The image above is from a photo shoot I did in Dubai a few weeks before moving to Hungary in 2012. I'd just finished 12 weeks of a workout program that included a meal plan that was all about measuring my meals; eating so many grams of protein, carbs, and fats with so many cups of veggies per day and X number of pieces of fruit. It was also eating 6 times a day! This made eating out difficult and visiting friends for dinner made me feel nervous and uncomfortable as I started to become obsessed with getting my serves right in order to lose weight and start seeing my muscles. I found myself constantly thinking about what I could eat, if it was the right portion size, and whether it was the right combination of everything for that time of day. I soon found myself thinking about food all the time and it was slowly becoming the enemy.
I then moved to Hungary where I didn't speak the language, couldn't read a menu, and healthy food was not easy to find. I tried to stick to the plan but it was really difficult and this only increased my obsession. I then started to feel intense guilt about all the things I ate that were off plan. I began to scrutinise my body every day to check if I'd gained weight and I started beating myself up for being a failure as the weight surely crept back on. This eating plan was consuming me. I hated it. It was absolutely no way to live and I when I finally decided to quit, I felt an immediate sense of relief.
This was when I realised first hand that diets are not realistic. They are definitely not fun, and they are most certainly not sustainable. Let's be honest, while we may be super happy with the results we get, we are equally as unhappy about all the food we can't eat! Am I right? This experience is what lead me to start living an 80/20 lifestyle.
"Being healthy isn't about reaching a goal weight. It's about adding more joy, energy, and life to our days."
It's about feeling great, fueling and moving our bodies in a way that we reach an easily sustained weight and it's about enjoying the things we love in a healthy way that has zero guilt attached. It is so liberating to live this way as I still get to look strong and healthy but have way more fun in the process.
Diet's don't work because we only learn how to lose weight. What are we suppose to do when we have lost that weight? We've had to restrict, deny and count our way to this amazing new body. What is the first thing you want to do when you reach your goal weight? Celebrate, right? And what do you want to celebrate with? Some of those delicious foods you have been denying yourself all these months? I'm right again, aren't I?
You don't need me to tell you what happens when we start to celebrate this way and let ourselves enjoy life again. It starts out with just a little bit here, then a little bit there and the next thing you know old habits creep back in and we start gaining weight and feeling like a failure.
"You are not the failure. Diets are the failure."
Ditch the diet and go 80/20. This means making healthy choices 80% of the time so that you can enjoy the things you love, without the side of guilt, 20% of the time. Have your cake and eat it too or as I like to do, have my hamburger and eat it too! We can still lose weight with the 80/20 approach but was is of most value is that we learn how to sustain that weight loss because we have created a new way of living and eating that we can easily continue for the rest of our life. We can go on vacation and enjoy the exotic foods with permission, we can allow the ratio to change a little and when we get back home we just course correct back to 80/20. No stress, just a healthy body and a life we fully enjoy.
If you have tried every diet under the sun, only to find yourself back where you started then consider making this healthy lifestyle change. Liberate yourself from the world of diets and go 80/20. It will serve you so much longer than the 12 weeks it takes to reach your ideal weight and it gives you your life back in the process.