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Why Is Delayed Gratification Most Needed In The Fitness And Nutrition Industry?

Why Is Delayed Gratification Most Needed In The Fitness And Nutrition Industry?

In an era of window shopping and one-click transactions, instant gratification has become a social norm.

We no longer want to wait at traffic lights, want our online orders to be delivered on prime and even stare at our screens stalking our uber drivers till they arrive at our doorsteps!

instant gratification

Since smartphones and Wi-Fi access has made things easier and faster, our brain is getting used to short, quick bursts of dopamine spikes. Although instant gratification is becoming a habit, impulse control or delayed gratification discerns us from the animal planet. 

Several studies proved that people who exercise delayed gratification by resisting the immediate craving for anything, are more likely to achieve success in life, share better relationships, have improved markers for health and fitness. They even tend to do better financially.

But more than anything, the sense of giving up on an instantaneous urge through delayed gratification became an essential practice in the health and nutrition industry. 

Globally, the fitness industry has a market value of over $87 billion. Contrary to the global count of 12–18 workouts each month, an average Indian merely exercises 4-6 times per month, according to a study. They ultimately overpay. Unfortunately, up to 67% of gym subscriptions are entirely unused.

Pretty disappointing—right? Most people are expecting instant results when they join the gym, however, when they see slow progress, they tend to drop out. 

fitness centre

The New Year is typically promoted as a moment for self-improvement or new adventures. Our culture is quite hyped up and stresses Gen Z and Millennials to abide by the slogan "New Year, New Me.

A bunch of enthusiasts make their new year resolution to follow healthy routines and diet plans and finagle plentiful exercise strategies but barely walk on the mapped trail for long. Not to my shock, several people will plan the same goal in January 2023 and not follow through. 

According to one study, up to 70% of those who make fitness resolutions give up before reaching their targets. Once again, fitness is a game of delayed gratification and slow results. 

What is Delayed Gratification VS Instant Gratification?

Instant gratification is operating from the drive on pain and pleasure. An ice cream for instance might seem more pleasurable than a session on the treadmill. Netflix might seem pleasurable to you VS working on your goals. 

delayed gratification

Delayed gratification, on the other hand, operates from the sense of right and wrong. Sure, the ice cream is more pleasurable, but exercising is the right thing for the body. Entertainment might seem more pleasurable, but working on your goals is the right thing to do.

But what transpires when you apply instant or delayed gratification?

When you satisfy your cravings, you experience instant gratification and release "happy hormones" like dopamine and endorphins. Meanwhile, by applying the principle of delayed gratification, you might not see an instant release of happy hormones till the task at hand is completed. 

Some individuals apply delayed gratification as the default mode. This certainly has lasting benefits, but like any other muscle of the body, it needs to be exercised to strengthen. 

The Marshmallow Experiment?

In the 1960s (published in 1972), one of the biggest study projects on delaying gratification was initiated by Stanford professor Walter Mischel called the "Marshmallow Study." The study spanned 40 years and was longitudinal.

marshmallow study

So, the Stanford marshmallow experiment outlines the pros of delayed gratification. Psychologists learned a lot about why deferred gratification is essential as a predictor of future success by observing and assessing children— mostly 4 and 5 years old.

The researchers had young children sit on a bench, then placed a marshmallow in front of them. Researchers told the kids that they would leave the room and receive two marshmallows when the researchers returned if they did not eat the marshmallow when they went.

Some kids quickly started eating the marshmallow when the researchers left the room. Some kids paced back and forth but gave in to the temptation to eat the marshmallow. Some kids waited, patiently for the researchers to come back.

What's next? 

Those preschoolers who patiently waited the entire time were more likely to attain excellent scores in high school, show less addiction, and reflect a stronger sense of self-worth. 

This marshmallow study was a noteworthy social psychology research project for several years. Researchers Celeste Kidd, Holly Palmeri, and Richard Aslin added to the experiment's discoveries by claiming that both children and adults must sincerely believe that delayed gratification will benefit them more than hunting for instant reward.

Let's talk about this in perspective of health and wellness. A 'quick weight loss pill', a 'fad diet', a 'fat loss surgery' are all methods to exert instant gratification and not delayed gratification. Here, you certainly get quick results, but long term implications to your body can be detrimental.

Following a sustainable meal plan, a realistic fitness plan and making long- term lifestyle changes can be a slow process, but the results are long- lasting and healthy. Watch this video to understand what I mean by lifestyle changes:

Why Following A Fad Diet Can Lead To Weight Loss But Is Not Good For You?

When a diet plan has a deadline, it is a fad diet. Fad diets advertise speedy weight loss and promise fast results. Most fad diets restrict your food options, thus causing micro- nutrients deficiencies and hormonal imbalances.

Detecting fad diets are challenging as they hide under false scientific claims. They may also make claims of disease reversal and longevity. However, when they require you to follow an eating pattern only 'till you lose weight', beware, it is a fad diet and not a lifestyle change. 

Some fad diets are described as being low in carbs, extremely low in fat, and/or rich in protein. Some encourage consuming large quantities of a particular item, such as grapefruit or celery juice. Others will concentrate on altogether avoiding one specific meal. Fad diets are frequently devised by individuals with little awareness of their long-term health repercussions.

Some popular fad diets you might have come across are as follows:

  • The GM diet
  • Keto Diet
  • Atkins Diet
  • Low- Carb Diet
  • Paleo Diet
  • GoLo Diet

I have written extensively about why not to follow them. Here are a few resources to read through, if you are considering them:

Fad diets may cause the following symptoms because they often eliminate key foods:

  • Dehydration.
  • Constipation.
  • Nausea and headaches.
  • Weakness and fatigue.
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
  • Permanent hormonal imbalances.
  • Gut dysbiosis/ Leaky Gut.

