In the beginning of January I signed up for an 8 week challenge called Whole Life Challenge. The 8 weeks ended this past weekend and I wanted to capture my experience while encouraging all of my readers to sign up for the next Challenge in May.
The overall mission of the Whole Life Challenge is simple in text: To create lives of unbound possibility where health and fitness are limitless resources and the right of every human to design and share. You know when you sign up that you are making a lot of changes in your daily life but I didn’t realize what type of healthy habits I would be developing over the 8 weeks (or how hard some of them would be!)
My Biggest Challenges of the Whole Life Challenge
It is easy to look back and think “I owned that challenge”, but really, the challenge owned me.
Food Prep and Planning
I signed up for the advanced eating challenge which equates to paleo eating with no grains, diary or soy. This meant that we cooked 98% of our meals for 8 weeks. Besides the last week when we were on vacation I can count on one hand how many times we ate out. The process proved that meal planning and proper food prep is necessary even when you live in a moderately progressive area like Boulder/Denver.
Working out and Stretching Daily
During this challenge I really drank the CrossFit kool-aid but as a true beginner I am only going 3-4x a week. If I missed a workout it was never due to being lazy but due to time constraints of work and commuting to/from. To the same tune getting in 10 minutes of stretching after a 12 hour day at work wasn’t always top of mind when I stumbled in the door. These two pieces of the challenge are something I still carry with me as I don’t feel like I overcame them 100% or have nailed down a great balance.
My Biggest Wins of the Whole Life Challenge
The great thing about this challenge is it truly challenged every piece of my life in a healthy and exciting way. The wins outweigh the challenges greatly and picking out the biggest is difficult.
Most importantly my biggest win was completing (and dominating) this challenge with my new wife. We signed up together and created many healthy habits together like cooking and working out together more.
The stats: 5″ lost around my hips and waist, 10% improvement on my baseline test (11 mins: 800m run, 75 airsquats, 50 situps, 25 pushups and then as many burpees as possible in time left)
My Overall Review
Cliche as it is, this challenge was life changing and I would recommend it even to a die hard athlete.
I plan on continuing to eat mostly paleo, with proper food planning and prep on the weekends. CrossFit is very much part of my workout habits and will only make me a more balanced cyclist during the season. I’m not sure if I will do the challenge again anytime soon but that is mainly due to wanting to implement the “rules” of the challenge in my everyday life!
The Whole Life Challenge has changed my life, maybe it will change yours too?
The biggest change and challenge from moving to the Paleo style of eating is being prepared and having foods ready to eat.
There is some food preparation required and forethought when you go to the grocery store, but it all became much easier for our household once we nailed down the staple foods that make 65% of our diet. Grocery trips are faster (and cheaper) and sticking to the Paleo plan is pretty thoughtless once you find your groove.
Below are the Paleo food staples in our house, these are things that we always have available and make in large batches on the weekends. Find your staples and you will find success in daily healthy eating!
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The Whole Life Challenge is at it’s half way point. For 28 days I have been eating 99.9% Paleo, stretching, working out and picking up other healthy habits along the way.
As I enter the second half of this challenge, including a week long vacation, it is now time to figure out how to implement those healthy habits into everyday life when I am not being held accountable by a challenge.
This topic was brought up last night by my better half, how do you apply a challenge to the every day?
I’ve learned over the past few weeks a few things about myself and striving for my “healthy.” The first piece of that is creating healthy habits. Below are the steps that have worked for me during this challenge, but also in the past when trying to wake up earlier, pick up a skill for cycling or a new routine at work. They work for me and maybe they’ll work for you too.
Steps to Creating Healthy Habits
I find that the first major step for me is completely submerging myself in the healthy choice I am looking to make. Whatever healthy choice you are tackling first embrace it, hug it tight and become very educated with it. Maybe you are starting to go to the gym, wake up early, or eat healthier – back your decision up with a lot of sound research on why you are making this HEALTHY choice. This will come in handy when you’re doubting yourself in a few days or when going gets tough.
