Today we’re going to be talking about broccoli and cookies. Stop laughing, I’m being serious. This is a serious topic and it requires your serious attention. Because it’s serious.
Life is, at its core, all about broccoli and cookies.
And our success in any aspect of it, like fitness, comes down to what I call the Broccoli–Cookie Ratio.
The broccoli is the metaphorical representation for delayed gratification. It’s everything that’s good for us but sucks (and tastes like) ass. It’s the stuff we have to do but don’t want to do because it’s hard (and tastes like ass).
The cookie is the metaphorical representation for immediate gratification. It’s the things that feel (and taste) orgasmic but are probably not that good for us. It’s all the things we love doing and want to keep doing because they’re easy but probably need to stop, or at the least, cut down on.
In sum, the Broccoli-Cookie Ratio is simply this: Your success in anything is directly correlated to how much broccoli you’re willing to eat versus the number of cookies.
Because this is the thing: You can’t just have a 1:1 ratio of broccoli and cookies. That isn’t how this works. You can’t just be like, “Hey I went to the gym and ate well for one day, time to go hit the buffet, WOO.” No, you can’t do that because you didn’t eat enough broccoli to earn the cookie. You need to work your way up to the cookies by eating a ton of broccoli first.
Like in video games. You know, where you have to earn experience points to level-up; Link didn’t just get the Master Sword straight after he left his village, bro. He had to, firstly, eat a shit-ton of broccoli in the form of toil, struggle, and strife. And then after enough toil, struggle, and strife he was worthy to wield the Mastersword.
The problem is, we have everything ass backwards these days 1. We’re eating too many damn cookies, then when we’re sick and sugared up out of our brains we decide we’re going to eat a bit of broccoli. Meaning: We overeat, don’t go to the gym, laze around, and then when the feeling of guilt is too much to bear, we go to the gym, start eating better, or start on that project that’s been due for months.
The root cause of this conundrum is Impulse.
We’re conditioned to live off of our impulses with all our one-click purchases and everything-right-now mentality.
Oh, and please don’t think I’m sat atop my cushy perches looking down on you all while sanctimoniously showering you with a fuck-ton of preachiness because I’m the worst at this. It’s why I procrastinate on writing new articles. Knowing the amount of research, thinking, writing (work) I’m going to have to do is crippling. So instead I eat cookies in the form of cat videos on YouTube.
But regardless, the fact still stands, we, all of us, need to eat the broccoli. Not because we’re ascetic monks who get a monk-boner over sacrifice and suffering, but because the metaphorical broccolis in life are like green, bushy, ass-tasting wisdom cookies. Every time we do shit we hate, the broccoli spreads its legs and out pops a nugget of knowledge. And we learn stuff. And when we learn enough stuff, we get good at the stuff, and the better we get the more motivated we are to keep doing the stuff.
For example: Let’s say you want to lose fat, so you eat the broccoli (figuratively speaking but literally eating some broccoli would help too), the more broccoli you eat (go to the gym and eat better) the better you get (lose fat), and the better you get the more motivated you are to keep going to the gym and eating well – do this long enough and you’re a brand new person.
The problem is, the cookie is so much more alluring; it’s like the girl who’s bat-shit crazy, and we totally shouldn’t be dating her but DAMMIT she’s so much more appealing.
And even knowing this, you get involved and she fucks your best friend, burns your house down and runs away with all your money – no, of course this didn’t happen to me, dummy; I saw it in a movie.
Well, that got weird.
Anyway, as I was saying. The cookies are far more alluring because they’re right there, easy, and taste good. We get a kick out of eating the cookie and dopamine is all up in our brain having the neurological equivalent of a coke and hookers party.
And that is the Broccoli and Cookie Conundrum: knowing what we need to do, knowing it’s hard but good for us, and even while knowing all this: opting instead for the easy, right now, feel-good option.
That’s what I want to leave you with today. Just bear this principle in mind the next time and see how your actions weigh up to the Broccoli and Cookie Ratio. Have you eaten enough broccoli to earn the cookie?
If not, then, well, you know what do.
Ok, fine, fine. I’ll help you out. Here are three ways to tackle the Brocolli and Cookie Conundrum,
1. Remove temptation
Imagine you come home from a hard day at work. You’re tired and just want to go to sleep.
As you open the door to your room and make your way in, LO AND BEHOLD, Megan fucking Fox is seductively sprawled across your bed and tells you to have your way with her – I know, that like never happens, it’s your lucky day.
Anyway, so Megan fucking Fox is all up in your bed, but then you turn around and go, “Hey Megan, as hot as you are and as much as I would totally love to do this, I’m tired. So I’m gonna need you to leave because I want to go to sleep.”
Yeah, exactly. That would never happen. Unless you’re harbouring a deep hate in your heart for The Transformers movies, in which case it’s understandable. No, that’s a lie, didn’t you hear what I said? It’s Megan fucking Fox.
Look, my point is, that regardless of how you feel or think you’ll feel when you’re caught up in the heat of the moment you’re not going to act rationally.
To prevent you from doing something silly, like kicking Megan fucking Fox out of your bed or overeating on a pack of Oreos – remove these foods from your house and limit your exposure to them. Hyper-palatable foods are designed to drive you to want more. The less of these foods you have within easy reach, the less likely you are to break down and overeat.
2. Prepare In Advance
You know when you’re convinced you’ll go home and cook a nice healthy dinner, but then you get home and see the pizza that was left over from last night, and oh, also that tub of Ben and Jerry’s? Your brain doesn’t care about your fat loss goals anymore. It wants the Pizza and Ice cream.
So, prepare your meals in advance, at the least, have dinner ready and waiting for you so that when you do come home, tired after a hard day of work, you aren’t tempted to stray from your diet.
3. Intermittent Fasting
How do you build strength? By lifting weights, right? As you progressively lift heavier loads, your muscles get bigger and stronger. This is exactly how fasting works for the mind.
Fasting is to the mind what weight training is to the body.
(Tweet that shit – lol, just joking, only losers do that.)
When you don’t eat, that voice pops up in your head telling you that you should eat because oh god you’re so hungry. This voice is impulse. When you can learn to ignore that voice by feeling hunger and sitting it out, over time you build mental resilience, and as you build mental resilience the better you can control your impulses.
The better you can control your impulses, the more control you’re going to have over the rest of your life.
Ok. We’re done here. Now excuse me, I need to go buy some cookies.