Mastering the 80/20 Balance

Laura Heflin preparing food in her kitchen.

In order to become the healthiest you it takes dedication, hard work, and sacrifice right? Well, if you ask me, the answer is yes and no. You see, we, unfortunately, live in a culture with an “all or nothing”, “you do or you don’t” mindset which has thrown the art or even the thought of balance right out the window. Unfortunately, when this concept of balance is lost and without a realistic approach, one is no longer on the path to long-term success. Now the results they are aiming to achieve may eventually get achieved but statistically, they won’t last. So, yes healthy living takes dedication and hard work but I believe that it actually does NOT require a complete sacrifice of everything we love and enjoy! In fact, I believe that it’s essential to make a point not to make too many sacrifices or walk too much on a tightrope; otherwise, we face the potential risk of finding ourselves back where we started. Now, how discouraging does that sound?

Moderation is key and once again we find ourselves back at the very vital principle: “don’t start something today you can not do the rest of your life.” Plain and simple! Just ask yourself, “Am I enjoying the results I am achieving? Do I want these results to last? Do I want to enjoy my life while I am reaching my goals?” If your answer to these three questions is yes, then it is up to you to discover what an 80/20 balance looks like, else you will very likely burn out on your road to success.

We only live once, don’t we? So, then why on earth are we depriving ourselves and walking on eggshells? Why do we think that in order to be healthy and in shape we must always tell ourselves “no” and walk around feeling deprived? I don’t know about you, but I personally think that life is just too short to go a day without chocolate, a summer without ice cream, the holidays without a few festive cookies, and a night out on the town without some comforting cuisine or a fun beverage in hand.

Do you want to live your best life and still reach and maintain your goals? Well then, get on my level and start thinking more along the lines of Y.O.L.O or one of my favorite mottos “you only live once”! Then, pick and choose what indulgences you enjoy and which ones you can easily pass on. Then, the next step is to plan to splurge and enjoy what your heart desires in moderation with an 80/20 approach in mind (note: not 50/50)! Before you know it, your cravings will disappear and you will no longer feel the desire to binge and you may just start enjoying life once again while getting the results you want! Can you imagine that?


Now, I have discovered in these last eleven years as a nutritionist that this concept can be harder to grasp for some. But why would that be? Well, I believe that it is because for many, it is culturally ingrained in their brain from middle school years on that deprivation most assuredly equals the desired physique. Our modern-day culture often teaches us “you can’t indulge in sweets, cheese, pasta, and wine and still be in shape or reach your goals so just avoid them completely. Stop dreaming! You can’t have both!”. However, I am here to tell you that not only can you but also, by indulging in moderation you will ironically become more successful at not only achieving your health and fitness goals but maintaining them! So, throw that “all or nothing” mentality away once and for all, will you? Give yourself room to breathe, indulge and enjoy life once again, and never forget, you only live once so for goodness sake, give yourself permission to eat that cake!