Well, this is it! My 3rd round of the Whole Life Challenge comes to an end. I feel like I really had to put in a lot of effort this time because of having to deal with out of town visitors for 3 weeks and being ill for 3 weeks — those circumstances really did make it a challenge.

The main thing that has been reinforced for me at the end of each challenge is how strong I really am, how in control I really can be. This actually doesn’t have to do with physical strength at all. Rather it has to do with inner strength, which really is much harder to discover and harness … and most importantly, sustain.

When you come across the list of things you have to do for 8 weeks, particularly eliminating a lot of ingredients from your diet, it is very intimidating. The first thought that probably comes to mind is – ‘I can’t.’

You can.

You can.

You can.

Changing your mindset from thinking negatively about the experience to actually being a challenge that you accept can be so empowering.

It’s just food. It’s just 8 weeks. At the very least you can try.

A challenge like this shouldn’t be looked at as a prison sentence. The purpose of the challenge is not to make you struggle and get frustrated. It is to teach you to be aware of your choices. It is to teach you to be aware of your actions. It is to teach you to be accountable for what you do.

The two weeks of the Whole Life Challenge were the hardest. I was learning to read labels on foods. I was learning how to choose my ingredients properly. I was learning how to plan my meals ahead of time.

It took time, and it took a lot of effort.

However, once it was done, it got so much easier.

I pretty much have a standard grocery list that I shop from every week. I have a menu of 20 or so foods that I rotate. Everything is healthy, nutritious, and clean. At times my menu gets repetitive and perhaps a bit boring, but that’s when you realize that you’ve got more energy, that your clothes are feeling looser, that the number on the scale is dropping. Those factors keep you going.

There are times, especially around weeks 4 and 5, when it feels like you’ve done enough and that it’s time for a ‘reward.’ That’s when you really need to be strong and push through. The real reward will be at the end of the 8 weeks when you realize that you stayed strong and did not give into temptations and cravings.

It’s not always easy. You just have to keep things in perspective and know what you want.

During the challenge we have opportunities to earn bonus points. These points allow you a bit of flexibility, for example if you don’t exercise one day or if you eat something that’s not according to plan. With the ability to earn 2 bonus points every 5 days, you do get a bit of breathing room to not be perfect.

I decided not to use any of my bonus points. There were times when I was really tempted, especially while I was sick. However, I just kept hold of the bigger picture.

I lost almost 10 kg after doing the challenge for the first time. The second time around, I technically did well in the challenge, but I really wasn’t that into it. I was distracted by a lot of things. I felt frustrated because my weight was plateauing. I didn’t give it my all.

This time I wanted it to be different. It gets frustrating when you eat clean 85% of the time and you exercise regularly (and intensely) and you don’t see any results on the scale or in general fitness. I knew that I had to do something different.

Doing the Whole Life Challenge again was the answer. I needed to break through this plateau. I was working too hard to not see any progress.

If what you’re doing isn’t getting you the results that you want, then you need to change what you are doing!

This was the key. Eating 85% clean wasn’t good enough for me. I needed to eat 100% clean. I did, and it worked.

The big question is – now what?

Do I have to live according to the Whole Life Challenge rules forever in order to see weight loss and improvement in health?

I don’t think so. There are many things that I discovered through the challenge:

1) Grains and starches do not agree with me at all (way too much bloating that takes days to get rid of)

2) Fruit, even though clean/pure/natural, does not agree with me

3) Healthy snacks, e.g. raw nuts and dates and fruits (as mentioned above) may be ‘clean’ but they cannot be eaten without taking into account their calories and general impact on my body

Understanding how different foods affect my body has been so empowering. It’s made me understand that my diet still needs tweaking.

Does this mean that I’ll never have fruit again? That I’ll never have chocolate again? That I’ll never eat bread again?

No.

This information has allowed me to understand that my body reacts to certain foods in a particular way. I now know the consequences of choosing to eat some of those foods. Knowing the consequences allows me to think twice about my actions. It allows me to have a plan and work within that plan.

It gives me complete control.

So this is it – the end of my 3rd Whole Life Challenge. Losing 8 kg in 8 weeks feels amazing, and breaking through my plateau has me jumping for joy! I feel better than ever. I’m weighing in at the lightest I’ve been in almost 15 years (that’s scary, exciting, and embarrassing), and I’m closer than ever to my goal weight.

I think the real challenge starts now – moving forward in ‘real life’ without the parameters of the challenge. Will I be able to continue my improvements in health and my weight loss?

We’ll just have to wait and see!

For more about my adventures in fitness, you can follow my regular fitness blog:http://plumpetals-workinitout.blogspot.com and my Facebook Page PlumPetals Fit

Wishing everyone good health and happiness!

WLC3 Week8