The secret to maintaining a long term healthy lifestyle is to live by the 80/20 rule in all aspects of diet, fitness and nutrition.
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People often joke they wish they could bottle up my willpower and use it for themselves. Most recently, a friend said “If I had half as much willpower as you do, I would be in great health.” At first, I brushed these remarks off as polite sentiments with a dash of sarcasm. But, over time, people continued to make similar comments which made me really stop to think about why I am able to control my cravings and make smart choices every day, long after the New Year’s Resolution buzz wears off.
Of course, this all leads us to our 6th and final Healthy New Year 6-Week Challenge: Finding Balance. If I had to pin-point the one reason why I’ve been able to maintain my weight loss for over 8 years it would come down to one thing and one thing only: the 80/20 Rule.
You’re probably already familiar with the well known 80/20 rule (aka Pareto Principle) which explains things like why 80% of your phone calls are made to 20% of the people in your phone, 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients, etc. but I’m talking about a different type of 80-20 rule that I apply towards living a healthy lifestyle:
80% of the time, I eat clean foods that are minimally processed and provide maximum nutrition. The other 20% of the time, I choose to relax the rules and indulge in whatever I’m craving. Since I know that I can always eat anything I want during that 20%, I am able to make smart choices throughout the remaining 80%. This simple 80-20 rule has allowed me to maintain my weight loss for over 8 years and continues to help me reach my healthy living goals.
How each person chooses to spend their 20% is up to them. For me, I tend to prefer quality over quantity which is why I love Lindt EXCELLENCE with A Touch of Sea Salt Dark Chocolate. Made from only the world’s finest cocoa beans to create the best textures and flavors, I am satisfied after two or three squares and don’t find myself wanting to eat the entire bar in one sitting.
Other times, I might want to splurge on a cold glass of bubbly prosecco or, if I’m really lucky, crispy duck fat fries. By taking a moment to indulge in my cravings each week, I am much more motivated and focused on reaching my goals the rest of the time.
Of course, it doesn’t only apply to food. If I’ve been challenging myself in my workouts all week, I am ok taking a gentle yoga for my mind, body and soul one day. Will I reach my step goal that day? Maybe not. Will I reach it the next day and the day after that? It’s almost a guarantee.
Finding that happy balance not only gives you something to look forward to but it teaches you to trust yourself and your ability to make smart choices. The key is knowing that you are making a choice to indulge. You are not falling off the wagon or derailing your efforts. Satisfying your cravings 20% of the time is all part of the plan which is why you will be more willing to stick with your plan long term.
What is your favorite way to achieve balance each week? I’d love to hear from you.