We’ve said it hundreds of times in our decades of sharing fitness with the world, but we all need a reminder now and then. In order for fitness and weight loss to be successful long-term, exercise and changes in your diet must be integrated into your lifestyle. And the only constant in life is change. Your diet and exercise routine has to be flexible. Your mindset about them both has to be flexible. Enter a key word: moderation.
Moderation is about the long view. Today, you might adhere to your plan, whatever it may be, 100 percent. That’s fantastic. Tomorrow, you might have to attend a baby shower. Pushing yourself to avoid any “mistakes” in your routine could make the experience much less enjoyable. Not having a good time makes you a little depressed. Feeling depressed makes you want to splurge on one cookie … then two … then the box is gone before you know it.
So back up. Let’s say at the baby shower you indulge in the things you like: a petit four, some spinach dip, pimento cheese and crackers, a Mimosa. You enjoy this experience because you went to the party knowing that there would be temptations. You allowed yourself this afternoon of rare treats. You left knowing that the next day you would adhere to your regular routine 100 percent once again. No guilt. No shame.
Instead of aiming for 100 percent all the time, try the 90/10 principle. It incorporates this idea of moderation and taking the long view as central to any successful diet plan. Eat healthy — adhere to your diet plan — 90 percent of the time and allow yourself some indulgences 10 percent of the time. You can leave room in your daily diet for 10 percent of your calories to be a dessert of some sort. You can eat perfectly for five days, relax a day, and then follow your diet again for five more days. Or you can splurge a little every tenth meal or so. Small desserts, relaxed days, splurges — not binges. If you do this regularly enough, there won’t be a need to “binge.”
Perfection is not really the goal, after all. No, the goal is success, and success looks a lot like having your cake and eating it too. Success is about enjoying a real life with lots of little pleasures along the way.