How to stop falling off the healthy eating bandwagon: 80/20 rule

Since starting at Google three years ago, efficiency has been the focus. Because of this emphasis on productivity, every time I start a new project, I ask myself the same question: how can I optimize for the 80%?

Why does this matter?

Optimizing for the straightforward 80% frees us to focus on the more challenging (and impactful) 20%. 

[Source: The Pareto Principle]

In any given problem, about 80% of cases will be standard. If we can identify that simple 80% and automate a process around them, we no longer have to work on them. As an example, maybe you work in customer service and you get 100 requests per day. If 80 of them are on the same topic, you can very easily automate a response or create a help center article to answer the question. Once you resolve the 80 simple requests, you can spend time working on the more complicated ones in your inbox. Win win.

On the other hand, because the remaining requests are more complex, they’ll make up the majority of your efforts and outputs. You’ll need to focus more intensely and come up with customized solutions for each one.

By the end of the day, 20% of your requests generate 80% of your work. And if you can automate that 80%, your day becomes a heck of a lot easier…and more efficient.

This sounds appealing, doesn’t it? Because we all want to focus our energies on the things that really matter, the 80/20 rule (or Pareto’s Principle) can be applied to so many areas of our lives. And as a nutrition coach, I’ve realized the importance of using the 80/20 rule in my coaching to help women get even more consistent with their nutrition (grab my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet to see how).

Why apply the 80/20 rule to nutrition?

The 80/20 rule makes us more consistent with food and nutrition.

About two years ago, I signed up for my first online bootcamp. After battling with anorexia for 8 years at that time, I really wanted to change my physique: more muscles and less belly fat (don’t we all?).

I was SO excited. I took my initial progress pictures, gathered all my equipment, and got ready for week 1. But as soon as I opened the nutrition guidelines, my stomach sank. The portion suggestions, calorie counts, and macro breakdowns were incredibly overwhelming.

As I cooked my chicken breast with vegetables on Wednesday of week 1, all I wanted was a glass of wine. In that moment, I was overcome with a feeling of failure and sunk to the floor in tears. All of the counting and measuring made me so obsessive that I again was battling with my ED.  As I leaned against the cabinets in my tiny kitchen, tears streaming down my face, I realized I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t make myself abide by crazy restrictive guidelines without slipping back into ED. So by the next week, I stopped following all of the bootcamp nutrition guidelines to keep myself from getting overly obsessive, restrictive, or super guilty.

If we struggle with ED tendencies or food obsession, the 80/20 rule is the answer. It allows us to focus on the things that really matter, while automating the rest.

Let’s break it down.

Struggling to be consistent with food? Apply the 80/20 rule to your nutrition and get consistent once and for all.

In order to use the 80/20 rule, we’ve got to consider two things: the 80% and the 20%.

Handling the 80: #automatethatshit

When it comes to the standard 80%, we’ve gotta automate. To automate our eating, we create behaviors that are SO automatic that we don’t even have to think about them.

My first suggestion to start automating your nutrition is to be BASIC and focus on the essentials of good nutrition. Instead of counting anything, we focus on just two things: protein and veggies. Every single time we eat, grab a portion of protein and some vegetables.

This super simple strategy makes all the difference, because we’ll be eating lots of nutrient dense and non-calorie dense foods. This will allow us to eat more AND make we you aren’t missing out on any key nutrients. In layman’s terms, low calorie density = large portion size. And large portion sizes keep our bellies happy.

After doing this for a few weeks, we stop thinking about it and the behavior becomes automatic.

We can all use a little help making our eating more automatic, especially in tough eating situations.

I talk with women all the time who are struggling to stay consistent with their nutrition. They know what they “should” eat but they can’t seem to implement it when outside of their normal routine. They either restrict themselves and feel super deprived or they get overwhelmed by all the “shoulds” and eat whatever they want, leaving them feeling lots of guilt.

When these things happen, we feel like there’s no middle ground between restriction and guilt.

