Below is an email I sent to the folks who expressed interest in joining us for this fall’s Whole Life Challenge. If you, too, would like to give it a go, please get in contact with me (Tweeting @iancr would do the trick, so would leaving a comment below) and I’ll send you signup details.
Thanks for your interest in joining us for the Whole Life Challenge! I sincerely hope you’ll join us. Please feel free to invite anyone you think might both benefit from it and take it seriously. Just forward them this email as I’ll include some basics about what WLC is and how you sign up below. Please note that proceeds from our team (signup for the 8 week challenge is $45) will be donated to Pablove so not only are you doing something great for yourself but you’re donating to a great cause by participating in this fall’s challenge. THANK YOU.
Whole Life Challenge begins! GAME ON!
Brief background: Whole Life Challenge was developed by Michael Stanwyck and Andy Petranek who run Crossfit LA. We at Topspin were introduced to it when Chris Carlson in our office announced he was doing it in the spring. 14 of us at Topspin participated in the spring and for at least a few of us it was life changing. Better eating and exercise habits and fitness all around. When Michael and Andy announced they were building new software for it and taking it beyond just Crossfit LA I asked if we could participate again. Because of our relentless enthusiasm, they are letting us lead a challenge as if we were one of their affiliate gyms. I’ve had a lot of folks ask me about what I’m doing fitness-wise and where they might begin; THIS IS IT. The Challenge works not because of any gimmicks but for 3 simple reasons:
More on that below.
Signup: Now! [Get in contact with me if you’d like signup instructions]
It costs $45 and proceeds from our team will be donated to Pablove. http://pablove.org/
Challenge starts: September 15th. We’ll have a preliminary here in Los Angeles on September 16th (please mark your calendar — details forthcoming). If you’re local, please join us to kick it off proper like. Details forthcoming. If you’re not in LA, don’t worry, you’ll be able to participate from afar just fine.
Join the Facebook group: This is the place to share recipes, post goals, frustrations, etc. http://www.facebook.com/groups/270712833043356/
What is The Whole Life Challenge?
Being human in the 21st century means a battle between biology and abundance, and the result (for most of us) is being less fit than we’d like to be. The Whole Life Challenge is an 8-week diet and fitness game that, when followed, will change your lifestyle in enough ways to make a difference. The goal isn’t a score of 100% and it’s unlikely you’ll adhere to the rules of the game 100% when it’s over. But you’ll discover some things about yourself and find some new, better habits to be sure, from better food choices to more regular exercise.
“Challenge” is the appropriate word. It’s not complex, but it’s not easy. It’s work, but rewarding. Personally I believe it works because:
- The rules are simple, black/white. It’s not about calorie counting. It’s easy to look at any food and simply answer yes/no to the question of “should I put this in my mouth”? Also, the answer is never “no”, but the answer may be, “if you do you’ll lose a point…”
- You’re accountable. It’s funny to find yourself eating better because of a silly game, but it happens.
- Community is built-in. We’re all in this together, and help each other along the way. Researchers studied a number of diets side-by-side. Which diet someone followed didn’t correlate with success. They all worked or didn’t work, equally well. What correlated with success was which of the dieters had a support group. Fact: changing your lifestyle is easier when doing it with friends and loved ones.
How does the scoring work?
There are a maximum of six points per day. You get:
+1 point for doing at least 10 minutes of exercise in a day
+1 point for at least 10 minutes of stretching/mobility
+1 point for taking fish oil (more on that later)
You start the day with 3 food points and lose 1 point any time you eat something on the “NO” list. The lowest score you can get in any one day is 0.
The NO list:
No grains or starches (except legumes and sweet potatoes/yams)
No corn or soy
No sugar or sweetener of any kind (this includes honey, agave, etc)
No dairy (except butter)
No artificial or processed foods
Additionally, there will be weekly bonus points that can be earned.
So wait, what DO you eat?
Don’t let that list of NOs scare you away. It shouldn’t. Challenging existing habits is the name of the game, after all. Does it mean you’ll stop eating grains and dairy forever? No. But if, over the course of 8 weeks beginning September 15th, you exchange your boxed cereal breakfast habit for eggs + veggies and start choosing the salmon + veggies option at the restaurant instead of the pizza/pasta you’ll be making a change for the good. It’s not that you’ll NEVER eat those things but you’ll find yourself making conscious choices to dive into the NO list instead of habitually eating things which aren’t great for you.
Is everything on the NO list evil? Definitely not. They’re on the list because it’s easier for most people to have a very clear NO list than it is to moderate their habits, particularly under stress. Beyond The Challenge I HIGHLY recommend Ben Greenfield’s Food Pyramid, the best science-based “what to eat” list that celebrates moderation and says “NO” to nothing except things which are truly bad for you: http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/2012/01/why-the-food-pyramid-is-wrong/
To try to help answer the “what do I eat” question, share, and maintain some accountability for myself, I started a diet/fitness blog at http://fitfulayen.tumblr.com. Take a browse and you can see some of the things I’ve changed my diet to. Note some of them will go away for me during the week of the challenge. But most of what I eat on the daily is challenge-friendly now. Croissants at Topspin yesterday? I skipped ‘em and went for some fruit instead. Lunch meeting? I’ll have the salad plus protein, please. Breakfast? No more cereal for me, thx. I haven’t stopped drinking yet, but I’ve definitely cut way back.
My advice: give it a try. It won’t be easy but I’ll tell you from experience, it’s freeing and feels great. It’s great to feel healthy and in control, and I feel more of each now than I did before. Also, my overall knowledge and awareness relating to my health/fitness has gone up which can’t be a bad thing. That’s what The Challenge is all about in my humble opinion. Don’t get too caught up on the particular rules. Take it as a challenge, a puzzle meant to change habits for the better. It’s 8 weeks. It’s with a group. It’s, well, challenging. Challenges are fun and rewarding.
Thanks for joining us. It’s honestly an honor to get to change our lives for the better together.