When I was a little kid I basically could eat anything I wanted, like Ring Dings for breakfast. Seriously, I lived on junk but was such a skinny little thing. Growing up in Queens, we were outside morning, noon and night. We ran and played long into those hot summer nights.
Most of my adult life, I’ve strived hard to be the best I could be. No matter what I took on, I believed if you worked hard enough you’d get it done. So it’s no surprise I approached healthy living with the same gusto. Unfortunately, striving for perfection in this area can often be a huge source of stress.
Striving to eat entirely clean, or eliminating foods from the menu often left me craving them even more. Then of course, if I allowed myself to indulge, I’d feel guilty and beat up on myself emotionally.
Exercise can be the same. You set out on a new journey and join a gym. You vow to go every day. Every single day. Within a few weeks you are sore or burned out. Seriously, who hasn’t done this? I know I have and ended up injured.
I’ve finally realized you can’t really strive for perfection in this part of life. You can strive to do the best you can each and every day. Each day is a clean slate, a chance to start anew.
I’ve been doing a heart rate training plan for the past seven months. It calls for me to use the formula 80/20 when planning my runs. 80% of my runs are done at my MAF HR of 130. 20% of my runs are done with no HR cap. I’ve recently decided to apply this same formula to my healthy eating plans. I’m going to shoot for 80% of my choices being healthy, but allow myself a 20% cushion for life. That glass of wine over dinner with friends last night no longer is a source of guilt. Pizza on Friday, no problem. As long as I stay within the 80/20 range it will all be fine. It’s about balance after all.
So, as I head into the holiday weeks, I’ll be sure to make healthy choices as often as I possibly can. I’ll rely on my buffer to get me to the other side of this season with minimal change to my lifestyle and minimal weight gain. 80/20 is simple and manageable. It’s also a realistic lifestyle that allows room for some detours.
If your eating and exercising routines are becoming a source of stress, it’s time to rebalance. Why not give the 80/20 ratio a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.