Yes, it’s almost time again for the Whole Life Challenge — are you up for joining?

A lot of people focus on food and fitness when it comes to the challenge – thinking, I don’t want to cut things out of my diet or I don’t have time to exercise. Instead of discussing those points, I’m going to move right along and ask — what do you want better in your life?

Here are the top 3 things I want:

1. More time

2. More energy

3. More laughter

Would you believe it if I told you that I was able to achieve those 3 things through the Whole Life Challenge (WLC)? It’s true.

Although the WLC does focus on food and fitness (you get daily points for following your level of nutritional guidelines and for doing 10 minutes of exercise + 10 minutes of stretching/day), it also focuses on healthy habits for you to develop in all areas of your life. The most rewarding part of the challenge for me has been that I have been able to maintain most of these lifestyle changes even after the challenge has been over. Very rarely does a non-WLC compliant food go into my shopping cart.

So how was I able to achieve my top 3 things?

1. More time — I first had to commit time to make time. 

Starting with food, I had to figure out what I could/wanted to eat, what I had to buy to prepare those foods, and then cook them. This was the part that took the longest, but once I came up with my grocery list and basic menu, I found that I had to spend a lot less time grocery shopping and figuring out what to eat. Food prep definitely still takes time, but I now have a Sunday routine during which I prep for most of the week. This can be tedious at times, but once the week rolls around, I’m always grateful that 2-3 hours of prep on a Sunday has saved me 7-8 hours during the week.

In terms of exercise, I learned how to be more efficient with my workouts. Instead of long cardio sessions, I shortened my workouts to include a thorough warm-up, a good weight training session, some HIIT cardio, and some deep, relaxing stretching at the end. By being smart about my workouts, I shortened the time I spent at the gym without shortening the effectiveness and benefits of those workouts.

2. More energy — I learned how to use my energy efficiently.

Being efficient with my exercise and fueling my body correctly with food — plus hydrating properly and getting enough sleep (also components of the WLC) — led to great results in my energy levels. Sure at first the withdrawal symptoms from sugar were a bit of a drag, but I knew that I just had to stick to it and the cravings would pass.

An unexpected source of energy came from eliminating unnecessary items/habits/actions from my daily routine. This went beyond saying ‘no’ to certain foods or releasing positive endorphins through exercise. In doing the challenge, I faced a lot of questions from people about why I was doing the challenge and a lot of criticisms about me being too hard on myself. I had to learn how to deal with these reactions from others. However, what I learned was that I didn’t need to waste my energy justifying my actions to other people. If I knew that what I was doing was for my overall good health and more importantly, that I was happy with the choices that I was making, then it didn’t matter what others thought. I was doing this for me. The ability to let go of my overarching need to appease people was like a breath of fresh air to me. It was through this process that I discovered a new voice for myself and a new way of life that made me happy.

3. More laughter — I make choices that make me happy. 

This point links with my discovery above — I used to cling on so tightly to things that I thought were right or that I thought I should do. Habit made me a prisoner to my own choices. As soon as I was able to understand that I was free to make my own choices (and this is linked to the idea of taking responsibility and being accountable for your actions, i.e. the scoring part of the challenge), I was able to step back and think — am I eating this/doing this/interacting with this person because it will make me happy or some other (real or imagined) external pressure? Answering this simple question honestly has lightened my life. I keep my overall goals in mind and try to make the best choices to help me achieve those goals. I surround myself with positivity and I try my best to be a positive presence around others. Do I falter at times? Sure. But it’s ok. It’s part of the process. I take it in stride, dust myself off, and keep trying — making sure to laugh along the way.

So what is it that you want out of life? Join the Whole Life Challenge and find out — you’ll be amazed at what you’ll discover about yourself!

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Written by Ayesha Kamal

Follow me @plumpetalsfit on Twitter & Instagram