I Am Challenging Myself to Have Healthier Eating Habits With Something Called the ‘Whole Life Challenge’

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Like a lot of moms, extra weight has crept up on me slowly. You know how it goes. You grab a handful of Goldfish or a cookie while you’re making your kid’s lunch. You take your kid for an ice cream cone after their lacrosse game and suddenly you’re having one, too. Or, you take your kids to the movies and before it ends, you’ve finished their leftover popcorn.

Then there is my daily ritual of stopping at Starbucks, which would be just fine if I only ordered a skim latte but there are so many other fun flavors to try – cinnamon dolce latte, caramel macchiato and, this time of year, pumpkin spice latte.

So, it’s no surprise that losing 5 pounds would go a long way in helping me to feel better and my clothes to fit better.

When I heard my best friend was doing the Whole Life Challenge, I decided to give it try, too.

The Whole Life Challenge nudges you towards good habits like eating healthier foods, drinking more water (one-third of your body weight in ounces of water), and incorporating at least 10 minutes of exercising and stretching into your day. In fact, the goal of the Whole Life Challenge isn’t necessarily to lose weight but to lose inches, get fitter and adopt more healthy habits. In fact, you don’t even weight yourself before the challenge. You measure your hips and waist, and determine how many sets of Burpees, sit ups and squats you can do in 12 minutes.

The challenge is set up like a game. You earn points for healthy habits, and you lose points for not incorporate a healthy habit into your day. You also lose points for eating non-complaint food and there are three nutrition levels to choose from – Performance (the strictest), Lifestyle and Kick Start (recommended for first-timers like me).

As the rules state, Kick Start is about cutting out the “junk.” No fried foods, no fatty cuts of meat, no cheese (except cottage cheese), no ice cream, nothing made with sugar, no bread, no pasta, no soda (including diet soda), no beer, no potato chips or French fries (except sweet potato fries). Nothing else is off limits and you can eat as much of it as you want. And, you can even have one glass of wine each day, if you are on Kick Start.

The challenge began on Sept. 19 and the day before I carefully read through the rules while polishing off an opened bag of salt-and-vinegar potato chips. I might as well get rid of some temptation before the challenge starts. I also finished off an opened bag of chocolate covered blueberries.

It’s hard to imagine not eating my three favorite foods — bread, pasta and cheese – for eight weeks. The night before the challenge started, I went out to dinner with a friend at a wine-and-cheese bar where we shared a cheese fondue and an order of lobster mac and cheese. For dessert, I ordered cheesecake.

I felt so full the next morning that I was excited to give up cheese, bread and pasta for the next eight weeks.

The cruelest part of the challenge: It starts on a Saturday. Really? Doesn’t Sunday or even Monday seem more fitting?

But starting on a Saturday meant it was easy to stock up compliant foods. I started my first day by stopping at the farmer’s market to get fresh vegetables and fruit, and peanut butter and Greek yoghurt without added sugar.

Surprisingly the hardest part hasn’t been giving up bread, pasta or cheese. The hardest part has been incorporating 10 minutes of mediation into my day. Each week there is a different lifestyle challenge and first week’s challenge was to incorporate meditation into your day, and falling asleep while doing it doesn’t earn you a point.

I doubt that I’ve lost any weight or inches yet, but I do know that I feel better. I don’t feel as bloated and I have more energy.

I’m hoping the Whole Life Challenge will help me to realize having a treat like a flavored latte or an ice cream cone or cookie isn’t something that should happen every day but maybe once or twice a month. Over the weekend, I spent a point on a pumpkin spice latte and it was good but, honestly, it wasn’t worth losing a point over. I don’t think I’ll be doing that again.