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!

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A Promise to My Mind and Body – My Whole Life Challenge

no-soda

Today marks my 2 month anniversary of being soda free. WOOT! This is a big deal as I had quite the addiction to soda; I just loved it so much. I don’t think I would have been able to survive my last two years of college without soda. Well, college is finally over and I no longer need soda in my life. I never thought I would be able to do away with this delicious beverage, but I have made a promise to myself that I would treat my body and mind better.

A few days ago, the Women of CrossFit = Strong page on Facebook posted a before and after picture of one of its followers, Claire. She has a blog called The Ascent Blog where she talks about CrossFit, food, and doing fun things in the great outdoors. The picture that inspired me can be viewed in her post Zone Progress Photos. Her before picture really hit home as this was the first time that I was actually able to relate to a “before” picture – my body looks like hers! Most of the time when I see weight loss pictures, the before picture is usually of a very heavy, overweight person. Now, before I continue, I would like to say that I am amazed at the progress that these people make. The fact that some people lose 50+ pounds is a huge and fantastic accomplishment. That takes some serious dedication and determination. However, I have always been a small person, so it is difficult for me to relate to being that size. So, when I saw Claire’s picture it really got to me. It sparked a light of determination inside of me that I have missed so much.

She commented that after one year she had been “feeling stronger and healthier, but [I too] wasn’t really SEEING any dramatic physical results.” That’s how I’ve been feeling and I’ve been doing CrossFit for 3 years! I knew exactly why I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted, but wasn’t quite mentally ready to make a commitment to my eating habits. Well, I decided in January that I would become a food-prepper and it has definitely changed how I feel and eat. It has also changed my attitude towards food. It has definitely made life easier! Although I was prepping my food every week and bringing my breakfast and lunch to work everyday, I would still sneak in a cookie (or two!), some fries or chips. I was also having a bagel every Wednesday for my office’s Bagel Day.

Well, NO MAS. At least for a month. I am going to step up my commitment and (try to) eliminate grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, and certain starches for one month. There are exceptions and I will write more about that in another post. No more sneaking in a bag of Cheetos or canister of Pringles (uggggghhhhhhh!!!) or those damn cookies that taunt me at every work event. I have to do this for myself. I have to do this for my body, for my health. I haven’t been the nicest to my body and it deserves better than what I’ve been giving it.

Yodaquote(from http://challengefuture.org/news/526)

In addition to improving my eating habits, I am working on improving the chatter that goes on in my head and how I view myself. I picked up a lot of crappy habits last year – negative, poopy, snarky types of attitudes and it grossed me out. It greatly upset me as I lost the positive little ninja that I was. I have been really working on finding my positive side again. A good friend of mine posted such a wonderful comment on my page the other day that showed me that I was finding my path to positivity again. She wrote: “Had a random thought about you today that made me smile: “I think if Nomers ever exploded with joy that there would be confetti, glitter and fireworks of the most amazing awesomeness ever.” Yup, you’re that girl and I love you for that! Miss you!” That comment meant A LOT to me and am so grateful to have such wonderful people in my life.

Now that I’ve been slowly getting back into the swing of things at the gym and adding more weight to the barbell, I am finding it difficult getting my mind and body at the same level it was before my injury, which has led to frustration and anger. Don’t get me wrong, I am STOKED to be lifting again and being able to hang from the bar to do pull-ups, but it is still frustrating. Prior to my injury I was feeling pretty strong and then in an instant that was all gone. So, when I start feeling frustrated during a WOD, I tell myself to snap out of it and try to think about something positive – something, anything to keep me going. I’ll say things like, “Think about where you were two months ago” or “Think about all of those people who have lost loved ones” or “Be grateful for what you have and get to work!” I am making progress and I need to remind myself of that.

I am also learning to stop comparing myself to my friends and other women at the gym. Most of them are 7-10 years younger than me and have led completely different lives and have completely different genetics. I will never look like them and need to really understand that. Easier said than done, but I’m working on it.

So, here we go. I’m on a mother freaking adventure! I can do this. I will do this. Two personal mottos are going to be a major focus of my adventure: “Lead by example” and “Commitment and focus”. I have to do this for myself and I have to do this for everyone in my life. Also, a big THANK YOU to Claire for giving me the big kick in the butt that I’ve been needing. Woot!

AngerCloudstheMind

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

What a day, what a day…

What an emotion filled day it was yesterday, which is why I wasn’t able to update my blog last night. While doing errands yesterday I saw a dog get hit and run over by a van, and the driver sped off. Another woman and I tried to resuscitate the dog by doing chest compressions but it was too late. I keep replaying the incident in my head and every time I do I get tears in my eyes. It was such a horrible sight, but I can’t even imagine what the owner is feeling right now. He was a mess, his mom was a mess.

