Thursday, April 10, 2014

Taking Control

When I talk about the Whole Life Challenge, the first thing people typically ask is how much weight I lost while doing it. It’s a valid question. I mean, weight loss was definitely one of my goals when I signed up back in January—and it will be one of my goals when I do the challenge again (because although I dropped about 8 or 10 pounds last time, I’ve still got quite a few more to lose). But there’s so much more to the Whole Life Challenge than losing weight, and there are so many reasons I decided to do it before…and I’ve decided to do it again.

Here’s the deal: I was not in a good place at the beginning of this year. I’d spent at least two months in what I considered to be a pretty deep depression. I had my good days and my bad days, and I was still functioning for the most part—but the truth is that I felt like my life had spun completely out of control (which is not a good thing for a control freak). I felt like a failure in almost every way and was walking a dangerous, self-sabotaging path that included eating all the worst kinds of foods, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, abandoning all efforts to be physically active, and allowing a defeatist attitude to completely overtake me.

Fortunately there was still a little voice, deep down inside, begging me to stop being such a victim—telling me that something had to change, and it was up to me to make it happen.

For me, the Whole Life Challenge was an opportunity to reclaim control—to start making better choices, one day at a time. Sure, it was going to be about eating better and exercising. But it was also going to be about choosing to live a better life, finally taking care of myself in a way I hadn’t in months. It wasn’t easy, but after just a few weeks it was working. The fog lifted. The clouds parted. Cue the sunshine and rainbows and prancing unicorns! Okay, not really. I was still struggling with a lot. But I had more energy. I was more resilient. I could feel myself getting better. I did get better.

This is why I’m going to do the Whole Life Challenge when it starts again in three weeks (May 3, people!), and it’s the reason I will probably do it again…and again…and again.

It’s not just that life on the challenge was so great, but that the several weeks since it ended have been…not so great. They haven’t been awful (okay, that’s not true, there have been a few really dark days), but—as I sort of feared—it’s been a gradual backslide into certain bad habits and, consequently, the depression has been rearing its ugly head again. If I don’t feel like cooking, especially on the weekends, that suddenly turns into ordering pizza. I’ve started buying ice cream and candy and eating them whenever I damn well please (which isn't as often as it used to be, but still). And although I’ve cut way back on the alcohol, there are days when I have a drink or two…which turns into three or four. What I especially miss, however, is the self-care stuff: The stretching, the meditating, drinking enough water. Even the daily reflections—checking in with myself and acknowledging what’s going right or wrong—made such a difference in my mood, helped me feel like I was in control.

So this is why I’m looking forward to the next challenge, and even though I may sound like some evangelical, cult-leading freak, it’s why I think anybody who’s struggling with something—anything—should give it a try. To say it saved my life might be a slight overstatement…but it definitely changed it for the better.

I’ve set up a Clean for a Day team and I would love to have you join us. If you’re interested, just drop me an email, search for the team when you sign up or try this link. (BTW, if you sign up before midnight tonight, you’ll get $15 off the registration fee!)

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