My 80-20 Rule

November 26, 2016

It’s a well-known fact that I view fitness as a part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s also a well known fact that I don’t believe in, nor do I provide, quick fixes. A friend recently said to me, “Ryan, this is all fine and good. I understand the whole lifestyle concept. But, seriously, what can I do to get fit NOW??” I love these conversations. The exchange, albeit short, went something like this:

Me: “How long did it take you to put on the extra weight that you’re currently looking to lose?”

Friend: “Geez, I don’t know. I’ve probably put it on gradually over the last five years.”

Me: “So, it took you 5 years to get this out of shape and you want to wave a wand and wipe it all away in an instant!? Dude, you ain’t Harry Potter and it don’t work that way.”

Friend: “Yea, whatever, ok. Hermione was hot, though…”

I digress…

While there is no hocus pocus that will help you get the fit life that you’re looking for, there are some habits that you can change to put you on that path sooner rather than later. Habits are one of the first things I look to when I’m trying to create impactful change, because once you lock in the right habits it creates a massive domino effect in your life. The key is to use these action steps to create powerful habits, commit to them, and work them all the time!

1. Wake Up Earlier

There is only so much time in a day. Especially if you constantly feel as if you don’t have enough of it, create more by waking up earlier. It’s well chronicled that a very high percentage of the most successful people in the world wake up earlier (you can read about several of them here). Coincidence? I think not. Consider the following things that you could do with an extra 30 minutes in the morning:

  • Strength or cardio workout
  • Meditate
  • Yoga
  • Day plan
  • Read
  • Journal
  • Have time to cook a healthy breakfast

I could go on. All of these activities directly contribute to your ability to be prepared and productive; they enhance your mental and physical readiness in one way or another. When you’re trying to create a fit life, that’s paramount.

2. Ditch The Processed Stuff

The health and fitness world has been railing on heavily processed foods for a while now, and for good reason. Processed foods are often high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup, all of which can cause unwanted insulin spikes that lead to weight gain and energy crashes. In addition, processed foods don’t satiate you as well as whole foods, causing you to overeat. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, you can actually get addicted to this stuff! “Last year, Oreo cookies were found to be just as addictive as cocaine or morphine, with Oreos activating more neurons in the pleasure centers of rat brains than exposure to illicit drugs did.” That should make you think twice about downing a package of those babies…

More whole foods means more of the good stuff, like the following:
  • Fiber
  • Nutrients
  • Good fat
  • Phytochemicals

By simply basing the majority of your food intake around whole foods, instead of processed garbage, you can make a major impact on your health. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll be better supporting whatever training program you decide to undertake. Proper fueling = more successful training. Simple as that.

3. Stop Experimenting With Fad Diets

Stepping on to soap box…this is a serious pet peeve of mine and truly a societal problem. We want everything instantly, especially weight loss. Fad diets do not make you fit. In fact, according to a Women’s Health article from 2010, “Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles analyzed 31 long-term diet studies and found that about two-thirds of dieters regained more weight within four or five years than they initially lost.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why; fad diets are not sustainable.

Can we just get rid of the term diet? I hate the negative connotation that it brings with it. How about a balance of lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits and veggies, and the occasional splurge? That’s called a healthy lifestyle, not a diet. Mayo Clinic has a nice calorie calculator tool that you can access here. It will estimate the amount of calories needed to maintain your current weight. So, if you want to lose weight, you’ll need to create a deficit by eating less. If your goal is to gain weight, create a surplus by eating more. Another nice tool is (also an app available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store: MyNetDiary). Once you input a goal and the date by which you’d like to reach it, MyNetDiary will estimate the amount of calories you need to eat in order to reach that goal. You can even play with the macronutrient ratios, which is a feature that I love. As a point of reference, I’d suggest starting with a ratio of40% carbs, 35% protein, 25% fat for weigh loss (listen to your body and adjust as necessary). The upgraded version will also jive with your activity tracker to give you a good idea of expenditure vs. intake.

The Bottom Line

If you are able to create habits around these 3 action steps, you will notice a difference quickly. It may not equate to massive weight loss in a short period of time. But, that’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid. Keep searching for quick fixes and you’ll constantly find yourself right back where you started. By making a long-term commitment to yourself and your health, you’re much more likely to create long term results.


Photo Credit: Copyright: paulgrecaud / 123RF Stock Photo