My Whole Life Challenge Experience

I’ve been debating whether or not I wanted to write something about my experience with the Whole Life Challenge, and whether or not I wanted to share my “before & after” pictures. However, I came to the conclusion that, as a coach, detailing my experience may help inspire others to make changes to improve their health and well being. Although coaches can be described as “health professionals” and can often be viewed as “having it together,” we have our own issues as well. I may or may not be slightly obsessed with Cheez-It. Just sayin’…

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I would like to say that I understand that some of you may look at me and feel that I don’t have any weight to lose, or may think “What is she thinking? She’s not fat,” or that I can eat whatever I want because I’m already “skinny”. I know that I’m not fat, but I do have some weight to lose and when I gain 5-7 pounds, I definitely feel it and it shows because of my small frame. Also, at my age, I can no longer eat whatever (e.g., junk food) because my metabolism doesn’t work the way it used to like in my teens and 20s.

A couple years ago, my husband and I tried to follow the paleo diet. If you’re not familiar, with the paleo diet, you basically cut out all grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, white potatoes and other “nightshades,” artificial sweeteners, and anything processed. You’re probably thinking, “well, what the heck do you eat then?” Meat, poultry, seafood, veggies, berries, nuts, and healthy fats and oils, such as avocados and coconut oil. There’s plenty left to eat! However, at the time I wasn’t quite ready to make the switch. I was addicted to crap food and towards the end of getting my college degree. Without Diet Coke, Cheez-It and chips, I don’t think I would have made it through those days where I was writing papers into the wee hours of the morning. I think I made it one or two weeks before I was so “hangry” (hungry + angry) that I, nor my husband, could take it any longer. Food is very emotional for a lot of us, and I was not emotionally ready for the change.

This past year has been quite stressful for me as work got super busy with four people in my department retiring and my supervisor going on maternity leave early and then being out for four months. My health deteriorated because I ate whatever was within my reach (i.e., lots of sandwiches and cookies) and working through lunch, which caused me to not sleep very much. I was also coaching in the evenings after work, and getting home around 8:30-9:00pm. I also reinjured my knee, and I just let myself go. My hormones were out of whack and I felt terrible all the time. Once things at work slowed down, I decided that it was finally time to get my shit together.

Enter the Whole Life Challenge (WLC). The WLC is an eight-week lifestyle challenge where you focus on clean eating, exercising and stretching regularly, taking a daily supplement, drinking 1/3 of your body weight in ounces of water daily, and participating in weekly lifestyle challenges (e.g., getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night or not using technology during meals). I have a few friends that have done the challenge in the past and have heard and seen the benefits from it. I felt I was mentally in a better place to take on the challenge, so I committed to it. I was a bit nervous because eight weeks seemed like a long time. Was I really ready for it?

There are three nutrition levels to choose from: Performance (strict paleo), Lifestyle (allowed to have some grains, starches, and corn), and Beginner (can pretty much eat anything but bread and sugar). I chose the Lifestyle level because I wanted to work on maintaining a reasonable diet and not drastically changing it, as I felt that I would be setting myself up for failure and disappointment had I gone the Performance route. I’m glad I chose this level because I was able to do just that – I found a way to maintain a reasonable diet.

The first week was difficult because my body went through withdrawals. I did get hangry, but not like before. But after that week, I started feeling and seeing the benefits and it felt so good. I found that in the first 2.5 weeks, I lost 1.5 inches around my waist, and my workouts felt easier! I also found that I wasn’t craving the bad food and not eating my feelings. It was pretty exciting.

I was on a roll and doing so well until October 10. It was that day that I found out that a friend had passed away earlier that morning. He was a very close friend of my brother’s, and he was also like a brother to me. I was shocked and upset. My husband asked me what he could do for me and I told him that I wanted Cheez-It and a glass of wine. He was so sweet and went to the store to buy both. Although I was eating and drinking my feelings, it felt different. I’m not sure how to describe it. I guess it wasn’t so much the addiction driving me to eat and drink; it was more of a conscious decision to do so. I felt in control of that decision. The next week was difficult as I was emotionally spent and I didn’t have the energy to focus on the challenge very much. I ate crappy food and drank a lot of wine and cider. Additionally, the following weekend was a close friend’s wedding and the weekend after that my birthday! So from October 10-26, I ate crappy and drank a lot of alcohol. Thankfully, I was able to get back on track for the final few weeks of the challenge. It was difficult, but I overcame the minor setback.

