Since writing this blog, I’ve put myself in the spotlight. Now, more than ever, people comment on my eating, drinking, exercising, and lifestyle habits. Don’t get me wrong–I somewhat expected this to happen and am open to all questions and commentary! I don’t love being the center of attention in any situation, so it has taken me some time to get used to it.
The time I’m under the most scrutiny is when I’m living out the 20% of my life that includes indulgences. That’s right: I still love to indulge! In my opinion, being a “biohacker” doesn’t mean giving up all of your favorite treats and exercising every single day. Rather, biohacking means taking an honest look at your life and making sure of the following:
Healthy habits and optimal food choices should comprise 80% of your lifestyle; less-than-perfect habits and food indulgences should make up only 20%.
Once you figure out this ratio and the manner in which it works for your own lifestyle, it’s truly bliss!
So, how does one live in the 80-20?
If you want to get technical, 5.6/7 = 80%. So, 5.6 days of every week, it’s crucial to make the healthiest lifestyle and food choices. That leaves 1.4 days each week–or, when considering food, approximately 4 meals–in which you can splurge. Now, I certainly don’t live my life in terms of mathematical calculations. As an English teacher, the math world seems quite foreign to me! Still, I think the act of visualizing the breakdown of “splurge” days and meals helps to keep me honest. 80% is certainly not 50%, so you can’t rationalize that splurging on 10 meals a week or staying completely sedentary more than 3.5 days per week is living in the 80-20.
The 80-20 as it applies to exercise:
Ideally, it’s important to move our bodies every single day, but doing some type of exercise–even if it’s just a long, brisk walk!–at least 5 days each week is hugely important. As my favorite celebrity fitness trainer Vinnie Tortorich says, “The best exercise is the one you’ll do.” Personally, I love to walk around New York City, go to spin classes, lift weights at the gym, and swing my kettle bell in my apartment. Just recently, I’ve been experimenting with yoga. (Being one of the most inflexible people, this has been a challenge!) Years ago, I prioritized different exercises like jogging and swimming. It’s perfectly fine to allow your exercise regimen to blossom and evolve. In his book The Art of Stopping Time, Pedram Shojai writes, “Still water breeds poison.” Similarly, still bodies breed sickness and disease…and even wrinkles! Living in the bliss of 80-20 means moving your body or engaging in strength training at least 5 days/week.
The 80-20 as it applies to food:
In terms of food, I think it’s best to view splurges as specific meals rather than entire “cheat” days. In my own experience, when I’ve allowed myself cheat days, it has been much more difficult to get back on the healthy eating train the next day. I don’t plan out my meal splurges and, as mentioned above, I certainly don’t count them out each week. (However, if counting them out helps you at first, go for it!) As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I keep my apartment stocked with the healthiest foods so that I’m not tempted to splurge while at home; I save my treat meals for times I’m out with friends at brunch, happy hour, or dinner. Not keeping unhealthy foods in my home has been revolutionary; it’s the only way I’m able to keep myself in the 80-20. When I’m surrounded by temptations at home, I eat them. I just do! We all like to think we have willpower, but we’re only human. During the work week (let’s call that Monday-Thursday), I rarely dine out, and I pack the lunch I take to work each day. This allows me to have guilt-free chicken fingers at Friday happy hour, a scoop of ice cream when I pass that new ice cream shop walking around NYC on Saturday afternoon, and nachos while watching football on Sunday. In between those treats, I eat healthy snacks, prepare nutritious meals, and drink sugar-free coffees. It’s really so easy to keep yourself on a healthy food track once you get used to living in the 80-20!
When it comes to other lifestyle choices like cosmetics, lotions, soaps, etc., I pretty much live in the zone of 100-0. Since I’ve cleaned up my products, there’s really no reason (or way) to stray. And, the awesome news is this: Once, you switch to EWG-verified products and avoid unnecessary toxins, you optimize the function of your mitochondria, making it that much easier for your body to cleanse itself and bounce back after any food or alcohol indulgences!
Once you begin to embrace the ratio of 80-20 throughout every aspect of your life, you may want to try 90-10 or even 100-0 some weeks. The more choices you make that lead to optimal health, the better you feel and the more addicting it becomes to make the best, best decisions for your body.
Have you embraced the bliss of 80-20? If so, please share your experience in the comments!
In each blog post, I aim to bring you food for thought (pun intended. See: my day job), but don’t take my word for it! Click on and read all of the links above to become your own expert on this topic; knowledge is power. The more you know and understand the “why” behind each biohack, the easier it will be to stick to it and realize you can’t live without it!