It’s a funny thing when life puts you in places for a reason. I was planning on taking the bus to do all of my errands, but the time that I was planning on leaving the bus had a gap in its schedule. Usually it comes every 20min or so, but the time that I wanted to leave yesterday it had an hour gap. With everything that I needed to do before the gym, I wouldn’t make it back in time so I had to drive. I live right across from the hospital, which has Sansum Clinics all around it as well. I was following a Sansum Clinic van when the accident happened. Right before he hit and killed the dog I saw that he was driving a bit erratic and fast. Perhaps he was in a rush. He tried to merge into another lane but had to swerve so he wouldn’t hit the car in the next lane. The next thing I see is the van jumping, then a dog running around in circles with a panicked look on his face. Shortly thereafter, he collapsed. The dog’s owner, two other women and I got out of our cars to help the dog. It was too late. He was hit so badly, he didn’t make it. We moved the dog to the side of the road and pulled our cars over as we were blocking all lanes of traffic. Luckily I had some big beach towels in my trunk and we laid the dog on top of one and laid the other one over him. It was so sad. I didn’t want other people driving by to see this and I somehow thought that by covering the dog like he was laying in bed would make him feel better. Even though he had passed, we were all trying to make him feel better by petting him and talking to him as if he was still alive. The other ladies and I were consoling the dog owner and when his mother arrived, we did the same. I don’t know why, but I felt that I was supposed to be there at that time to help. I can’t explain it, but I was supposed to be there. I hope the dog’s owners find peace soon. I wish that I got his number so I could see how he is doing. I gave him mine because he is planning on filing a police report because it was a hit and run, and I hope that he calls or even texts. I just want to see how he is doing and to give him my condolences. RIP Farley.

The workout was also a doozy and made me a bit emotional, but in a very odd way. Yesterday’s workout was called “JT” for Petty Officer 1st Class Jeff Taylor, 30, of Little Creek, VA, who was killed in Afghanistan in June 2005. We joked that the “JT’ stood for “Just Triceps” as that was pretty much the main muscle used. This was the first time I did my ring dips unassisted and it was so difficult. Even though it took me a while to complete the workout I was quite proud of myself that I did all of my ring dips without the assistance of the band. Needless to say, my upper body is extremely sore today. For some reason I was so giggly at the workout. Perhaps it was because I was so exhausted from the earlier events. Perhaps it was because it was so difficult that I didn’t know what else to do but laugh. Who knows, but it was so odd.

The Paleo Challenge is going well so far. I’m still craving bread, pizza, and cheese, but it’s not as bad as it was the first time we tried to do Paleo. I’m trying to eat more fruits and adding lettuce and other veggies in whenever I can. I wanted to buy cucumbers at Trader Joe’s the other day, but they were so expensive! It was dumb. I may have to go to Ralph’s to by my produce as the produce at TJ’s isn’t that good. One thing I find to be difficult with this diet is that you’re supposed to eat lots of meat and veggies, but I can’t eat a whole lot. My little body can only intake so much food. So trying to fit all of these veggies, fruits and meats in is quite difficult.

I am flying up to Seattle on Thursday for a friend’s wedding, so I’m going to try my best to stick as close to Paleo as possible, but that is highly unlikely. I know one meal for sure will not be Paleo… TACO TIME!!! It is a tradition that every time I go up to Seattle I have to have my beloved Taco Time. Only people from the PNW understand this sort of love for a fast food restaurant.

WOD:

I. Warm-up: 400m run/row* – Mobility – Barbell complex 2x
II. Skills
III. Hero WOD: “JT”
21-15-9 reps, for time:
Handstand push-ups
Ring dips
Push-ups
Time: 20:50
IV. Cooldown – lots of abs and recovery stretching

*Modified: only ran 200m as my foot was a little sore from the run yesterday.

Grub for the day:

Breakfast: lettuce wrap w/scrambled eggs, salsa, bacon
Snack: cashews, salami, banana chip
Lunch: lettuce wrap w/tuna (mixed with mayo: -5), tomatoes, drizzled w/olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, sweet potato fries drizzled w/olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette
Snack: apples dipped in almond butter
Dinner: tri-tip steak with salad w/apples and drizzled w/olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette

Starting Points: 98
-5 for mayo
+3 for CrossFit workout

Ending Points:96

Run, Nomers, Run!

I ran a total of 1600m today! It felt soooo good. The workout sucked only because it was really hard, but it was a good workout. This week is Hero WOD week at the gym, meaning every day we will do a different Hero WOD to honor the fallen soldier it is named after. These are some of the most difficult workouts, but still a little fun. This is where you get to see how far you can really push yourself. Today was “Badger” named after Chief Petty Officer Mark Carter, 27, of Virginia Beach, VA who was killed in Iraq on December 11, 2007. The WOD details are below. It felt so amazing to be able to run again during a workout. I’m still slow, but I am running!

