Apply the 90/10 rule
Personally, I try to make it more like the 99/01 rule, but that’s just me!
We’ve just talked about reducing stress, and how important it is to reduce low-level stress if you want to live a healthy, long life, free from disease and premature aging. So to that end, Core Principle 12 is “Apply the 90/10 Rule”
That is to say, get it right and live by these rules 90% of the time, but don’t stress over the last 10%, it’s not worth raising your stress levels over that 10%, providing you are getting things right 90% of the time.
“Don’t stress over the last 10% – ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’”
As I have said elsewhere on this site, my ‘mission’ with MotherNaturesDiet is to try to show real people how they can make some fairly simple changes to their lives and live much more healthily while also reducing their negative impact on the planet. Rather than being an extreme example, living like a hermit and ostracizing myself from society, I am trying to spread practical advice which will be of value to ordinary, normal people – people like you and me, with busy lives, career demands, kids, time constraints and a limited budget.
So MND is all about trying to ‘keep it real’, and we should not get stressed out worrying about 1 day in a month when we can’t get hold of the right organic veggies or the perfect piece of grass fed meat. If I am out for a business lunch and the restaurant can’t tell me the origin of the meat, well once in a while I’ll just order what I like and not worry about it too much. If I am travelling with my family on a long journey and the kids are starving and we didn’t bring enough food with us, then we’ll have to stop and buy them whatever is available, and just a couple of times per year, I’m not going to get too worked up about it. I have bought my kids McDonalds once in the last 18 months, back in 2011. I hate it, but once in 18 months is an acceptable limit.
If we are invited to dinner with friends and they serve something that breaks my rules, I’ll just smile politely, say thank you and eat it anyway. I often eat out in restaurants or at friends’ houses, and white potatoes are served. I will usually eat one to be polite, and them eat everything else and leave the potatoes. No stress. We are lucky to live in a society of abundance and good fortune and we have all the food we could ever want at our fingertips, and it pays sometimes to remember our good fortune and just be grateful that we are not going hungry. Sadly, many in this world have no choice.
Get it right 90% of the time
So our goal living on MotherNaturesDiet is to live ‘within these 12 rules’ and enjoy significant health benefits as a result. Of course, the last 10% (or 1% if you are ‘hardcore’ like me!!) has its limits. If we are living on MND, there is no way you can eat at McDonalds, or put milk and 2 sugars in your coffee, or buy a Mars bar as a snack because you were hungry. We must be clear about this. Core Principle 12 must not be abused!
If I go out with my family to visit friends for Sunday lunch, and they serve up a tasty roast chicken, I am not going to quiz them over the origin of the meat. I will relax and enjoy the meal, that’s me applying the 90/10 rule. However, Rule 12 can’t be an excuse to all-out binge on garbage, that would completely go against everything MND stands for. So this rule is to be used sensibly, to allow you to live ‘a normal life’ and not get stressed needlessly over the minor details, especially when you are out and about travelling, away from your own home where you have less control over your food.
It is always worth remembering that what we do occasionally has little consequence on our lives, it’s what we do habitually that really defines us. What you do once in a while doesn’t count for much, it’s the things you do every day that matter.
That works for the good things AND the bad things. If you only went to the gym a few times a year, even if when you were there you worked out for several hours and put in maximum effort, by the end of the year, those few sessions will have had almost NO beneficial impact on your health and body. It’s the people who go to the gym 4, 5, or 6 times every week all year that get results, even if they are only there half an hour each visit, by the end of the year, they see results.
And it’s the same with your bad habits. If I were to drink a sugary latte and eat a choc-chip muffin 3 or 4 times over the next year it would not do me too much harm. But if I were to have that expensive frothy coffee and that sticky calorific muffin every working day of the year, my waistline, my love handles, my energy levels and my health (and my wallet!) would certainly show the negative results by the end of the year. It’s not what we do once in a while that matters, it’s what we do every day that really counts.
So try your best to live by the MND Core Principles all the time, but use Rule 12, the 90/10 Rule, to save yourself stressing over the minor details. Know that it’s not worth raising your blood pressure over those details, so relax about it. Remember that low level stress is an extremely serious contributor to poor health and MND is all about reducing stress, not increasing it. If I eat the odd vegetable out of season, never mind. So I live in England and sometimes eat bananas in winter, don’t give me a hard time over it. If I buy something that isn’t organic because I’m desperate one time, gimme a break, I’m ‘getting it right’ 99% of the time.
So while we are on the subject… let’s talk about treats!
I know, life is meant to be fun, it really is. It’s true that life can be hard on all of us, and it doesn’t do us any good to take life too seriously – there’s that low level stress again. So I know you will say that we all deserve a little treat now and then, just to keep us sane, a bit of chocolate, a slice of toast, a cake or donut – whatever your pleasure is, just now and then. But it is important to keep these in moderation.
While we are talking about treats, I want you to think about this first.
You came to this website looking for help. Maybe you wanted ways to –
- lose weight
- be healthier
- have more energy
- to do all you can to ensure you are healthy later in life and don’t get heart disease or cancer
- to look sexier
- to increase your libido or virility
- to cure an illness
- to feel better
- to run a faster marathon
- to run a marathon, full stop!
