Don’t Try So Hard! 80% is the magic number.

When making a drastic lifestyle change, it’s easy to fall of the wagon. You’ve decided to cut out high fat,  processed foods and sweets, but you meet a friend for dinner and the restaurant serves not only your favorite creamy pasta, but also your favorite kind of dessert. You can’t pass up the opportunity, so you decide to indulge! Only to find yourself feeling like a failure afterwards for not sticking to it 100%.

Well, good news! You don’t have to stick to it 100%! Eating healthy and being active 80% of the time is enough to keep you healthy, slim and fit. Besides, giving yourself time to indulge and enjoy the little things in life will not only make you happier but it will help you follow your healthy habits the rest of the time because you will never feel restricted.

So if you indulge in a slice of cake because it was your co-worker’s birthday, don’t fret! But don’t throw the rest of the day either thinking “I already messed up, I’ll just eat whatever the rest of the day”. Just continue your healthy eating style the rest of the day and the rest of the week, until the next delicious opportunity shows up. A treat every now and then or an unexpected  pizza party won’t kill your waistline or your health as long as you stick to it 80% of the time. Don’t aim for 80% though. Aim for 100%, but if you only stick to it 80 – 90% don’t consider it a failure!

And because you know you can have it if you want it, you won’t crave unhealthy things as often. Feeling restricted is like psychological torture. If you live thinking you “should never eat such-and-such” you will constantly feel like you’re missing out on something. And you will be missing out. And when you see it around you and you can’t have it, it’ll make you feel miserable. Eventually, you’ll probably crack and binge or just throw the whole healthy habit out the window.

I personally find it easiest to stick to my healthy choices – exercise and food-wise – during the work week. I exercise, go to bed by midnight, eat clean, healthy meals, drink only water – and coffee of course! This makes it easier to keep a rhythm since I have a set work schedule (or some sort of a pre-set schedule). That way, I usually have my weekends off, so I don’t need to exercise! Though I sometimes do end up bike-riding, hiking or simply walking all day somewhere. As for food, I usually still follow my usual habits during the weekend, but if the hubby feels like a hamburger, I may end up having one too, with fries even! And it is the weekend so there may be an outing or something with drinks. I haven’t had any unhealthy processed foods or alcohol all week, so why not? It’s harder to turn down enjoyment on the weekend, so that’s why I (try to) stick to it 100% during the week, and about 70% during the weekend for a total of around 80 – 90% overall depending on plans and events. It makes it easier to stick to it when I know I am free to treat myself if I really want to  or the situation arises.

Remember, you’re not on a diet. You’re living a lifestyle. So enjoy your life while striving to live as healthy as you possibly can. Just remember, aim for 100, but if you’re at 80/20 you’re still doing great. Nobody’s perfect, so don’t try to be and don’t beat yourself up. Expecting to stick to every planned workout and strict dietary restrictions all the time is very stressful, and “failing” comes with a lot of negative feelings with it ( guilt, depression, disappointment in oneself, etc) and that is not conducive to a good Mind Body balance.

Don’t stress and enjoy your life. 80% is a great achievement! Besides, when you get used to the balanced lifestyle, and continue reaping the healthy benefits, it will be easier and easier keeping that balance without even thinking about it or even missing or craving any unhealthy foods and behaviors!

Now go and enjoy yourself!

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