How many times were we told as children to wait for what we wanted?

It seemed like we heard that for everything.

  • “You can watch TV after you do your homework.”
  • “No dessert till you’ve eaten your vegetables.”
  • “Santa won’t be back for a year — really.”

It’s just part of being a kid. And part of becoming an adult is grasping the concept of delayed gratification. 

That was the impetus behind a famous study of children known as the Marshmallow Test. Researchers tested young kids to see if they would prefer to have one marshmallow now or try to wait for two in 15 minutes. Years later, they checked back in with the kids and found those who’d been able to wait had greater signs of success in life, like better SAT scores and better jobs.

It’s a helpful thought we can apply to our health and fitness goals. Day in and day out, week after week, it can get frustrating when we don’t see the results we want. It’s easy to, say, grab the bag of cookies in order to FEEL BETTER NOW — even if we know we’re just making things more difficult for ourselves. 

  • Try to focus less on the outcomes (a certain weight) and more on the process.
  • Resist comparing yourself to others; you have no idea what they deal with.
  • Realize that time will pass anyway, so you might as well take the actions that will bring your desired results as it does.
  • Enjoy the anticipation of a positive outcome.

Being an adult isn’t so bad, is it? We get to remind ourselves that our choices have consequences – and that our parents were right about that whole “be patient” thing.

And remember, when you’re giving into delayed gratification, you’re giving up the thing you really want – a healthy, fit body and the longest life possible.

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