Bikini season is in full swing. Even if you tried to slim down before summer, let's not forget that a healthy lifestyle is a year-round endeavor.
How else are you supposed to keep weight off anyway? The answer: an 80/20 diet.
We've talked about the 80/20 diet before when "X-Men" star Olivia Munn opened up about how she used this very diet to drop 12 pounds.
If you're not familiar, an 80/20 diet consists of eating healthfully 80 percent of the time and eating "whatever" the remaining 20 percent. Sounds easy, right? Well, like any new lifestyle change, it might be hard to start, but it's incredibly easy to stick to.
Cameron Diaz, Venus Williams and Victoria's Secret model Miranda Kerr also subscribe to the 80/20 diet. It's proven to work because it's less restrictive than other diets, but of course, you have to exercise, too.
This diet is backed by science, people. A recent study proves that forgiving diets are more effective than, say, the restrictive Paleo diet. By giving participants different meal plans and testing their ability to follow them, researchers found that diets including foods that they enjoyed worked best.
So, how do you even stick to the 80/20 diet? Let me tell you.
The 20 percent doesn't mean daily cheat meals.
Let's say the average person eats five meals of varying size per day. So, that's 35 meals a week, and 80 percent of that is 28 meals. Eating on the 80/20 diet doesn't mean you can eat seven unhealthy meals a week.
Let me repeat that: You can't eat one unhealthy meal a day on the 80/20 diet and expect to see results. It's all about the calories, not servings.
The 20 percent can come from indulgent calories, not "cheat" meals. For example, on a 1,200 calorie diet per day, which is 8,400 calories a week, you have a 1,680 calorie allowance for indulgences per week.
To put that in perspective: A burrito from Chipotle has just over 1,000 calories on average. So, you have to think carefully about how you spend that 20 percent.
The 80 percent should come from healthy calorie sources. Foods rich in nutrients like vegetables, fruits and lean protein will do your body so much good.
If you cook for yourself, you'll be able to improve the quality of food that goes into your body, even if you're "bad in the kitchen." Here's how I lost 10 pounds by cooking for myself this year.
Don't forget about exercise.
I'm not going to sugarcoat this, but no diet works without moving your body at least a little bit. Consistent exercise is recommended with most diets if you're looking to lose weight. I know, the truth is hard to hear.
How much do you really need to work out? The CDC recommends two and a half hours of moderate exercise weekly. Sounds like a lot, but this averages out to 30 minutes a day, five times a week if you spread it out.
Lifestyle changes aren't easy, but if you plan on starting a diet, choose one that leaves room for food you enjoy. You have to live a little. The key word here: a little, meaning, 20 percent.
And it's not like 80 percent of the time you're not enjoying yourself. Trust me, you can eat foods that are nutrient-rich and tasty, believe it or not. In fact, the best foods will taste (and feel) better than anything you can get at Chipotle.