Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The 80/20 Rule: How to Not Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good

Last week, I had a nearly perfect week of eating and working out.  I'm the type of person who is pretty moderate in how I eat and exercise.  I truly love to workout and I feel so good when I make healthy food choices.  Is it still a decision I have to make every single time I want to put something in my mouth?  Yes!  But practice makes perfect, and eventually good choices lead to good habits lead to a good and healthy lifestyle.

Now, I'm not Mrs. Poster Child for Physical Health at all.  I have probably 20 pounds I could stand to lose, I loooooove chocolate and chips and ice cream and carbs.  I look my age and I look like a mom - both great things - why would I want to look like a child and *not* like a mom, my most cherished role?  As much as Phil and I want to take care of ourselves in a healthy way, we also want to enjoy the heck out of this life God has blessed us with.  Because, YOLO.

You've heard of the 80/20 rule before I'm sure?  It's when you eat clean/healthy/etc. 80% of the time and then imbibe the other 20%.  It allows you to make great choices most of the time, but not beat yourself up when you're enjoying that dessert.  You actually just get to enjoy it, knowing it's your treat time.  I was thinking the other day, that if I eat 21 meals each week...20% of the week would equal 4 meals.  So I can treat myself with four "cheat" meals and then treat my body by eating well for the remaining 17 meals.   That doesn't sound too hard, right?

Sometimes people look at a diet plan and think "No way could I EVER eat that way.  I could NOT give up my weekly ice cream cone."  And so instead of just making an allowance for that treat, they don't even try eating healthier at all.  They let perfect be the enemy of good.  When I started reading about eating more plant-based meals, I was talking about adding more fruits and veggies and whole grains to our meals, but all my husband heard is that I was becoming a Vegan.  And he was wary of this way of eating and pretty discouraging.  But then I said, "We both know eating MORE fruits and veggies is healthy, so why not just focus on that?"  He had been immediately thinking of all the food he couldn't eat.  If eating this way meant no more hamburgers and french fries and pizza, then he couldn't do it.  But, hello, neither could I!  We have to carve out treat time into our regular healthy eating routine, not the other way around.  If I love eating salads with croutons and creamy dressings, then it's better to eat them like that than say I can't have dressing and croutons.  Then I wouldn't even eat salad.  Again, not letting perfect get in the way of good.

I feel like I can't write all of this without at least mentioning that the same holds true with our spiritual life.  Living in the real world, and raising a bunch of humans with demanding schedules, can make a nightly family rosary seem impossible.  So we might not even try.  But then the bad guy wins, right?  God is happy with all our small attempts...so maybe we say the rosary in the car, or pray throughout the day, or watch some cute kids say one back in 2011:

I'm thinking we might only serve dessert on nights we have family prayer time.  That would be a good motivator for the kids because if we have time for dessert, we have time for God!  It's all very freeing to realize you don't have to go hard-core at everything in life, all the small choices add up and can make your Imperfect a little closer to Perfect.  And that, my friends, is how normal folks like us can become great saints one day.


  1. This is an awesome post… And I think when I’m in maintenance mode… The 80% then 20% rule totally works… But when I really need to actually lose the weight… I find that those cheats will undo all the hard work… Unless I’m in like marathon training mode… Which these days I’m nowhere near getting back to… But right now I am Just trying to focus on making small changes and getting very small results… Hoping that in a couple of months I can do something more dramatic!

  2. I love the dessert idea...thank you!

  3. I do this! Once you master moderation you can eat anything!


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