You may also lose the preventative health benefits of a balanced diet if you follow fad diets that excessively constrain food types or nutrients. 

While you might experience some water loss by following a fad diet, they certainly should not be followed for a long time, or if you want lasting results. 

Importance Of Delayed Gratification VS Instance Gratification. 

Delayed gratification is the ability to wait for a better reward in the future and is a critical life skill. 

By exercising delayed gratification, you can postpone significant purchases to save for a trip, forgo desserts to drop weight, or opt for a job that you don't really enjoy but that will help you build a more powerful CV over time, and will ultimately help you have a great career later in life.

According to studies, the skill to delay gratification is one of the psychological attributes that contribute the most to accomplishment. 

success and delayed gratification

Like I previously mentioned, delayed gratification is a muscle you want to train for optimal function. Play small games with yourself, for instance, if you want to eat an ice cream right now, tell yourself that you will wait for 30 minutes and then eat it. Small games like this will help you slowly develop the patience to wait to do the right thing eventually.

Although indulging in something might now feel good, practicing control and balancing your emotions may result in greater or superior rewards in the long haul. Moreover, delayed gratification can enable you to gradually gain more self-control.

Do Hunger Hormones Affect Our Ability To Delayed Gratification?

They say hungry people make the worst decisions—I couldn't agree more. 

In a recent study conducted by researchers at Sahlgrenska University, hunger impairs people's decision-making capacity. When hungry, the stomach releases the hormone ghrelin—it stimulates appetite and adversely influences impulse control and decision-making.

Hunger can intensely affect decision-making ability and stimulate impulsive behaviour. 

Ironically, fad diets only cause more fluctuations of the hunger hormones, making it harder for you to practice delayed gratification. 

This is why, while trying to follow a healthy meal plan, it is of essential to keep gherlin activity low. how can this be accomplished? Here are a few ways:

  • Aim to include 40- 50 grams of fiber intake per day. Make sure to eat fiber rich foods. 
  • Include food dense in micro- nutrients. This includes leafy greens, vegetables, fruits and pulses. 
  • Eat three servings of grains per day. Grains keep you satiated, and the complex carbs in grains help improve gut microbiome. 
  • Avoid hyper- palatable foods like sugars and artificial sweeteners. They drive your hunger hormones up. 

The "hunger hormone" family—which includes ghrelin, Leptin, cholecystokinin, and others peptides—plays a vital role in how well we control our hunger and balance our eating.

According to a study conducted in 2020 on individuals with type 2 diabetes, an increase in ghrelin levels significantly contributes to boosting appetite and making it more difficult to lose weight. 

Gaining excess weight is tied closely to instant gratification. Children with trouble controlling their food intake based on hunger cues may eat beyond satiety. This escalates their risk of developing diet-related disorders. The secret to this situation is self-control or self-regulation through delayed gratification.

But besides just giving in to your temptation, hormonal imbalances cause excessive cravings, making it harder for you to say no. Thus, making positive lifestyle changes and staying on a sustainable meal plan are crucial for long- lasting weight loss. 

Five Steps To Stay Motivated For Delayed Gratification.

Exercising delayed gratification is challenging for several reasons. Therefore, some techniques will simplify learning delayed gratification while motivating you to delay gratification.

  • Establish Timetables:

When you define a timeframe to wait for something, it will help you be more patient. Start with small time lines like waiting for five minutes before you give in to your urges of pain and pleasure, slowly increase these time lines to a few hours and even days. 

  • Set achievable expectations:

It wakes time to develop self- discipline. Set time frames you can commit to VS trying to do too much all at once. Start with small tasks you can easily wait for and slowly take on bigger tasks.  

  • Develop Trust:

You can develop trust by ensuring rewards are delivered on time and exactly as planned. It plays a significant role in a now-or-later decision-making cycle.

  • Recurring Scenarios:

Repeating scenarios promotes the idea of consequences and encourages thoughtful decision-making, which, in fact, supports the life skill(s) you are attempting to impart.

  • Practice mindfulness:

By meditating regularly, you can afford the mental room to avoid providing yourself a minor dopamine boost in the short run to chase a larger reward later on.

Ironically, the calmness you achieve through mindfulness meditation may be a modest reward in and of itself. Your self-regulation skills will improve as you practice more.

Ironically, following a nutrient- dense meal plan makes it easier for you to practice delayed gratification, by naturally reducing your cravings to eat junk food. On the other hand, following a fad diet that is restrictive will only cause more cravings and eventually you will give in to cravings. 

Thus, when it comes to nutrition, follow the path that takes you longer but is healthy and sustainable. 

Let's Just Talk. No Obligations.

I do free consultations every Tuesday's and Thursday's. Either way you will get some actionable tips to reach your fitness goals faster.

Next article 11 Effective Tips To Bio-Hack Your Body Into Losing Weight.

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About Roshni Sanghvi

Roshni Sanghvi is an Indian plant-based sports nutritionist and body transformation specialist. She is the first Indian to represent on a national bodybuilding stage being on a 100% plant-based diet. Roshni is a holistic nutritionist, graduated from the prestigious NutraPhoria college of nutrition in Canada.

She is also an ACE-certified personal trainer, certified PlantFed gut coach, certified Bodyshred, and Animal flow instructor with a specialisation in disease reversal through food and lifestyle modification.

Her approach is more focused on helping you in adopting a healthy lifestyle. With her result-oriented holistic methods, she has managed to transform and reverse lifestyle diseases such as PCOS, Thyroid, Diabetes etc for 12k+ clients worldwide.