Follow These 8 Easy Rules and Forevermore Ignore All Healthy Living Advice

You’ve heard of the 80:20 rule. 80% of the time focus on your strict diet and exercise routine and 20% of the time, don’t worry about it. And the 80%, it’s usually filled with lots of difficult to follow and remember rules, and generally includes a fair bit of sacrifice and restriction.

Well I’ve got a different ratio to sell you on today. It’s the 95:5 ratio, and if you follow it, you can ignore every new fad diet, every well-intentioned friendly lifestyle zealot, and every supplement huckster out there.

Here goes.

Focus 95% of your healthy living energies on:

  1. Cooking your meals from fresh whole ingredients while minimizing restaurant meals and ultra-processed foods (and remember too “minimize” is a relative term and one that you can continually improve upon but need not start at awesome), and then eating those meals free from distractions and ideally with friends or family.
  2. Exercising as often and as much as you can enjoy, and ideally more days of the week than not, while still remembering if all you can find are short bursts, they’re good too.
  3. Not smoking
  4. Cultivating good night sleeps (dark, cool and quiet rooms, no screens right before bed, set sleep times, no caffeine past noon, rare alcohol within 3 hours of bed time would be a good start)
  5. When indulging, asking first if it’s worth it, and second what’s the smallest amount you need to be happy?
  6. Drinking alcohol only in moderation (1 daily for women, 2 for men)
  7. Nurturing your friendships and relationships
  8. Treating yourself with as much love and respect as you do your actual best friend (if you struggle with how, when you’re next feeling guilt, sadness, anger, shame or another negative emotion, pretend you’re counselling them about how to reframe the situation)

As to what makes up the remaining 5%? Well it’s everything else. It’s stuff like “best” diets, “right” exercises, organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats, ancient grains, supplements, cleanses, and all that other minutia that people spend so much time agonizing over despite the very real likelihood that even were all those things scientifically, demonstrably, useful (most aren’t), in a best case scenario, when compared with the impact of the 95%, that 5% might increase a person’s quantity of life by a few days or weeks, while agonizing over that 5% would definitely suck away a whole pile of quality.

Life’s too short to worry about the minutia of healthful living and if you’re looking for the best bang for your healthful living buck, look to the unsexy, but incredibly beneficial, 95%.

Associate Professor of Family Medicine @UOttawa/Dad/Author of The Diet Fix/Co-owner Bariatric Medical Institute and Constant Health/No Manels/Remotely cool once

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