How to Survive the Whole Life Challenge
Okay, so the title is a bit pessimistic, but I'm not the best at writing headlines (ask my co-workers). I'm not writing this post as a platform to dispense horror stories about the WLC program. In fact, it's quite the opposite. The title of this post should really be, "How to THRIVE on the Whole Life Challenge." Oh well, too late to change it now. The Whole Life Challenge is an 8-week long program that allows you to reset your life. From reassessing your diet to completing weekly wellness goals (Drink more water! Get more sleep! Draw something!), you are giving yourself eight glorious weeks of self care. I enjoyed my experience so much the first time, I'm going for round two. I'm really excited and slightly terrified.
To help kick off these next two months of self reflection and (sometimes) uncomfortable growth, I made a little guide to remember what helped me get through it last time. Maybe it will help you too. Maybe you don't need a guide because you've already got this. Maybe this is really just a way for me to commit myself to this challenge again. The introspection has begun...
Find a buddy
I cannot tell you how much the buddy system helped me last time. A friend started a text group chat that served as a dumping ground for recipe ideas, pictures of food we certainly COULD NOT eat (like ice cream donut sandwiches...I MEAN...), advice, complaints, and anything else you could imagine that would help you get through two months of change. I highly recommend finding someone one who is not opposed to getting texts at 10:00pm about how you're starring at a frozen tier of your roommates' wedding cake and that's all you've ever wanted and of course they wouldn't notice if you just had a bite and covered it up and it's totally normal to feel this way, right? Find a buddy. Hell, I can be your buddy if you don't have one! Just send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Buddies make great shopping partners, too! Which leads me too.... (segue segue segue)
Like your human buddy, the Notes app on your phone will become your best friend. This is where you'll jot down the list of food items you need for your trips to the market. That's right, friends. You're going to need to meal prep. And by the end of these two months, you'll be meal prepping like an effing pro. You'll have so many recipes memorized, you won't even need to think about it! Chicken and spinach? Done. Stuffed peppers? Obviously. Shrimp? Devein this! But in the beginning, you'll need to think about it. A lot.
During the last challenge, I created a spreadsheet full of food items and broke them down into their macronutrient and calorie values. It's insane. I will not subject you to that (unless you want to see it, then I can definitely email it to you!), but I will tell you it helped me really prepare for every dish I made. After I did that crazy thing of breaking down the recipe into macros, I made a list of the ingredients on my notes app, picked a day out of the weekend, invited the buddies, and went to the market. Every week. Like clockwork. It's doable and totally necessary. You want to be as much in control of your diet as possible in this challenge because so many little life things are bound to derail it. We don't live in a vacuum.
Note: planning ahead also works for the other supplemental challenges given to you throughout the week. If you need to drink 60oz of water a day, time out when you can drink them so you're not stuck at 8:00pm with 40oz of water to consume. Trust me on this one.
Failure is part of it
We had to meditate for a particular amount of time a day during last challenge, and we probably will on this one as well. I remember having the HARDEST time setting aside time to meditate, and when I did, all my body wanted to do was sleep. Every single time, I would end up taking a 15 minute nap rather than commit to the meditation. It was really stressful for a meditation exercise. But I was told by one of my fellow Whole Lifers, Gina, something that really resonated with me. She said, "maybe you're sleeping because that's what your body needs right now." Let that one sink in! We're constantly forcing our minds and bodies to operate at high levels for maximum output. And a lot of times, we're so out of tune with it, that we fail to realize when it's time for rest. I suggest taking every "failure" as a lesson during this process. Try your best, but if your best doesn't work, then there's usually a good reason.
"Failure" can also be a conscious choice. If your friend is having a birthday party, and you just need to try the birthday cake her friend made because it would be rude not to, then of course eat the cake. And think about why you chose to do it. Use it as a note to yourself. Maybe this teaches you about the value you place on your friends. Maybe this makes you grateful to have friends who have friends who make cake. Whatever the reason, use every opportunity to learn about yourself in this process.
Alright, guys. Let's do this!
(Disclaimer: I wasn't endorsed by Whole Life Challenge to write any of this. I just loved the program and wanted to share my experience with you!)