But there is, and that’s why I created my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet to help all of us implement the things we know we should do with our nutrition. There are no crazy meal plans or calorie counts, just the handful things you need to implement daily to eat moderately and find that middle between restriction and guilt.

Grab your copy here.

Handling the 20: #mindthemiddle

Now comes the fun part: the tough (and impactful) 20%.

When we’re outside of your automated nutrition, we do not restrict or aim for perfection. Instead, we focus on moderation and minding the middle.

To mind the middle, we take each eating situation and pick the moderate option.

As as example, maybe breakfast, lunch, and dinner are automated but that after dinner snack is still tough. In that case, we’d pick an option that’s not the best but also not the worst. Instead of having a bowl of ice cream or nonfat plain greek yogurt, maybe we grab some Halo Top or my chocolate mug cake. 

Is it the best option? Heck no. But it’ll also keep you satisfied and less obsessed with your next treat.

Part of why I love using the 80/20 rule in my nutrition coaching is that it inevitably shifts us away from obsession. When we’re no longer counting, measuring, or analyzing everything that goes into our mouths, what we eat occupies SO much less mental space.

Wanna try it?

Consistency with nutrition is hard. We often know what we need to do but implementing it is another story. There are days when we’re really good and days when everything is off. Sometimes nutrition is effortless, but other times, it gets so overwhelming or we get sick of making decisions, so we end up overindulging and feeling guilty later. When these things happen, we feel like there’s no middle ground between restriction and guilt.

But there is.

That’s why I created my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet. No meal plans, just the handful of things you need to implement daily to eat moderately, completely stress-free.

Struggling to be consistent with food? Here are my two best tools to staying consistent while eating out.

If you’re looking for more examples of how to get to #ConsistentNutrition,  I’ll be posting on Facebook and Instagram about how I stay consistent during all situations my eating using the hashtag #ConsistentNutrition. Don’t miss out!

What’s one nutrition question you have?

How I stopped gaining weight on vacation

Happy Boxing Day! I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas holiday and is enjoying this day off with family and friends. We’re soaking up as much time as possible with Andrew’s and my family, including all the doggies as we prepare to head out on our backpacking trip.

While I am preparing and packing for our trip to South America, I’m reminded of how stressful travel used to be for me. Even just a couple years ago, heading out on vacation was a huge stressor and always led to gaining weight. Because I couldn’t with my standard exercise and nutrition routine, I had no idea what to do. I’d either restrict my eating to an extreme degree when I couldn’t exercise OR overeat all the delicious things “because I was on vacation.”

It wasn’t until last year when I moved to Texas and began traveling more that I had to figure out this travel thing. I knew if I didn’t, my health, workout routine, and nutrition quality would decline.

With lots of experimentation, I’ve identified four key steps that make a huge difference in stopping weight gain while you’re traveling/vacationing. My super simple MOVE framework is your guide to maintaining your weight while on vacation.

Read More »

As you swipe through your Instagram feed, you can’t help but notice the dozens of before and after pictures, flat stomachs, lean arms, and shapely legs. Reading the comments, every post seems to say the same thing. Even with all this social proof, as a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, I will NEVER preach the clean eating gospel.

Why I’m against clean eating

Spoiler! I won’t teach you how to “eat clean” but if you want to learn how to enjoy your life without falling off track,  New Year, New You could be for you! 

As you swipe through your Instagram feed, you can’t help but notice the dozens of before and after pictures, flat stomachs, lean arms, and shapely legs. Reading the comments, every post seems to say the same thing.

I was overweight and then I started eating clean. The weight fell off!

Before starting to eat clean, I could never attain a six pack.

With clean eating and exercise, I was able to drop to [insert super low number]% body fat!

Even with all this social proof, as a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, I will NEVER preach the clean eating gospel.

Read More »

Recovering Perfectionist: Why I Aim For “Good Enough”

You’re looking for a new workout to try on YouTube. You find one that looks super fun but it requires equipment you don’t have (who really has a dip station at home), so you keep scrolling.