My goal for the challenge was to learn how to manage my diet better and to learn how to take better care of my body through nutrition. I refuse to be a slave to medication! Through this challenge, I now understand how my body reacts to certain foods, such as dairy, grains, and starches, which has led me to not crave them as much as before. Score! And since I don’t eat much of those types of food anymore, when I do eat them, they don’t taste as good as I remember them to be.

To give a bit of history, the verbal abuse and harassment that I received from my gymnastics coach from the ages of 10-16 still affect me to this day, which is why I have had such a bad relationship with food. His negative words also still affect my self-esteem. He often called me and my teammates “fat whores” and other names that I will not repeat. Mind you, we were still in elementary school/pre-teens when he said these nasty things. That shit does not go away. Because of this, I have not worn my bathing suit in public in the past two years. One, because I have a crazy tan line due to our gym being outside, and two, because of my self-esteem issues. However, after this challenge, I am feeling a little better about myself, which is why I now feel somewhat comfortable showing my before and after pictures (enjoy my tan line!)…

 IMG_4558 IMG_4559 IMG_4560

My results from the challenge are as follows:

Weight:
Pre-challenge: 131.4lbs
Post-challenge: 126.8lbs

Body fat %:
Pre-challenge: 20.1%
Post-challenge: 18.4%

Challenge workout:
11min time cap:
800m run
75 air squats
50 sit-ups
25 push-ups
For the remainder of the time, do as many burpees as possible.
Your score is the total number of squats, sit-ups, push-ups, and burpees.

Score:
Pre-challenge: 173 (23 burpees)
Post-challenge: 183 (33 burpees)
I was able to bust out 10 more burpees!

I am pleased with my results, as my goal was to get around 126lbs, 18% body fat, and get a higher score during the workout. Woot!

Now, you’re probably wondering what my meals consisted of. Well, here ya go!

Breakfast: usually 3 eggs (scrambled-sometimes with spinach, or hard boiled) and 3-4 pieces of bacon or sausage, and coffee with stevia.

Lunch: spinach & kale mix salad with chicken and avocado or leftovers from dinner, and sometimes a vegan soup I bought from the café on campus.

Dinner: pork or beef cooked in the slow cooker with sweet potatoes and onions, tacos made with leftover pork, or steak with broccoli and/or sweet potatoes.

Snacks: Cashew cookie Larabar, apples, bananas, brown rice cakes with cashew butter, carrots, strawberries, cantaloupe

I’m glad the challenge is over because having to log points and do the weekly lifestyle challenges were a bit cumbersome, but I am happy that I am learning better nutrition and eating habits. I’m looking forward to being released into the wild and doing it on my own.

Here’s to cleaner eating and better health!

Food Preppin’, Soda-free Ninja!

ImageI’ve kicked my soda habit! Yeah buddy!

Tomorrow marks one full month of being soda free. WOOT! It’s been a long and tough month, but I did it! I no longer feel like I NEED to have a soda. Yes, I’ve had cravings, but every day those cravings have less and less control over me.

I’ve been a soda drinker my entire life. I love the bubbles, I love the sweetness, and I love the combo they make. I also wouldn’t have made it through my last two years of college without it thanks to the caffeine. However, as I got older I began to hate the way it made me feel (except when there was vodka or rum involved – that was nice). About a month ago I started getting horrible headaches – the type of headache you get right before a full on migraine kicked in. Oy. It sucked. For some reason I knew then that it was time to give up my soda. I was sort of glad that this happened because it forced me to stop my soda habit. I’ve been trying for the longest time to quit, but I had become so addicted to the bubbly, sugary goodness that I just couldn’t do it.

Well, I’ve been soda free for a month now and I feel great. I don’t feel as sluggish and heavy anymore. I feel light; it’s strange. I’m sure I will have soda again in the future (I do enjoy my vodka), but not until I’m able to control my cravings. I was a little too addicted for my taste. Now, whenever I drink a glass of water, I remind myself of how I feel at that moment and how clean and fresh that feeling is. I’m trying to focus on how I feel after drinking or eating something rather than just how it tastes. It seems to be working! I do treat myself to a sparkling apple juice every once in a while to get that bubbly, sweet taste.

sispaj10_lg

My next goal is to decrease my gluten intake. I LOVE bread. I LOVE crackers. I LOVE BAGELS!!! Yeah, it’s an unhealthy love. However, note that I said decrease and not eliminate. I can see myself getting rid of soda, but I can’t see myself doing that with bread. I still want to enjoy what I eat. Also, we have Bagel Day every Wednesday. I can’t pass up a free bagel once a week. That’s just silly talk.

