The 80/20 Rule & Fitness

October 11, 2019

Fact:  Wearing a Lab Coat Makes You Look Smart.

I'll need all the help I can get if I'm going to be talking about math. 

Hang with me here, no #2 pencils or scantrons will be required.

I've been thinking about the 80/20 rule a lot lately.  If you're unfamiliar with the 80/20 rule (a.k.a The Pareto Principle), here is the basic premise...

For many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

In terms of diet and exercise, The 80/20 rule would suggest that you will get 80% of the results based on 20% of the effort.

Here is why this is good news...

Pretend you are an absolute couch potato.  You sit, lounge, or sleep 23 hours per day.  Your diet is full of refined sugar, and you're steadily gaining weight every year.

The 80/20 rule says that you'll likely improve your health by 80% if you would put in at least 20% of the effort a super-fit person puts in (someone theoretically operating at 100% of their fitness potential).

So instead of working out for 1 hour per day, you would do a session of purposed, relatively intense exercise for 12 minutes per day, and maybe change to a standing desk at work.

Instead of eating the PERFECT diet (whatever that is), you would simply cut out refined sugars, and reduce your intake levels to a slight caloric deficit.

If you kept doing that 20% effort...day in...day out...you'd improve your fitness by 80% and avoid a whole host of pending health problems.

Here is why the 80/20 rule is bad news...

Last time we checked, 80% is a "B-" in terms of our standardized grading system. 

Who wants to walk through life with a B-?  Who dreams of being on the high side of mediocre?  What advertisement, resume, or marriage vow comes with the promise that you will consistently do the bare minimum to be slightly above average?

It doesn't take a guy in a lab coat to tell you that 80% is not a great way to operate in all aspects of your life.

To make matters worse, if you're operating at 80% of your potential results, you have to put in 80% more effort to gain that last 20% of potential.

Basically...It will take 100 percent effort (a.k.a. obsession)...to achieve 100 percent of potential results.

BOOOOO!

In the wise words of a random out-of-context person on the internet...

"Ain't nobody got time for that!"

Here Is My Take-Away...

Everyone has areas of their life where they shine. 

Some people find it easy to operate at 95% of their potential fitness level.  Some people find it easy to eat a strict diet.  Some people joyfully declutter and organize things as they bounce throughout their day.

That's great!  Keep shining where you shine!  You don't need the 80/20 rule for that stuff.

Concentrate instead on the areas of your life that are well below 80%.

Where do you have an F?  Where are your Ds?

Start looking at the things that are totally out of control & neglected and start setting rules and systems to do 20% more in those areas of your life.  That way your report card can look more like this...

A
A
B
B
A
A
B

…And less like this..

A
A
F
D
A
A
F

It's the difference between being on the "honor roll," or having to repeatedly start over and suffer the consequences of neglected areas.

Please don't get me wrong.  I'm not getting all preachy and looking down on you from my soap-box. 

I have LOTS of "Fs" to work on, but somehow setting the expectation at 20% of max effort and focusing on consistency is a lot less intimidating.

I hope this concept is as helpful for you as it was for me.

We can't wait to hear stories of less boxed wine, and more kick-boxing...less couch surfing, and more actual surfing...less bar hopping, and more...ummm...bar hopping?

 

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