You can eat ice cream in a waffle cone and still crush your health goals.
This past weekend I was in Tahoe with my siblings. A Dauscher family vacation means two things: fruity alcoholic shots, and massive ice cream cones. A common question asked of health and wellness coaches is “How do you stay on your plan during summer when there are so many parties and adventures planned?”. If you watch the social media highlights of health and wellness coaches, you’ll see that we don’t let our health and fitness goals keep us from enjoying glasses of rosé at sunset, a trip to Lake Tahoe with our families, or a massive ice cream come on National Ice Cream Day. We stick to our health and fitness goals because our goals are balanced, and they afford us the opportunity to indulge in a small percent of our meals. This is commonly known as the “80/20” method, or when put simply: balance.
Let’s be real: if we ate 100% on plan, we wouldn’t enjoy it very much. We’d be counting down the days until we could have our next slice of bread or a glass of wine. When you go “all in,” you’re more likely to fail under pressure or craving. Being a 20 or 30-something American chick with a social life makes it really hard to stay on the strait and narrow when it comes to food.
Under the 80/20 method, only 80% of your meals are “on plan,” whatever your plan may be, and the other 20% of your meals are indulgences. I personally do not call these 20% “cheat” meals, because since they’re figured into my diet, I’m not “cheating” in any way. Instead, the 20% are meals that I’m choosing not to measure, drinks that I’m choosing not to worry about (or go overboard on), or days when my body or mind just wants to rest. The 80/20 method is something that I try to stick through throughout the summer and December holidays and I’m going to break down what that looks like in practice for me or you.
Diet: 8/10 of the meals you eat in a week come from clean, whole foods that adhere to the plan that you’re following at the time. In the 80%, your carbs should come from complex sources, like sweet potato, sourdough, quinoa or ancient grains.
I’ve spent a lot of time finding and creating meal options or swaps that fit into this category and are delicious, which really keeps me from craving junk food, restaurant meals or my vice: tacos, or at least let me eat a clean version of what I’m craving.
Exercise: I’ll be completely honest here. Exercise for me is more like 90-95%, because at-home workouts and accountability groups make it so 👏🏼dang 👏🏼easy to put myself first and get a workout in. The workouts I do are super fun, change all the time to keep my body from plateauing, and are easy to squeeze into a 30-to-60 minute window. This helps me stay committed, 80-90% of the time. But let’s be real here, not everyone chooses at-home workouts or has this behavior downpat. For those of you who relate to the latter: you don’t have to stress about calories or muscle groups... just make sure you’re staying active 80% of the time, or 5/7 days of the week.
Diet: When my team and I need a night of laughs together without the masterminding or video calls… We go out for chips and guac and maybe a margarita, knowing that everything else we ate today was clean, this “night out” is our 20%.
When you hit a hard uphill battle in your business, at work or in a relationship and you’ve racked your brain working through it… enjoy a glass of wine, knowing that everything else you ate today was clean, and this glass of wine is your 20%.
When it’s National Ice Cream Day and you and your siblings or hubby are doing fun, active touristy things in Lake Tahoe or LA, press play on your workout in the morning, and then enjoy big cones with chocolate swirls for your 20%.
Exercise: As I mentioned earlier, getting my body moving each morning is a solid behavior for me. However, if I know my legs want a break from squats and lunges, or my shoulders are asking for a rest day, I’ll choose a fun outdoor activity that keeps my blood pumping and the vitamin D on my face. These days occur for everyone at one time or another. So when you feel like your body is asking for a break, hikes, bikes and walks with your pup can be your 20%.
The 80/20 lifestyle has completely transformed my mental state around diet and exercise. 20% means no guilt about the ice cream, no fatigue from working out too much, or taking too many days off in a row. 80% means that my body is operating at its best because it’s fueled with superfoods, good carbs, and lots of protein.
If you’re currently adding up your meals in your head and wondering if you’re closer to 70/30 or even 60/40, it’s totally okay! We all started there. This lifestyle didn’t happen overnight. It happened through accountability, commitment, and choosing the program that was right for each of us. In fact, this coming Monday I’ll be kicking off a brand new program with my accountability group. We’ll be committing to 100 days of the 80/20 lifestyle- eating mostly whole, clean foods, and moving our bodies every day.
If you’re like me and needed that jumpstart to get committed to a lifestyle change- you’ve got to join us!