The 8% Solution

What kind of progress could you make toward your health and fitness goals if you increased your efforts by 8%.

What if you ran 8% farther each time you went for a run?

What if you at 8% less next time you went to a restaurant? Or slept 8% longer tonight than you did last night? Or spoke to yourself 8% kinder?

That sounds manageable doesn’t it?


One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, writes incredibly entertaining, raw, honest books and her Facebook page is no different. She writes brilliantly about the struggles women face in their relationships with food and their bodies and she is no stranger to having her own issues in this area. She is now a beautiful, passionate example of making peace with your body. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t acknowledge the challenges of being a woman and for that, I love her.

She recently shared this on her page in regards to going on a cruise:

“Am practicing the Annie 8% Solution To All Things: you just try to eat 8% healthier food, to write and walk 8% longer, to be 8% gentler with yourself. The sheer amount of gorgeous food at every meal is just overwhelming to a person like me who has had tiny, tiny issues with food in the past. But trying to eat 8% healthier is a good start. Plus I put on my pedometer and walked on the promenade deck with a friend–in horrible windy gale conditions, so that definitely counts as 8% more effort. Also, I loved it, and racked up 6000 steps, and so am totally the Princess.”

What a brilliant idea. 8%. It’s so do-able that how could you say no? It’s brilliant in its simplicity. It’s brilliant in the fact that it’s so entirely manageable and practical that it will actually work. So many people attempt to go from 0% – 100% when it comes to taking control of their health that it doesn’t last. I think we can all learn from this idea.


On a similar note, “make the healthy choice” is my silly little mantra that I unintentionally developed over the years that works for me in the same way that 8% works for Anne. It’s so beyond simple that it works. For me, it takes the big, overwhelming temptations of vacations, restaurants and parties and makes them manageable for me to navigate in a healthy way. Our vacations tend to revolve around food and drinks which is wonderful, but I’ve learned over the years that if I’m not careful I come away from such times feeling completely over-indulged and awful about my decisions. I’m impulsive by nature so now know that I have to be intentional about my decision-making process. So when I want to indulge I CHOOSE to indulge. It’s a conscious decision…it does not choose me.  Hence the need for a little mantra. I use it on vacations when we hop from breakfast spot to coffee shop to lunch to happy hour to dinner, etc. I simply say to myself each time “make the healthy choice.” Not the perfect choice, just the healthier choice. So simple. But if I’m debating between two things, whether it be what to have for dinner , what to order at Starbucks or whether or not to go for a run, I take a moment to return to my mantra and have that moment of clarity that will lead me to feel my best.

I recognize that not everyone deals with this challenge. This post is not for everyone. But if you are one of those people who gets overwhelmed by trying to be perfect or leans toward a “black and white” perspective of eating well and exercising then I encourage you to come up with a little mantra or solution of your own. One that is manageable and makes working toward your goals far less overwhelming. Keep it simple. The brilliance of The 8% Solution is that it is so simple that it works.

I encourage you to stop expecting perfection. Stop expecting yourself to successfully go from 0% – 100%. That mentality leads to guilt. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, guilt never works.

Ready to finally stay consistent with exercise – even when you’re short on time & energy? Join me for the FREE Creating Healthy Routines Workshop & walk away with an exercise routine you can put into action immediately!

  1. John 8 years ago

    Agreed. Many see perfectionism as a good thing. But this shows how it makes goal-setting and goal attainment more difficult.

  2. Holly Bazan 8 years ago

    Hi! I’m a new reader. I found you a month ago via Shauna’s blog, and I’m so pleased I did. Thank you for your encouraging and grace-filled posts. Thank you for your recipes. (I just made the homemade salsa and am looking forward to making the skinny margaritas this weekend.) And thank you for your exercise tips and videos. Girl, I am just crazy about you. Every morning for the past few weeks, my husband has walked into our living room with me following along to one of your videos. This morning, he said, “Good morning, Robin.” 🙂

    I just wanted you to know I appreciate you!
    Holly Bazan

    • Robin Long 8 years ago

      Hi Holly! Welcome to TBL! Your comment just made my day! I’m so glad that you found my website and that you’re finding the information helpful and useful. That’s my goal and my passion! If you ever have any special requests or questions please don’t hesitate to ask – I always love hearing from people 🙂

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