Sign up for a group, buy a sleep app, save a ton of recipes to try and keep submerging. Task yourself to become an expert on this healthy habit. It will become so much of your every day that it really changes from a healthy choice to a healthy habit.
This is when you know you are fully submerged and ready to move on to the next healthy choice.
2. Limit the Options
In our house the only option for meals are Paleo. For the first 3 weeks in the challenge we hid the foods that we thought we would return to after the challenge, but ended up giving them away when we realized we didn’t want or need them in our diet. For myself, I bring lunch every day to work and the only option if I run out of food is a smoothie 4 blocks away from work. That is my only optional food at work.
If your only choice was between a chicken or a bison burger, you are doing great. If your only choice is to run at lunch or go to the gym, you’re an athlete. If you limit your choices, cut out the fat and give yourself less things to ponder, you will always succeed. Do not allow yourself the option to bail, skip a workout (unless sick or injured) or eat the crap. Those aren’t options, really they aren’t. When you don’t give yourself the option or choice, you don’t have to have will power to overcome it.
Think of one healthy habit that you practice in your life. This could be basic like doing laundry every Saturday morning so that you have clean clothes for the week, or taking your dog for a walk everyday after work. This is a healthy habit that you don’t even think of as an option, I bet.
The Whole Life Challenge was a purchased community. With the challenge came forums, comments and a community to push us to be better. Thankfully, cycling and CrossFit both have tight knit communities to push us. As the challenge winds down I plan on submerging myself even more in these communities to feed off others positive and healthy choices.
What community, meetup or group can you join to help this new habit?
4. Prepare for Success
This is honestly my favorite mental switch that I have found during this challenge.
Through out my life I have been prepared for failure. It’s ingrained in my makeup and not something I am proud of. By submerging myself into healthy cooking and a new sport, limiting the options of failure, and leaning on a great community when I’ve needed an upper I have set myself up success. Success in healthy habits that has led to a healthier, happier, and stronger me!
What are you preparing for, success or failure?
[Luke:] I can’t believe it. [Yoda:] That is why you fail.
This will be the hardest step of creating healthy habits. If you have built the foundation of healthy choices on all the above steps you will be left with only one thing, committing to these choices so that they can soon become habits.
More than anything, remember you are committing to yourself and your family. A healthier you is the best commitment you could ever make.
Try not. Do or do not. There is no try. – Yoda
Photo Credit: scribbletaylor
We make choices every moment of everyday.
What time are you waking up? Do you hit the snooze? Do you allow yourself to be distracted? Who do you call? Who do you answer? Once you start thinking about what choices you are making in the moment, every moment, you can start seeing how many you are making. Hopefully, you can also see those pile up and can be the sail to your success in life or the weight to your failure.
As I entered this Whole Life Challenge I wanted less choices and making the ones I did make, better. When my alarm goes off, I get up without a choice of hitting the snooze button. The choices of foods to eat for the day are in my kitchen, I do not give myself the choice to eat out and the food we made for the week is tastier and better looking!
As you get your day started today think about what choices you can make to be healthier. What choices can you take out of the picture so that you have no option but to make the better choice?
If you had to make one healthy choice for today, what would it be?
My healthy choice for today:
Going to sleep early, to wake up early
It hasn’t been a secret that I’ve been struggling to find my personal identity when I removed the “bike racer” from 25 hours of my week. Combine that with a new state of residence and a month old job, I have felt pretty disconnected from who I believe I am.
Over the past week I started researching (again) about Paleo eating to address some stomach problems I’ve been having. Naturally when I was training a lot my eating habits were 90% of what is outlined in a strict paleo diet. The 10% was left in greek yogurt for smoothies and thin whole wheat bread with almond butter & jelly.
Without knowing that I was looking at the Paleo diet my girlfriend emailed me Friday morning to see if I would sign up for the “Whole Life Challenge” with her. Initially I was very resistant. You want me to pay $49 to track my eating and body weight? After some reading and taking a “pride check” that my biggest goal for this challenge would be for Emily to meet her goals. I wasn’t too good for this, and by submersion into better eating as a family we will have the best results.
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