There are a lot of unhealthy relationships within the fitness society ranging from making poor food and exercise choices, to the other end of the spectrum with food and exercise obsessions. Both extremes are unhealthy; excessive exercise and food obsessions are not conducive to sustainable, long term results. They are generally not enjoyable and can make for a restrictive lifestyle that is difficult to maintain.
THE 80/20 LIFESTYLE
However, the 80/20 fitness principle that I like to follow for long term results is as follows; put in a top effort 80% of the time in order to obtain the health and fitness results you desire and for the remaining 20%, don’t worry about it – enjoy your life!
Maybe you think that by allowing yourself to relax for 20% of the time that you won’t achieve the results you’re after. However, the opposite is in fact true and let me explain why;
First of all, 80% of the time is a very large proportion; For every ten meals that you eat, aim for eight of them to be as nourishing as possible. For the remaining 20% you can allow yourself to eat in a way that doesn’t exactly follow the health guidelines, but this 20% won’t stop you from being on track.
How can this be true? When you successfully change your lifestyle so that you eat healthily the majority of the time, you are not really going to be tempted to gorge yourself on an unhealthy fast food meal or eating a full bar of chocolate. Believe it or not, in time you won’t get cravings for these sorts of foods any more and even if you do, once you start eating them you’ll realise that they’re making you feel sick, or they just don’t taste like real food any more. If by chance you do go ahead and eat something like this, you’re likely to get a sore stomach or feel low on energy later in comparison to those good foods 80% of the time; then you’ll probably crave the delicious healthy food you’re used to eating!
However, if you are getting cravings to this degree & ‘binge eating’ on the regular, just keep working on healthy choices & eventually these unhealthy binges will become a thing of the past.
LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE
The 80/20 diet means that you won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself of things by saying, “I can never eat that”. In small, infrequent amounts of more appealing options are not going to disrupt your goals. Instead,
‘it is the person who tells themselves they can’t have something that later feels deprived and binges in a way that will actually hinder their progress’.
Hooper, L. 2021. Ref; McGuiness, K. 2017.