Follow the 80 Percent Rule for Optimal Health

Follow The 80 Percent Rule for Optimal Health

Follow The 80 Percent Rule for Optimal Health

Only go about 80% of your ability. Leave some room to avoid overdoing it. More than 100% means you reach a breaking point. That’s not where we want to be when it comes to natural prevention and optimal health.

I always use the 80% rule in the practice and teaching of Tai Chi and Chi Kung but it can apply to all things in life. In today’s fast-pace lifestyle everything is go-go-go trying to fit as much stuff as we can into a single day. When holidays like Christmas comes along do we cut out activity to make room for a festive holiday? No no noooooo! We try to jam the holiday activities into our already-busy and hectic schedule inviting more grief! Obviously this is bad form if you’re trying to be preventative and take measure to promote health and wellness naturally for you and your family.

Tai Chi and Chi Kung develops a higher level of awareness and more deeply solidifies the mind-body connection. Intensely focusing on what’s outside of yourself inevitably leads to a disconnect for what’s going inside yourself. Developing awareness in how your lifestyle and routines influence your health can give you early warning signs on how to adjust course towards a better path for self-care. Following the 80% rule will give you space to mentally stay focus and centered. A mind full of irregular thought patterns will manifest into irregular health and body function. A steady mind will reflect more stable health and steady body function.

Navigating through life headstrong and blind to your limits will be problematic. The no-pain-no-gain mantra will reveal limits and all too often will result in injury and setbacks. The 80% rule allows room for error. With 20% extra space you can even out the bumps and make your daily routines flow more smoothly. The body runs on cyclical patterns like activity and rest that need regularity and consistency not jittery, hectic patterns of irregularity. Traveling through life is like riding in a car. Irregularity is like driving on a bumpy road with lots of turns and lots of ups and downs. Regularity is a smooth steady ride along a flat road traveling at a steady speed. Which ride would make you anxious and which ride would give you peace of mind?

I often see excessive actions that create setbacks when improvements are experienced with acupuncture. A patient with chronic pain through treatment begins to see improvements. They feel more energetic and spend 10 hours straight over the weekend cleaning the house. When they return for a follow up acupuncture treat they feel terrible – they overdid it, beyond 100%. A long-term, chronic condition is a sign that the body has low healing abilities. Under acupuncture treatment, any excess energy that is experienced should be conserved to deeply enable the healing process more efficiently. It shouldn’t be drained away senselessly as if the body has no limits. The 80% rule needs to be accessed daily or even moment to moment. The expression living in the moment hold true value. Pacing yourself throughout your day with a deeper level of awareness will help prevent setbacks.

Good health, as I always say, is about good circulation or functional flow. When we drain ourselves we lack the energy to keep our body functioning at its optimal levels. No amount of exercise or healthy eating will make up for an overwhelming and hyperactive lifestyle that drains the life force right out of you.

Without sufficient energy maybe your body decides to cut off optimal function to the elimination process. You experience a slow increase of toxins in the body that will eventually lead to all sorts of health issues. Maybe lower than optimal energy means your digestion doesn’t work as well. All that money you spend on food becomes a waste because you don’t have sufficient energy to efficiently digest those all-important nutrients. Maybe without enough functional energy, or qi as we acupuncturists like to say, it diminishes your ability to focus and concentrate. This may lead to poor work efforts, lack of patience and bad relationships and on and on and on.

Follow the 80% rule and be aware of your limits and conserve your energy. Awareness is the key to prevention. The more you understand about yourself and your surroundings the more you can make better choices. You’ll be able to regulate your energy levels and experience smooth, supportive transitions (cycles) in your daily or even yearly routines. Instead of reacting to problems you can make preventive choices and be ahead of the game. You can make choices that will put you on a better path for greater health.

Design your day with about 20% room to move. Make some space so when problems come along you’ll have the capacity to handle them better. Think about the activities and choices you make that pushes your limits to the extreme. Make a conscious effort to moderate them. Perhaps you’re overeating? Only eat until you’re about 80% full. Digestion won’t be overwhelmed. You may feel less bloated with more energy. Perhaps you’ve over-committed yourself and need to reassess your capabilities and the time you can afford to spend to maintain balance in happiness and health. In the game of life, health and longevity following the 80% rule is a great strategy to moderate and conserve your qi for optimal health.


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