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The 80/20 rule - the real secret to success

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

I cheated a little on my SP calendar challenge, just a little though, by skipping ahead to the last task which really grabbed my attention. The task touches briefly on the 80/20 rule – 80% whole, nutritious foods and 20% fun foods and this is a concept I buy into wholeheartedly. I’ve blogged before about diet vs lifestyle, I’ve commented on several blogs that I allow myself a “day off” where I eat what I want to and I don’t beat myself up about it.

It’s a personal little triumph that my “off” days haven’t halted my progress and it’s been a big learning curve for me. The trouble is, I’m aware that my “off” days cost me dearly in calories and this got me thinking about it.

Looking back at the nutrition tracker, I can see the things I did wrong (mostly involving alcohol), but I also noticed that for most of the day I actually ate healthfully. So, the beginnings of a little experiment formed in my mind. What if I spent 1 whole day only eating junk food? What would I learn from that?

It might sound a little crazy, throwing everything out of the window for a day, but I felt in my gut that I could learn from the experience. But there needed to be some rules to follow, and I have a few quirks that put me at a slight advantage when I started the day:

The rules – select better choices where possible, consider your state of hunger before eating anything, track 100% of what you consume

The quirks – I don’t snack in between meals (this has nothing to do with will power or self-control), I don’t eat sweet things (again, nothing to do with will power or self-control)

My day of junk food went like this:
Breakfast – jam (jelly) doughnut and 2 cups of coffee, 3 glasses of water. I walked into the bakery section of the local store and walked around trying to decide what I wanted. I like this type of doughnut because it’s not too sweet, but I still needed a load of water after I ate.

Lunch – KFC grilled chicken burger, half a small portion of French fries, 1 diet soda, 1 cup of coffee, 2 glasses water. I’ve never tried the grilled burger at KFC so this was an opportunity to give it a bash. It’s really quite tasty and I enjoyed it, but the French fries made me feel like a food hangover was on the horizon. Or maybe it was the combination of both, I’m not sure but I needed more water to feel better.

Dinner – 1 packet of 2-minute noodles topped with chakalaka (local fare from around my parts - it’s a spicy, vegetarian dish which can be bought in small cans), 2 bottles of dry cider, 1 cup of coffee, 4 glasses of water. This is one of my favourite meals, and you have to try it before you form an me! I thoroughly enjoyed this meal, but I needed water again afterwards.
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My husband pulled out pretzels sometime after dinner and I actually turned them down (I did what???) because I just didn’t want them. I had a headache (think food hangover), I was full from all the liquid and I really didn’t feel like anything else. I’d had my fill of junk for a while.

What I learned?
My day of junk food only took me over my calorie range by a total of 4! Who knew that there was a way to do this “legally”? I must have missed that memo because I honestly thought an off-day had to break the calorie bank. Considering my nutrition tracker, I noticed 3 things which, when compared with previous “off” days, seems to be a consistent factor:

My sodium count was through the roof, which I think is because of all the processed food. My diet is loaded with fresh produce, piles of it, and it seems that’s how I keep my sodium intake at a reasonable level. A day of fast food = big quantities of salt, and probably trans fat too.

Both my protein and carb counts were too low – the only conclusion I can draw here is that there is little or no nutrition in junk food. Ok, I knew that, but I’m a seeing-is-believing kind of I’ve seen it, I know that the only benefit of junk food is its taste and even that is brief.

So it’s 80/20 all the way for me and I feel like I’ve won a huge battle with this experiment! On to victory now...

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great blog...keep up the great work!

    As always,
    Stay Strong!
    2876 days ago
    A great exercise and a great discovery...I try not to have a "Cheat" day because I don't believe in them...I do allow myself a not-so-healthy food every once in a while but have noticed that when I don't eat them for a couple of days, I don't crave or need, I have to watch my salt intake. The 80/20 rule is a good one to follow, though! emoticon
    2877 days ago
    Awesome experiment! It took me a long time to realize that I could have the occasional "off" day and not "blow" my whole plan. Now, when I have a day (or even a few) when I'm not doing so well, I don't beat myself up about it. I just start over making healthy choices and get right back on track.

    I have also noticed a LOT of changes in my food tolerance since starting to really make an effort to eat healthy:

    * Artificial sweeteners - which I never tolerated well - REALLY make me sick now in anything but VERY small quantities (so, no diet soda for me)

    * My body HATES deep-fried food. I can't even take the SMELL of all that grease without feeling a little queasy. On the rare occasion when I DO eat something deep fried, I always feel sick later.

    * I am beginning to become overly sensitive to other food additives like MSG and preservatives, so certain foods make me sick after eating.

    * If I eat too much sugar, I get thrush. No way around it.

    It's amazing how our bodies change when we stop feeding them a daily diet of garbage!!

    2877 days ago
    Very interesting experiment. And the calories surprised me! But the sodium did not... Even with your portion control, it is hard to control that sodium in the processed foods.

