The Secrets of Success: Follow the 80/20 Rule

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When you need help fixing your car, you go to a mechanic. When your sink clogs, you call a plumber. Why? Because they know what they're doing. You wouldn't trust your dog groomer to fix a leaky roof, and you wouldn't ask your yoga instructor to recaulk your bathroom. You trust your belongings to the experts, so shouldn't you do the same with your body? When it comes to losing weight safely and keeping it off for good, SparkPeople members know what they're doing. That's why we asked our top members to tell us what they did to change their lives forever. Grateful for the support they found at SparkPeople, they eagerly spilled the beans. Now we're sharing their best tips with you. We published all 27 secrets of success in The Spark, but we're leaking 15 of them to you.

Secret #15: Follow the 80/20 rule.

Ninety-six percent of successful members ate a healthy diet most of the time (between 80 percent and 100 percent) The majority (70 percent) didn’t cut out “bad foods.” These members understand that adopting a healthy lifestyle for life is not about perfection. It makes sense, then, that successful members say that when they have a “bad food day,” they “don’t worry about it because I eat healthy and exercise most of the time” (over 61 percent).

I love a glass (or sometimes two) of really dry red wine. I also have an affinity for creamy, sometimes smelly, French cheese spread on fresh baguettes. On weekends, I've been known to make those three items into a meal. During the week, I eat more than my "five a day" servings of vegetables, and I always choose whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy. That means that some of the time--mostly on weekends--I can accommodate those "splurge" foods without wrecking my hard work or splitting the seams on my favorite jeans. Foods aren't "good" or "bad," and awarding them those titles gives them more power than they deserve. Being sensible most of the time allows for a little wiggle room in your meal plans.

Eating right means cutting yourself some slack and enjoying your food.

Fitting Healthy Habits Into Your Hectic Life

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30 Tactics to Outsmart Your Unhealthy Temptations

These Secrets of Success are too good to keep to yourself! Spread the Spark by clicking the green "Share" button below.

Did you miss a secret? Don't worry--they're not gone forever. Find all the rest of the series of 15 here (a new one is posted every day). Want to know the rest of the Secrets of Success? Learn more now.

