Thursday, February 27, 2014

Staying on Track

The Whole Life Challenge is drawing to a close (only 8 days left! How did this happen?!), and that has been freaking me out a little bit. The crazy thing is that, unlike other fitness programs I’ve attempted in the past, I’ve hardly even noticed how many days I’ve been doing this thing—I’ve just been focused on each day as it comes, and sticking to the rules as best I can. But now, the husband and I are starting to think (and worry, to be honest) about how many healthy new habits we’ll be able to maintain if we’re not checking in and tracking our progress each day. The fact is, there have been times that we’ve focused on eating a certain way (e.g., a 3-week vegan cleanse) or doing a specific workout (e.g., P90X), and as soon as the determined duration (and, well, determination) ends, we go right back to our old habits in a big, bad way.

We don’t want to backslide like that this time—and I’ve noticed a few other people who are doing the Whole LifeChallenge have expressed similar concerns. I actually checked in with the guys who run the challenge (who are awesome, by the way—so incredibly accessible and ready to respond to participants’ every concern and question) and they basically said (I’m totally paraphrasing here) that everything we’ve learned on the challenge will keep us going. They said we’ve acquired so many new skills, and now we have to go practice them in real life. Um, yeah…that sounds nice in theory, but in practice? I need a bit more structure. They also said this on their blog today: “Your life isn't ‘supposed’ to look like the Challenge. Your life isn't ‘supposed’ to look like anything. Your health isn’t about scoring your nutrition, working out every day, and logging in. It CAN be, and you can set it up to be that way if you want—there are a million apps out there that can support fitness and accountability. Your health is a matter of your PARTICIPATION. Your active ownership of the outcome. THAT is what you have been trained in during this process.”

So, yay! I’m going to focus right in on the fact that my life CAN be like the challenge, and take that as permission to set up my between-challenges program. What’s that going to look like? Well, it will be very loosely based on the beginner level rules (though I’m still going to shoot for intermediate or advanced most days). I think the husband is going to do the same. Since I need to see things spelled out very clearly, and since checking in daily really helps me with this, I’ve created a little checklist/score-sheet for us (it's up there on the WLC MAINTENANCE tab above in case anyone else out there would like to use it). I’m sure a lot of other people have created similar ones that work for them so, you know, this is just another option. The thing that I like about the Whole Life Challenge scoring system versus other fitness apps I’ve tried (e.g., Lose It, Calorie Count, etc.) is that it’s so simple—when you check in at the end of the day (or the next day in the case of the challenge), either you did what you said you were going to do, or you didn’t. There’s no counting of calories or fat grams or hugely detailed specifics of your exercise (beyond the minimum number of minutes). It’s easy—but it’s also effective!

I'm also working on a little interactive app/quiz (I'll post the link if I'm able to figure out how to do it) where I can  do a daily self-assessment, a la the Whole Life Challenge app, to keep myself accountable—and I plan to post weekly lifestyle challenges on the Clean for a Day Facebook and Clean for a Day Twitter pages too. If you’ve been reading this blog but haven’t been doing the Whole LifeChallenge, you might want to try out these tools and see if it’s something you want to do when the next one happens (on May 3! Registration is open now!). Maybe, if enough people are interested, we can even form a Clean for a Day team for the next one. What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments. I really want to keep this thing going. At risk of sounding like a crazy fitness evangelist who’s just discovered a magic bullet, it really has changed my life in amazing ways.

If you want numbers, here are just a couple: I’ve been losing 1-2 pounds per week, and when the husband and I just repeated our fitness assessment test the other night, our improvements were pretty impressive. Specifically, at the start of the challenge we did as many reps as possible—AMRAPs—in two minutes each of jumping jacks, squats, triceps dips (me) or pull-ups (husband), crunches and push-ups. At the start of the challenge, my total score for all five exercises (again, 2 minutes per exercise, so 10 minutes total) was 268. The other night? It was 340. That’s a 27 percent improvement! The husband’s total score went from 290 to 368, also a 27 percent improvement.

Anyway, those are just the hard numbers—but proof that the challenge can make a huge difference if you really put in the effort. (Of course, as with anything else in life, you get out of it what you put into it.) I’d love to hear from other people who’ve been doing (or who have previously done) the Whole Life Challenge: How will (or do) you stay on track, if at all, between challenges? Will the score sheet (or online quiz/app I'm working on) be helpful for you, too? Would you be interested in meeting on the Clean for a Day Facebook and Clean for a Day Twitter pages, and following along with lifestyle challenges there (we can come up with them as a group, if you like), so we don’t lose our momentum? Please let me know what you think in the comments. I’m totally open to and excited about any ideas you might have.

Let’s keep it going, people!

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