You’ve made the decision to delay gratification and lose weight. Your motivation is high, willpower in place, and strategy solid. You’ve been here before, right, and what happened?
You may have reached and maintained your goal weight. You may have fallen off the bandwagon immediately. You may fall somewhere in between.
Of course, there are many factors that affect weight loss success, but one of the biggest is your ability to resist temptation, or delay gratification.
Unless you can lock yourself away from the world while losing weight, you will encounter foods and drinks that test your resolve. Willpower is not the answer.
Instead, research shows that those who are able to delay gratification in order to experience future rewards are more likely to succeed in their goals. We delay gratification every day in many areas of our lives.
Despite wanting to get home quickly, we stick to the speed limit because the potential future outcomes – crashes or fines – are not worth the risk. We somehow put up with ratty teenagers because we know (deep, deep down) that eventually they will be adults who we want in our lives. We avoid spending in order to save money or invest now so that our retirement will be comfortable.
So how do we rationalise delayed gratification when it comes to sticking to a weight loss program?
Mental time travel
It’s an interesting concept based in science. Being able to ‘see’ your future can be a powerful tool in helping achieve the results you want. The Conversation describes this as “Imagining the benefits of delaying our gratification in the present gives us a sense of the eventual – often more important – later consequences. In this way, imagined events can act as their own mini-reinforcements en route to the real thing.”
Taking the time to imagine your personal future while making the choice between immediate and delayed rewards can help us to make better choices.
Healthy Inspirations helps by having each member write their Vision Statement. The Vision Statement is written in the present tense, as though it has already happened. It’s not an “I want” or “I will be” type statement, but an “I am” statement. Making your Vision Statement as detailed as possible helps create the image in your mind that helps you see your future.
Reading your Vision Statement every morning and every evening helps to keep it top-of-mind, and when those pesky temptations crop up it’s far easier to delay gratification and turn knowledge and intentions into real-world action.