Saturday, September 6, 2014

My Big Fat Whole Life Challenge Blog Post

I didn’t write down the date I started my first Whole Life Challenge, but I’m pretty sure it was in mid-January of 2014. I had lost some weight on Weight Watchers a few years earlier and had gained a lot of it back. This completely freaked me out, because largely, I was eating a Weight Watchers-condoned diet. I talked to my internist and my gynecologist about it and they both just nodded their heads. “Women your age…”

I know it’s harder to lose weight now than it was when I was 30, but I know plenty of Women My Age who are slim and fit, so that wasn’t totally making sense for me.

However many of those women are hungry all the time. That’s not an option for me, as I’m too cranky when I’m hungry. So I talked to this woman in town who does a one-on-one nutrition/exercise/lifestyle thing with you and texts you all the time to make sure you’re toeing the line. What she said to me made a lot of sense – we talked about hormones and how our bodies don’t have what they need to run efficiently – and I was all ready to sign up with her, plunk down a big chunk of change that I really didn't have, because I considered it my only hope.

Then, my friend Sharon posted something on Facebook about the Whole Life Challenge. I knew she’d lost some weight on it in the past and I was slightly intrigued – but only slightly, because really anything with the word “challenge” in it is a complete turn off to me. I find it challenging to make dinner every day and take a shower. That's enough challenge for me.

I hemmed and hawed for a few days and then the start date came and went. I wanted to kick myself. It cost $49 to join this 8-week challenge and I blew it off because…I don't even know why I blew it off. I guess because I thought I would fail.

A day or two later, I had an uncharacteristic moment of clarity and decided I’d try it, quit if I hated it and, if it didn’t work, suck it up and plunk down the money to do the more expensive one-on-one program. I joined the challenge, joined my friend’s team and then completely – and I mean completely – changed the way I eat.

The Whole Life Challenge is an 8 week challenge that you participate in or “play” online. You’re asked to pick a level to play at (I play at the intermediate level) and you get a list of food that you can no longer eat. You’re asked to exercise every day for at least 10 minutes, and that exercise is anything you choose – whatever YOU consider exercise. I walk or do yoga or play tennis. None of it is particularly rigorous, but my body is in motion for a sustained period of time every day. You’re asked to stretch for 10 minutes every day and you’re asked to take a supplement of some kind every day. A supplement is anything you choose to improve your innards. I added a daily acidophilus pill because I’d recently read that our immune systems start with a healthy gut. I used to take acidophilus only when I was on antibiotics or if my stomach felt “off,” but apparently taking it every day is really good for you, so I committed to that.

Finally, you’re asked to take on a “lifestyle” challenge. When I did it the first time, this would be a week-long activity that you’d be told about via email. One was: Ten minutes per day of meditation. Another was: Read a book for pleasure for 10 minutes every day. Another was: Get 7 hours of sleep every 24 hours. These were all pretty simple, but not always easy.

Finally, you were invited to share a little message with the group everyday on the message board. The message board consists of your teammates and the message has a minimum and maximum character count. They’re short. This paragraph would not fit in the message slot. Every five times you post a message you get some extra points.

Points are amassed by being “compliant.” If you do your exercise, you get points for it that day. If you do not eat any foods you shouldn’t be eating, you get points for that. Every day you amass points for your team, based on how you did with all your little challenges on that day. Most people did not get a perfect score every day and many people did not get a perfect score most days. Meaning: people have vacations, or parties, or are too busy to get to the gym – they all just do the best they can.

I had hoped to lose 5 pounds. At the end of 8 weeks, I’d lost about 8 pounds and a few inches around my middle. I lost one full chin. My “skinny jeans” fit again. But the most profound thing was how much better I felt. I had way more energy, right from the beginning. Like, after a week, I felt 10 years younger. (Maybe not 10, but at least 7.)

I have found this way of eating so energizing that I simply kept going after the first 8-week stint. I went from 150 to 135 pounds and a size 10 to a size 6. My skin is clear and my mood is usually pretty upbeat. I’m never hungry. I don’t feel deprived. I don’t find it difficult. But that’s just me. You have to find a thing that suits you – and this happens to suit me.

I’ve told a lot of people about this experience – what it was like to Give Up Sugar (hard and ugly), how I lost inches long before I lost pounds, how drinking the water they require was one of the biggest challenges and ultimately changed my life.

I have a lot to say about this challenge and now a ton of people I know are doing it along with me. I am blogging about some of the specifics because I don’t have time to talk or text with each individual person.

I will share with you my perspective on How Invisible You Can Be (a question I get a lot), about What To Eat At A Restaurant (another popular terror), How To Get Through Cravings, What To Eat At Home, etc. I will try not to go on and on as I did here, and also try to keep the number of posts brief, because I know these posts end up in people’s mailboxes. If you’re not interested in this, I apologize in advance. If you haven’t signed up but are intrigued, I’ll post a link at the end here.

Not surprisingly, there’s a TON of information and resources on the website, far more exhaustive than what I will provide. But until y’all feel comfortable, we can just ease into this together.


The Whole Life Challenge website



  1. I currently have no waist and belong in Florida where the elastic pants ride up to under the boobs. So I'm intrigued.

  2. Jess, do you have your own team this time?

  3. Someone said you can have a Team within a Team and if people want to do that, we can. But I haven't set that up...I joined Egan and Sons. Sharon is a great team captain, which basically entails sending reminder emails sometimes if you've forgotten to log in your points for the day.

  4. Does Sharon mind your friends signing up under her team? It sounds like more work for her. (maybe that's not what you were suggesting...)

  5. I hope not, because a lot of them just have! I just texted her offering to be the one to send reminder emails!

  6. Michelle de StefanoSeptember 7, 2014 at 5:54 AM

    Joining. Sounds like fun!

  7. I've just joined your team! Keep these inspiring blog posts coming!

  8. I joined too! I'm traveling a lot in the next eight weeks, so post that darn "how to eat in a restaurant" guide asap!

  9. Jessica I've been loving your posts - they're just so right on target for me and I laugh at least once during each reading. Thanks!

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