It’s very easy to get caught up in goal setting, turning over a new leaf and jumping head first into a new diet, workout program or any new habit for that matter. Typically, we try to go from 0 to 100 percent and expect complete perfectionism from ourselves. This usually lasts a few weeks, days or even hours before we are frustrated, give in just a bit and then figure we have blown it so give up completely. This week we are going to look at the 80/20 rule and how it applies to multiple aspects of health and wellness.
Here’s a big one. Many set out to create lofty goals for themselves. For instance, someone isn’t active at all and decides they want to start coming to the gym 7 days a week and pushing very hard. That may last for about 7 days but eventually, you’ll get burnt out. There needs to be balance in your week between workouts and recovery. 5 days of intense exercise is great. In between that, you’ll want to have a complete recovery day and perhaps one active recovery day where you might for a light hike, run, walk or do some yoga. Equally important to your exercise program is your recovery program. That’s when you’re muscles will be repairing and positive changes to your body chemistry are happening.
This area seems to be the one we expect the most of ourselves from. We want perfection. In fact, this is the very thing that sets us up for failure. Expecting to never again indulge in a dessert, piece of bread or glass of wine is not realistic. We need to be able to enjoy life. Food can be very social and cultural and it’s important to still honour those aspects. While we do want to eat for health, energy and vitality, there is nothing wrong with having a planned treat in moderation. The key is to have these indulgences every so often so we don’t feel deprived. For instance, this Christmas plan to have something you love. Maybe it’s eggnog or a gingerbread cookie. You’ll find it much easier to not fall off the deep end (and eat 2 dozen in one sitting) if you know you are “allowing” yourself to have a few.
Sometimes the key to just be gentle with ourselves and realize that we are not designed to be perfect. Having unrealistic expectations will ultimately backfire and leave you feeling frustrated and discouraged with yourself. Plan to have a rest day in your training so that you are energized and ready to it it hard the following day. Plan to indulge in your favourite treat once a week so that you can spend the rest of your time enjoying clean, healthy foods. 20 percent of down time and treats in your diet will not derail your progress and in fact, might even accelerate it. It’s both good for the mind and the body!