When was the last time you allowed yourself to eat ice cream? Not when was the last time you ate ice cream. When was the last time you allowed yourself to eat ice cream? A birthday? A celebration? For me, that was a few minutes ago. And it was guilt-free. 

 

Before the last couple of months, it had been awhile. My adult whole life would associate ice cream and guilt. My diet never seemed to fit in ice cream. 

 

This would lead to a couple of likely scenarios.

1. I’d be good for a while and eventually give in and eat a whole tub of ice cream

2. Or would give up the diet because it was too restrictive 

 

I’d eat ice cream. And it was good. There’d be a small bit of satisfaction. And then shame and guilt. This was the only way I knew to diet. The only way to focus. It was all-or-nothing.

 

If I got distracted, I thought, well might as well check a few more things. Let me check my email really quick.  Now that I’ve already lost concentration. There’s plenty of stuff I’ve been avoiding. Text messages. Slack messages.

 

Let me reconnect with the real world. A few hours later either a whole tub of ice cream has been eaten or I finally reached the end of new content on my instagram feed. 

 

It all changed when I got a nutrition coach

 

All a sudden there was a cookie allowance. Or ice cream. How did that make any sense? To be honest, I was pretty hesitant at first. But I was paying for this advice. I figured I should at least try it his way. My way super wasn’t working. 

 

So I did. I looked at the box of cookies and see that I’d be able to eat two. Two before working out and two after. It’s been awesome. My pantry has a ton of cookies now. I even got a bunch of ice cream as well.

 

Did you know that high-quality ice cream is soft and ready to eat right off the fridge? I had no idea. I thought all ice cream was the same. Hard as a rock when you take it out of the freezer. 

 

And they ship ice cream now. Yes, ship. I recommend Wanderlust Creamery or Salt & Straw. Mmm, delicious. 

 

I had something to look forward to on a daily basis. It was a small reward. Sometimes, I’d have eaten some ice cream and get a sudden urge to not work out. It happened sometimes.

 

But most of the time, I was able to find the motivation to do it. And then I got the reward of a little bit more sweets. It’s the small wins in life. 

Learning from Books

 

How often do you give yourself a small win?

 

I’m a simple person. It’s hard to go through the day like a monk. Abstinent. My willpower is only so strong. Eat right. Sleep enough. Exercise. And then on top of that: avoid all potential inputs so you can do deep work.


The latter might be the most difficult. We have so much on our plate that you can almost always convince yourself you are doing something productive. Replying to emails? Productive. Reading a book? Educational. Checking the news? Infuriating. But feels like you are being a well-informed citizen. 

All the while, your big goal for the day is sitting there not being done. Whether it be eating healthy or working on that blog post. 

Those draconian measures worked. At first at least. No sugar. It lasted for weeks. But I knew I couldn’t do it forever. Every time I’d go into work it felt like a challenge. There were donuts. Or cake. You know hospital call rooms. It’s odd if there isn’t something sweet within a few feet from you.

I would give in eventually. And then keep giving in. Because the day had already been ruined. Might as well finish that pint of rocky road. 

I needed those small wins to keep myself from just giving in completely. 

So what does ice cream have to do with productivity?

Do you give yourself treats for doing well? Maybe, it’s not ice cream. It could be a little Instagram. Or the news. There’s always something going on in the world, right? 

I used to think that the only way I’d get anything done was to have huge chunks of time. That I wasn’t able to do anything other than focus on one thing. I know some people that can do that. 

I know I can’t. But with something to look forward to, some digital ice cream, then that period of work just feels so much easier to do.