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MUSICNUT 3/10/2020
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Interesting Report
I love to eat out but it is hard to do and stay within calorie limits to be able to lose. I allow myself one day a week which for me is Monday as that is also my weigh-in day to eat out and indulge in any treats I want. I found that if I did it over weekend it was harder to just do the one day. During the week if I want something off plan I just say wait for Monday instead of no and it usually work for me. Report
Thanks, good article. Report
Nice article Report
Me too covergirl. The weekends are treat myself days for me. Report
I really liked reading about the Tip. It made a lot of sense to me, especially when applying the Rule of 80/20. I have been a member of SP for over 1 year now. But the Tip has helped me and sticks with me when I eat my meals, to remember this wonderful Tip. Report
Great news! I just discovered that cheese maker President makes a Light Brie Cheese. Like you, I love warm brie on a baguette with a nice glass of red wine. I found the light brie in the store today. One ounce of the light brie has 70 calories and 4.5 grams of fat versus 100 calories and 9 grams of fat in the regular brie. Report
I have a weekness for chinese food, so I allow myself to have chinese, but still try to keep it on the healthier side eating seafood and chicken. Report
I try to stick to my goals but once a week --date night-- I do have a little extra. Nice article. Report
The 80/20 rule is what to live by! I always give myself a "free day" (sometimes 2) a week. That way I can really enjoy great food and not feel guilty. It is a built in reward after a few days of eating well and exercising. Good luck!! Report
Yes, using the 80/20 rule does not set me up for failure. I can do this! Report
I really needed to read some of these responses tonight. In the past, I would have kept on eating until all the skinny cow bars were gone. Report
So true. If we expect perfection we will fail then most of us will stop. Report
Totally agree with this article.
One of the aspects of giving myself 'wriggle room' is that I now want to save that space for 'only the best'. I have a bar of Green & Black's organic Dark Chocolate- 70% cocoa, in my drawer. A small piece is all I need.
My bakery goods have to be fresh, beautiful, and absolutely top notch- or I've wasted the experience. Fresh Tiramisu- now, that's worth the wait!
155 pounds down, 50 to go, and loving it. No diets in sight. Report
Ever since I adopted the 80/20 rule, I've felt so much better about myself and my choice to lead a healthy lifestyle. It think this one "rule" has helped me keep off the weight I've lost and continue to lose more than anything else! Report
I agree whole heartedly! When you deprive yourself too many times, something is going to happen, and you probably won't like it. So indulge yourself once in a while, or loose everything you have worked for! Report
Totally agree with this rule! Deprivation leads to frustration and guilt when we cave in to the treat rather than plan for it, enjoy it, and not go over board with it. Report
really good tips Report
This is definitely one of my strategies. Most of the time I eat a very healthy diet and when I do indulge I try to limit the amount. Of course, there are times when I go overboard, but I usually don't sweat it. I really appreciate having a scoop of ice cream or a martini or some chocolate--it's special now rather than just something to eat. Report
I try so hard to keep this in my mind, but it can be REALLY hard sometimes. My splurges are usually sweets (brownies, cookies, ice cream), which as we all know, are harder to turn away after you've had a single serving. I've gotten better about moderation and having a small serving, but some foods I just had to get out of the house. I didn't banish them from my life, but enjoying them has to be an event, out of the house, where I can only have one serving. Otherwise, my 20% becomes 30%! Report
my problem is that i want to be a perfectionist so when i mess up i think the whole day is blown. i need to get in on the 80/20 rule Report
Ice cream is my downfall. I do splurge but make sure that I get my exercise in on those days! Report
I am really just doing the serving size for now; but in the past I have been able to splurge in moderation. Report
I'm gradually learning this. Yesterday a coworker left a small candy bar on my desk. Instead of "I can't have this, I'm on a diet" my thought was "I can have this if I want but then I'll need to not have something else later, and I'll be more hungry instead of less. I'd rather have an apple". Same outcome for the moment but a much different thought process! Report
No food is a "bad" food. It may not be the healthiest food, but I can still have it in limited quantites. I have dark chocolate every night before bed. I let it melt on my tongue and I'm satisifed with that. I would go on a major binge if I denied myself chocolate. Report
One of my favorite parts of the spark book was these types of tips. Report
I totally believe in this concept. I want to enjoy my life! And I love food!!!! But the most important thing I've learned in my SP journey so far is that I physically and emotionally feel better when I eat foods that are healthier. When I do eat an unhealthy food now I feel uncomfortable and hungry soon thereafter. I've learned to listen to my body now. Although I haven't lost many pounds since I started almost 2 months ago, my body is changing significantly and it feels so good! Report
I have found that if I am careful once in a while I can splurge on something I really like without wrecking havoc on my new healthy eating lifestyle. Report
I, too, am enjoying losing weight and still being able to enjoy some of the foods I really like! I have found that portion size is the key to all of it!! I know I wll stay focused on sticking to my daily calorie goals if I don't freak out on the occasional days I do go over. And I don't have to beat my myself up over an occasional "indulgence"...just have to make sure to keep them "occasional". Report
Great concept! I've always felt so guilty when I eat a little more 'freely' on the weekends, but I think I should adjust my mindset and see it as a formula, 80/20, from now on. Indulging occasionally is better than bingeing regularly! Report
The 80/20 rule has definitely been working for me. It helps to keep me from overindulging when I feel deprived. I feel better after spending all week being good and eating right, then having some of my favorites that I cut out during the week on the weekend. It keeps me in balance. Report
The 80/20 rule works in other areas than weight loss too. If you get 20% of the things on your list done, you have accomplished 80% of your work. Report
excellent points... and very realistic! Report
Very good points. Thanks. Report
I am trying this now. I do not feel deprived and I can still have my ice cream as well as my cheese. I find that it is less stressful for me to shop and plan menus. Report
In order for this rule to work for me, I need to strengthen my mind-body connection. I am not yet trusting of myself to be able to have the "little splurges" without going all out hog wild. SP is helping me to get there - but I know I have quite a way to go before I can manage this kind of balance. Report
I must remember "adopting a healthy lifestyle for life is not about perfection. It makes sense." Yes it does make sense if I want to feel good and enjoy the rest of my life, and I mean enjoy the other things in life besides food! Report
I disagree. Some foods are MORE than bad. They are downright EVIL! Report
Spark is a return to common sense. Let's do it consistently. Let's encourage many small successes.
Let's be kind. Let's be loving to my needs. But head in the direction of my dreams. Report
I totally agree with the 80/20 rule. I usually eat well during the work week, but will splurge on weekends and eat foods that aren't quite so healthy. But when I splurge, I try to keep in mind portion control. Report
80/20 is a great way to find balance and not beat myself up over days that have not been lived in my best interest-most days I feed my body and not my greedy mouth but when I is okay and I can regain my footing right away. Maybe good way to think about excercise too- Report
YES, I think this is such a sensible, important secret to be aware of. When I "dieted" several years ago, I was so strict with myself that I ended up "rebelling" down the road and falling back into unhealthy habits. Now that I don't have any foods that are completely off limits, it's much better and easier to keep things balanced! Report
That seems very reasonable and should be easy to follow and maintain. We will make a conscious effort to follow this suggestion. Thanks. Report
I haven't before but I will start now, thanx! I eat vegatables at every meal except breakfast and then, squeeze in a portion of friut. I don't eat bad, just not so good all of the time. Report
I am trying this out. I re started my weight loss goal this week and at first was restricting all high calorie or "treat" foods but then realized the pitfalls of restricting everything and putting good and bad labels on them. Now I seem to be doing well with this approach and have less stress!! Report
I am a huge fan the 80/20 rule....this plan works great for me ; ) Report
After being on a healthy eating plan for over six months, I have to say there is no way I could do it without allowing myself to splurge every once in a while. As long as the "good" days far outnumber the rest I try not to beat myself up over a few indulgences. This is my life after all, I do want to enjoy it! Report
I eat very healthy most of the time, but it's nice to still be able to have a glass of wine sometimes, or a favorite meal that might have been on the "forbidden" list if I was dieting. I can do this healthy lifestyle thing. Report