Day 20: 80/20 living

What do you do if you get derailed from your fitness journey?

Even if you strive for perfection, it’s inevitable that something will throw you off eventually – you’ll have a massive carb overload at a family potluck or your kiddo’s birthday, or a sudden influx of new projects at work means you miss a couple workouts. But what does that mean for you? It’s easy to beat yourself up about it if you believe you have to be perfect about your meal plan and your fitness. But if you do, you’ll only drive yourself towards more carbs or overexercise or abandonment of your fitness/weight loss plan.

The Pareto Principle, usually applied to business, states that 80% of your results comes from 20% of your effort. It also applies to weight loss and fitness and this connection is much discussed around the interwebs where it’s usually referred to as 80/20 living (e.g. at Nerd Fitness and  Mark’s Daily Apple). Do the math and you’ll see that the remaining 20% of your results — a small minority — comes from 80% of your effort — a huge majority. The ratio of effort to results increases exponentially. So, if you get derailed and have an unplanned sugar day, it’s going to be okay because in the long run, the negative impact on your results will be minimal — as long as you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get yourself un-derailed (re-railed? just railed?).

It’s just another way of saying, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, or even more simply, don’t sweat the small stuff or as I’ve said before, eat the damn cookie, but it has the advantage of being backed up by numbers, and I like numbers.

In the past I have found it difficult to integrate tolerance for error into my conception of healthy eating, and I’m still working on not getting frustrated when I overload on carbs. But it helps to have a mantra to fall back on when I do: 80/20. It’s going to be okay.

Having that mantra really helped limit my anxiety today about dinner last night. BF has been a big stress-ball recently due to a difficult work situation (they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result…) and last night he wanted to go out to dinner. So we did–an “Irish” bar/grill type place. (In Ireland, there is nothing as “Irish” as an American Irish bar.) As I stared at the menu, I thought, I could order a burger without a bun and a side salad. It would fit my macros. But I really didn’t want to. I would rather not eat anything than eat a burger without a bun. (First world problems…)

So I went a little (a lot) carb crazy: 1 1/2 pints of beer (every sip more delicious than the last), 1 1/2 “Irish egg rolls” (seriously, WTF? Corned beef and sauerkraut in an egg roll wrapper and deep fried. Forget “Irish”–more like “Irish-ish”), and fish and chips (which were AWESOME which was exciting because so often it’s soggy or bland and completely meh).

The good: SO MUCH COD! Yay protein!
The bad: SO MUCH WHITE POTATO. (Shared with BF– too many fries even for me!)
The ugly: SO MUCH SUGAR/GRAINS: the beer, the beer batter, the egg roll; and SO MUCH OIL: deep fried everything.

But every bit of it was absolutely delicious. And it’s so unlike how I eat most of the time that it felt special (which is saying a lot for a meal at a shitty Irish bar in suburban Sacramento).

With the 80/20 philosophy in mind, it’s ok. I made a choice to carb out, and today I choose to eat clean(er). As long as it’s not a habit, it’s not going to ruin everything.

Fitness today:
MILES TO MORDOR: walked 3.02. Today is the first day I got out and moved since the foot incident last weekend! High five, self.

Food today:
Snack: leftover meatloaf
Brunch: strawberries and blackberries, eggs Benedict ( 1 wh wh English muffin, 2 eggs, 1 1/2 slices bacon, maybe 1/4 cup hollandaise sauce)
Snack: meatloaf
Snack: 2 low fat string cheese
Dinner: chicken salad (lettuce, carrot, onion, peppers, chicken, cashews, dressing)


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