Have you heard of the Whole Life Challenge? Neither had I up until a month ago. It's an eight week game that allows me to partner with my colleagues across campus to compete against teams and individuals all over the world. According to the website, the game "works by identifying the areas that almost everyone wants to change, and then making a daily game out of creating new habits in each of those areas." There are three levels -- Kick Start, Lifestyle, and Performance. I'd like to think that I eat pretty well(ish) to begin with, so I went with Lifestyle.
Something that attracted me to the Whole Life Challenge is nutrition is not the end all be all of the game. Over the next eight weeks, I'll be focusing on my physical and mental well-being in equal measure. Will I give up bread and added sugar forever? Probably not. But I am hoping that by the end of this I will be making more mindful food choices.
It is a "game" after all, so there's a scoring component. Nothing thrills me more than a healthy dose of competition, even if it does mean cutting out bread and dairy for the next eight weeks. The maximum number of points you can earn in a day is 13 and here's how:
Nutrition (0-5 points):I begin each day with 5 points. If I eat or drink something that is non-compliant, then I lose a point. What I like about this game is that it's fully expected that you will lose points for nutrition. The point is to "make choices that result in long-term health, happiness, and well-being is much more important than earning a perfect score." It's nice to have the option of indulging without feeling as though I've blown the entire day.
Exercise (0 or 2 points):This is pretty simple -- if I intentionally spend at least 10 minutes doing something that I consider exercise, then I get the points. Basically, if my heart-rate is elevated and I am "doing something to build ... strength, endurance, stamina, flexibility, speed, power, balance, coordination, agility, or accuracy" then it's considered exercise. They recommend 3-5 workouts per week, with the remaining days spent doing active recovery. Of all of the parts of the challenge, this will be the least difficult for me to adhere to, since I already exercise regularly.
Stretching (0 or 2 points): All I need to do for these 2 points is to stretch for a cumulative 10 minutes a day. Yoga counts (ugh, yoga). Strangely enough, I think that I will have to consciously remind myself to stretch, since it's not something that I normally do.
Water (0 or 1 point):Easy enough -- just drink 1/3 of your bodyweight in ounces per day. As you'd expect, neither water nor caffeinated beverages count towards your total water consumption for the day.
Supplement (0 or 1 point):I am notoriously bad at remembering to take a daily vitamin, and I am going to try to stick to this for the eight weeks (and hopefully beyond!). The Whole Life Challenge recommends fish oil, vitamin D, or probiotics. I've chosen to go with fish oil for the duration of the competition.
Lifestyle (0 or 1 point):Each week, the challenge introduces a new lifestyle practice and the point is gained if you incorporate it into your day. "These lifestyle habits will range from physical health practices like getting more sleep to practices with more intangible benefits like meditation or taking 10 minutes for yourself. " This week's is to practice mindfulness for 10 minutes a day.
Reflections (0 or 1 point):I gain one point by posting in my public journal on the website. It can be about anything -- a challenge I faced, or a lesson learned. It's a good way to stay connected with the game, and with my team.
Yesterday was day one of the Whole Life Challenge and I thought it went pretty well. I was able to earn all 13 points and I feel as though I made some good choices throughout the day. My menu wasn't all that exciting, and maybe a little low on calories, but I expect that I'll get a little more robust as I get more familiar with the compliant food list. Here's a quick recap of the day:
Workout: WLC Official Workout (to be used as a baseline), 30 minutes on the elliptical
Breakfast: 3 eggs (scrambled), with broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms, and diced tomatoes. Coffee with unsweetened almond/coconut blend milk
Lunch: kale, spinach, banana and peanut butter smoothie
Snack: 2 apples
Dinner: Grilled chicken topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles and sweet potato fries (hey, it's allowed!)