On 17 September 2016, I joined the Whole Life Challenge along with 21,000 others across the nation. The challenge focuses on 7 key habits: Nutrition (there are 3 levels: Performance, Lifestyle, Kickstart; I chose Lifestyle because it said it's the most like how we'd eat in real life and the easiest to maintain), Exercise (get at least 10 minutes a day), Mobility/Stretching (10 minutes based on a WoD provided to us), Hydration (drink 1/3 your body weight in water daily), Lifestyle (a prescribed activity area for intentional focus; we did prayer/meditation-10 minutes, acts of kindness, count your blessings, organization-10 min each day to unclutter, etc.), Sleep (you set the hours you thought you'd get each night and got points for achieving the goal or lost them for not achieving it), and then ended with a Reflection from the day (what went well, what did you struggle with, what were you celebrating or lamenting, etc.). All of these items allowed you to get points (0-5 for Nutrition-these could be used as needed, all other areas you either got your 5 points or lost it, 0) and compete against your team members (I was T.E.A.M. Hudson) and against all other players. You also earned a day off the Challenge where you could skip all the habits and get your full compliment of points, Indulgence points to be used when you would have otherwise forfeited Nutrition points to have something not on your list, Night Owl to get points for a lost night of sleep (and I have to say this is the one that surprised me the most-I thought I got a good 7-8 hours a night, but in actuality, I oftentimes didn't make it to 7; much thanks to my Fitbit Charge HR for showing me that each night), and lastly Rest Day bonuses which mean you can take off from exercise (I only used one of these while I fought through bronchitis early on in the challenge; I ended with 4 unused). Officially, our challenge ended on 11 November 2016 (Veteran's Day).
When we started the challenge, there were 7 of us. By the end, only three of us had stayed with it including our fearless Captain. The founders of the challenge said this is common and we should applaud ourselves for finishing. Of 2215 teams, we ended in 676th place. I ended top on my team with 1924 points. Across the world, I ended up 745 of 16,928 players. I was in the top 4% of finishers! Let me tell you why that is so much bigger to me than it may be to you: going into this, I was 4 lbs from my overall heaviest weight ever, I had lost all desire to change my circumstances and couldn't find the motivation to take that first step, and going into this, I was so nervous that I would quit when it got too hard. Instead, I found my way again. These 7 habits made me mindful and intentional in my choices. Yes, there were nights that the kids kept me up later than I wanted and I forfeited these points and while that was annoying and frustrating, it also made me recognize that I didn't get a full night's sleep and mindful of how I felt afterwards--which thanks to my eating and hydration wasn't as bad as it had been previously. Plus, it made me thankful I have these two kids to keep me up--they are one of the blessings for which I am ever thankful. I also drank a LOT of water each day and plan to keep that practice up because I know my skin and my body will thank me for it.
At the beginning of the challenge, I had purchased a Fitbit Charge HR to help me with the fitness side of things. I cannot tell you how much this purchase really was one of the smartest things I may have ever gotten myself. It not only counts my steps, but my heart rate and counts the minutes I a in the "fat burning' zone as exercise. This enabled me to tell if I was getting my 10 minutes of exercise or not. Plus, it bursts confetti when I meet those goals which is like a little celebration each time I do. I had set my steps to begin at 6,000 because I felt I could stretch to this and get it even on the weekends when I spend even more time on my butt than as the office worker I am during the week. Over the last 2 weeks, I am regularly hitting 10,000 steps. I will tell you that this means I park further from the office so I get the first 6,000 steps before or shortly after leaving the building (as long as I got up to get water and go to the bathroom a lot as I usually do). Some nights, I have to dance in my living room or walk up and down the hallway in my apartment or along the corridor to reach this point, but it's important to me to do it. So, in good faith of my commitment, I am changing my goal to 10,000 steps and going to stretch myself to do it. Thankfully, I live 7 floors up from our gym which has a treadmill, elliptical, climber, and recumbent bike for the nights I need to make up a greater number of steps. Plus, I have my NBB who will regularly ask me to come workout with him. I love being my boy's workout buddy.
In the 8 weeks of the challenge, I lost 22.2 lbs, an inch in my hips and two in my waist, but the best accomplishment I gained in all this was coming out of the fog and finding a way to intentionally change the habits that will improve my life for me and my kids. My fitness level increased two-fold and I continue to exceed my own expectations and inspire my friends to join me in doing this. Right as I was beginning this journey, one of my best friends found out she had diabetes. With my family history, I was heading toward that, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and everything else that comes with my genetic history (my mom and older sister already are on meds for cholesterol and BP and both sides my grandfathers had diabetes, but both were alcoholics so I was hopeful that was why and not genetic predisposition) and the fact that all three of my kids were over 9 lbs (one of those factors they say indicates future diabetes, but I never had gestational diabetes), that could be my diagnoses in the future, too. So, I chose to take all my head knowledge into my heart and say, "No more!" I don't want to live this way or add to the things my kids would have passed down from me.
I know this journey won't be an easy one because I have been here before. In February 2011, I hit my goal after a 112 lb loss that took 22 months of mindfulness and intentionality. Unfortunately, I never dealt with the root of why I feed my empty with food and drink and repeated the ways of my past. Now, I am ready to go with God into the dark pit of the past and work through the garbage so I can end this cycle for me and for my family. If you are of a mind to pray, I ask that you would cover me as I journey through the pit and deal with my root issues. Much love & His blessing to you all.
There is a new Whole Life Challenge beginning on January 19, 2017 if you're interested in starting the new year off with your own journey to change the way you approach wellness in your life. Visit WLC to learn more.