Spring is upon us. It’s time to dust off winter (or whatever they call it in Southern California), take a deep breath, and ready ourselves for a new season.
By the way…how are your New Years’ resolutions coming? Have you met any of the goals you set?
I wanted to give you a little advice on a new type of training. It’s called DELAYED GRATIFICATION training. Sounds fun, right?
Well, here is the deal. We all know that although we search out the perfect class, workouts and/or diet… it’s STICKING TO IT that is the hard part. Right? Especially in those moments where what you want in the moment, like a big piece of CHOCOLATE CAKE, may conflict with what you want later, which is to LOSE 20LBS.
And what I find is, with most people, it’s this MOMENT of choice, and your decision, that either moves you CLOSER to your goal, or FURTHER away from it. I know, it sounds like such a simple skill and yet so many of us are a little “soft” when it comes to delaying what we want RIGHT NOW for what we’d like to have in the FUTURE.
Have you heard of the marshmallow test?
Research on self-regulation was greatly stimulated by early experiments conducted by Walter Mischel and his colleagues on the capacity to delay gratification, which means being able to refuse current temptations and pleasures to work toward future benefits. In a typical study with what later came to be called the “marshmallow test,” a 4-year-old child would be seated in a room, and a favorite treat such as a cookie or marshmallow was placed on the table. The experimenter would tell the child “I have to leave for a few minutes and then I’ll be back. You can have this treat any time, but if you can wait until I come back, you can have two of them.” Two treats are better than one, but to get the double treat, the child had to wait. Have some fun watching this…
Developing your ability to delay gratification can be a powerful tool to help you reach your goals. There are 3 great ways to develop the skill of DG (Delayed Gratification). The first is by developing CLARITY of PURPOSE, the second is SPOTLIGHTING and the third is BEING AN AGENT FOR CHANGE.
CLARITY of PURPOSE – USE THE ABC METHOD
As I have said before, the first step is CLARIFYING your goal. When people ask me “What is the best exercise for losing weight and getting leaner?”, I say “Give me 10 reps of “NO THANK YOU” and keep your mouth shut when food is around!”. Or perhaps you might be one of those folks that eats well, but refuses to move much – so LIFTING your body off the coach/chair/car seat and moving more might be a good start. But knowing what you want (CLARITY) is the first step because things are going to come along that challenge your goals and you’ll have to say “NO THANK YOU”, even though everything in you is saying “YES PLEASE!!!”. Having clarity will give you the will power to A- Acknowledge, B-Breath and C- CLARIFY if that choice, in that moment, will move you closer to where you want to be in the future or move you further away.
SPOTLIGHTING – CHOOSING BEFORE YOU MUST CHOOSE
Spotlighting is keeping track of the target behavior that needs to be controlled or changed BEFORE the moment comes up. That means, if sugar is your downfall, keep an eye out for ways to avoid situations where you’ll have to make a choice in the moment to have (or not have) sugar. For example, I always like to have a little treat in the middle of the day. There is always a lull in the day when I’m more tired or hungry and I need a little pick- me- up. Instead of leaving that to fate, I PLAN my treat. I make it something special and healthy so that I don’t have to LOOK for my treat, I have already decided. A BUILDER BAR or KIND BAR with a small cup of coffee are all I need to stick with my PURPOSE and simplify my choices.
BEING AN AGENT OF CHANGE – YOU CAN TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS
This one is really a willingness to redefine a belief you have of YOURSELF. This all starts with a willingness to change. “I love food” is just that: a feeling or a belief… and it can be changed to: “I love to eat food that energizes me…” or “I hate to exercise!” can be changed to “I feel great when I exercise.” Did you know THOUGHTS usually start our FEELINGS and those feelings usually drive our ACTIONS? So, if you are willing to believe that you can change, and you start by changing what you are SAYING TO YOURSELF, then the thoughts – feelings – action chain of events can change. But it all starts with YOU and your willingness to change.
Test yourself this week. When that moment comes and you want to buy something, eat something, or skip your workout, recognize that moment… and let it pass. Acknowledge the thought / feeling, Breath, and Clarify what you really want and determine IF THIS CHOICE will bring you closer to your goal.
We have this amazing power to change ourselves in an instant… by recognizing (SPOTLIGHTING) what our thoughts or habits are and then knowing our goal (CLARITY of PURPOSE) and having the willingness to (BE AN AGENT OF) change.
Giving up what you want in the moment for what you want in the future is empowering… so POWER UP this week!
As always, I look forward to questions, suggestions and feedback.
Phil Dozois, Co-Owner and Founder of Breakthru Fitness, Pasadena, CA