Today was also Day 1 of the 6-week Paleo Challenge and I did pretty well. I only lost 5 points from eating a fruit wrap, which is a “healthier” version of a Fruit Roll-up, haha. It’s made from different fruit juice concentrates, so it still has lots of sugar. I was craving something fruity and sadly that was the only fruit type of thing we had in our house. (I didn’t make it to the grocery store before work today because I slept in. Darn ibuprofen PM!) However, since I did a workout I gained 3 points. So, as of now I am at 98 points out of 100.

That’s all I got today. I’m super exhausted from the workout and don’t seem to have a personality right now. Ha.

WOD:

I. Warm-up – mobility – Super 6
II. Skills
III. Hero WOD: “Badger”
3 RFT
30 Squat cleans – 65lbs
30 Pull-ups
800m Run

Time: DNF (Did not finish) 😦

There was a time cap on this workout and I didn’t finish within the allotted time of 40 min. However, I did get through 2 rounds and 25 squat cleans. I’m sure if this wasn’t my third time running since April I would’ve been much faster. Slowly, but surely I am getting there!

Grub for the day:

Breakfast: scrambled eggs w/salsa and guacamole, coffee w/stevia
Snack: cashews, Trader Joe’s fruit wrap (-5)
Lunch: 1/2 Chipotle bowl of steak, grilled veggies, pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce
Snack: strawberries, almond butter (not together, ew!)
Dinner: lettuce wraps w/ground beef and salsa, sweet potato fries

Starting points: 100
-5 for fruit wrap
+3 for CrossFit workout

Ending points: 98


Starting weight: 128.4lbs

I’m going to weigh myself every week or so to gauge where I’m at. I’m not doing this diet to lose weight, I’m doing it to be healthy. I want to make sure that I’m maintaining a good weight for my body size so that is why I will occasionally take my weight. I feel best when I’m between 120-125lbs.

New Blog, Last Supper of In-N-Out Burger, & Paleo: Take 3 (or 4?)

Well, well, well… so much to write about, so much to catch up on, but first – HOLY SUGAR RUSH!!! I haven’t had very much sugar or dairy in the past month so the chocolate milkshake I had tonight made me bizonkers!!! I felt like the Great Cornholio with all of the sugar rushing through me. Ba-rah-kah-kah-kah!!! I may have to take some ibuprofen PM tonight in order to fall asleep.

If you have been keeping up with my blog, you may have noticed that I moved to another blogging site. I wasn’t all that impressed with Blogspot and I just like WordPress better. As one of my friends said, it feels more polished. And as another friend said, WordPress is for more fancypants stuff. Well, that’s what I was missing, my fancypants. So, I hope you like my fancypants. I was quite pleased that I was able to import all of my posts from my other blog to this one. Technology is so neat. I also added more info under the CrossFit menu, and overall made it look better and more organized.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of another Paleo challenge. Anis, Madeline, and I have decided to give it another shot and this time through a points system. You can find more info on the point system if you click on the Paleo Challenge tab under the Paleo Diet menu. Basically, you start off every week with 100 points and you subtract 5 points for every cheat that you do. I’m hoping to stay above 40 and work my way up every week, but we’ll see! I have a wedding in Seattle coming up this weekend and then Disneyland the following weekend, so I’m not sure how these first two weeks are gonna go. Ruh-roh. I’m going to have to be super strict the first few days of each week so I can have some room to cheat while on my little trips. I am pretty excited to get back on track with food as I’ve been feeling pretty heavy and bloated over the past couple of weeks. I am determined to do better this time. Having a wager with Anis and Madeline is helping with the motivation, too! So, for my Last Supper, Mr. Ninja and I went to In-N-Out Burger and I had a delicious burger with a side of fries and a chocolate milkshake… “Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that’s a straw, you see? You watching? And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your milkshake… I… drink… your… milkshake.” Oops, sorry about that. I think I channeled Daniel Day-Lewis there for a moment. (Love that movie, btw.) Sugar!

More exciting news – I am SO pleased to report that I am running again!!! WOOT. I ran twice this past week – the first day I ran 300m and the second day I ran a total of 1000m. AND, my foot pain is nearly gone! Can you believe it?! It feels so great to not have any foot pain anymore. Well, I can feel a little lingering, but it’s mostly gone. Oh, man, it feels so dang good to be running again. Even though I’m not running very fast it feels good. However, I’m still not quite ready to jump yet. I think I should be able to do it, but mentally I’m not ready. I’m still afraid and if I’m mentally not ready I don’t want to do it. Otherwise, I’ll most likely hurt myself again.

Well, I am actually getting a little tired now and should probably take advantage of it now that the sugar is finally wearing off. Here’s to a new start with the Paleo Challenge and to running again! WOOOOOOOT!

WOD:
Rest day

Grub for the day:
The Last Supper: In-N-Out Burger!