The 10 Best Ways to Sabotage Your Health and Fitness Goals from The 10 Best Ways to Sabotage Your Health and Fitness Goals

The 10 Best Ways to Sabotage Your Health and Fitness Goals

The 10 Best Ways to Sabotage Your Health and Fitness Goals


It’s no secret that exercising and eating well are two of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle. No matter what your goal is, these two elements will be essential to your success. Of course, as many of us have experienced firsthand, there are many obstacles that easily get in the way of maintaining these habits, which are typically so much easier said than done.

As BeFit trainer and CrossFit coach Maddy Curley explains it, one of the first steps towards success is commitment. “You have to commit to your goals,” she said. Though, even she admits it’s not an easy thing to do.

An important part of committing to your goals and overcoming the obstacles, though, involves knowing what not to do: being mindful of the not-so-obvious behaviors that can ultimately sabotage your success. To help you understand exactly what it takes to reach the results you’re aiming for, Curley shared ten common ways she sees people sabotage their health and fitness goals and tips to help you avoid them.

Comparing Yourself to Others


Curley said this is one of the quickest ways to sabotage your goals. “This transformation has to be about you and you alone,” she explained. “Perhaps you and your husband/boyfriend/friend agreed to start this journey to fitness together. Great! But now he/she lost five pounds in a week and you didn't lose anything. Don't compare. Look at what you did do instead and celebrate it!  You started a new healthy pattern of going to the gym three days a week. You ate broccoli instead of a Poptart. You ran a mile. Yay you!”

The same goes for veteran exercisers too, though. Curley explained, maybe you’ve been working a lot longer than someone that was able to get the results you want much quicker. Don’t let this sort of situation defeat your mindset. “Be happy for that person and maybe even try to be friends with them,” Curley said. “Maybe you'll learn they struggled too or that they had to cut out sugar. Don't judge too soon. Tell them you think they’re fabulous and you'd love to hear their story. After all, they say you are the company you keep.”

Wanting Too Much, Too Fast


“Real weight loss takes time. Most people can really see their body change after about 40 to 90 days,” Curley said. “Ever given up something for Lent? 40 days is a long time! Write the days out on a calendar starting from 40 and going down to one, usually a pound a week is a reasonable weight loss goal—unless you're more than 50 pounds overweight, then two pounds per week is a reasonable goal.

“I know! That's so slow, right? But that's the kind of progress that lasts. We get caught up in shows like The Biggest Loser where we see people losing 15 pounds a week. Most of us aren't going to have the luxury of just working out for a living for six months with Bob telling us we can do it all day long. 

“Instead, believe in yourself and be proud of the process. Again, everyone's journey takes a different amount of time. Use a tracker like My Fitness Pal that congratulates you at the end of the day for logging your food and exercise and then tells you where you'll be in five weeks if you keep up the good work. Knowing there will be a reward to all your daily hard work can keep you going!”

Eating the Calories you Burned at the Gym


“As a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I've noticed a tendency for people who start working out to then think they need to eat more,” Curley explained. “Maybe you do, if your goal is to put on mass, but my guess is you should start with eating the same portions you used to, track your results and then add in extra food if need be. This includes: protein shakes, bars, Gatorade, Vitamin Water, and the like. Don't start them unless you are genuinely replacing something previously unhealthy. You'll see progress much quicker that way.”

Making Excuses


“Too many ‘cheat days’— holidays, birthdays, weddings, friend's promotions, kid's field trips, someone-brought-donuts-to-work days, I-had-a-hard-day-and-need-to-eat-ice-cream days—lead to sabotaging your goals,” Curley said. “There are always going to be reasons to eat bad or to not work out.

“My birthday falls in early December. I have three families to visit between Thanksgiving and Christmas that serve delicious food and treats. From Halloween until the new year there are also a gazillion holiday parties and celebrations in Los Angeles for me to go to. Heck, just last week someone brought donuts and champagne to the gym to celebrate a friend's birthday, I had a wedding to attend and had three dinner parties! And that wasn't even in the holiday season!

“Now, I could have used any of those as an excuse to kill my diet and exercise. But why? There will always be more. ‘But Maddy,’ you say, ‘I never get to have wedding cake!’ Then have a couple bites and if you're still craving more when you get back, schedule a cake tasting appointment. Then you can have some more. 

“Remember, each of these events is special, but you achieving your fitness goals is a high that food or alcohol can't give you. Your energy will soar and the next wedding you go to, you'll have to buy a new dress because you look so good!”



“While we're on the subject of weddings, let's talk drinking,” Curley said. “Liquid calories can kill a good exercise program. The only real research I've ever encountered about alcohol benefits suggests a glass of red wine at night. And that's a cup, not a chalice! “I'd say cut it completely, but I do understand the fun behind liquid courage on a date or having a cocktail at ladies night. Just know that you are sucking your calories away. If you need the buzz, try to have just one drink.”

