Will 1 or 2 marshmallows make you fatter?

We live in a world where we want everything yesterday.

We have to have it all now.

Tomorrow may never come.

They say, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

We all like to believe that this ancient Proverb is true, however nowadays people would rather take the car…. We all like the easy option. All of us!

And I’m no different.…So why did I write this?

Well, I am a personal trainer and love working with people no matter what goals they want to reach. However, I’m not a miracle worker or someone who can get you results in a week. But clients seem to think that somehow I can!

Yes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but it also takes time too!

Yes time is precious, but when we set out to achieve something, taking the time to do it well is always a better option than rushing it – anything worth doing is worth doing well!

When faced with something we want, can we show some self-control?

In the 1960s at Stanford University, pyschologist Michael Mischel. Mischel conducted the famous ‘marshmallow study’ which demonstrated a correlation between a child’s ability to delay immediate gratification and that same child’s positive education and health outcomes later in life.

Children were given one marshmallow, and told they could either eat it now, or wait until the experimenter returned from an errand and have 2 marshmallows.

What do you think happened?

- Well about one-third of the children ate the marshmallow right away.  Yum Yum.

– Another third waited for a few minutes, but could not resist the temptation and ate the marshmallow before the researcher returned.  So close yet so far.

– The remaining third of the children were able to wait 15-20 minutes until the researcher returned and were rewarded with the extra marshmallow.  Well done!

Several years later Mischel and colleagues followed up with these children and found that the one third that had demonstrated the ability to delay gratification and control impulse (i.e. the third that waited and got two marshmallows) became successful, well-adjusted young adults and continued to enjoy success later in life. These individuals were more positive, were able to motivate themselves, and had the ability to persist when facing difficulties in pursuing their goals. They were shown to have more successful marriages, more money, greater job satisfaction, and also had, on average, lower body mass index.

In contrast, the one-third of the children that could not delay gratification and control their impulse (i.e. those who gave in to temptation and only got one marshmallow) faced more difficulties later in life. They were found to be more troubled, stubborn and less likely to achieve long-term goals. These individuals were usually easily distracted and had difficulty concentrating in preparing for an important event such as a big test. These problems followed them throughout life resulting in less successful marriages, low job satisfaction, poorer health and a more frustrating life.

But what does it all mean?

Well, this study got me thinking….

I currently work in the sports supplement industry whilst also training clients. We sell SO many diet pills and shakes to both women and men looking to lose weight fast. As a trainer I also work in an industry that constantly promotes “19 day fat loss blast”, “28 days to a better you” and “7 minute abs”.

Is it any wonder that people think that they can have it all in an instant?!

In my opinion, we are simply being lazy as trainers and packaging up instant gratification for desperate clients. We are suggesting to them that the route out of their problems is the same way they got there in the first place – i.e. Instant gratification!

Yes, a lot of people achieve results quickly, but so many don’t! Are we offering our clients one marshmallow so we can get a quick buck? Should we not instead be helping them to understand why they put on weight in the first place and helping them increase their ability to take control of their own lives and choices? Should we not be helping to reduce the thinking that it’s instant results or failure rather than encouraging it?

A high percentage of people I work with just mindlessly eat. They eat to pick up their mood and by doing so they make themselves fatter and consequently more unhappy…and so it goes on. We need to start educating clients that like the Heinz ketchup advert said “the best things come to those who wait “.

After all, 2 marshmallows are always better than 1…

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