Self-Sabotaging and Your Fitness Goals

We’ve all struggled with self-sabotaging behavior — whether it’s related to personal or professional aspects of our lives. If you want to succeed in your fitness goals, or any goals you have set for yourself, you will need got to eliminate self-sabotaging behaviors! Let’s take a deeper look into the psychology behind self-sabotaging and how you can adjust your mindset to conquer your fitness goals.

Cognitive Dissonance is the Enemy

Cognitive dissonance can be defined as the state of thinking when someone holds two conflicting thoughts or beliefs simultaneously regarding the same action or decision. For example, cognitive dissonance would occur if you told yourself you really shouldn’t go to the donut shop, but then tell yourself that you don’t eat enough donuts to gain weight to feel better after still deciding to go. Even though you understand that going to the donut shop is not the best decision that aligns with your fitness goals, your antagonist thoughts influence your behaviors.

We understand that changing a particular behavior is challenging for many people. If you are someone who vocalizes to your friends and family that you want to make a change, you may have felt a sense of guilt if you don’t actually do it. If you tell everyone you’re going to quit smoking, every cigarette you have will likely make you feel a sense of guilt. You will also be more likely to feel like you’re never going to change, because you’re continuing the action, creating a negative feedback loop in your mind. We encourage you to evaluate whether your thoughts are contradictory, and if they are, find ways to align them with pursuing your goals!

a stack of 3 donuts
Progress is Not Linear With Fat Loss

To repeat this for the people in the back: progress is not linear with fat loss! During your fitness journey, there will be plateaus — it’s a part of the process. Binary thinking (also known as thinking in black and white) will cause you to experience destructive emotional harm when setbacks occur. It’s okay if setbacks occur, but you shouldn’t let them snowball. This flawed all-or-nothing mentality appears a lot when it comes to both exercise and eating. Just because you eat cake on a Wednesday night doesn’t mean you should continue eating cake for the rest of the week! Making good decisions is undoubtedly challenging at times — and no one tells you that it gets a lot harder as you get closer to your goal. The key takeaway is to acknowledge that setbacks are a part of the process, accept them, and continue making the proper choices that align with your fitness goals.

a collection of foods known for having healthy fats, such as avocado, salmon, extra virgin olive oil, and nuts
Be Intentional When Setting Goals

Self-sabotaging behaviors can come out in many different ways, but aligning your actions with your goals is a great way to overcome the antagonistic behaviors. People tend to look for instant gratification or quick fixes before self-sabotaging, after the outcome is not as expected. Your desire to achieve the result was there, but the fundamental idea that attaining a fitness goal takes hard work and consistency was lacking.

We know you have heard us say this before — it’s important to have SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound. While making your goals SMART is critical, it’s equally important to ensure your goals are sustainable.

Ask yourself if the goal should even be made — is it the healthiest option for you? Someone underweight might want to lose twenty pounds, but should not make a goal to lose an unhealthy amount of weight. It’s critical to have someone in your life—whether it’s a coach or friend—who is objective. Objective people can help you navigate your wellness journey by giving you their objective perspective on your habits and goals. It’s always beneficial to have someone who can look at your progress and evaluate it from an objective perspective.

When you set a goal, you should set it properly by being intentional and examining it. If you work harder, you will achieve higher. Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” We adapted this famous quote here at Stark: “The unexamined goal is not worth making.” Examine your goals to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success!


You lower the possibility of self-sabotaging if you’re consistent, patient, and have realistic expectations. You should know that you will not meet your fitness goals overnight. If you happen to fall off the horse and self-sabotage one day, the key is to get right back on by aligning yourself with your goals moving forward. You’ve got this.