I’ve known that gluten products have been making me feel gross for a while, but I was too stubborn to do anything about it. But, again, as I get older I can’t take feeling like crap anymore just for a type of food or beverage. I would also occasionally break out with a patch of eczema because of it.

pretzelcrisps_flavorsDang, I love these things.

The other day I had about 5 Pretzel Crisps and within minutes I got the worst stomach ache. I felt super gassy and bloated and felt like I wasn’t going to stop expanding. That moment was similar to that of my headache slash time-to-give-up-soda moment. It is time. This moment finally sparked something inside of me that I’ve been trying to do for so long, but was just too lazy, I suppose, to do it. Perhaps I just didn’t want to commit. Who knows. Anyway…

I finally decided that I was going to become a “food prepper” (is ‘prepper’ even a word? It doesn’t sound like it should be a word). All day Sunday I spent driving around buying food containers and going to various grocery stores collecting food for the week and then cooking and preparing it. Tall Guy was pretty happy that I was finally doing this. We’ve been talking about doing something like this for so long. Well, here we go!

BeforeBefore

It was fairly painless (except for my back – I must’ve been standing with poor posture) and I had fun doing it. I’ve never been much of a cook, but rather than focusing on the cooking aspect of food prepping, I focused on the organization aspect of it… “Ooh, I’m going to put 2 hard boiled eggs and 2 pieces of bacon in these tubs, then I’m going to put spinach and sliced apples in those, and I’m going to put 4 strawberries, 3 carrots, 4 pieces of celery and a handful of blueberries in this one.” Yeah, I know – anal retentive much? Whatever, it’s making me do good.

The resulting feeling was happiness, accomplishment and satisfaction. I knew that I was finally doing something that I’ve been thinking about for a while and it was, and is, going to be beneficial for my health. I’m looking forward to doing this again next Sunday and have been brainstorming ideas on how to make it more efficient and better. Yay!

AfterAfter – blue = breakfast, green = lunch, red = snack, little red = oil & vinegar from Viva Oliva

BaconTall Guy’s bacon pile – He gets 4 pieces in his tub because he’s giant.

AvocadosCan’t wait for these bad boys to ripen. Yum!

TallGuyLunchBoxSince Tall Guy works in LA 3 out of 4 weeks a month, he needs to keep his food cold/hot during his trip, so I bought him this neat lunch bag.

Back to School, Back to School…

(Adam Sandler in Billy Madison)

… To prove to dad that I’m not a fool…

Well, tomorrow marks the first day of my last year of college. WOOT! Major WOOT. WOOT x2! As I always feel before the first day of school, I am super excited and nervous. I have read over 2 of the syllabus’/syllabi(?) for two of my classes and it looks like I’m going to be WAY busier than previous quarters. And that’s just for two classes. I’m afraid to see what my third will have in store for me. Joy. I am looking forward to filling my brain with knowledge about race, ethnicity and the aging of America, but not looking forward to how much time I will have to spend doing so.

Today was a rest day, so instead I did some stretching and physical therapy on my feet. My feet are feeling better, just tired and sore from the workouts this week. I know I keep saying this, but it feels so dang good to be running again. Hooray!

For lunch I had a sandwich, like, a REAL sandwich with bread. I was willing to deduct 5 points for the taste of some delicious bread. And you know what? It was wonderful. The end. For dinner I had cheese on my taco salad. And you know what? It was deeeericious. The end. I was planning on cutting up some fruit to eat throughout the day, but my domestic goddess duties got in the way and didn’t get a chance to do it.

In addition to starting school tomorrow I am flying up to Seattle for one of my best friend’s wedding after class. Talk about a busy day! I can’t believe I’ve known her for over 20 years! I’m so happy for her that she’s finally getting married. I am also excited to see my family and friends AND I’m going to a workout at the CrossFit in my hometown, CrossFit Federal Way. This will be my first visit to another gym and I can’t wait! Should be an exciting weekend. I will miss Mr. Ninja and the Molliekins a lot, though.

WOD:
Rest day!

Grub for the day:
Breakfast: eggs w/salsa, chicken apple sausage (that actually has all natural ingredients and no casing!), apples dipped in almond butter, coffee w/stevia
Snack: beef jerky
Lunch: tuna sandwich w/tomatoes and spinach drizzled w/olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette (-10 for mayo and bread), carrots, sweet potato fries
Snack: beef jerky
Dinner: taco salad w/queso (I couldn’t resist! -5) and avocado drizzled w/ olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette

Starting points: 96
-5 for mayo
-5 for bread
-5 for queso
+3 for stretching/physical therapy

Ending points: 84