While it may sound like a complicated math problem to those of us who are more left brain dominant, this post is going to be completely dedicated to explaining the 80/20 rule and sharing some tips for how to embrace the 80/20 rule in your health journey.
Two of my health and wellness beliefs are small steps and the 80/20 rule. Small steps are easy- you must learn to crawl before you can run. You are setting yourself up for failure when you decided “Today, August 1, 2016, I am going to drink only water, workout 30 minutes a day, eat a well balanced, minimally processed whole food diet, go to bed at 9pm sharp, and stop gossiping”. Making the change to incorporate one of those into your life may prove to be difficult. Incorporating all of them is IMPOSSIBLE for 99.2% of the population. If you are a member of that 0.8%, congrats. But most of us need to start off with small steps. Small steps of change that eventually add up to strides and miles and marathons. Eventually the first small step you take (I always recommend starting with drinking more water) becomes a part of your daily routine, it’s no longer something you struggle to do, it’s part of you. You’ve mastered that step, time to take another. And so the cycle repeats. Always challenging yourself to take another small step.
But as part of those small steps, we also must learn to embrace grace. There will always be bad days, homemade lasanga, parties to attend. Grace looks like the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time we will choose foods that nourish our bodies. We will choose to stay away from processed junk and focus on the foods that do not need a nutrition label. Whole, unprocessed foods that our grandmothers would be able to recognize.
The remaining twenty percent of the time, we will indulge. Whether it’s an night out on the town with guacamole and chips and margaritas. Or something more decadent like this TO DIE FOR ice cream sandwich from Mojo Cookie Dough and Creamery in Nashsville, Tennessee.
But there is one big caveat. Your 80/20 can’t be every day. You cannot follow a meal plan until 8pm and then decide to exercise your 80/20 and open up a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. If you follow at 2000 calorie a day diet and choose unhealthy options 20% of your day, you will have splurged on 2800 calories by week’s end! This is just a sampling of what 2800 calories looks like:
5 McDonald’s cheeseburgers (1500 calories), 2 large fries (1000 calories) and a hot fudge sundae (300 calories)!
But allowing yourself a treat meal on the weekends or a glass of wine a night or two a week is a way to embrace the 20%. Making a reservation at your favorite restaurant that serves simply decadent food is embracing the 20%. Giving yourself the grace of recognizing that sometimes you need a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup is embracing the 20%.
When you adopt those two beliefs, small steps and the 80/20 rule, you have set yourself up to be successful. Your journey will not be a sprint along flat ground but, instead, will be a slow marathon along a winding path. And that is perfect, a marathoner can outlast a sprinter any day.