If you have a hard time sticking to a fat loss routine–food and/or exercise–it might be because you see achieving healthy goals as being all or nothing. Shedding fat suddenly becomes about turning your life upside down, having no fun, never attending another happy hour again, and living your life in sweaty sports bra. It’s an overwhelming view, and one that is sure to keep you flat on the couch instead of out working toward a better you.
The good news is that to have the body you want and the health you need doesn’t have to be as daunting as you may be making it. You and everyone else in the world are imperfect. It’s a simple fact. However, there are lots of imperfect people who are healthy and not chained to a treadmill eating only broccoli, which means it’s possible for you, too. You just need to take it a little less seriously.
Less seriously? Seems counter-intuitive, right? Not taking your health seriously is likely how a sedentary, snack-filled life set in. And you might be right. But when it’s time to make the switch to being healthy, trying to do it in the strictest manner possible is like trying to achieve perfection–something that doesn’t exactly exist.
It’s time to change your perspective. Going from zero to 100 percent, all at once is not going to be sustainable. Your niece’s pizza party is on Saturday, you’re getting together with the girls for a drink next Wednesday, and you’re headed home to mom’s cooking with no gym nearby at the end of the month. All of these events would normally make you happy and give your something which to look forward. However, now that you’re watching what you eat and trying to stay on an exercise schedule, your happiness has switched to stress. You start questioning your willpower, which feels a lot like a mental boxing match. By the end, you’re beat up and have restricted yourself from any enjoyment at all. Still, in the back of your mind, you kind of know you’re going to cave, and that leads to sabotage.
That’s where the 80/20 rule comes to the rescue. If life is 100 percent, an 80/20 split allows you some wiggle room for having fun without overdoing it. The idea is to go part-time with your healthy ways and still see results. Instead of eating right all the time, aim for 80 percent of the time. For example, take a look at your meals. If you eat three meals a day, seven days a week, that’s 21 meals. Twenty percent of those meals equates to about 4 meals in the week where you don’t have to be super strict. Now, it doesn’t mean you should go off the deep end and eat every fried food in sight–it’s not a cheat meal. But the 20 percent freedom gives you a little leeway if you’d like a soda, a glass of wine, or to split a dessert with your spouse.
The same rule can be applied for working out. If you’re working out five days a week, scale back one of the days to something that is less intense. Opt for yoga, a casual bike ride, or a mile jog instead of five-mile run. You don’t have to cut the exercise completely, but you don’t have to overdo it every day either. After all, your muscles need to recover in order to get strong.
If you’ve been struggling in the past to stay perfect with a plan, give the part-time 80/20 a try to see if you find more success. Knowing you have flexibility will likely make it easier to do your best.
How do you stay on track with a plan? Share with others in the comments.