A few years ago when I lost a lot of weight on the Atkins Diet I was often asked by others how I did it. Now that I am successfully doing the South Beach Diet, I am being asked the same question. Since the time I went on the Atkins Diet, my answer has always been the same. It is just a decision! I came to a realization while I was on the Atkins Diet that anything we want to achieve in life is just a decision. Once the decision is truly made, nothing stands in out way.
I feel like I am a living example of this. As I said earlier, I made a decision that I was going to do Atkins Diet, and did do Atkins Diet very successfully. However, I never made the decision that this was a permanent lifestyle change for me; it was just a diet. After I foolishly gained back some weight, I planned to do it again, lose that weight, and then follow it for life. I would plan on starting Monday, but when Monday came I did not successfully do it. This situation repeated itself over and over. I finally realized that I was not committed. I wanted to do it, but had not really made the decision that I would do it. I continued off and on trying to eat low-carb for several years, never making the decision.
I was then introduced to the South Beach Diet. Admittedly, I didn’t really understand the difference between the Atkins Diet and the South Beach Diet, I just knew they had similarities. So I took the research from each one and treated it like a buffet, taking only the pieces I liked. In effect, I had created the Steve Diet; however, I was still not committed. During this time I did make myself do the diet for short periods of time, but the decision was never made.
I then read the South Beach Heart Program book. To be honest, weight loss had become secondary concern to me. I wanted to be healthier and live a life that would allow me to see my children’s children one day (and maybe their children), but I knew that I was on a path of destruction. I became convinced (not committed, just convinced) that this was the way of life for me. I was so convinced that I bought a copy of the book for my mom and dad and was promoted it to anyone who would listen, loaning my book out to several of my friends. Unfortunately, being convinced did not translate into being committed. In other words, I had still not made a decision. My mom began the South Beach Diet at this time and successfully lost a lot of weight. She still looks great. However, the whole time I hung my head in shame because I had introduced her to the South Beach Diet, but I was not committed to following its principles. I had made the decision with my head, but I knew all along that I had not made the decision with my heart. I thought I could make myself do it though. Alas, I could not. This yo-yo continued on for years. All the while I thought I could convince myself to do the diet and kept trying to mentally do so, but without success. I had not made the decision.
About a month ago I decided to re-read the South Beach Diet book and the South Beach Heart Program book. As I began reading the books I knew I was soon going to try and start the South Beach Diet again. I did my normal ritual and splurged on all the foods I was not going to be able to enjoy once I began the diet. I had planned on setting my start date and giving myself plenty of time to get my eating binge out. Then, as I was reading these two books, I made the decision. At this point, there was no time to plan my start date. I knew I had to start immediately. You see, for me anyhow, once the decision was made I could not continue down my destructive path. Once I made this decision, there was no second guessing or wondering if I could get past my cravings the next day, for the decision was made. As those who have read my South Beach Diet blog have noticed, I have had temptations, but there was never a question whether I would follow this lifestyle or not.
Deep inside, we all know if we have truly made a decision. We may tell others we have made a decision, all the while realizing that we are not fully committed. Some people, especially those with smaller goals, can make themselves do this without having made the decision. However, they will not make a permanent lifestyle change without making the decision. Perhaps they will be fortunate and truly make the decision while they are making themselves do the diet, but most will only achieve their immediate goals and then go back to their old lifestyle. Those with larger goals have to make the decision to stay the course though. These people will have to make a decision or they will not have what it takes to succeed. The sad fact though is that most of these people who make the decision will only make the decision to lose weight, not the decision to make a permanent lifestyle change.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where many people have never had to make a decision of this magnitude. We all want instant gratification and if we don’t get that, we give up. We then make comments like, “that diet just didn’t work for me.” I don’t know how to tell you to make the decision either. For me, there was apparently no way I could make myself make the decision. It was that realization that there was no option; there was no planning; there was no thinking about it; there was no backing out. I put blinders on and began running forward. It is somewhat like the saying I heard years ago – when you encounter an apparently insurmountable wall, throw your heart over the top and the rest will follow.
Even though the decision is made, I still think it is important to keep your guard up though. The decision is all you need to succeed, but by strengthening your shield you make the journey easier. For me, the way to do this is through knowledge, support, and accountability. I have an unquenchable thirst for facts about the South Beach Diet way of life – knowledge. I have also been frequently visiting one online South Beach Diet Forum and have occasionally visited others – support. However, my South Beach Diet blog is the lifeblood of my effort. It is my daily reminder of my decision, my accountability. Again, I don’t think these three components are necessary once you have made the decision, but they make the journey easier. Why not do what we can to make our lives easier?
As I conclude, the question to ask yourself is whether you have made your decision or not. As for me, I have made my decision. This is my way of eating going forward. It does not mean I will not have my cheating moments, after all, that is permitted on this diet. Nonetheless, I will recognize these times for what they are and keep them a rarity. One day, I will look back on this summer and realize that it was when my health turned around. I will always be able to pinpoint the night of July 13th, 2008 as the day the decision was made. I have made my decision, have you?