The biggest struggle with any diet change is sustainability. I’m not talking about using recycled paper products or buying an electric car. I’m talking about the ability to sustain the diet beyond the initial weight loss. Making the diet into a lifestyle. So many diets are great for a quick change, but those quick changes are also often short-lived. So, when I say “diet,” I mean a person’s regular eating habits and not the special dietary restrictions that we place on ourselves to lose weight.
I’ve known for a long time that food is my love language. I come from a family of eaters. We don’t get together without food. And now, as an adult, I’m the same way with my friends. I love to prepare meals for people. I love to bake. I love to show people I care about them through deliciousness. So I’ve always known that diets that eliminate my favorite things — cheese, desserts, cocktails … — aren’t a realistically sustainable option for me. Forbidding me from enjoying those things only makes me want them all the more.
That’s why the 80/20 approach works best for me. I eat on point and health-conscious 80% of the time, and I don’t beat myself up if I am less healthy and focused the remaining 20% of the time. Some people take each day and divide it into 80/20. If they eat three meals and have three snacks a day, all but one of those is on point and healthy. Because I don’t eat breakfast (I intermittently fast between 8pm and noon plus breakfast is NOT the most important meal of the day!), I divide my week into 80/20. I consume approximately 21 meals and snacks each week. With the 80/20 rule, I eat 17 very healthy and on point meals and snacks and get to indulge in 4 less nutritious or over-portioned options.
By dividing my week into 80/20 rather than each day, I feel like I’m able to enjoy more consistently healthy meals and the 20% is more of a treat. And, with my eating habits, I’d rather have a whole day where I can indulge rather than having an off point meal/snack every day.
The 80/20 plan lets me focus on my health and fitness but it also lets me be the food lover that I am at my core. I can still have Mexican takeout or ice cream or an evening cocktail. As long as they fall within my 20% allotment, I don’t feel any guilt about enjoying them. The 80/20 plan is a sustainable lifestyle change. One that I can continue to follow as the months and years pass and I’m less focused on losing and getting fit and more focused on maintaining my health and fitness.
Are you rocking an 80/20 lifestyle? Share your experiences in the comments!
If you’re interested in following along on my journey, you can find me in all the usual places:
Ladies Only Facebook group (sorry, guys!)