Some people spend every minute of their lives obsessing over food.
Devout Paleo diet followers, for instance, nearly cry if a speck of grain touches their lips. They have a hard time eating out with friends, and can’t enjoy a rich dessert at a party. And this is the same for any extreme dieter, not just Paleo lovers.
If that’s the kind of life you want to live, go for it.
I, on the other hand, am a big believer in enjoying life.
I want to experience everything life has to offer, and yes, that means a glass or two of wine several times a week, some bread here and there, even (gasp!) a melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookie once in a while.
No, I don’t eat these things every day, but I do eat them more often than you might think.
Why? I want to be happy. I want to experience life with the people around me. I don’t want to obsess about every morsel of food I eat—I want to enjoy my food.
I live by the 80/20 rule — 80% of what goes into my body has to be good food (fruits, veggies, protein, healthy fats, etc.)—and 20% can be the fun stuff (wine, treats, carbs). If you want to be more extreme, 90% works just fine too.
Following this approach has allowed me to maintain a healthy weight while still having the energy to do the things I love. I don’t even count calories anymore—I just listen to my body and adjust when necessary.
But the truth is, this method may not work for everyone. If you’re looking to have sub 10% body fat (although seriously, may I ask—what’s the point? Unless you’re a competitive athlete, just enjoy your life, damnit!), for instance, you probably can’t eat any of the things I mentioned above. Or if you have a really slow metabolism, barely move at all during the day, etc., you’ll have to be a lot more strict.
It works for me, because I’ve decided that I love eating so much, I’ll exercise to make up for it. Aside from these 12 to 20 minute workouts, I go to Krav Maga classes a couple of times a week, bike everywhere, walk my dog constantly, go on hikes on the weekends (or weekdays), swim, surf, play tennis, and on the whole find a lot of ways to be active in my life.
It’s the perfect balance.
I love to move, and this joy of movement allows me to enjoy what I put into my body, too.
So decide what works for you. What is happiness to you? Will you enjoy life more if you eat a cookie here and there and appreciate a big dinner with friends once in a while? I sure do.
And you can too, even while working toward your health and fitness goals.
Just make sure you keep moving along the way.
Image credit: Kirsty Pargeter