Have you ever started a new fitness routine (diet, training) and told yourself "this time, I am NOT going to "cheat". I am not going to "fall off track". I am going to be 100% perfect and not do ONE THING off of my plan!"
How did that work for you?
Were you able to achieve results that you sustained and maintained year round? Or did you burn yourself out trying to be perfect? Did you try SO HARD to follow the plan to a T that you beat yourself up, gave up, or drove yourself crazy?
If you are a professional athlete, or someone training to be one, I think that the "100% effort, no excuses" slogan remains true. If you want to reach that next level in sport and fitness you DO need to strive for perfection. You DO need to be on point with your meals, training, recovery, mindset.
BUT...what about someone just looking to establish a fitness routine that they can sustain and maintain year round? What about someone just looking to eat well, exercise regularly, and improve their general health and fitness?
*Insert the 80/20 Rule*
What is it?
The 80/20 rule, or principle, was originally introduced by an Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto (it is sometimes referred to as the Pareto Principle). Pareto wrote that "80% of your results often come from 20% of your efforts". The interesting part about this principle is that it can be applied in many real-world situations, for example, business, service, finances, and FITNESS!
I have found that explaining and implementing the 80/20 rule with my lifestyle clients is extremely successful when it comes to forming healthy eating habits that can be sustained long term. HOW?
What happens when you tell yourself you can't have that donut? Or that ice-cream? Or that glass of wine?
Likely, you immediately want it. I don't like to completely eliminate food groups from my clients. I never tell them that they "can't have" something. Instead, I teach them how to properly fuel their bodies with macronutrients that will provide them with more energy, an improved mood, and better performance in the gym. Instead of eliminating food groups, I educate them on what foods contain what nutrients and how to make SMART choices when it comes to eating.
I also teach them that it does NOT matter what you do occasionally, but instead what you do consistently. JUST LIKE one donut won't make you gain fat...one great, balanced meal will not have you losing a ton of weight! But, if you are consistent long term and take the time to form and establish healthy lifestyle habits...you are setting yourself up for long term success!
If you are looking to change the way you view nutrition, health and fitness, and create a routine that you can sustain...stop being so hard on yourself.
Focus on eating whole, unprocessed, and well balanced meals 80% of the time. Pay close attention to how those foods make you FEEL. How truly GOOD you feel when you fuel your body with proper nutrients!
What about 20% of the time? Go for ice-cream with your children. Have a slice of cake at your Grandpa's birthday party. Crush a burger with your Dad. Enjoy a date night with your significant other. Celebrate a friend's engagement with a glass of wine.
This moderation will help you create a way of eating and living that is more maintainable. It allows you to "live". It encourages you to listen to your body and educate yourself on proper nutrition. It promotes a positive relationship with food and prevents you from seeing fitness as such an "extreme".
Don't live your life trying to aim for perfection. Stop comparing your journey to someone else's...we are all unique! Be KIND to yourself and invest in finding a fitness routine that fits withing YOUR life.
RUN YOUR LIFE.
Don't let it RUN you!