Or maybe, you see a super fun online bootcamp but you see it requires five workouts a week. You’ve got a full-time job, maybe kids, volunteering, a social life, and a thousand other things to do. You’re not sure you can commit to all those workouts AND modifying your nutrition at the same time, so you click away.

If this sounds like you, my perfectionist friend, we need to talk.

Being a perfectionist does not serve you.

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Moderation defined.

I talk about moderation a lot on Katherine Lynn Fitness. I’m pretty sure it was the topic of my first ever blog post. It’s a personal goal every morning to live my life a bit more moderately than the day before.

But is moderation eating only one bite of dessert a day?

Exercising every single day?

Drinking more water?

Moderation Defined

Even though it’s a common topic for ME, I realized, I’ve never really defined it. I go on and on about living moderately but never took the time to explain wtf I meant. Oops.

Wine, Protein, Veggies

So.

What the heck is moderation?

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How to Find the Energy to Work Out

Your alarm sounds, it’s time to get up and hit the gym, but you find yourself repeatedly hitting the snooze button instead. Or maybe it’s the end of the work day and you are supposed to go out for a run but all you want to do is collapse on the couch. You have no energy to do anything. 

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Sound familiar? Yeah, for me too!

This is one of the most common scenarios presented to me as a coach and trainer:

“I have no energy to workout!”

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Why I’m changing up my training

Happy Monday, my friends! I cannot believe the first week of August has already come and gone. In a few days, I’ll be on the west coast, driving through Oregon, on my way to Mt. Adams for my first big backpacking trip. I’m pretty nervous but also so excited to get out there, get away from the craziness of work and the insane heat in Austin.

With the start of a new month, comes the start of a new training phase. Normally I hit the ground running, 3+ lifting days and 2 conditioning workouts per week. This is my sweet spot. I get enough rest to recover, while also making strength gains.

In July, I stuck to my standard schedule but did some extra leg strength sessions, including high volumes of weighted step ups, with the goal of strengthening my legs and hips for climbing lots of hills. I also incorporated more hiking and incline walking with a weight vest to break in my boots and improve my conditioning.

But since the beginning of the month, I’ve taken a step back, dropping my strength training down to twice a week.

August is going to be different.

Read More »

Fix Your Nutrition with ONE Question

The only question you need to ask about your nutrition

Happy Memorial Day! I hope you’ve enjoyed the weekend that keeps on giving. Doing anything exciting today? Let me know in the comments below.

Juno & I are enjoying an extra weekend day by hanging out and working on a project I’m getting reach to launch in mid-June. Getting excited…..

Memorial Day is one of those holidays that centers around food. BBQs, parties, and laying out on the lake with a cooler are often the norm. All that’s well & good but it does leave a lot of us feeling very overfed, bloated, hungover, or possibly even regretful the next day. When we overindulge, whether that’s by eating too many chips + guac or that extra beer (or three), often our response is to carry that feeling with us and make extreme shifts in how we eat or exercise.

We’re all guilty of this. I’m pretty sure from the time I was sixteen years old (until a couple years ago), I did 10 mile runs every Friday after Thanksgiving. Dragging myself out of bed, heavy and bloated from all the salt, I would make myself “sweat it off,” regardless of how tired my body was at the time. That’s healthy right? No.

Instead I’m going to challenge you to look at your nutritional intake in a completely different way and only ask ONE question.the-only-question-you-need-to-ask-yourself-re-nutrition

Can I see myself eating this way in six months?

I’m going to break it down for you. Eating everything you could possibly want, drinking excessively, or a week long “clean eating” cleanse are all bad for you. They are also inherently unsustainable. 

Even if you had a blast at your friend’s wedding, will you be eating the same way in six months? No way. Is your three day juice fast a lifestyle? Of course not.

