All or Nothing

Work out three hours a day! Eat spinach and blueberries at every meal! Never eat a carb again! Run thirty miles a week!

Ever get the feeling that the message promoted by the traditional diet and fitness industry is an “all or nothing” message? Unless you do what they say all the time, you’re going to fail (and by “fail,” they mean “get fat”). If you can’t keep up with the zumba class or the couch-to-5k program, if you have a slice of chocolate cake and a scoop of ice cream at your best friend’s birthday party, you’ve failed to comply 100%. If you’ve already failed, isn’t it easy to just give up completely?

Life isn’t about all or nothing. It’s about moderation. This is one of my favorite words. Someone – maybe Julia Child, maybe Benjamin Franklin, maybe Oscar Wilde – said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” That’s the way I try to live my life, and it’s been, for me, a succesful approach to health, wellness, and food.

I try to live by the 80/20 idea. Here’s how it works: I eat healthy and move my body 80% of the time, and the other 20%, I take it easy (both on my head and my body). In a typical week, that means I work out (swimming, cardio, weights, walking) five days a week, and take two off. I eat nutritious meals five days a week, focusing on fruits and veggies and lean proteins. Then, typically on the weekend, I’ll have friends over for pizza and vegging (not the cruciferous kind) on the couch.

A moderate approach to healthy living allows me to indulge my cravings (both for nachos and for kicking back with a good book on a quiet Saturday afternoon) and to prevent binging. If you tell yourself you can never have ice cream, when you do “slip” and buy some, you’re more likely to eat the whole carton than if you allow yourself regular indulgences.

Give it a try. Apply the 80/20 idea to your health and wellness approach. You’ll likely discover that your love of this way of living is anything but moderate!