How Can Marshmallows Predict Your Level Of Weight Loss Success?

Being able to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term, so you can enjoy greater rewards in the long term, is the #1 INDISPENSIBLE requirement for success. Brian Tracy

What do marshmallows have to do with predicting your weight loss success or lack thereof?


If you put a marshmallow in front of a four-year old and told ‘em they could eat it immediately or wait until you returned and they’d get another one, what’d they do?


Well… in the 60s at Stanford University, Walter Mischel did this exact test with 650 four-year-olds.

And they video-ed the kids’ reactions.

Some of them gobbled the marshmallow immediately.

Some looked at it, smelled it, touched it but didn’t eat it.

Others walked around and hummed songs to distract themselves.

One even licked the space on the table surrounding the marshmallow!

Based on how they performed in the marshmallow experiment, the children were rated on a scale: LOW DELAYERS snaffled the marshmallow instantly. HIGH DELAYERS were the ones who waited the 15 minutes and received a second marshmallow.


Over the next 40 years, Stanford researchers tracked these children.


… to many people’s surprise… there’s been significant correlation between where the four-year-old placed on the marshmallow scale and specific aspects of their lives: body-mass index, stress management, career success, ability to maintain friendships and, drug and alcohol consumption.

The high delaying children achieved more success in their careers and had healthier life style statistics than their low delaying classmates.

In fact, a child “who could wait 15 minutes had an SAT score that was, on average, two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only 30 seconds,” according to the article, ‘Don’t! The secret of self-control’ in the May 18 issue of The New Yorker.

Your turn now…

What are “marshmallows” in your life? In your personal life? In your professional life? And specifically, what are your marshmallows on your weight loss journey?

What are the activities which give you immediate gratification but undermine your longer-range goals?

The desire to please everyone is a big marshmallow.

The desire to be all things to all people is a huge marshmallow.

“Tomorrow I’ll start choosing healthy options,” is one of the biggest marshmallow of ‘em all.

Share and inspire… in the comments section below…what are your marshmallows? And what are you going to DO about them, now you’ve recognised ‘em?

Marshmallow-y love etc, Avril

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2 Responses to How Can Marshmallows Predict Your Level Of Weight Loss Success?

  1. Ling Tsoy says:


    For me, the desire to please everyone and be everything to everyone is one of the biggest marshamallows of all!

    As for what I’m going to do about it: Biggest hurdle for me is forming the long-term picture/goal of what it is I really want, getting to know myself and my likes/dislikes and working my way down and reflect on how I interact with people and how they interact with me–see if it’s getting me to that long-term goal..
    It’s a boundary-setting exercise for me as well in terms of being clear with myself about what is ok and what I want and being clear with others and communicating that in a clear way. Then resisiting the urge from within to sabotage that or handling resistance from others. How to break a habit of a lifetime? (a bad one, that is) I think it will take lots of practice within myself and my interactions with others for them and myself to get it!!

    Very interesting, that Stanford study. What is the learned response to low delaying? What tools can we use to change from low to high?

    Also is the May 18 issue of the New Yorker from 2011? I’d be interested in reading up more on this topic!

    LOVE XO :)

    • Avril says:


      If it makes you feel any better those two marshmallows are tres familiar for most of us! You’ve got a great awareness going on, which is a good thing. And you’ve asked some great questions…another good thing… because when you ask a quality question you increase your chances of getting a quality answer.

      Firstly a bit of a response. Chunk it down. Firstly, have a picture of what you want then take steps every day to move closer to that picture. Of course there’ll be bumps (things you need to learn) en route. And as soon as you ‘get’ the lesson, it’ll disappear as an ‘issue’ in your journey because you’ve ‘got’ it. Have the discipline to continue the journey and hold out for your desires. BACK YOURSELF. You WILL be successful if you just stay on your path and don’t give up on yourself.

      Many of us (until we learn otherwise) run a Miss Unassertive story. Or her close cousin, the Miss I Can’t Say No story. Both these stories are about increasing your certainty in YOU so you are able to NEVER give up on you and your dream.

      Being assertive simply means that you stand up for yourself, state how you feel, all while being respectful of others. It also includes being able to say ‘no’, instead of allowing others to trample over you. Being assertive doesn’t mean you’ll always get what you want but when you don’t at least ask for help then you don’t have the right to expect anyone else to know what you want.

      And remember that: ‘we teach people how to treat us’. It means that you either teach people to treat you with dignity and respect, or you don’t. It also means that you’re partly responsible for the mistreatment that you get at the hands of someone else because you’re shaping others’ behaviour when you teach them what they can get away with.

      Can you see the connection? It all begins with certainty in our own value, backing ourselves and having the discipline to keep going. All of these areas are related. If you don’t value yourself enough to stand up for yourself you probably don’t value yourself enough stand up for your dreams. You absolutely deserve to put yourself first because the more you take care of you, the more you’ll have to give to others. Remember you always have the choice. And remember too, the past is the past, it’s over and done with, and your power lies in your present moment.

      Bit of a ramble there Ling. I trust something there jumped out and clicked for you. And BTW, you’ve given me some terrific ideas for future articles – THANK YOU!

      Here’s the link, honey:

      LOVE XO ; )

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