When you eat in a way that’s not sustainable, you set yourself up to swing back and forth between eating too much and then too little to “make up for it.” This effs with your metabolism, hunger cues, and relationship with food. So instead, focus on one thing: sustainability, whatever that looks like for you. This will keep you from overindulging or restricting. Keep returning to that question when you need a check-in.

How can I find a sustainable diet?

Unfortunately, this question is a little more difficult. It involves a fair amount of introspection and awareness. Here’s a bit of food for thought (hehe) to help think about the different elements of your daily intake.

What foods make me feel physically good?

What foods keep me feeling full?

How do I feel after eating [insert type of food or beverage]?

What treats make it easier for me to eat more healthily throughout the day?

What are my physique & performance goals?

Thinking about creating a sustainable way of eating can be challenging but it’s the best thing you can do for yourself. If I can help at all, let me know. This is also one of the questions we will be considering in my upcoming Winter Shape Up & Sculpt if you’d like the support of a community, too!

Many hugs!

How did you spend your Memorial Day weekend?

Why I Froze My Orangetheory Membership

Orangetheory workouts are known for their intensity and that insane afterburn. Advertisements featuring fit, thin women and chiseled coaches urge us to to hit 5 classes a week for maximum benefits. So we drag ourselves to class, depleting our energy and our wallets because we all want the same thing: results.

I get it. I wanted that too. I joined a studio less than a week after I moved to Austin and met some incredible people through attending classes. I looked forward to getting up at 4:30am to work out with our 5:00am crew three times a week! But recently, I made a big decision: to freeze my membership (aka pause it for the next month). After keeping it frozen for almost six months, I ultimately canceled my membership…and haven’t looked back.

Why I froze my orangetheory membership...and haven't unfrozen it. Don't miss this.

This was a big step for me. In the past, I struggled to take any sort of rest or recovery periods, even though they are so necessary. Every Sunday morning in college, on my “rest” day, I’d wake up at 7am, lace up my shoes before the dining hall even opened, and go for a 90 minute walk around the neighborhoods. Even if I was tired, hungover, or sore, I would make myself do this crazy long walk, because I was too afraid of gaining weight or losing my results to give my body the rest it needs. On top of that, I truly believed that harder and more intense workouts were always the way to go, so I would spend hours at the gym doing intense cardio on the elliptical then trying to lift weights. It was EXHAUSTING.

So, needless to say, freezing (and ultimately canceling) my orangetheory membership was HUGE.

Why’d I freeze my orangetheory membership?

It was contributing to overtraining

I had 1001 fitness goals. I was working on building strength with intense lifting workouts three times a week. At the same time, I started running trail 10k races once a month. Lifting, running, and doing orangetheory was waaay too much for my body. I started exhibiting signs of overtraining and developed a hip flexor injury (wanna see how I healed my hip flexor? Don’t miss this post).

RogueFlatCreek-124

I wasn’t seeing results

After months of orangetheory, my body looked the exact same. I wasn’t getting the fast results promised in all the ads. Even though I was doing all the right things, nothing changed. I knew something had to change to see the physical results I wanted.

December 2015 

So if orangetheory doesn’t work, what should we do instead?

Over the next few months, I got fantastic results. I’m feeling so much more confident and it’s amazing how simple the change has been. My 3B Framework will help you maximize your results after freezing your orangetheory membership.

Break up your intense workouts

When you’re working out intensely, you wanna keep it short, unlike orangetheory workouts. When you workout for longer than 45ish minutes…

-the quality of your workout declines
-your body starts pumping out extra stress hormones
-your muscles struggle to recover in time for your next workout
-overtraining becomes a real possibility

No bueno.

Instead, I kept my HIIT cardio or metabolic conditioning workouts well under thirty minutes. This allows me to work super hard for a short period of time. And who doesn’t want to have some extra time in their day?

This workout is a perfect example of a short, intense workout that’ll get you results!

Grab the full workout breakdown here or try out another of my faves.

Build an effective training plan

When you’re training for results, you’ve gotta have a plan of attack and be sure that you’re taking every workout to your level. You’ve got to include the right balance of lifting, cardio, and REST.

