The 80/20 Rule In Health

It would be hypocritical of me to sit here and preach to you about being healthy all of the time, particularly over the ‘Silly Season’. It would also be hypocritical of me to tell you to detoxify after New Years, although it is a good idea to get rid of all those nasty toxins accumulated recently. It would be extremely optimistic of me to ask you to make New Years resolutions about your health and actually expect you to keep them. So instead I urge you to consider the 80-20 rule. Yes I know you’ve heard of it in relation to business how 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. So 80% of your profits come from 20% of the time you spend and 80% of your profits come from 20% of your clients.  In turn 80% of your hard working hours are generating only 20% of your profits. Why do we spend so much time to make so little extra? And why is a personal trainer rabbiting on about the 80-20 rule when he is supposed to be talking about health and fitness? Well the 80-20 rule can be applied to health and life as well. Life is basically 80% work and 20% play. We work all day, take work home, think about it at night and even work on the weekends. Doesn’t sound like much fun eh?! I think life should be 80% fun and 20% work…unfortunately unless you are a clown then this is probably wishful thinking.

In terms of your health we can apply the 80-20 rule. It pretty much rules my household. This means that 80% of what you put in your mouth should be healthy, nutritious foods such as fruit, salad, vegetables, whole-grains and lean meats. The other 20%? Well, this allows you to enjoy your favorite foods without guilt so indulge once in a while as life without indulgence and fun gets very stale. On a weekly basis this works out to be 5.6 healthy days to 1.4 naughty so aim to be ‘good’ during the week and part of the weekend. I would talk about applying this to your alcohol intake but I fear I would lose too many of you so try for at least 2-3 alcohol-free days per week and minimize on weeknights.

At the gym or during other exercise aim for 80% ‘hardcore’ and 20% more relaxed for the warm-up and cool-down. In terms of a 60-minute session this equates to 48 minutes of intense activity (including the short breaks between sets and exercises), and 12 minutes for your fluffier stuff. Also as previously mentioned 80% means 5.6 days so 5 days of great training, one a little lighter and a day off for recovery. Sound like a good plan?? Training should be enjoyable so if you find it is getting a bit stale then chat to a Personal Trainer as there are exercises we can give you that you never would dream of to make your training enjoyable again.

We have covered nutrition and fitness, but true health also encompasses happiness and we should be happy 80% of the time at least. Think about your life, are you happy 80% of the time? I would say that sadly most people probably aren’t. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be. It just means you need to recognize what makes you happy and include more if it in your life. Incorporate little snippets into your workplace that make you smile, photos of loved ones, your favorite music, images of a favorite holiday destination, phone a friend, anything that puts a smile on your dial. There is no avoiding some challenges in life, but try to minimize the negative affects by thinking about the positives you have. Laughter helps to decrease stress levels, so when you are having a particularly rough time do something that makes you laugh. Not just a giggle but a full-blown belly laugh. Maybe this is where the clown comes in? Find out what hits your funny bone and have it handy for the hard times.

So back to the start, regarding Christmas and New Years. This is the time to be merry, put your feet up and have fun, you've earned it. When it’s all over and life resumes normalcy, how about making this your year of 80-20.

By Chad Islip
Chad Islip is the 2012 Jetts Fitness Australian personal trainer of the year, and has been whipping people into shape for over 15 years. Chad is a dedicated family man and lives his passion by helping others achieve their best through health, wellbeing and fitness.