I feel very fortunate to do what I do both as a yoga instructor and health coach. It is incredibly fulfilling and rewarding to help people rediscover what they inherently already know – that making choices in their diet and lifestyle that optimize their health and wellness supports them living their best lives for the rest of their lives. Every day I am motivated when I look at my son. I don’t just want to be around for him as long as possible. I want to be relevant to him, have fun with him, travel with him, continue to watch him grow and eventually become an adult who contributes to his community and the world. I saw a quote recently that really struck a chord with me. Aging is inevitable (and I would add desirable). Getting old is optional. That basically sums it up for me.
And yet, it is not about being perfect. Not at all. I am all about stacking the cards in our favour for sure. But that doesn’t involve being rigid, prescribed or depriving ourselves in any way shape or form. When I work with people as their health coach one of the most rewarding things is to watch the slow emergence of a new normal. As we add in delicious fresh and healthy foods and practices gradually the less healthy ones just slough off with a minimum of, or often no, effort involved. There’s no deprivation going on. The fact is that when we start to make healthier choices we feel better very quickly, the body begins to clean house and we notice a big positive shift. This is very compelling and nobody wants to go back.
However, it can be completely overwhelming for someone to contemplate how they are going to get there when a slew of sub-optimal habits are the norm. This in and of itself is perhaps the biggest hurdle and what has people procrastinating about prioritizing their health. Where on earth to begin?
Very early on I like to talk about the 80/20 rule, or sometimes the 85/15 rule. In a nutshell, you’re completely on you’re A game 80 – 85% of the time and then every once in a while – lets say around 15 – 20% of the time you let loose. This can happen in many ways and I urge you to explore what works best for you. For many people this means they are totally on their game during the week and then loosen up a bit on the weekend. I like to think of this approach somewhat similarly to managing your finances. You “earn” your treat by reigning it in in the days prior.
Experience both personally and with others has shown this approach to work well. We are not depriving ourselves, but rather allowing ourselves to indulge every once in a while and still moving toward our goals in a way that supports our very own new normal emerging.
So think how this could apply to you. Maybe the idea of being a bit more indulgent on the weekends would work well for you. Perhaps you’re retired and this approach isn’t as structured – ie: not centered around weekends per se but rather around dates, events etc. Regardless, aim to be on your game around 80 – 85% of the time.
When we are depriving ourselves, being rigid, invoking strict discipline, we are pitting ourselves against ourselves. This approach makes a backlash almost inevitable. When our attitude is cooperative and not about perfect we are more relaxed, open and able to make choices that support our greatest good.