Living a Balanced Life: The 80/20 Rule

August 17, 2016

If you've followed me for any amount of time you've probably heard me mention the 80/20 rule when it comes to health and fitness. I believe it is the key to living a sustainable healthy lifestyle. Many people aren't quite sure what 80/20 means or how to go about it. Here are a few tips to help guide you in that process.



First, what does "80/20" mean? 

It is a lifestyle change that focuses on clean and healthy eating 80% of the time, while leaving yourself 20% wiggle room for a treat or splurge. It teaches balance and moderation that can be long sustained through out your life. 


Many people ask me what qualifies as 80/20? While some people use this principle daily, (I ate great all day, I think I will enjoy this cookie tonight) I like to think of it in a weeks time. For 80% of my weekly meals I know I am going to be eating fresh, unprocessed, healthy foods that will give me health benefits and keep me feeling good. I leave myself a couple treats within a week to enjoy, and not feel deprived. Either one is ok, but sometimes having a cookie everyday can lead to 2 cookies, or 3 cookies everyday. You have to find what balance works for you and your goals.


A few things you need to remember is

You're building a lifestyle, not following a diet.

The reason the 80/20 rule is the most sustainable is because you feel more confident following it, and are not restricting yourself from some of your favorite treats. Many people follow a strict diet that limits any kind of indulgences, and they lose weight. However, after the diet is over they end up gaining all of it back. Why? Because they were following a diet that was not sustainable, and they were not allowing themselves grace. 


You don't have to be perfect.

Trying to be perfect is hard. It's stressful, emotional, and quite frankly, not realistic or sustainable long term. Once I started to apply the 80/20 rule to both my nutrition and exercise, I've kept my extra weight off, and daily lean towards the healthier options because I know how it makes me feel. So many people look at me funny when I'm enjoying a cupcake at a party. They think I'm some freak who can't live a life of moderation. I would go crazy if that were the case.


But a splurge does not mean eating an entire pizza by yourself. You need to remember that

Consistency and moderation are Key.

Moderation is important during that 20% of relaxed time. Maybe you enjoy having wings, or visiting your favorite ice cream shop. That is absolutely ok to do, but you do not want to have both things at the same time. Eat a healthy dinner, and treat yourself with a scoop of ice-cream, not a half gallon. Or keep your meals on track all week, but allow yourself to have a slice a pizza with the family on the weekend. You can not expect to reach your goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle if every meal has large indulgences involved. 


80/20 helps save you time.
It allows you to eat healthy without weighing your food, counting every calorie, or taking time to measure your food at every meal. I believe it is good to measure your food if you have no idea what your portions should look like, but over time you will be able to eyeball it with out a measuring tool. You'll know when the majority of your decisions are healthy and when they aren’t. Work towards having 80% of your food on the healthy side. It may take time, but eventually you will get the hang of it. Tracking every piece of my food does not flow well with my lifestyle and it really isn't necessary for my goals. Many fitness competitors do so, but that is because they have a certain goal in mind. Personally, I am trying to live a healthy, active life, so I can be the best mom I can to my family.



Planning will help you stay on track. 

You've heard the saying "fail to plan, then you plan to fail"? Well, it is true! One thing you can do is look ahead at your weekly schedule and see if you are going to a party or social gathering at some point in the week. If you know a birthday party is coming up on Saturday and you want to enjoy a piece of cake, then eat great the entire day, and enjoy that slice of cake. Or if your family likes to visit Chick Fil-A for family night, then save your treat for that trip. Planning will help you to not over indulge through out the week, so you are able to enjoy the fun gatherings with friends and family.


If you truly follow 80/20, it works.
I bet if you exercise 4-5 days a week and eat clean 80% of the time, you will notice a difference in your health, fitness, energy, and quality of life. You will be healthier and able to keep up wth your kids. The 80/20 rule is a sustainable, healthy lifestyle plan that you can enjoy!


Do you follow the 80/20 rule? And if so, have you noticed any changes in your over all health and wellness? Comment and let me know! 









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