- to get fitter
- to build muscle
- to reduce the signs of aging
- to live longer
- to ditch your love handles
- to get in tune with nature
- to shrink your belly, your bum, your thighs
- to reduce your impact on the planet
- to help fight animal cruelty
Whatever brought you here, I am only trying to help. I cannot force you to do anything. MND is a lifestyle guide, which I believe will help you to achieve all of those things listed above, and more. While I can give you MotherNaturesDiet – all the advice and knowledge you need is here, on this site, all for free – I cannot FORCE you to actually do it.
- You can hire me as a coach, and I will train you and encourage you one-to-one.
- You can come on one of my intensive health retreats, immerse yourself in MND for several days and make radical shifts in your eating and lifestyle habits.
- You can book me for a 1-day or 2-day workshop, to talk to you and a group of friends, colleagues or family, teach you recipes, workouts, stretches, etc.
- You can hire me for phone consultations, Skype coaching calls, phone-based or email-based goal setting. I can enthuse, encourage and plain nag you into making progress!
But ultimately, YOU have to make the changes, YOU have to do it. It all comes down to you. You have to implement these 12 Core Principles into your life, I can’t do it for you.
“You can hire me to train you, teach you and motivate you, encourage you and help you, but YOU still have to do it, it really all comes down to you.”
So when you feel the need for a ‘treat’, please remember that Core Principle 12 is not here to be abused. It does not state “If you had broccoli for dinner last night, you can have toasted pop tarts for breakfast this morning.” Rule 12 does not say “If you eat meat and veg for dinner Monday to Friday, then pizza and ice cream is OK at the weekend.” This is not what Rule 12 is about.
A treat is something we give a dog to train it to bring back its ball or walk to heel. You are not a dog.
I have come a long way down the MND road, and to me, I now see my improving body shape in the mirror as my ‘treat’…after being overweight and out of shape for 20 years, that is all the reward I need, most days.
But yes, just like you, I do still occasionally crave a bit of chocolate! There are times we all want a mouthful of chocolate – ladies, I know! Us men crave chocolate too, just not always at that time of the month!
There are many excellent books available on the subject of sugar addiction. Refined sugar (which these days is added to our food under a great many names and guises) is addictive and sadly it is in almost everything, and it is hard to avoid unless you eat only natural real foods, such as recommended here on MND. Once your body and palate is truly cleansed, long term free from the harmful effects of refined sugar and chemical additives in our food, then you will no longer crave sweet foods, or at least far less often.
I truly believe this and as I have cleaned up my diet over the last few years I certainly crave sweet things far less now than I used to. I do still crave sweet things sometimes, I think our desire for chocolate connects with our emotions, and I find the times I want a bite of chocolate will be the times I feel tired, sad, bored, fed up, etc. But thankfully that’s not often, and most days I get by just fine. Now, my appetite is sated by eating fats, from meat, nuts and avocados, and I think my body is learning to live without sugar, even natural sugar, as I eat sweet fruit far less than I used to.
So try to get off the sugar addiction, try to eat real food and remove sugar from your life and see how much better you feel. After a while you will be able to taste the natural flavours of real food, free from the taint of sugar and salt in everything. Sometimes, you will still crave something sweet, and many would say ‘life should be fun, have a treat now and then’. Just remember that the so-called ‘treat’ can be just as harmful as a cigarette – if you ate 20 bars of chocolate per day, for 20 years, it would do you a LOT of harm, just like smoking 20 cigarettes every day! If you are a non-smoker, you wouldn’t have a cigarette as a ‘treat’, so why have a bar of chocolate?
Cheat days and chocolate milkshakes
I don’t really believe in ‘cheat days’ in a diet, or ‘treats’ and ‘making up points’ and all of that. Eat clean, exercise, stay busy, live your life with meaning and passion so you are not sitting around bored all the time, and leave the ‘cheat days’, ‘making up points’ and ‘treats and sins’ to the folks in the fad diet clubs. MND is a lifestyle, a commitment to good health, not a short term fad diet.
This leads me to a good point, and one of the things about the traditional diet industry that drives me nuts. Why do they make diet shakes, diet powders, diet bars and diet drinks in sweet flavours like chocolate and strawberry and vanilla? Just as people should be trying NOT to think about eating sweet things, the diet industry are encouraging people to guzzle chocolate flavoured shakes!! Insanity!!
Someone wise once told me that “we often find it’s the things that we crave which we are actually quite intolerant of, they are often the things that are not good for us” and I think there is a strong element of truth in that. I spent years craving milk, and bread. I could eat bread (or toast) by the loaf and I could drink milk pints at a time, and yet no matter how much I had I would constantly crave more. But now I do not touch either of those things, and I never crave either of them. Sure, toast still smells good, but that smell doesn’t make me lust for toast, not at all. I still think cigarettes smell nice (weird, I know) when I walk behind someone smoking, but it doesn’t make me want one!
- Follow Core Principles 1 to 11 90% of the time, relax over the last 10%
- Don’t sweat the small stuff, in the name of reducing stress, just chill out
- Do not give yourself treats for good behaviour, you are not a dog
- It’s not what you do once in a while that counts, it’s what you do 90% of the time that determines your results
- This Rule 12 is not an excuse to binge on garbage!