I didn’t enter my first Whole Life Challenge in January because I was hoping to change my lifestyle. I thought what I was doing was all I needed to become physically and mentally fit. I entered the challenge as an opportunity to meet new people and get involved in the CrossFit Morden community. I had no idea what I was about to get myself into… Although I’ve never been much of a writer, I have a lot to say when it comes to the WLC because it has changed my life.
The Whole Life Challenge has given me an outlook on food and what I eat as a form of self-respect; it’s shown me that consistency with good choices goes much further than any restrictive diet or insane training plan. Most importantly it has taught me that being healthy is much bigger than just going to the gym. Here’s how my experience with the Whole Life Challenge has become my whole life:
The WLC is designed to keep you well fed, hydrated, fit, limber, active, less stressed and more connected with your surroundings. It will set you up with all of the tools you need to achieve these 7 things. All you need to do is put these tools to work. Easier said than done, but only in the beginning. When I looked through the Whole Life Challenge website and began to read what the challenge is designed to do, it seemed to me like a no brainer that I would want to incorporate each of the 7 habits into my life. What wasn’t initially obvious was how each habit builds of the next and each one can be circled back to the others.
We enter the challenge as a team. We start off by doing a baseline workout on the first day. It’s easy to stay connected to each other through the WLC app and Facebook or even better yet, at the box. As a team we offer advice on local sources for compliant foods and recipes and support through the mid challenge weeks when we feel as if we’ve plateaued and cravings are really kicking in. Your daily check-ins on the app hold you accountable and the earned points each day make it a fun game to play. Even though there is a leaderboard, the WLC doesn’t want you to feel guilty if you don’t have a perfect score, it’s designed to have you make good choices and be able to acknowledge when things go awry.
The most difficult part of the challenge for me was the grocery store. It’s amazing to look at all of the foods I used to eat that are packaged and advertised as your healthiest options but are nothing more than convenience and good advertising. The WLC will have you stepping back and analyzing all of the contents going into your shopping cart and eventually into your body. The challenge doesn’t villainize all sweets but it wants you choose options that have not been artificially sweetened or processed. It doesn’t take long for your body to start reacting to the good nourishing foods you are fuelling it with. You will get out what you put in. You can’t expect to put garbage in and get the best out of yourself.
Right away I noticed myself having more energy and that my levels were constant throughout the day. No more mid-afternoon crash when you decide to log into Wodify and cancel your CrossFit class reservation because you’re too tired. The energy I was feeling was making it easier to be active and on my feet all day at work. The productiveness would make me feel good and I’d be looking forward to killin’ it (on a personal level) in the WOD. One of the many great things about CrossFit is how we record everything, we are driven by metrics. (Except Aloha Fridays which is another great thing but an entirely separate topic) This makes progression in your favourite Oly lift or your most feared Metcon so easy to compare. The noticeable change in my results and the energy levels coming out of my body was encouragement enough to make me want to continue putting in clean nourishing food.
In life it’s not easy to schedule an ideal eight hour sleep every single night. The WLC isn’t asking you for that, but what it does ask of you is to set a reasonable goal that you feel will provide enough rest for your body. Sleep is the best time for your body to recover from the day’s activities and recharge physically and mentally for demands of tomorrow. A solid nights rest will set you up for a productive day.
Next we have hydration. It seems obvious that it’s important for our body, but many of us do not consume enough good, plain water. There are so many health benefits to proper hydration but due to the simple fact that I am not a health professional I will only speak for myself. My skin became clearer and I seemed to be able to recover faster from those tough workouts. When I linked this with clean eating, I could tell that my body was digesting my meals even better. I also felt like I was able to burn fat faster, maybe this is because I didn’t feel as winded during workouts and could push harder and longer than I had ever before.
Mobility is a limiting factor for many of us in the box and life in general. Our exercise regimes may even further limit our mobility if we don’t actively work on opening those muscles after a WOD. A wise woman has suggested to me to balance my effort with ease. Taking those words into consideration I enjoy attending both mobility and Yoga sessions with that same wise woman when I can. The benefits of working on my own mobility issues with both Brooke and Paula have reduced pain, swollen muscles and allowed me to sleep easier. The increased mobility and range of motion or a lack of resistance in my movement start to pay off tenfold in both the body shop and in the box. Again, showing how each aspect of the WLC will circle back to the others.
We were challenged to a different well-being practice each week. They are all designed to have some sort of positive impact on your life. Some of the practices could work for you and others not so much. The idea is to open your mind to something and try it. Take what will work for you and leave the rest. It could be as simple as thinking about someone in your life who matters to you and what makes this person important to you. Connecting you with people who are close to you and have a meaningful relationship. In January we were challenged to spend 10 minutes practicing mindful breathing, this is one of the practices I enjoyed the most and still practice on most days. This breath-focused practice allows me to really focus on my breathing and relax my mind. As thoughts come in I can acknowledge them and return my mind to my breath without letting my mind wander away in thought.
Register online for the Whole Life Challenge and then you can join the CrossFit Morden team along our journey to health. We will all reflect together, hold ourselves accountable and offer support on those days where it seems like it’s not going as planned. So this starting September i am encouraging you to change your habits for six weeks, maybe it can change your whole life too!
– Jesse F
Note ** If you are not a member of CrossFit Morden, but are interested in doing the Whole Life Challenge – it’s open to anyone! You don’t have to be part of the CrossFit Morden team and you can sign up your own team, office or group and do the challenge together. Find more information by visiting their website.