    2877 days ago
  • WHGRN60
    It really amazes me how much our bodies adapt to the new healthier way of eating. Any time I eat off my plan, I really feel it. Bloated, headachey, aftertaste, queasy...not fun. So now I make sure the food I'm planning to eat is really worth the suffering.

    I had a cheese quesadilla for lunch today (not the usual kind, these are really to die for). I was lucky and only got a little bit of a headache. But it would have been worth EVERYTHING--I have this twice a year and enjoy every bite of it.

    Good for you for testing this out and understanding the results!

    2877 days ago
    Yup, 80/20 does rule. I don't have cheat days - I integrate what I want into each so I don't have to wait. Waiting does not rule.

    But you are clearly on the right track AND one smart lady.

    Go on with your bad self.

    2877 days ago
  • JUNEBUG1944
    I like your experiment, but if it had been me, there would have been a burger in there and some ice cream and some chocolate candy and probably some pizza...and...I guess that's more than enough!
    2877 days ago
    You are so brave to try the experiment! I just know it would tempt me to do bad all the time... but maybe it would be educational. I'll just have to console myself with YOUR experiment's results! Thanks for schooling us on what it felt like :)
    2878 days ago
  • MAIA2011
    I have been running all kinds of experiments myself. I am trying to find the recipe for weight loss that works for me. I, too, watch my sodium but it only works on the days that I eat a lot of veggies. I had never made the connection before! Thanks for the insightful blog.
    2878 days ago
    Thanks for being the subject of this experiment - now I don't have to!!
    It's always good to learn how your body reacts to food. Now if you crave junk food you can just remember this day, lol!

    The 80/20 rule is a great guideline, I try to use it but end up forgetting how well or how badly I'm doing!
    2878 days ago
  • RTB444
    You've got balls woman!!! Although I must admit, I was more excited about the junk food experiment before reading what you ate, you did eat crappy stuff, but it looks nothing like what my TOTALLY OFF day would look like which would most definitely incloude about 20 oreo cookies and 3 glasses of milk way too late at night. I am envious of your bravery though, I'm not so sure I could do something like that just yet, not losing weight causes me too many symptoms of mental disorders so I'd be deathly afraid of letting myself go nuts for a day. Great info though, and it reminds me that I need to get to the fruit n veggie store for my produce.
    2878 days ago
    What an interesting exercise!
    2878 days ago
    Interesting experiment! Don't have much to comment on it -- other than saying it's a good thing you get lots of produce usually!
    2878 days ago
    I use to want junk food but since i been on sp since December i have got away from that. My main cheat day is Steaknshakes 5 way chilli with 4 crackers on it!! Thats a total of 1150 calories and on 1200 calories aday it don't happen very often. Usually i eat a banana for breakfast the 5 way chilli for lunch and a small salad for supper so i go over about 300 calories! When i hit 159lbs i'm gonna do that!I end up eating out alot and i hate it because everyone wants to go cheap and fast foods i usually get salad but i get tired of that! At wendys i get small chilli; mcdonalds fruit and nut box or ice cream cone or fruit parfait; wendys i get their mandarine oranges sometimes to! Anyone got suggestions for other fast food restraunts please leave it on my page it's my life style like it or not! Thanks for the blog it was great! emoticon
    2878 days ago
  • SHEILA1505
    You were very brave to do that for us all! And with all that additional water you must have felt as if your eyes were afloat:) It's great that you didn't really enjoy all the processed stuff and that is going to make it so much easier to continue eating healthier options.

    2878 days ago
    Great blog. Just shows what we can learn by tracking and paying attention to our food intake. Knowledge is power! Had surgery a week ago. (gall bladder removal) In prep, upped my protein grams per day for a couple of weeks before and will continue to do so. Previously was at the low end of the acceptable range. Now, around 100 grams a day; hard to go over that for me. Point is, the unexpected bonus is my night time snacking binges have stopped! Less hungry and less snacking during the day too! Staying in my calorie range is much more comfortable. Always thought I was getting enough protein; maybe my activity level has increased my need. Healing well, back to full fitness minutes already; mostly walking. Will be back at the gym and yoga soon. Everyone is pretty amazed, including me, at my recovery rate. Healthy eating and fitness have a lot of payoffs! Life is good. Joy
    2878 days ago
    Last week I thought about having an experimental day of only eating ice cream bars but staying within my calorie range for maintaining my weight! I could have had 6 to 7 of my favorite ice cream bars...but some how I knew that that food hang the psychological feeling associated with eating that much ice cream coupled up with the fact that I would actually be starving by the end of the day kept me from my "experiment". I like yours better. It is neat all that we learn with the guidance of SP!
    2878 days ago
  • KENP22
    i noticed when i pick a day to eat junk food and not stick with the SP plan that the foods i choose make me feel crummy. anyways, keep up the good work!
    2878 days ago
    I have found that being on SP has changed how I eat, regardless if it is a more relaxed diet day or not. That by being true to SP my whole thought process about eating has changed.
    2878 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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