then you kind of sabotage yourself, and you gain some. Then you go, “Oh, no, I don’t want anymore.” Then you lose some, and then you gain some. It just takes so much longer because of all this self-sabotaging that’s going on.

I see this all the time with my clients. They’ll start off. They’ll have some success. Sometimes, they’re losing a lot of weight, and then things will slow down, or their weight loss will just come to a grinding halt, or sometimes, they’ll even gain some of their weight back, and they want to know why they’re sabotaging themselves, why they were doing what they needed to do and getting results, only for things to fall apart. Right? How come we can keep it together sometimes and we’re doing it, and then, other times, it seems like completely impossible, and we’re just diving into the Doritos and whatever else, the ice cream at night?

When this happens enough times, we start to think that this is just kind of who we are, or that it’s like a type of character flaw. We think things like, “I can’t lose weight because I always end up sabotaging myself. I’m just not the type of person who can control themselves around food. I’m afraid to start a new weight loss program because I already know what’s going to happen, the same thing that always happens. I’m going to lose some weight, and then I’ll just sabotage myself and gain it right back again.”

This really is something that can seem very frustrating and confusing, but what I want you to understand is that it’s actually really, really simple to fix. I’m going to totally demystify all of this for you today on this podcast, so make sure you listen, super good stuff. You’re going to know exactly why you keep getting these same results of losing, and then sabotaging, losing, and then sabotaging over and over again.

Let’s first look at what’s happening when you are losing weight. When you’re losing weight, you’re creating a plan and you’re following it. Right? You’re not just eating random things willy-nilly whenever. You’re putting some effort into it. You create a plan for yourself, and then you follow it you’re processing your urges to over-eat or to eat off-plan foods. You’re setting yourself up for success, and that might look like lots of different things, but it might look like packing your lunch and eating it no matter what kind of goodies the door grub brings in.

It might mean making sure that you always stock your kitchen with groceries so that it’s quick and easy to throw together a dinner that’s unplanned, or maybe you’re making that you’re always getting good sleep as often as you can. I mean, hopefully, part of this is also that you’re doing thought work to manage your mind and to help you deal with your life so that you aren’t as tempted to turn to food to neutralize your uncomfortable emotions.

I do want to just remind you that knowing how to manage your brain is really that core piece that’s missing for most people when they’re losing weight, and is the main reason why people gain weight back again, like so many people do, like the vast, vast, vast majority. All these little, small decisions lead to actions that, in grand sum, result in weight loss. Right? You’re supporting yourself in creating that result.

What’s different then when we stop making progress? Right? We either don’t lose weight anymore or we’re getting it back. What happens is we stop doing the things that result in weight loss. It is actually that simple. You do things that result in weight loss, or you do other things, and those things don’t result in weight loss. Okay? Our brains really want this to be complicated, but I’m telling you, this is all it is. It’s really that simple.

When self-sabotage seems like something that’s really hard and complicated and confusing, which is how most of us look at it, we can just keep indulging in the spin of I don’t know what to do, or I don’t know why I always end up sabotaging myself like this, or this is too hard, or I can’t figure it out, or something is wrong with me, or I knew this time I’d fail like all the other times.

Whenever my clients are in this situation and they don’t know why they’re not getting the results that they want and they’re asking me how to get back on track because they think they aren’t able to do it themselves, they’re indulging in the confusion. They’re going, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. I need some help.” That’s exactly why I’m there. I’m hired as their coach, of course, I’m so happy to help them.

It’s so interesting to notice how they were getting results and were doing things, and then they are getting different results, and they’re very confused. I always know that this is what’s happening for them when I ask them if they planned their food last night for today, and the answer is always no. Right? They want to know how to get back on track, and that’s great. Right? I want them to get back on track, and that’s great. Right? I want them to get back on track, but what they don’t realize is that the answer is so simple.

What you do is you go back to doing all of the things that were creating results for you in the first place. Let me repeat that. You go back to doing all of the things that were creating results for you in the first place. Go back and start doing all of those things again. Now, here is the thing, this can feel way harder than it sounds. Right? The way I’m seeing it, it sounds like it should just be easy. It’s simple, but it’s definitely not easy, not all of the time. Most of the time, it’s much more challenging.

Generally, the reason that we are off track in the first place is because something changed in our lives. We were trucking along and everything was going just fine, and then something happened. We got stressed, upset, annoyed, overwhelmed, frustrated, infuriated, sad, distracted, unfocused. I mean, the list goes on, and this isn’t all bad things. Right? You can be on vacation in the most beautiful, wonderful place ever and be annoyed and overwhelmed and frustrated, right, and distracted and unfocused, right? It can be really anything that happens in your life.

