I’ve Been Waiting My Whole Life…for a Challenge Like This

When I started this blog and my weight loss journey, I was following what I considered a fairly strict diet that my trainer provided me. Well, strict compared to the no-holds-barred takeout and fried-food diet I was following before.

I followed this diet? lifestyle? probably about 90-95% of the time for that first year or so that I was losing weight. I’d say from reaching my goal in March 2010 until about late 2012, I followed it about 80% of the time. I was even so vigilant that I managed to lose some weight starting a new job in late 2011 and not exercising much as I settled into a new routine.

Until I met my nemesis, the Calexico Taco Truck. Located squarely between my office and my apartment, the truck was easy to place an order at on my way home to walk my dog at lunch and then pick it up on my way back to the office without ever skipping a beat or waiting in a line.

I don’t blame the tacos for everything, but what had gone from “this isn’t too bad for me” at Chipotle every once in a while to a regular thing turned into rationalizing other less-than-healthy food choices. I think I still eat better than the Standard American Diet, but there’s a lot of room for improvement.

So, when some colleagues proposed a nutrition challenge, I was all for it. About a year ago, when we were developing one of our programs at work, we were looking for people to beta test the nutrition element. And, hell no. I wasn’t ready for it. (And truth be told, it was rather strict.)

But now, I’ve been feeling soft and feeling like I need some sort of kickstart.

And the Whole Life Challenge is really cool. It focuses on seven daily habits over the course of 56 days. It technically started on Saturday, but, Bahamas.

Whole Life Challenge

Nutrition: You get a total of five points each day and lose 1 point for every non-compliant food you eat. There’s three different levels you can follow, and I chose to go for the basic one (Kickstarter), just because it allows you one drink a day. I plan on trying to follow the middle level (Lifestyle) as closely as possible though, other than the wine. (That level only allows you one drink a week, and, no.)

Exercise: You get two points a day for at least 10 minutes of exercising. I wish you could get points for every 10 minutes you exercise, but! alas.

Stretching: Two points a day for 10 minutes of stretching. As I am training again, I DEFINITELY need this. And let’s be real, you always need this.

Water: One point per day for drinking 1/3 of your bodyweight in water (in ounces, if that wasn’t clear initially.) One of my coworkers recently commented how good I was at drinking lots of water recently, so I’m all over this one.

Supplement: You get one point a day for a supplement that, if taken every day, will have a positive affect on your life. I’m using this as an excuse to get consistent again with my Omega-3s and probiotics.

Lifestyle: Each week has a different lifestyle habit. This week is mindfulness, which I am ALL ABOUT.

Reflection: You’re supposed to write a short reflection each day of how the day went for you. I’m used to writing about my health habits on the Internet, so no bigs.

The creators of the challenge stress that indulgence points are included because food should be enjoyed — just not recklessly and to the point of making you feel ill. I don’t feel ill, but I certainly don’t feel like my best self right now.

“Foods that cost you points during the Challenge generally cause inflammation, irritation, hormonal imbalance, unwanted weight gain, and other undesirable physical results to some degree for most people.” 

This includes gluten, dairy and sugar, primarily, as well as foods that are genetically modified or may have hormonal impacts, like soy. (RIP Starbucks soy lattes.) Personally, I know I’m really sensitive to dairy and slightly sensitive to gluten, so I welcome this push to be more vigilant about reducing them in my diet.

At the end of the day, I’m doing this for several reasons:

1. Yes, I would like to lose a little weight.

2. I would like to return to being more mindful about what I eat instead of eating something just because it’s there or looks good to me at the time. I want to eat something because it will make me feel good.

3. I just want to feel better. I remember the boundless, exuberant energy I had when I first started losing weight (oh wait, I was also six years younger) and I want to get back to that.

What about you? Have you ever done a challenge like this?

26 comments on “I’ve Been Waiting My Whole Life…for a Challenge Like This

  1. Ash Bear

    I can’t wait to hear about the challenge! For those of us who are more visual or confised, can you do a day in the life example showing the points etc?

  2. Shawna

    hope this goes well for you. i haven’t done a challenge like this, and lately i’ve been going through my own journey with food and health and figuring out what bothers me, so i’m trying to be mindful of what i put into my body and how it affects me.

  3. joelle (on a pink typewriter)

    I LOVE challenges of all kinda related to healthy living/being active, although I think I’d probably get lost with the point system haha. I’m looking forward to hearing about your experience… a kickstart is always a good thing (heck, I could use one too to improve my mindful eating while half training).

