6 Steps to Stop Self-sabotaging Weightloss with NLP

woman considering self-sabotaging weightloss by not eating fruit option

Are you struggling – self-sabotaging weightloss and constantly jumping from one diet, or healthy eating plan to another? If you frequently cave in and eat lots of snacks and then guilt trip in between it is quite possible you have a little goblin sitting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

It might not be a goblin. It could be a little red devil with a forked tail. or a cheeky little monkey. It could also be a little replica of a family member – your mother, your father, a sibling or someone else who has had a significant input in your life.

It may be an echo from your childhood, saying things like ‘waste not want not’. or ‘clear your plate, there are millions starving in the world’.

I wonder if this sounds familiar for example:

You are in the supermarket doing the weekly shop and maybe you have decided that you are going to do a good healthy shop with lots of sensible and tasty choices.

You won’t go down the sweet aisle at all.

You won’t be sidetracked by high fat ready meals, buscuits or cakes.

Go you!

And then you see an excellent offer – 2 packs of chocolate digestives for the price of one; or you see a new brand of dessert that looks absolutely gorgeous and is lower in calories that some of the others; or you even just spot a bottle of your favourite wine reduced.

Suddenly that little character rears his head and starts whispering in your ear.

“Just one won’t hurt’

“Well you HAVE been good…”.

“Come off it, you are never going to lose weight, you might as well give up and enjoy yourself”

“It’ll be handy if friends come round”

For some people it is just a voice in their head, or an image,  or a feeling.

Whatever way this situation manifests itself, most people find themselves in some sort of internal conflict. This results in self-sabotaging weightloss, making you feel demoralised and frustrated.

It doesn’t just happen in weightloss. Many situations where you know you should do one thing, but you find yourself doing the opposite can fit into this pattern:

Bad habits, smoking, compulsive behaviours. To name a few.

So how can you deal with that troublesome inner voice or that hidden demon? 

The technique below is based on a well recognised NLP process called the ‘six step reframe’. Developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder and introduced in the book ‘Frogs into Princes’.

Though it has been superseded by other techniques, it can still be a really effective way of dealing with your gremlins.

Here is an adaptation of that process for you to try on your own.

The 6 Step Reframe Technique

1. Identify the ‘part’ that is self-sabotaging weightloss for you.

Find yourself somewhere quiet and peaceful and get a sense of what exactly the person or thing that speaks to you and sabotages your weight loss looks like, sounds like, or feels like.

When you have a good idea of what it is, invite it to come out and sit on your hand. Hold your hand out in front of you, and imagine it sitting there, looking at you expectantly. Remember, this is a person or a character. A fuzzy ball, or a glowing orb won’t do. You need to personalise it.

Just trust yourself and accept whatever or whoever it is. If it turns out to look like a real person, such as a grandparent, or your partner, don’t try to read anything into it – not everything has to be significant.

2. Recognise that it is behaving this way for a positive reason. Find out what that is.

In Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) we teach that everything the unconsious mind does has a positive intent for you.

So no matter what damage that little voice appears to be doing to your morale, your confidence, or you ability to stick to a diet, accept that on some level there is a positive reason.

Maybe it is trying to protect you from disappointment. Maybe it knows that you get pleasure from certain foods and wants to encourage that.

Ask the little fellow exactly what it is trying to achieve that is positive.

There may be more than one thing, so be persistent.

3. Appreciate the part for trying to help

All the time this part of you has felt like it was working against you.

Now that you can recognise its positive purpose, you can appreciate and thank it for helping.

Say to your inner voice, your part, ‘Thank you. I appreciate the positive intent that you have for me’.

4. Ask it to find some alternative ways to fulfil that positive purpose.

Ask your inner demon or goblin to come up with three other ways that it could use to fulfil that same positive purpose. Things that would serve you better and help you achieve your goals.

For example, to continue the weight-loss theme, it might come up with:

  • treating yourself with some favourite fruit; 
  • being strong and not being influenced by marketing strategies; or 
  • looking forward to giving yourself a pat on the back for not giving in to temptation.

It’s really important that whatever these new strategies are, they originate from this other part of you, and that you continue to appreciate the original positive intent of this part.

Make sure you thank that part of you.

5. Imagine yourself in the future using these new tools that the part has suggested.

When you have the three suggestions, decide which of them are most likely to help you achieve your goal and imagine the part implementing them in a future situation. 

Test it out in your head and see if you are comfortable with it. Make sure it really is going to improve things.

Does it fulfil the purpose of the part?

Does it support you better?

There is no point in substituting an ineffective strategy for another that is equally bad, or worse.

6. Check that there are no other objections to using these new strategies in future.

Ask yourself:

Does it do less harm? 

Does it adversely affect anybody else? 

Is it safe and healthy? 

What other consequences can there be? 

If the answer to any of these questions suggests that it is inappropriate then go back and ask for more suggestions.

Next time you find yourself in a similar situation in the future listen out for that inner voice or hidden person and see if they give you new and better suggestions, or maybe you will find that you just naturally behave differently.

This is a fairly advanced process, so you may need some help putting it into practice. If you have any questions, or need any help, just book some time with me and we can look at it together.

Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.