Remember the thought model that I teach. The weight loss results that you’re creating are not because of the actions you’re taking. Your lack of weight loss results are not because of the actions you aren’t taking. You might be like, “Wait. What? I thought that your actions create your results.” Here’s the thing. What creates your result is not your actions. What creates your results are your thoughts. Let me just review this thought model for anybody who isn’t super familiar with it, or just as a general review, it’s always good to review the model.

There’s five components to this thought model. The first is the circumstance. The circumstance is composed of what the neutral facts are of the situation you’re in. It’s what everybody would agree on. You can’t say, “My mother-in-law is being a jerk,” because your mother-in-law, most likely, would disagree with you. Right? The neutral facts are I am on vacation in Hawaii. Right? That would be something that everybody could agree on.

That’s your circumstance, and then we have thoughts about our circumstance. The thoughts are what we think about the circumstance. It’s the meaning we apply to the circumstance. It is how we decide to interpret that circumstance for ourselves. The thought that we have is what creates our feelings or our emotions. We have a feeling in our body, and then our feelings are what drive our actions. Our actions are what we do and what we don’t do, and also how we react. Then our actions are what create our results.

Sure, you can back up and say, “Oh, but your actions create results.” It’s not really your actions that create your results. It’s your thoughts that create your results because any action you take is preceded by an emotion, and an emotion is preceded by a thought. We’d like to spend so much time thinking about the actions, what we’re doing and what we’re not doing, but instead, what we should be focusing on is what we’re thinking and what we’re not thinking.

The difference here is the thoughts that you’re thinking. When you’re losing weight and you’re getting the results you want, you are thinking a certain set of thoughts. When you’re no longer losing weight and getting the results you want, you are thinking a different set of thoughts. That’s truly it. That’s all that’s happening. There’s the best news. This means that you aren’t defective, you aren’t weak, you aren’t undisciplined, you aren’t too busy and all over the place. You simply are thinking different thoughts that create different results for you and your life. That’s it.

The good news here is that your thoughts are optional thoughts truly are just sentences in your mind. Thoughts are not the truth or the fact of your life, or your job, or your family. Remember? The circumstances are the facts. They are what everyone would agree on. Your thoughts are the spin your brain puts on the neutral circumstances around you, those neutral facts. This could be hard to see when you’re doing this work on your own, especially if you haven’t had a lot of assistance.

This is really where coaching comes in. I can help you with this as your coach, for sure. I do just want to let you know that I’m going to be opening up my next Weight Loss for Doctors Only coaching group on September 4th. I’m only going to be enrolling for two days though, so be sure to put that on your calendar so you don’t miss out, September 4th. Okay?

Now, when you’re self-coaching, meaning you’re doing this work on your own, which you should be doing whether or not you’re in my weight loss coaching group or not, you are identifying what all is going in your mind. You’re dumping out everything that’s rattling around in there. It’s like so good. Think about if you have a really, really messy closet, what all the organizational experts recommend is taking everything out. You need to see what’s in there first for you to even know what to do.

You can’t just kind of tidy up a little corner and expect that to make a big difference. You have to dump everything out. That’s exactly what a thought download is. You’re just dumping out all of the contents in your brain, all the to-dos, all the things you’re stressed about, all the thoughts you have about yourself, the superficial stuff, the deeper stuff, everything. Then you can look at all of those thoughts, everything you dumped out, and you can figure out what the neutral facts are, what the circumstances are, and separate them out from your thoughts.

Then you realize, “Oh, all of this stuff, all of this interpretation, this is really just my interpretation. I thought it was true that that person is a horrible human being.” Right? It turns out, that’s my thought about them. Oh, my gosh. Right? Once you realize what those thoughts are and that they are thoughts, you can run them through those thought models, like I was describing to you. You identify with those circumstances, you have your thought, and then you ask yourself, “When I think this thought, how do I feel? What emotion do I feel?”

This will be a one-word emotion that you’ll put down there. When I feel this way, what do I do? What do I not do? You can fill in the action like. When I take these actions or inactions, what is the result for me? You can look at these thoughts that, just a second ago, you thought were facts, right, and see what kind of results they’re creating for you in your life. Then you can decide if those thoughts are serving you, if they’re helping you to create the results you want or not. Sometimes, we realize, “Actually, that’s a great thought. It totally supports me.” Other times, you realize, “Oh, my gosh, I thought there was nothing wrong with that thought. I thought that that was a pretty good one. It turns out that it actually doesn’t support me at all.”

When you’re not doing this thought work, then your brain will just think the way that it’s always thought, interpreting you no longer following your plan as something being wrong with you, as you being someone who has a problem with self-sabotage, or that your life is too hard or too busy or you’re too tired to do this weight loss stuff. That belief of these thoughts will become your story that you will tell yourself about why you stopped getting results.

