Whole Life Challenge – just a game or a game changer?

When Dan posted about an exciting 8 week challenge called WLC I didn’t hesitate to sign up. Why? Because I live for structure and routine, throw an element of competition in and WLC had my name written all over it. But I can honestly say that nothing prepared me for the change that it would make to my life. Sounds a bit gushing I know but I really mean it. What started out as a game to win points turned in to a new way of life for me.
For those of you who didn’t take part there are 7 key elements to the challenge; nutrition, exercise, hydration, mobilization, sleep, lifestyle and reflection. All you had to do was meet the set standards across the 7 elements each day to be rewarded with points. Simple right!
I choose to go with the Kick Start programmemememe for nutrition which was the basic level. I’ve always struggled with the concept of eating well in terms of I’m a pretty much all or nothing kind of girl, I’m either dieting or it’s all bets are off. I’ve ‘dieted’ in the past with some success but this has come at a cost and almost always been short term pain for short term gain. Crash dieting, calorie counting, slim fast, 5:2, I even once tried the cabbage soup diet (grim!). Whilst they all gave some degrees of success nothing was sustainable. I wouldn’t have said my diet was too bad but I wanted something that I could stick with for the whole 8 weeks and hopefully take forward into my day to day life. The kick start programmemememe limited bread, flour, pasta, cheese, sugar and soda amongst other things. Apart from a couple of planned days off I found it a challenge but doable and towards the end easy. The bonus points that you could earn really helped me to understand that treats are ok but in moderation, that if you want that pizza (a personal favourite of mine) then have it but only once you’ve earned it.
I’ve always enjoyed exercising and sleeping so these two weren’t so bad and actually I’m training now more (and enjoying it) than I did before the challenge which I didn’t think would be possible. I’m fitter and stronger than I was and getting into good habits with stretching have also helped me make improvements in CrossFit win-win!
Drinking water was a bit of a revelation to me. I always used to drink water during exercise but during the day or in the evening not a chance. In the beginning it felt forced and I had to physically make a note of what I was drinking in order to keep track. Now I naturally opt for water, I’ve even stopped drinking caffeine and don’t miss it one bit – peppermint tea is now my go to hot drink.
In terms of the lifestyle and reflection elements, some weeks went better than others. I discovered that meditation isn’t my thing – I just want to fall asleep (I did say I enjoyed sleeping!) but spending time reading or staying away from social media and reflecting on the good parts of my life puts everything into perspective. Taking time out to focus on yourself creates a sense of wellbeing that I haven’t felt before. I also really enjoyed reading everyone else’s journey and being able to provide positive support encouraged me to go on.
So after 8 weeks of being told what to eat, when to sleep, how much to drink, exercise and stretch, trying out new lifestyle approaches and of course telling the WLC community my thoughts each day what were the results? For the statisticians amongst us I lost 5.5 inches and improved my workout time by 8 seconds. For everyone else a sense of personal achievement and a new way of looking at life.
Now I know that this type of challenge isn’t for everyone and I’m not saying that it should be. It just worked for me as it tapped in to my desire for structure and competition.
During the challenge my husband quite often said to me“why don’t you just have some bread or pasta no one will know” But he didn’t get it, it wasn’t about being at the top of the leader board by hook or by crook, it was about making some fundamental changes to my nutrition and wellbeing forever.
Whilst the weight loss is more obvious to the eye, it’s the comments I’m getting from friends and family about how much happier and confident I am that make me smile. And it’s true it’s given me the bit between my teeth to go harder, faster and stronger at everything life and CrossFit related.