Who’s in charge? When you have a diet cheat, did you decide to do it? When you say to yourself you won’t cheat today and you don’t, was it your decision to not cheat that made you not cheat?
All too often we think we did something or stopped ourselves from doing something because we decided to, and then followed through and did it. But there always is the possibility that we are giving our sense of control over matters like diet cheats too much credit.
What if the action you took to cheat or refusal to cheat wasn’t determined by your decision at all but by a chain of events leading up to your decision? It could go like this: Woke up in a bad mood. Hard time getting ready for the day. Nothing fit right. Didn’t look good. Boyfriend left early and didn’t put coffee on. Awful traffic going into work. Finally got to work and before first meeting of the day decided to get a decent cup of coffee. Saw muffins right where they always are, to the left of the coffee. Decided to have the most calorie-laden muffin with coffee.
Was the decision to have the break-your-diet muffin yours? Most women would answer with a resounding yes, as if they had perfect control over themselves and what they did. What about the power of influence? What about subtle influences? What about not so subtle influences? Maybe it’s not your decision that caused you to act. What if, as in this case, the chain of events leading up to your action was more powerful than your decision? That’s possible, isn’t it? What then? Then you could say your decision was just one more link in the chain, inevitable, and simply a consequence of all that came before it.
What’s the value of seeing your decision as preordained in a situation like this? It’s so you don’t get on your case about making the decision, especially if it’s a decision in which you had very little choice. Less guilt and less angst are a dieter's friends. They can start a chain of events of their own, leading to better diet adherence.