When people ask me how I’ve been able to sustain this healthy lifestyle for 4 years now, my answer is simple: I live by the 80/20 rule.
What exactly does 80/20 mean?
80/20 is a way of living and eating that allows you to reach your fitness goals and is also sustainable long-term. The idea is that you are eating clean and healthy 80% of the time, and 20% of the time you are relaxing your standards and enjoying treats and indulgences.
Think of it this way, if you are eating 3 meals and 3 snacks a day, 20% is about 7 of those meals that you can enjoy a treat. Treats are alcohol, sugar, a fun appetizer, dessert, etc. Doesn’t that sound like a lot??
The thing is, it’s HARD to be on point 100% of the time, but it’s very doable 80% of the time. This formula allows for celebrating, relaxing, messing up, and just LIVING.
Many people fail at diets because they are not sustainable long-term. Once we introduce the missing foods back into our diets, the weight comes back and we are often worse than when we started. The key is to change your mindset from one of deprivation, to one of planning ahead. When you live the 80/20 lifestyle, you don’t need to think about “going without” certain foods. Instead, you move those naughty foods into the 20% category. What you’ll be surprised to find is that the foods you are excited to enjoy in your 20% window don’t taste as good as you imagined they would taste because you are eating clean 80% of the time! So your treats will change over time and will become cleaner as your taste buds change.
How to effectively execute 80/20
I plan for my treats and indulgences so that I can successfully execute the rest of my week. First, I LOVE looking forward to them. It brings me joy to think about that glass of wine I will have on Friday night and the Starbucks latte I’ll get on Tuesday. But also, the planning is the glue that makes everything work for you.
Each Sunday I write our family meal plan for the week. I fill in any events that will prohibit us from eating dinner at home, including meetings and date nights.
Then I fill in dinners based on how the nights look: if they are super busy, I’ll fill in a crockpot meal. I usually find 1-2 new recipes each week and rotate in family favorites on the other nights.
I make my weekly grocery list based on these meals and we shop Monday morning.
I have been eating and living this way for 4 years now, so I have a good feel for what 20% looks and feels like in my life. But to be really sure, you can write out snacks and all three meals, and highlight where you are planning to enjoy a treat or indulgence. If you have highlighted more than 7 places on your weekly meal plan, you might need to re-evaluate.
If you want more information about how to LIVE the 80/20 rule, and you want to see it put into practice, check out Family Wellness: Simplified, my brand new program for weight loss and complete family wellness.