You can have the best foods, the highest quality supplements, hire the best trainer, and have the latest state of the art kitchen. But if you don’t have the mind game, none of that matters.
When I first started nutritional consulting, I amassed a great deal of knowledge from books, studies, teachers, and courses. What I had no experience with, was how to implement this amazing information with real humans.
Over the years I have sought the greatest information on why people do what they do. By understanding this, I have been able to coach people along the path to success.
The Marshmallow Study
A famous study, which came out of Stanford University about 40 years ago, helps us to understand the reason for success. Here’s what they did.
They brought 4-5 year old children to an empty room, sat them at a table and gave them a single marshmallow. They told them that they could either eat the marshmallow now, or wait, at which time they would be awarded with two marshmallows. Then the researcher left the room and came back in 15 minutes.
Some children ate the marshmallow, and others waited the whole 15 minutes. But this wasn’t the interesting part. The interesting part came many years later.
These kids were followed for the next 40 years, and various factors were measured. They discovered that the kids who waited for the second marshmallow, showed greater success in various areas of life.
- SAT scores were higher
- Substance abuse was a lot lower
- Their health was better
- They had lower levels of obesity
- They had a better response to stress
- They were more sociable
What this shows is that the ability to delay gratification, can lead to greater outcomes and success in the future. (More studies here, and here.)
Using Delayed Gratification to Achieve Success
This is a critical aspect in making impactful health changes. For example, for some of my clients, going gluten-free, or cutting out sugar, is a huge change. Their diet may be highly dependant on these foods. They might go to parties, or hang out with friends who don’t have the same dietary restrictions. But what I remind them about, is that we need to keep the long game in mind. I explain that the body doesn’t heal overnight, and that it takes a focused consistent effort to maintain certain dietary restrictions long enough to get above the clouds and see the sunny skies of health. My clients that commit to the long game, have the greatest success.
One example, is the issue of food sensitivities. When individuals have a reaction to a food that’s mediated by IgG antibodies, those antibodies can remain in the bloodstream for months. This means that the immune system is on high alert for that time period if these food antigens show up again. Thus, if a person is trying to address symptoms associated with these reactions, they must avoid the food for 3-6 months, or the whole inflammatory cycle gets reset.
One Of The Greatest Brain Discoveries Of Our Time
If you feel that you would be the child who would eat the marshmallow right away, don’t worry, there’s hope for you. (And if you are already good at delayed gratification, you can get better!). One of the greatest discoveries of neuroscience over the last 15 years, is the notion of neuroplasticity. Our brains have a tremendous ability to change. It turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks.
The key to becoming an expert in delayed gratification, is to work out the “delayed gratification muscle”. By practicing delayed gratification, you will reinforce these neural pathways, and you will become better and better at the exercise.
For some of my clients, implementing my protocol is super-easy. They might have some good foundational delayed-gratification skills. But for others, it’s a bit more challenging. I do see these individuals, with some practice and support, reach their goals and become better individuals for committing to the journey.
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