10 Ways You Sabotage Your Fitness Goals

self-sabotage fitness goals

Do you engage in these self-sabotaging behaviors?

Have you ever started working on a fitness goal, only to become derailed? In the end, did the experience leave you feeling frustrated? If the answer is yes, you wouldn’t be alone.

The hard truth is many people set well-intentioned goals for wellness but never quite make them a reality. In many cases, the reasons can be traced to self-sabotage; a ten-dollar term used to describe the dynamic where a person unintentionally sets themselves up for failure.

Hoping to help readers live healthier lives, Guy Counseling spoke to a number of experts about this topic. Some of what follows may strike you as common sense. Other points might surprise you.

Read them all to assess how many may apply to your situation.

1. Not making fitness a priority

A major way you may be messing up your health goals is by not making fitness a priority. Pam Sherman, a certified personal trainer who runs The Perfect Balance shared with us:

“The number one-way people sabotage their goals is by not setting aside time daily/most days to work on it. Life is busy and crazy always.

I advise clients to put their workouts/fitness into their calendars. This way it’s a non-negotiable part of their day. No one ever regrets a workout,” said Sherman.

2. Thinking it will be easy

Identifying goals and reaching them are two different things. What can make or break achievement is how you view the goal itself.

If you think it will be easy, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Raffi Bilek, a licensed psychotherapist and director of the Baltimore Therapy Center offered the following insights.

“People sabotage their fitness goals by assuming it’s going to be easy. Personal transformation, whether physical, emotional, or mental, takes time and effort – if it feels easy, it probably won’t result in much change.”

Bilek adds, “Be prepared to work hard in the gym, but also getting to the gym, sticking to routines, eating right, etc. If you’re hoping for an easy ride, you will be sorely disappointed, and more likely to drop out, when the going gets tough – and it will!”

3. Not getting enough sleep

You probably know that sleep is important to your overall health. But did you know not getting enough rest can derail your fitness goals?

Caleb Backe with Maple Holistics shared the following insights. “Sleep is necessary to function, optimal health, and well-being. You need sleep to perform your best. It’s also an important part of the post-workout recovery after you train.”

Backe adds, “When you work out, you are breaking down existing muscle fibers and tissues. The reason muscles become bigger is because they repair themselves while you sleep.

Without [enough] sleep, your body won’t have time to repair itself and you could actually lose lean muscle mass.”

4. Playing the game of comparisons

Do you compare your body to others? When you do this, does the experience leave you feeling crappy? If so, you aren’t alone.

But here is the thing. When you play the game of comparisons, you throw a giant monkey wrench into your fitness plans.

Leon Turetsky, a certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist who operates Back Intelligence imparts the following wisdom.

“Well-intentioned people sabotage their fitness goals by comparing themselves to others.

At first, they are just happy to start working out and get healthy. But soon after, when they see someone with a slimmer body (or a six pack), they get down on themselves.

In the end, they lose sight of what’s important – which is to do their own best, enjoy the moment, and let the results come gradually over time,” says Turetsky.

attractive muscular black man
Are your fitness goals realistic?

5. Not getting enough support

Research shows that people are more likely to achieve a goal when they have ongoing support. An example might be to drop twenty pounds over the course of a year.

That’s realistic, right? Perhaps. But if you don’t have support systems in place during the journey, you may never realize your dream.

Richard Brouillette, a San Diego based licensed mental health clinician shared the following. “We need regular support from others, whether that is a trainer, a friend, or spouse, to cheer us on, hold us accountable, and not shame us when we stumble.”

He goes on to add, “When we isolate, we may protect ourselves from feeling shame, but we also increase the chance we go into denial and give up.

Change is an upward spiral, not a straight line up. Success and behavior change are built on the desire to win, with a bunch of small failures and recoveries along the way.

With each minor failure, our strength grows. But if we are too rigid and don’t see change as constant process of upward movement, we will give up,” says Brouillette.

6. Fear of Success

Believe it or not, having a fear of success could be the thing lurking in the background that holds you back from achieving your goals.

Dr. Farrah Hauke, a psychologist practicing in Scottsdale, Arizona, shared with us the following:

“Many individuals trying to lose weight consciously or unconsciously self-sabotage. The reason for this is that even the most longed-for goals have a ‘price’.

For example, losing weight may mean a healthier body and improved self-confidence, but it may also mean you cannot eat whatever you want anymore.

It might mean a Saturday morning at the gym, as opposed to relaxing on the couch. Compounding this further is the fact that some individuals have long used their ‘weight’ as a personal barrier or shield.”

Hauke adds, “Many individuals losing weight are concerned how their weight loss will affect their current relationships and family dynamics. They also can be concerned about unwanted comments or questions about their weight loss.”

bodybuilding training plateues
Trying to change too much too soon?

7. Changing too much, too fast

This one probably is common sense but is worth repeating because of its significance. Anthony Treas, a men’s health coach who operates the website Strong Coaching offered the following thoughts on this topic.

“People sabotage their fitness goals by expecting to change too many things at one time. It’s important to start off slow. Over time, increase physical activity before trying to eat healthier,” suggests Treas.

8. Not staying committed

When you set a goal, it’s important to stay committed to the process. This requires ongoing self-dialogue and focus. In the absence of focus, derailment can happen quickly.

Dr. James Millhouse, an Atlanta based psychologist makes the following observations. “People [often] create failure because of a lack of commitment.”

As a remedy, he suggests that folks, “Write down plan down and affirm each day that it is your intention to follow it and achieve your goals. This allows your commitment to remain strong.”

9. Getting bored

If you’ve been around fitness circles for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard that it’s important to occasionally change things up.

The reason is simple. If you get bored with a routine, your motivation will likely nosedive. Keeon Taylor with Supreme Holistic Fitness told us the following.

“When you keep doing the same workouts without adding variety or making it more challenging, it’s a recipe for failure.”

10. Not properly fueling your body

If your goal is to lose weight and pack on muscle, it’s important to look at food as a fuel source. But if you don’t take the right approach in this area, it could throw you off track.

Dr. Alex Tauberg, a board-certified sports chiropractor in Pittsburg who is also a personal trainer told us the following.

“One of the biggest ways in which people sabotage their fitness goals is through an unhealthy or inappropriate diet. When we start to work out more, our bodies react by increasing the amount of hunger that we feel.

This can lead to urges for unhealthy snacks. Your diet is extremely important when trying to reach your goals regardless of if that goal is to lose weight or to gain mass,” says Tauberg.

Wrap Up

Well, there you have it. Ten ways you may be self-sabotaging your fitness goals. If you can relate to any of the above, now might be a good time to create a plan of action.

Have you ever set yourself up for failure with exercise? Share how in the comments section below.

About John D. Moore 391 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a licensed counselor and Editor-in-Chief of Guy Counseling. A journalist and blogger, he writes about a variety of topics related to wellness. His interests include technology, outdoor activities, science, and men's health. Check out his show --> The Men's Self Help Podcast