  4. Kris

    Does it worry you that you cannot last 2 months without alcohol? Seems problematic – what’s the point of doing this if you are just going to spoil your efforts with booze.

  5. Kristy B.

    I don’t really understand. Do you total your points up each day? The goal, I guess is to end with the most points?

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      Yeah – maybe I wasn’t clear enough and I think I’m going to do a follow-up post, maybe like Ashley suggested, as a day in the life on the challenge. You get a total of 5 points for nutrition (but can lose points by eating non-compliant foods) and then each of the other items you either get 0 points if you don’t do it or 2 points if you do do it, for a total of, I think 13 points for a perfect score. And yes, the “winner” is the one with the most points, and I think they get a cash prize that comes from what the rest of us put in to participate. I’ve already accepted losing. I’m cool with it 🙂

      1. Kristy B.

        @Theodora Blanchfield: A day in the life post would be good. I like plans that encompass everything like that, that is why I was so successful at Weight Watchers. Being able to earn back points for exercise and such really helped motivate me to do it.

  6. Kristine

    I really like this and I think you hit the nail ON THE HEAD with the below. That is, hands down, my biggest sabotage. Not being mindful and eating something because it’s there, because I need something to do with my hands at a happy hour, etc or because it looks good. I’ve been really trying to be more mindful about that. Also I’m on Day 2 of my 30-day Bar Method Month (5 classes/week) and I can’t feel my legs or “seat” and Day 4 of no booze and while I think (know) it will not be fun on weekends, I AM excited about waking up every Sat and Sun ready to rock. Or… just eat breakfast. I’m excited to hear how you like this challenge!

    “I would like to return to being more mindful about what I eat instead of eating something just because it’s there or looks good to me at the time. I want to eat something because it will make me feel good.”

  7. Ange @ Cowgirl Runs

    I personally tend to question these kind of diets that require you to cut out things like gluten and dairy and such. If you have an allergy, then sure, but for me, it just wouldn’t make sense and if I’m not going to eat that way in the long run, then it’s not for me. I think cutting out/limiting processed food and sugar is always good, but without any kind of reason, I can’t say I agree with the dairy and gluten side of things.

    1. Kristy

      @Ange @ Cowgirl Runs:

      I totally agree. Cutting out large food groups is simply a way to force a reduction in calories. No gluten + no dairy = no pizza. I don’t think non-celiac gluten sensitivity is real. Sure you eat a lot of bread or pizza, you get bloated. So what? It goes away and you eat less the next time. The vilification of foods is cyclical and is a huge money maker- first fat was bad, then carbs, now some carbs are good, just not gluten. I do think that dairy does not agree with many however.

    2. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      True – this challenge basically calls for cutting out gluten, but again, it’s really just a way to get me to cut back on the crap (esp processed foods) that have been in my diet. I did feel better when I went gluten-free a few months ago (more stressing whole foods than eating fake g-free substitutes) but yeah, wasn’t/isn’t long-term sustainable for me, but I just feel better with less gluten and I need to remember that even when not doing a challenge like this or trying to go totally gluten-free.

      1. Ange @ Cowgirl Runs

        @Theodora Blanchfield: I think you’re taking a good apprach to this, then. I just see so many people randomly decide to cut out certain foods because they read a book, or someone told them to, without actually deciding if it’s best for them.
        Obviously this excludes something like an elimination diet for food allergies.

  8. Diana

    1/3 of your body weight in water? Is that even possible? For someone who weighs 150 lbs, that would be 50 lbs (100 cups at a pint a pound) of water?!?!?!

  9. Nikki @ will run for pizza

    I’ve never done anything like this. Actually, NO challenges EVER! I’ve always just done the exercising and eating thing on my own, by my own research. But I’m in the same boat as you right now and as I’m getting older, and not needing to lose as much as I lost a few years ago, I have recently realized that I need to change up the nutrition lifestyle again and what I did before to lost 40 pounds, isn’t working again….I’ll have to look this challenge up! And i’m with you – 1 glass of wine a week is just a death sentence.

  10. Nicole

    I don’t think its a worry to feel apprehensive about going two weeks without wine… I think that’s normal!
    I know you are doing a challenge but I think generally speaking you can have your wine and drink it too 😉
    In moderation of course. I have found that a glass of red wine a night doesn’t really affect my results if all else is good.
    Im currently doing a version of the Venus Factor – too soon to post any results yet though. I have written about my thoughts on what’s involved in the program though, here if anyone is interested: http://healthylivingbynicole.com/WeightLossForWomen

    Good luck 🙂


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