The media is so saturated in pop-psychology that most of us are familiar with the term “self-sabotage,” and when I mention “sabotage” and “fitness” this is probably what most people will think of first. Sadly though, for many who are changing their lives, improving their health and getting in shape, it can be the people they care about most who sabotage their efforts. It can be horribly demoralising to share your latest accomplishment with a loved one, only to be met with resentment, dismissiveness, or a thinly-veiled put-down. It can be confusing and frustrating to demonstrate your own commitment to exercise and healthy eating only to suddenly find the kitchen full of fatty and sugary foods.

What do you do when someone close to you doesn’t seem to want you to succeed?

Know your enemy.

Are you actually dealing with deliberate sabotage? What seems obvious to you – for example, that baking cookies for you is not helping you to lose body-fat – might not be so obvious to someone else. Speak to the person in question about their behaviour and explain to them that it isn’t helping. If they do genuinely care about you and want you to succeed, they’ll be more than happy to change their behaviour. The family member who showed love by insisting you eat more rice might offer you tea if they knew that you were on a low carb diet!

If you really are dealing with sabotage, try to consider why the person in question might not want you to reach your goal. Is your partner threatened by the idea of other people noticing your new figure? Are your friends feeling guilty about their own unhealthy habits when they see the changes in you? Can you change the situation, for example by reassuring your partner or involving your friends in your fitness journey?

Change your own behaviour.

If the sabotaging behaviour is not the result of a misunderstanding, and can’t be resolved, can you change your own behaviour? (Giving up on your goals is not an option.) Is there anything you can change in your own behaviour that will minimise the impact of sabotage? Can you remove yourself from certain situations or stop looking to resentful people for approval?

Put them out.

This option is tougher, but if there are people in your life who aren’t happy to see you succeed, you have to question how much they really care about you, and whether you really want them in your life. It’s hard enough to chase our dreams and believe in ourselves without holding people close to us who discourage us and put us down.

Surround yourself with good people.

Whether or not you decide to get rid of your saboteurs, you will gain a huge amount of strength by surrounding yourself with people who help instead of hinder. These people may be professionals, they may be on a similar journey as your own, or they may simply be caring individuals who will cheer you on from the sidelines, but I personally guarantee you that their help and support will be like a breeze on your back cooling you down and pushing you forward. One of the best investments you can make is in a genuine support network of family, friends and professionals.

Is sabotage an issue you’ve had to face in any of your endeavours? What strategies have you used to deal with it?


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