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The 80/20 Split: Separating Healthy Choices from Everything Else

Jul 2, 2012
Last week I wrote about my eating disorder struggle and how I eventually returned to my healthy happy self. I'm proud to say that I've now maintained an appropriate weight for over two years. However it doesn't happen without effort.

Everyone has stressors and obligations that can get in the way of a healthy lifestyle. For me, being a twenty-something, those include late nights out with friends and trying to start my career. For you it may be being busy with children, working long hours, a rocky relationship, or not sleeping well. The important thing is to recognize your weak spots, develop new habits, and try your hardest to make good choices.

I know that for me, exercising most days of the week, eating nutritious foods, and getting around eight hours of sleep keeps me sane. Because of this, I wake up at 5:30am to hit the gym, bring food to work to avoid the office snacks, and make sure my lights are out by 10pm.

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By doing those things during the week, I know that indulging on the weekends is no big deal. I like to live by the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time I make healthy choices so that 20% of the time I can enjoy some treats, go out for a drink, and stay up too late. You bet I'm going to get frozen yogurt with the girls or have a few beers at the baseball game!

That 20% is important to me because it's what I missed out on for so long during my eating disorder. I would skip social events for fear of eating too much and getting out of my routine. My anxiety and quest for perfection kept me from hysterical laughter with my friends, delicious dinners with my family, and spontaneous, goofy activities - it kept me from making memories and really living my life.

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Finding a healthy balance is possible, and everyone's version will look a little bit different.  Creating a workout routine or learning to cook at home may take a few weeks, but once the habits are formed it will become natural. Here are a few tricks I use to stay healthy during that 80%:

1. Every morning when I grab my mug of coffee I also make sure to fill up my water bottle and drink it first.

2. I'm normally a morning exerciser, but when I plan to hit the gym after work I bring my clothes and change at the office. That way I have no excuse but to drive straight there.

3. I ALWAYS eat breakfast, even if it's something light because I'm full from the night before. Eating breakfast jumpstarts the metabolism and prevents me from getting overly hungry later in the day.

4. I keep healthy snack options at my desk for emergencies. Plain oatmeal, a jar of almond butter, Larabars, and tea are always on hand.

5. I chop and roast a bunch of veggies at the beginning of the week so they're ready for a quick meal when I'm in a hurry

I would never tell anyone they have to give up fun or treats. It's simply a matter of making the majority of your choices healthy so that you can enjoy those occasional splurges without worry.  Fitness and nutrition are important, but so are mischievous, hysterical memories. You can have both!  

Clare Brady is a Healthy Living Blogger currently living in Dallas, Texas but originally from St. Louis, Missouri. On her blog, Fitting It All In, Clare shares her experiences with living a healthy lifestyle while balancing a busy schedule. Currently she is working full-time as advertising account executive, seeing clients as a Certified Holistic Health Coach, exercising often, cooking as much as possible, and making sure to spend time with friends. You can find Clare on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.



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