With The Whole Life Challenge just around the corner, today I reflected back on the trigger that lead me to a healthier and happy lifestyle. Two years ago my partner and I embarked on The Whole Life Challenge. At the time I was terribly unfit, highly inactive and ate cheese and white starchy carbs like they were water. My partner had done the challenge earlier in the year, and he had been encouraging me for a while to get more active and understand more about what I was putting into my body. So (slightly reluctantly) I agreed to embark on the WLC together with him, more for the fun of challenging myself than anything else. Having never really stuck to any exercise regime or “diet” before, I didn’t have high expectations to see much change, but hey, I’ve jumped out of a plane and survived, a little lettuce and fresh air won’t kill me? What started off as a fun challenge, quickly became one of the biggest eye-openers I’ve ever had…
WHAT IS THE WHOLE LIFE CHALLENGE?
The Whole Life Challenge is an 8-week online, community-building, habit-changing game that challenges you and your friends to create happier, healthier lives by making small, daily changes. You play in teams, you can either join one online or it can be with your friends, family, local gym or sports club. Basically you follow the rules and you can score points everyday. The beauty of the WLC is that it is not a diet, and it is not purely focused on food and exercise, but it challenges you to make the right decisions in all key areas of health and wellbeing. The 7 key areas the WLC focuses on are:: Nutrition, Exercise, Mobility, Supplementation, Hydration, Lifestyle Practices and Reflection.
Most habits are an unconscious repetition of what we have always done. They usually follow the path of least resistance. This “easy path” often has long-term consequences that diminish your quality of life. It doesn’t have to be that way. By becoming conscious about the habits that represent the basic, life-sustaining activities that we engage in every day, and then altering these habits in small ways, we can deeply affect our well-being and quality of life.
One of the habits I had become so used to, that I didn’t even realise I was doing, was eating well beyond the point of being full. Before I embarked on the WLC I used to think feeling full was the equivalent of rolling over in pain and unbuttoning the top button of my jeans because I literally couldn’t put any more food into my stomach – and this was the end goal of every meal. And thanks to small family genes and never having fluctuated too much in weight, I hadn’t paid attention to how swollen and bloated my body looked and felt 24/7.
I also used to have an unhealthy obsession with pasta and cheese (can you blame me?). Whilst I’m a lover of all foods, and very rarely discriminate, if I went out to a restaurant and there was pasta on the menu, you may as well black out the rest of the menu because I would always choose pasta, without a doubt. I love fish dishes and salads and other healthy alternatives, however I always wanted the best possible taste experience at every meal. The WLC taught me that there are many ways to enjoy my food, enjoy feeling nourished, and it totally changed my perception of a good meal.
It might seem so obvious, but when you’ve done something your whole life, it forms a habit that can be very hard to break.
THE 7 HABITS
We all have habits. What many of us have discovered is that our habits determine the quality of our health, our relationships, and our overall wellbeing. You’ve probably said many times: “I really need to…”. This type of statement is acknowledgement that forming a better habit would improve your experience of life.
Bad habits – like eating unconsciously, neglecting our bodies’ needs, and spending more time working than connecting with the people most important to us – mostly just happen by accident, without any real intention. Good habits – like taking time out to nourish our bodies, exercise, sleep, and connect with others – almost never happen by accident.
The good news is we are free to choose. The hard news is, good habits don’t become habits in one day. This is where the WLC comes in. By making small, consistent, incremental changes everyday, overall long-lasting positive change can take place. Overnight change almost never lasts.
There are 7 Daily Habits that constitute the WLC, they not only improve the quality of our lives, but also give us the foundation to eliminate habits that harm us.
These 7 Daily Habits are:
1. Nutrition. Your food choices have the single greatest impact on your health, well-being and community. When you make choices that keep you healthy, you give yourself the fuel to fulfil all of who you are.
2. Exercise. Humans are designed to move daily. Whether through workouts, activity, or simply enjoying the full use of your body, daily movement keeps you healthy and vital.
3. Mobility. In a sedentary world, our bodies get stuck. Daily mobility and stretching helps you move the way nature intended and continue enjoying freedom of movement into your later years.
4. Supplementation. Modern nutrition and food processing can leave you short on important building blocks. A daily supplement helps fill the gaps your food may be leaving out.
5. Hydration. More than anything, your body is made of water. This habit ensures that your body gets enough of its most basic resources for life.
6. Lifestyle Practice. These weekly practices turn a life into your life. Learn to step back, take stock, connect and turn your attention to what is really important to you.
7. Reflection. Looking back, looking inward, or looking forward, daily reflection draws your awareness to what is working and what needs your attention today.
The WLC is an 8 week game that provides structure in the forms of rules and guidelines, to help you adopt each habit. It provides support by setting it up as a team activity. And lastly it provides accountability but setting up a scoring system.
1. Join or create a team
2. Select the nutrition level you want to play at. There are levels available for people who are just getting started, more advanced players, vegetarians etc.
3. Take your preliminary WLC measurements with a measurable workout.
4. Complete a self-assessment, so you can see how the WLC affects not just your health and fitness numbers, but your entire life.
5. Play the game! This means:
– Eat WLC-compliant food
– Exercise for at least 10 minutes each day
– Stretch for at least 10 minutes each day
– Drink 1/3 of your bodyweight in ounces of water each day (22ml per kg of bodyweight)
– Take a dietary supplement of your choice (e.g fish oil, vitamin D, a multivitamin etc).
– Incorporate the week’s “lifestyle habit” into your day. (This changes week to week over the 8 weeks, e.g one week it might be meditation for 10 minutes a day, another week it might be to get 8 hours of sleep a night).
– Reflect each day on your progress
6. Each day you record your score in each of the following habits:
– Nutrition – you start each day with 5 points and you subtract a point each time you eat a food that is not compliant with the WLC rules at your level. Click here for the lists of what is allowed and prohibited in each of the 3 nutrition levels.
– Exercise – you earn 2 points each day for exercising for at least 10 minutes.
– Stretching – you earn 2 points each day for 10 minutes of stretching.
– Water – you earn 1 point each day for drinking 1/3 of your bodyweight in ounces of water.
– Supplement – you earn 1 point each day for taking a dietary supplement.
– Lifestyle – you earn 1 point each day for incorporating the weekly lifestyle habit into your day.
– Reflection – you earn 1 point each day for writing a short recap of how the challenge is going, what you’ve noticed, what you’re learning or what you’re going to change.
7. Enter your score each day anytime between 8pm and midnight of the following night.
**Remember, this is a challenge, but it’s all about small, consistent, daily changes – and sometimes being too strict on yourself can backfire. The point system allows for you to indulge a bit here or there when you really need to. If you lose points in some areas – you can make them up in others!
At the end of the challenge you will take the same measurements as you did in the beginning, repeat the measurable workout and tally up your daily points. The winner of your team is the player with the best combined ranking. Remember to celebrate your achievements – how you look, feel and live your life, this has now been completely designed by you!
If you have any questions about my WLC experience – leave me a message below, I’d love to hear from you!
All info sourced from The Whole Life Challenge. For more information click here.
Image: Get Strong Not Skinny