This year’s first Whole Life Challenge begins on January 16th and runs until March 11th. I’m pleased to be an ambassador for the challenge and am excited to be running the WLC’s official team this time around.

When you think the basics of living a healthy lifestyle – be active and eat healthy foods – it’s really quite straight forward. It should be obvious that having vegetables instead of chocolate bars would be a healthier choice. That being said, there is something about sustaining a healthy lifestyle that is not easy. Why else would so many diet books, fitness clubs, and wellbeing websites be thriving?

While the concept of living a healthy lifestyle is one that is relatively easy to grasp, putting it into practice is another story.

The Whole Life Challenge helped me rethink the way I was exercising and the way I was eating. I’m about to start my 8th (maybe 9th??) challenge, so following the parameters of the challenge has become easy for me. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m being healthy all the time. In fact, I know that I can do better.

My overall focus for this challenge – Be healthy … for real.

What do I mean by that?

It took me some time to realize that the WLC is actually not about the points. Although the scoring system helps you stay accountable and does provide a level of motivation (sometimes pressure) to stay on track, sometimes focusing too much on daily points can be counterproductive. (I’ll write more about that another day, but for now you can read my post: It’s not about being perfect.)

My desire to get a perfect score has led me to do something things that I are know are not healthy. Here are a few examples:

  1. Instead of having a proper, nutritious breakfast, I’d have 2 dates, a tablespoon of all natural peanut butter, and black coffee. It’s totally compliant on all levels of the challenge, but it’s not the healthiest, most well-balanced breakfast choice.
  2. I’d be out and be really hungry, but instead of making the healthiest choice possible (and spending a point), I’d skip the meal completely — and sometimes go for 8+ hours not eating. This is definitely unhealthy behavior. Plus sometimes I’d skip a meal just because I felt lazy and did not want to prepare a compliant meal. Skipping meals is NOT good. I’ve had to learn to trust myself to make good food choices. I’ve now learned how to ask questions about my meals and how to place orders when eating out – asking about the type of oil that is used, asking to see ingredient lists, asking for substitutes. I’ve found most places to be really accommodating. However, I know that even if I can’t find a 100% compliant meal, I can still make a good choice regardless of my circumstances.
  3. Eating standing up. This is still one of my worst habits. I eat way too many meals standing at my kitchen counter. I don’t want my meals to feel like an incidental event. It’s not that I plan on lingering over lunch — however, I do want to give myself that moment and sit down, chew thoroughly, and enjoy my meal.
  4. Doing a token workout. I have quite a full schedule when it comes to being either at the gym, the CrossFit box, of the Jiu-Jitsu mats. In fact, I’m pretty much at one of those places every single day (if not twice a day). With all that activity, there are some days when I really do need to just rest and do nothing. However, again, in order to avoid losing a point, I’d find myself running up and down the stairs or doing a quick 10-minute circuit of something. There was one challenge when I fell really sick but insisted on doing my 10 minutes of exercise + 10 minutes of stretching when it really would have been a lot healthier for me if I had stayed in bed and slept. That was not sensible at all.

So, this time for the Whole Life Challenge, I have a few different expectations for myself. Although I do hope to lose a few pounds, continue to lower my body fat %, and increase my fitness level, my main goal is to focus on actually living a healthier lifestyle in terms of my daily habits.

I am going to be much stricter on myself when it comes to scoring. These are the parameters I’m setting for myself:

  1. I will deduct a point if I eat standing/on the go and my meal is not nutritious — even if it is compliant (I’m doing Kickstart this time around).
  2. If my workout of the day (or mobilization effort) does not contribute positively to my fitness goals, then I will deduct a point. This means that if I need to rest, then I’ll rest. It also means that if I got lazy and didn’t workout when I should have, doing a token workout will not count for me.

In the last challenge, I used all my indulgence points and a few rest days and I ended with a perfect score — but it wasn’t a perfect challenge for me. I knew I could have done better in terms of my effort. That’s what I’m aiming for this time.