If you want to see exactly how I program a week of workouts, my free seven day fitness challenge lays it all out for you.

Bulk up your protein

If you’re trying to change up your body composition or lose weight, you’ve got to get adequate protein on board. I’d say that 80% of the women I talk to as a nutrition coach are NOT getting enough protein.

This leads to them overeating on carbs, having tons of cravings, and feeling hungry throughout the day.

Instead, use my 5 go-to protein foods to bulk up your protein intake to feel satisfied all day. And if you’re looking for tasty protein filled snacks, try these protein bites or this cookie dough. YUM.

With my 3B Framework, you’re SURE to see results after freezing your orangetheory membership. BUT, if you want some accountability and support to reach your fitness goals, check out my free 7 day fitness challenge. For 7 days, I’m your personal trainer and coach.  Let’s make some progress towards your fitness goals, together!

Have you done orangetheory?

Breaking up with Food Obsession

Struggling with food obsession? Let’s end it.

We all “know” we should eat healthily but sometimes this gets to a place that’s not so helpful, healthy, or functional. It’s similar to the idea more is always better (well it is isn’t) in which we try to eat well but eating perfectly MUST be better. You know what I’m talking about.

Skipping nights out with girlfriends to eat “on plan”

Recurring thoughts of hitting your food goals

Constant tracking, counting, analyzing, & planning

Stressing about your choices & beating yourself up when you make decisions not in line with your goalsIMG_2874

Once we get to this place, it can be hard to snap out. I’ve been there too. Before I started strength training consistently, I was always thinking about my food and body composition (maybe that’s another story for another day 😉 ).  It filled my days and thoughts. At some point, I said ENOUGH. Using some of the tools I outline below, I’ve been able to reach a much healthier place with food, allowing me to enjoy the foods I love while also maintaining a healthy body and mind.

Personal food rules

I have a few little guidelines for eating every day. These are inspired by Jill Coleman’s “Daily Nutritional Commitments” (This post is super helpful & and relevant. Check it out). These guidelines are part of my eating every single day, Christmas day or random Monday. They help me stay consistent and guide my choices when I frankly don’t want to think about food.

  1. Prioritize veggies and protein at every meal to stabilize blood sugar and satiety.
  2. Eat one BIG ASS SALAD (thanks Jill!) per day to ensure I max out the micronutrients & fiber of veggies.
  3. Dark chocolate every day. Keeps me sane.
  4. When in doubt, choose dietary fat over carbs. Carbs often leave me feeling bloated and uncomfortable, and I have found food timing to be incredibly important. So, when faced with the choice, I do better with dietary fat.

I am NOT saying theses should be your rules, but it’s helpful to have a few guiding principles to return to when you are obsessing about food.

Enlist help

Over the last year and a half, I’ve worked with an incredible nutritionist and trainer who have helped me rethink my relationship with food. Working with experts will refine your understanding of your situation so you can make the best choices for you.

Move in a way that makes you happy

When I lift, I don’t worry about food. This is why I lift even when on vacation! It makes me feel like a powerful badass, so it is a part of my (almost) daily routine. IMG_3035

Find the type of exercise that brings you joy and stick with it. As a recovering distance runner, I encourage you to think about strength training but I don’t care if it’s cross fit, zumba, or hiking, prioritize movement and the rest falls into place.

Stop counting

With the “If It Fits Your Macros” craze, it seems like everyone and their momma are counting calories or macros. Most of the time, it is NOT necessary to count every single day. Hello obsessions…

Something that’s helped me is tracking my meals by taking pictures about twice a month. As humans, creatures of habit, most of our daily intake is the same day-to-day, so tracking a couple times a month is sufficient. Again, this is where working with an expert helps you figure out if you’re on track!

I hope these help! I know food obsession is a sticky topic and super personal but using a couple of these tools can make a huge difference <3

Which of these tools speaks to you?