My favorite guilty pleasure is potato chips. If I open the fridge and see nothing that looks tasty, 10 seconds later I’m on the Ruffles like a dog on a preacher’s leg. It isn’t a pretty sight. But if my fridge contains, as it often does, some cucumber slices marinating in white vinegar and water, mmm-mmm. I don’t need willpower to salt those bad boys and pop ’em in my mouth.
In my experience, anything that requires a lot of willpower isn’t sustainable. That’s why I use a number of tricks to avoid situations that pit pleasure against deprivation. The cucumber trick is just one of them.
I also like to train myself away from using willpower the way Pavlov trained his pooches.
After a workout at the gym, I always treat myself to a delicious protein shake and 20 minutes of unstructured chilling out in the snack bar while reading interesting tidbits on my smartphone. The combination of the cool-down, the delicious shake and the free time with my thoughts and the Internet is deliriously pleasurable.
Now when I think about going to the gym, I don’t imagine the boringness of the exercise in isolation. I think of it as a package deal that includes the wonderful 20 minutes that follow.