Lessons Learned: Whole Life Challenge

At the beginning of this year, for the third or fourth time, a bunch of CFKI members completed the Whole Life Challenge (WLC).  There were about 25 of us that took on the WLC this year, which consists of six weeks of following nutrition guidelines as well as exercise, recovery, sleep, and mental health challenges.  The Whole Life Challenge is meant to be done with a team, so that you can support each other and learn from each other’s successes (this is what worked for me to get through this) and shortcomings (I’m struggling with this, can anyone help?)
Each year that we’ve finished the Whole Life Challenge, I’ve been fired up about the benefits of it and want others to join us next time, but haven’t found the time to distill what I’ve gotten out of it, what to expect from it, and other lessons learned.  This year I asked our WLC teammates to share their thoughts, in the hope that it will inspire others to join us next time, and also as a final wrap-up exercise for them.  The following is a sample of their responses.

Q:  What was the best thing you got out of the Whole Life Challenge?
A:  A better understanding of what I was ACTUALLY eating.
A:  I developed a routine around food much like the rest of my day.  I focused on hitting certain goals by certain times of the day and it really seems like something I can maintain moving forward.
A:  The consistency in mobility that I sorely need. I’ve kept it up for the most part after the challenge too.

Q:  Did you see any physical changes?
A:  At the end of the WLC, I was down 21 pounds.  I’m now down 26.  I had been working out pretty hard since October and not watching my food too closely.  I knew I would melt away some weight when I locked my food in but didn’t expect it to happen so rapidly.
A:  I make a habit of not weighing myself because it’s been an obsession in the past, but I’ve had several people comment that I now look leaner, and I “feel lighter” if that makes sense.
A:  I failed to do the before and after measurements but I do know that I got down to my lowest weight since freshman year of college. That’s 20 years, Heyo!

Q:  What part of the Whole Life Challenge did you like the MOST?
A:  The best thing was doing the challenge as a team. You got to learn a lot about the people in the team from the sharing and also they cheered you along when you were having difficulty.
A:  I just really like the accountability that the scoring system provides. And the support from the rest of the CFKI crew doing the challenge through the comments.
A:  I liked the weekly challenges.  They really helped me to stay focused.  Also, as someone who has done this a number of times, I liked the (journaling) post prompts at the end of the day.  Those were new!

Q:  What part of the Whole Life Challenge did you like the LEAST?
A:  The very first time, the first week was awful. I wondered what I had done. I felt dreadful. Then they noted that the first week is like the purge and it gets better from then on.
A:  The weekly challenge of trying something new every day, but mostly because I forgot to think of something new until the end of the night.
A:  I feel like the WLC site is kind of garbage and it’s hard to find the resources you need within the site.

Q:  Was there anything you learned about the Whole Life Challenge that you wished you would have known when it started?
A:  I’m not sure how many of these I’ve done, but something just clicked this time.  I didn’t stress about not being perfect but that allowed me to stay closer to perfect than I ever had before.  I recently heard on a podcast that your mindset around food can be a major influence on how your body handles it, I rarely treat myself with sweets but I make sure to not worry about the calorie count when I do.  I also started the 800 gram daily challenge of fruits and vegetables in January and plan on trying to hit that everyday going forward.  It really helps control my appetite and gives me some freedom by focusing on specific food groups with a wide variety of foods.
A:  I think the more committed you are to this challenge, the more you get out of it.  I also think it was highly beneficial that most of the 5 am crew did the challenge together.  The camaraderie of the group really helped all of us stay on point.

Q:  Did you learn anything about yourself?
A:  How easy it is to slack off after the challenge is over but also how easy it is to stick with some of it.
A:  I learned that it works for me to just focus on each day and one bad day doesn’t have to ruin the next or an entire weekend.
A:  I learned that having the structure of the challenge is really important to keep me accountable.

Q:  Would you do the Whole Life Challenge again?  Why, or why not?
A:  Definitely – it’s a great reset after the holiday and gets you to refocus.
A:  I love doing this challenge year after year.  I think of it as an opportunity to refocus what I already know works.
A:  Yes sir, see you next year!
Editor’s Note:  The Whole Life Challenge has been a New Year’s tradition for us at CFKI, but it’s actually offered 4 times per year, once per season.  We don’t have to wait until next January to get another one started!

Well, there you have it.  I personally think that while I grumble a lot during the Challenge about having to eat a certain way that feels restricting (and I don’t like being told what to do, but I need to get over that!), the Whole Life Challenge is a very worthwhile endeavor because it builds better lifestyle habits, challenges you to grow, and it gets results!  Let me or Coach Jason know if you ever have any questions about the Whole Life Challenge.

Thank you so much to those that responded to my query for these quotes!


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