Instant Gratification: Tiger Woods, The Marshmallow Test and Your Diet

“Instant Gratification”. Whether it’s Tiger Woods and sex, Oprah Winfrey and potato chips, or me and shopping, it’s something that all of us as human beings will struggle with in some way during our lives. The need for “Instant Gratification” is one of the primary reasons that diets fail. First, we are led to believe by the diet /weight loss and supplement industry that “instant” weight loss is possible. “The Hollywood Cleanse – lose up to 30 pounds in 30 days!” “The Belly Blasting Belt- lose 3 inches off your waist in the first week- with no exercise!” This is all crap. It’s one of the biggest reasons I don’t like Biggest Loser. It allows people to fantasize about weight loss similar to that seen on Biggest Loser.  But The Biggest Loser is not the real world- and many of the contestants go on to regain ALOT of their weight. And, even the contestants on Biggest Loser will tell you weight loss is Hard Work. Really Hard Work. There is no such thing as instant weight loss or quick-permanent– weight loss. ALL quick weight loss is temporary.

The second way “Instand Gratification” sabotages weight loss is that many dieters can not resist the temptation of certain unhealthy foods. The “Instant Gratification” of eating these tempting foods often outweighs the longterm goal of weight loss. Sure, our long term goal is stored in our memory banks, but the need for instant gratification will trump this, especially since the industrialized food industry packs the foods we eat with extra fat, salt, sweet and chemicals to increase our craving quotient. (Read the End of Overeating by Dr. David Kessler). So- what do we do about our need for “Instant Gratification”. Can we override the instinctual pleasure centers of our brains to achieve goals otherwise thwarted?

Research has shown that SOME OF US are more likely to succomb to temptation than others. The Marshmallow Test was a fascinating experiment done in the 1960’s, where young children were asked to not eat marshamallows in trade for a later reward of MORE marshmallows.  These children were then followed up through their high school years, and some fascinating information emerged. Those children who could resist the immediate gratification of the marshmallow went on to score higher in SAT’s and on other social and cognitive tests. Those who could not resist, were more likely to have challenges in school and in their lives.

What does all of this mean to YOU? Well, if you have difficulty resisting “Instant Gratification” there are cognitive tools and strategies to help yourself. Thought stopping and small notes and reminders can help. I keep a sticky  note in my car that simply says “NO”.  It is a reminder to stop a certain behavior that has become a habit for me while driving. You can also put an elastic around your finger or wrist and- without one thought or word- it will remind you of WHY you put it there- and it can cause you to pause before you engage in the activity you are trying to avoid. Substituting another activity for the one you are trying to change is also helpful- but it requires THOUGHT and presence of mind- which we are often not in touch with during our need for instant gratification.

And that brings me back to Tiger Woods. My FORMER hero. I am sick and tired of people saying “It’s Normal” for men to cheat and have obsessive sex with skanks. Does Tiger Woods not have a brain?  Is he incapable of self awareness and self regulation? Clearly not. Otherwise, he would not be the best golfer in the world.  No, my opinion is that Tiger has an addiction to sex. Anyone who would choose adultery over the love of his children is sick.  He needs help as all addicts do. I hope I am right. Otherwise, he is just an amoral loser.