Sometimes we start blaming the program. Right? Oh, it just didn’t work for me, or you’ll believe that you’re just someone who always ends up sabotaging themselves, and that story, this is what’s so interesting, that story will actually make you feel a little bit more calm in the moment. It’ll be like an explanation. The brain just wants that story so that it can process what’s happening and file it away, file that information away for long-term storage.

What most of us don’t understand or at least are not aware of in the moment is that we get to decide what that story is. We’re truly just making it up. It’s truly just the brain looking to make some sort of sense out of what happened. Even if that story is very painful and creates the absolute opposite of the results that we want, it’s still very happy to continue creating that story.

The good news is that we can change that story anytime we want to. We can choose to tell ourselves the story of what happened however we like in whatever way we want to, whether we choose to tell it in a way that serves us or not. The way you stop sabotaging your weight loss progress is by getting back to thinking thoughts that create the results of weight loss, and then you continue to think them.

When you do this thought work, while you’re getting results, right, that’s when a lot of times, we think we don’t need it, then you would know what those thoughts are that are creating the result that you want. Then you can go back and go, “What did I think when I was getting those results I wanted when I was losing weight? Okay, I am going to work on intentionally and deliberately thinking those thoughts and continuing to think them.

When the circumstance in the model changes as it always will, right, because our lives are always changing, doing this inner thought work is the best thing you can do to continue to create the weight loss results that you want because things are going to change, and it’s the change that generally has us thinking different thoughts that we then interpret as self-sabotage because we are no longer doing what we need to do.

If you try to skip the thought work part, it really is unlikely that you’ll be able to keep up your progress all the way to maintenance and beyond. Some of us are able to do this pretty well. We can hold out for months even. I am one of those people where things are really pretty good. I don’t realize that things are kind of crumbling underneath me. The only reason why I have some insight into that is because of how many times I’ve messed this up and figured it out now, going, “Oh, that is what actually was happening there. If I had just continued doing this work, then I wouldn’t have had that problem, so that’s what I’m going to be doing moving forward here.”

Think to yourself, “What do I know works for me?” Don’t bother with, why am I not doing it? Okay, because we know why you’re not doing it. You’re not doing it because you’re thinking thoughts that drive the action of you not doing it. Okay? Instead, ask yourself, “How can I make sure that I do these things? How can I set myself up for success? How can I excel in this area even when and especially when things seem more challenging in my life? How can I make my success inevitable?”

I love that one. I’m going to repeat it. How can I make my success inevitable? It’s like when you buy something on Amazon when you have Prime. When I just click the Buy It Now button, it just comes two days later. The only exceptions are on Prime Day in the summer and maybe around the holidays, right, but the rest of the year, the next day, I know it’s in the mail. I don’t have to worry. I know it’s coming.

How can you make your weight loss be in the mail? How can you make it so that you just know it’s as good as done. You just keep going, keep doing what you need to do, and setting up the systems and habits to support you in that. Then whenever you notice yourself going off track or even contemplating it, remember, your thoughts are where you need to focus. Your thoughts are the key to everything you create, the parts you want and the parts you’d rather not have. Okay?

I would love to help you with this personally, especially if you’re an MD or DO, woman physician in clinical practice. That’s who I specialize in helping, and starting in September, when my next group opens up, I would absolutely love to really give you personal assistance and moving through this process.

In the meantime, let me text you that copy of my Busy Doctor’s Quick-Start Guide to Effective Weight Loss. Again, all you have to do is text your email address to 414-877-6220 and then reply with the code word guide. Then in just a hot second, you’re going to have everything you need in your inbox to help you get started losing weight. I hope that is super helpful for you, and I will see you next time. Have a great one. Take care. Bye-bye.

Did you know that you can find a lot more help from me on my website? Go to katrinaubellmd.com and click on Free Resources.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Pri

    I have been absolutely loving your podcast… I have been recommending it (basically shouting from the rooftops about it) to anyone and everyone that expresses frustration in their lives about their emotions or weight. I have seen such a shift in my own thinking and my life (plus a 16 lbs weight loss so far!) THANK YOU. I have so many questions that pop up, but one I was hoping you could answer is about eliminating flour: what are your thoughts about “lentil flours”, such as Red Lentil pastas or Graham Flour (chick pea flour)? As a vegetarian I have been eating the same 5-6 things for the past 2 months and would like to add a few more things into my repertoire for me to cycle through in my meal planning!

    • Team Katrina

      Hi Pri,

      No flours at all.

      We like to say “Boring food, exciting life!!” 🙂

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