Backsliding and Giving Up


“Backsliding is a natural part of achieving goals. As a weight lifter, former gymnast and wannabe runner, [I have] on days and off days,” Curley explained. “Sometimes I can't lift what I did last week, or I can't stick my beam routine, or I can't keep my 9:50 goal mile pace—instead it's sneaking up to 11 minutes a mile! EEK! Some days I just don't want to work out. Heck, some weeks I don't want to! 

“My best friend Brooke offered me the greatest advice ever when I was going through a dark period of intense backsliding. She said, ‘Just give yourself five minutes of exercise. If you still don't want to work out, you're right, it wasn't meant to be.’ And you know what's crazy? 95 percent of the time, if I start those five minutes, I remember how good I feel about myself when I work out and I keep going.

“Maybe you had a wild weekend in Vegas and you gained back everything you'd lost. Still, do not give up! You are not a failure. You just have to ‘take five’ (not the candy bar) and get back on track—a five-minute jog, five minutes of burpees (that would be a brutal five minutes), or a five-minute online workout. Seriously, five minutes is shorter than most commercial breaks these days. Whatever you do, don't punish yourself for backsliding by not picking back up. You can keep on and you will be so happy that you did,” 

Starting on Monday


“I am so guilty of this one. But here's the thing, there are a lot of days between Mondays, so instead, start today,” Curley said. “Start right this second.”  She explained that staring on Monday is usually just an excuse to binge until then, but unfortunately, that will just make the road to achieving your goal more difficult and longer. “If however, you are one of those type-A personalities where it either has to be a Monday, or the first of a month, or the day after a holiday in order to really kick it into gear, then in the meantime, start prepping mentally,” she added. “Outline your goals and write post it notes about how awesome you are. Mark up your calendar with gym dates. Meditate and visualize you achieving your fitness goals.”

Denying Yourself


“I find most people, myself included, have a hard time sticking to a diet or new plan if they are completely denying themselves of the things they love,” Curley said.  For this reason, she explained, she eats a sweet treat every day. “I love dessert. However, it usually comes in the form of a bite or two to finish off a healthy meal.” Curley explained. “I'll have two M&Ms after lunch, or a third of a dark chocolate bar, or two bites of ice cream. If your new diet denies you everything all the time, it is much harder to stick to. Decide what it is that you really struggle with, like maybe cereal at night time or popcorn at the movie theater and allow yourself to have some every week or every day—some, meaning just enough to get that taste in so you don't binge on it later.

“If this sounds ludicrous and you know one mouth-watering morsel of chocolate will send you spiraling, then plan on days when you won't deny yourself in advance and make them infrequent. One cheat day a week is too much but one cheat meal (that means it stays under 600 calories) is probably okay. Plan in advance so you have it to look forward to!”

Burning Out


“Going overboard can lead to burnout,” Curley said. “You want to enjoy your journey so pace yourself. Doing three workouts a day and eating only 1,200 calories will definitely reap quick results...that last about a month. Remember that a healthy lifestyle and achieving fitness over the long run is a marathon, not a sprint. Tackle one week at a time. Try mini goals like, 'This week I will go to the gym twice a week. This week I will work out twice a week and replace my nighttime cocktail with sparkling water. This week I will work out twice a week, drink more water and cut out sugar on Monday and Friday.' Eventually, you will establish healthy patterns that become the norm.”

Deprecating Self-Talk


“Not everyone is going to be stoked for you on your fitness journey and sometimes that will include yourself, but deprecating self-talk is a big no-no,” Curley said. “It is shocking how much just saying positive things, whether you believe them at the time or not, can help you to truly believe them over time. 

“I am a self-professed terrible runner, but when I decided I was going to do a half marathon, I had to believe I would finish, be fine and be fast. I told myself this every day as I went out to run. That or Beyoncé would tell me on my iTunes. And guess what? Not only did I finish the half marathon, I also ran the fastest mile of my life on my third mile in (yes, faster than an independent timed mile), and I finished with a minute faster per mile pace than planned while doing a five-minute run, one-minute walk sequence for two-thirds of the half marathon! I never experienced the ‘runner's high,’ but I did experience a positive self-talk high.

“All in all, be nice to yourself. Wake up in the morning and confess you are going to have a great day today! Say exactly what you want to achieve: ‘I am going to finish a Tough Mudder in three months!’ ‘I am going to be a toned goddess!’ ‘I am going to be in the best shape of my life by my birthday!’ Visualize it. Meditate on it. Believe it. Achieve it!”