The first round of the Advanced Whole Life Challenged ended this past weekend, and I have to say, I found this version of the WLC quite challenging — as well as very informative about my own habits.

This round of the challenge had 5 categories: Exercise, Nutrition, Sleep, Meditation, and Daily Reflection. The scoring was very different this time around as it really was up to each individual to decide their own level of appropriateness to some degree. For me, that was what made this round of the challenge ‘advanced.’ I felt that because I had already done the regular Whole Life Challenge several times, I had different habits already in place. However, adding in an extra level of accountability made it more difficult to navigate. Add to that the frenzy of summer holidays when I had nothing resembling a regular routine in place and it really was difficult to get through. Still, I approached the Advanced challenge with a different mindset. I knew that my scores were not going to be perfect, but rather than focus on perfection, I wanted to focus on improvement. So here is my final overall reflection of this round of the Advanced Whole Life Challenge.

Exercise – 0 points for no exercise at all; 1 point for some exercise (you decide type/duration/intensity); 2 points for an appropriate workout that would help you reach your long-term goals

My thoughts: I loved the accountability aspect of this scoring system. During the regular WLC, I know that on busy days I would sometimes just do a token bit of exercise and stretching to meet the 10 minute minimums of those 2 categories. I sometimes also found myself grudgingly forcing myself to do a bit of exercise even when what I really wanted to (needed to) rest — all because I wanted to get that point. For most of the days I earned 2 points in this category; however, there were a number of days when I earned only 1 point. I had exercised on those days, but if I was really honest with myself, I knew I could have done more/better/pushed harder … but at least I got to give myself credit for doing something instead of nothing. In terms of not doing any exercise at all, there were only 2 days when I got 0 points and that was when I was traveling from Los Angeles to London. I know that I probably could have done something, but it really would have been a token gesture. Instead, I decided to just let it go and accepted the fact that not exercising for 2 days out of 28 wasn’t bad at all. 

Nutrition – 0 points for not noting food you ate that day; 1 point for keeping a food journal for that day; 2 points for completing that day’s food journal AND staying 1–% compliant within your challenge level

My thoughts: Boy was this a challenge! I started off ok, and then in the middle I didn’t track at all … and then I started tracking and was compliant … and then I was only tracking and wasn’t compliant … and some days I was totally compliant but I didn’t track. Man, this was a difficult discipline to establish. I started to improve quite a bit, but I didn’t find my nutrition being affected by my keeping a food diary. Part of this, I think, had to do with there being an all or nothing score in terms of staying compliant to my nutrition level. I didn’t have that constant evaluation or mindfulness of how many points I was losing for eating off plan. I’m kind of disappointed that I didn’t have better control. That being said, I never said to myself – oh I already lost a point, I might as well eat whatever I want all day long. No. I was aware of whatever I chose to ate – the operative word being chose. I knew that I was accountable for my choices and that there would be consequences. Some days I lost a point for eating a piece of chocolate and there were also days when pizza and ice cream were involved :/ Knowing that I had to track that food intake didn’t stop me from eating them. Perhaps that’s also the consequence of being more mindful of what I was eating — I knew that pizza and ice cream were not a regular habit so I allowed myself to indulge. However, I also know that if I want to improve my health, I need to be more disciplined with my eating. I know that I can do it — I just have to put in the effort and be consistent. 

Sleep – 0 points for getting less than a normal night of sleep; 1 point for getting a normal amount of sleep and trying to improve your sleep quality; 2 points for waking up naturally, with no alarm and still getting your normal amount of sleep

The sleep category is the only category that was easy for me because I was on vacation! I had excellent sleep throughout the challenge except for 3 days (which involved traveling from Los Angeles to London and suffering from major jet lag!). I’m so happy with how much my sleep has improved overall since I started the WLC a few years ago. I’m so much more relaxed that I am actually able to enjoy and benefit from my sleep. 

Meditation – 0 points for no meditation; 1 point for at least 5 minutes of meditation; 2 points for at least 15 minutes of meditation

This was a tough category for me. When I meditated for at least 15 minutes, I found myself much more relaxed and centered throughout the day. Although I enjoyed the meditative practices, I found that I just wasn’t managing to fit it into my day. It’s not that I didn’t have a spare 15 minutes. It’s just that when I did, it was often between errands or when I only had a short time before having to run off and do something else. I knew that I’d be able to sit down for the 15 minutes, but I wasn’t able to actually meditate in a way that would help me. After trying a couple of times I realized that getting anxious over planning my meditation time was counter-productive. I feel like I should have done better with this aspect of the challenge, but it just didn’t work out for me. I have experienced the benefits though and it’s something that I want to continue to try to incorporate into my daily routine.

Daily Reflection – 0 points for not writing and posting a reflection; 1 point for writing a reflection

Logging in daily to record my score has become a regular habit for me, as has writing a daily reflection. I find that taking a moment each day to check in and reflect on my day helped me be more mindful in general. For me the act of logging in a daily score and reflecting is a reminder that not only am I part of a challenge that has rules I need to follow, but more importantly that I am working towards something that’s so much bigger than this challenge — keeping my goals in mind and my intentions clear helps me stay focused.

Final Reflections:

Even when I’m not doing the Whole Life Challenge, my routine generally stays the same. I make my menu, prep all my meals at home, and I try to stay compliant as much as possible. What I learned from the Advanced challenge is that there are still many things I want to improve on and that I need to focus on. Even though I am more mindful of the choices I make, I know that I don’t always make the healthiest choice — that’s something I want to work on. Plus in terms of exercise, time is so precious and each day is so busy — I need to make sure that my workouts are efficient and effective each time. It worries me that I still find it so easy to veer off track. I am much more disciplined than before, but still … … …

So, the advanced round is over and the regular Whole Life Challenge begins again in September, and I can’t wait! Another good thing about doing a WLC over the summer is that it has given me goals to focus on for the Fall challenge. If you’re curious about the Whole Life Challenge and would like to join my team, you can read more about the challenge here and sign up for my team via this link: http://www.whole.lc/wlcfall15/pt/worldwide (plus you can read more about my Whole Life Challenge experiences here).

Hope to see you for September’s challenge — we start on September 19th! 

WLC