The 80% / 20% on Developing Healthy Habits for a Lifetime

Earlier this spring I did a post on healthy living tips from Magen Banwart, a wellness coach, on 5 tips to being your 20-something best self. As we get into summer full swing I am reposting some of these tips on how not to let a healthy dose of indulgence get in the way of healthy living — good advice for all ages.

Magen’s wellness programs are based on the age-old wisdom of yoga and mediation combined with the practical know-how of what works and what doesn’t. What has she learned? You don’t have to be perfect or live in an Ashram. When you live well most of the time it can help sustain you and keep you more energized for work and play. Her 80/20 philosophy:

“By just making more good choices you can enjoy life more, feel stronger and get a a head start on being more confident. Creating healthy habits now can sustain you when life throws you challenges.  Holiday BBQs, late night parties or digging into the 5 cheese omelet and pancakes at brunch on Sunday don’t have to throw you off track or make you feel guilty.  Just get back in gear on Monday rather than spending a week eating junk. I aim to follow the 80/20 rule —  eating well 80% of the time and allowing myself to indulge the other 20%.

You don’t have to ban foods from your diet or count calories to the extreme. It’s not all or nothing.  Thinking you can never go out and have french fries and a grilled cheese will only make you feel deprived and cause stress that will trigger you to eat more. To be healthy and happy should have those once in a while. Don’t beat yourself up about it.”


Magen’s Five Simple Habits to Energize Your Lifestyle


Dehydration equals fatigue, irritability and digestive issues. If you are not going to bathroom every couple of hours, you are not drinking enough.


A lot of 20 year olds complain about feeling bloated. Simply drinking water and cutting out these inflammatories that interfere with digestion can eliminate that swelling.  You’ll sleep better, recover from your workouts sooner and you will have more sustainable energy throughout the day and into the evening.

Many young women don’t understand the correlation between that 3pm crash and what they had for lunch. They think it’s just part of the deal. You don’t have to feel that way. Food is energy. And the quickest way to use that energy is to reduce foods that cause inflammation in the body. Bread, pasta, fried or other processed food can leave you feeling depleted whereas healthy, whole foods give you energy.

Gluten free oatmeal and fruits that are high in antioxidants like raspberries and blueberries for breakfast. Apples or pears and almonds or walnuts for snacks.  For lunch and dinner, lots of veggies, especially those that are dark green, and lean proteins like fish or turkey. Soups, salads, black beans or lentils and quinoa are great options.

I also highly recommend drinking green juices. It’s an easy way to get your veggies. There are juice places popping up in cities today…but they can be expensive. If you have a blender you can make your own juices it’s affordable and very easy. I have some easy recipes on my website you can check out.  If you don’t have time to make juices, or can’t be bothered, use Green Vibrance. It’s a freeze-dried greens supplement you can just mix with water. Don’t go for the mass / pre-bottled juices you find in delis and grocery stores. Some of them have up to 26 grams of sugar!

Just knock off the cheese and bread if you really want to feel better. Not everyone is going to be as susceptible to dairy and gluten intolerance, but everyone will feel a weight lifted off of them by limiting it in their diet. If you can’t live without your pizza fix, Amy’s Organics makes a yummy, gluten free dairy free veggie pizza. Keep a few of the personal sized ones in your freezer for those late nights when you come home with the munchies!


Stay in a few nights a week or do something healthy with a friend. Have your friends come-over for a healthy meal or to go on a walk in the park then go for tea. There are alternative, healthier ways to be social that won’t interfere with your sleep. Try going out earlier and coming home earlier. Grab an early bite with a friend and be done by 9 and in bed by 10. I know you go out late when you are young but try to mix it up a bit. Save the late nights for one or two nights a week when you don’t have to get up. And there still is a fun window between 5 and 9 when people go out after work.


You should sweat everyday. Even the more moderate of health gurus, Andrew Weil, recommends doing something like a good walk everyday. There is no need to go to the gym for an hour each day. Take a spin class or do 30 minutes of walk/jog intervals in the park. Anything that gets you moving and gets your heart rate up is good.  The more you move the better your digestion, the better your skin, the better your energy. You feel better. You look better. That’s one way to earn self-confidence. I’ve seen it.

If you don’t want to spend a lot on a gym or classes…or you’d rather spend your money on shoes than spin classes, I recommend the Urban Rebounder. It’s small enough for any apartment, it folds up and you can order it on Amazon for $89.  Best part, you can jog on it and watch Gossip Girl at the same time. I do it for up to an hour everyday while I’m returning calls.  But if you are working late or going out just get on it for 20 minutes. You can work your heart, seat, legs and core muscles without the impact to your joints that running has, so it’s really the most efficient workout I know. Or you can get a DVD of your favorite class and just do half of it at home if you don’t have time or money to go to a class.

Try to exercise efficiently. If you are on the bike, speed up your revolutions and work at 80 to 90 percent of your maximum capacity for 2-3 minutes then go back to 60-70%  for one minute to recover. If you workout like this, rather than at a moderate intensity the entire time, you can spend 30 minutes instead of 60 and get more out of it.


If you can’t do anything else…breathe.

Practice breathing more deeply. Anxiety and stress is exacerbated by not breathing right. Deep breathing doesn’t require any tools, classes or money. It can be done anywhere and it ‘s proven to calm the nervous system.  Just breathe in for 6 counts and out for 6 counts. Do this as long as you can. Twenty minutes is optimal. You can also log on to to download a breathing exercise called Two Bells. Stick it on your MP3 player and just inhale on the high bell and exhale on the low bell. Very easy and totally calming. I promise, it’s better than Xanax.



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