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Have You Had A Marshmallow Today?

Have you heard of the Marshmallow Study? Go ahead…. Google it. There are several quick videos you can watch on it. In fact, here’s one below:

Here’s the written rundown:

A child was placed in a room, alone with a marshmallow, Oreo cookie, or pretzel stick on a plate in front of them. They were told that they could eat that marshmallow at any time but if they waited roughly 15 mins, they could have 2 marshmallows instead.

Kids responded in several different ways. Some would turn around and cover their eyes. Some would kick the table. Others even stroked the marshmallow like a baby stuffed animal. Either way, they all had their own methods to delay gratification.

Different kids took different amounts of time. In the end, the kids who waited the longest had greater levels of success later in life. Not only did they make more money, but they had higher levels of education and were less likely to be overweight. Interestingly, if one kid waited longer than another but didn’t make it to 15 mins, they were still more likely to have positive outcomes later in life.

Now, does this information widely apply to everyone? Does it even apply to adults? Possibly. Several other versions of the study have been conducted since then and come back with similar results.

Why do I bring it up? Because personally, I think we can apply these principles in several areas of life. I apply them as a business owner on a daily basis. They also apply in the nutrition realm. Think about it. If you are “hungry” or about to grab some candy or ice cream, or perhaps pizza, why did you make that choice? Generally, and I personally do this as well so I’m not casting any stones, generally we do this for the instant gratification we get from that food.

For some it helps to fill an emotional void. For others it can be stress relief or even a momentary high. If you’ve got health and fitness goals, which you probably should even if you aren’t overweight, this tendency to go for the instant gratification can be a major roadblock.

Is there room in a normal, fat loss diet for sweet treats and pizza? Sure! In the end, it’s mostly about calories in vs calories out and making adjustments as your body changes.

The kicker is in the habits. Our future is decided by our habits. The smaller actions that we complete day after day that we all know can lead to results. With nutrition, it’s the simple, non-sexy ones like:

  • Live in a calorie deficit from week to week
  • Eat veggies at every meal
  • Eat protein at every meal
  • Make good decisions when eating starchy carbs
  • Balance your fats
  • Drink tons of water
  • Workout a minimum of 3x per week and have at least 2 strength workouts out of that
  • Move as much as possible when not exercising

These are the habits that can lead to long term success. Sure we can go hard and go all in during specific periods but, usually, unless we develop some habits as a result, we generally end up back where we started at some point.

If instant gratification is a habit, then more than likely, it’s going to be a challenge for you to get better at the above mentioned habits, thus yielding little to no results with your health. Going for the easy food choice or the fastest food food choice is a great example. One more thing, it’s usually surrounded by excuses.

  • “I had a long day at work”
  • “The kids have been crazy today”
  • “I worked out so I deserve this” (that’s an entirely different topic worth talking about, but food isn’t a reward for exercise)
  • “I have family in town. All week. So I’ll miss all my workouts.”
  • “I got off work late”
  • “I don’t have time”

No one is perfect and we all make excuses which then leads to the quickest solution to the problem or instant gratification. It’s not wrong. It doesn’t mean you need to deprive yourself as a result. But, if excuses and instant gratification are the habits you continuously allow to lead your direction in life, you’ll end up walking in a vicious circle. One that leads right back to where it started.

What if, when you are tired, the kids are cranky, and you had a long day at work, you decided to delay the gratification you get from food and you spent a little extra time cooking a meal that will not only be great that evening, but last you a few days?

What if when family came into town, instead of getting the instant gratification from staying in bed, you got up early and worked out early that morning?

What if the next time you go to the grocery store, you choose quick cook healthier options so that when the baby or your kid is sick, you have a quick, healthier option to make?

Based on the marshmallow study, we know that delaying the gratification you might get from making the choice of sleeping in or ordering pizza, to spending an extra 30 mins to cook or getting up early (or going later) to workout at a different time than normal, will lead to greater levels of success in the future.

The best part is, you get to define that success!!! That’s what makes it fun! It’s your journey and your goal. So, the next time you are faced with a stressful situation, think about a marshmallow.

Thanks,

Coach Joe



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