Whole Life Challenge, part deux

I know, I know — I said I’d never do anything like this again.  It perpetuates a binge/restrict cycle.  It nudges me towards disordered thinking about food.  It even can make me a little cranky. Yes. I know. Not good.

But – but! – I’m hoping that I’ve developed the skills and coping mechanisms to recognize if I drift into those sorts of things and put me back on course. Older and wiser and all that stuff, right?

So let me back up — for those who are new here, the Whole Life Challenge is an 8-week challenge where you follow specific nutrition rules, exercise rules, and other guidelines. You check in every day, reporting how much you followed (or didn’t follow) the rules and you earn points for all the good stuff you do. A “perfect” day is worth 13 points (seems rather unlucky, doesn’t it?).

The creators of this challenge bill this as a way to learn a new lifestyle — that nothing that they ask of people is beyond the realm of completely doable — and I agree.  There are three levels of nutritional rules you can follow, from OMG strict to what they call the “Kickstarter” level (which is what I’m doing).  Here’s what I’m up against: the no-no list contains bread, pasta, cheese (sob!), sweets and processed foods — but other than that, not too nit-picky. For example, I don’t have to worry about things like spaghetti sauce having added sugar, and I can have corn tortillas and sweet potato chips.  Not so bad, right?

And really, while I miss bread and pasta (and will happily enjoy them again once this challenge is over), my main goal is to get rid of all the sweets for awhile. I’m not going to say I’m addicted (because I think that demeans anyone who has an actual addiction), but I’ve been finding it really difficult to go a day without candy, cookies or, let’s be honest, Pop-Tarts (love me some Pop-Tarts!). Sometimes I feel like I’m channeling the Cookie Monster and go around shoving goodies in my mouth mumbling “nom nom nom nom nom” (that Cookie Monster, he’s one eloquent dude).

My second day opinion of how things are going? I’m HUNGRY. I like fruits and vegetables and lean meat and all that — it’s quite tasty! — but it doesn’t satiate me like the bread and pastas of the world do. I eat, I enjoy and then 10 minutes later, I’m ready to chew my arm off (which would be perfectly within the rules, by the way).

So, for the time being, I wait, exercising my patience muscle as much as possible (it’s pretty under-developed, for sure). I know this gets easier. I just need to be compliant until such time that I can stop worrying that my stomach might digest itself due to hunger. With any luck, that time will be tomorrow.

Other than the insatiable hunger, I’m excited about this challenge. The last one relieved me of needing my daily Diet Pepsi fix (don’t get me wrong — I still love it, just don’t need it to function anymore), so even if I come away from this with just one small change, it’ll be a victory. Of course, my goal is to win the healthy eating and be cured of my sweet tooth. Likely? Maybe not.  Possible? Sure – even the Cookie Monster gets what he wants occasionally.

My current favorite — Confetti Cake. Well, not my CURRENT favorite… my favorite as of two days ago. And my future favorite in 8 weeks.


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  1. This sounds like quite a demanding challenge! I am always interested to read about these things, as my weight see-saws all the time, and bread is my biggest weakness,followed by cheese, followed by nuts and seeds (I think I was a budgie in a past life, with a predilection for cheese sandwiches). Eight weeks sounds like a good length of time to break the habit. Good luck with it, I look forward to reading about your progress! X

  2. Good luck, Laura! I have a very strong rebel energy and a history of disordered eating so I have to steer clear of challenges such as this because they trigger, for me, the opposite of what is intended but I LOVE it that you have found a gentle way into this challenge and if it can break the diet Pepsi pop tart habit that would be fantastic! My favorite line: “I’m ready to chew my arm off (which would be perfectly within the rules, by the way).” That made me laugh out loud. Thank you for your wit and your transparency.
    P.S. My favorite pop tarts were the brown sugar cinnamon. Oh my, I’d probably go into sugar shock if I ate one of those today but I can still taste that glorious cinnamon sugar. (She says as she heads down to the kitchen to make her blueberry ginger bliss smoothie with a dash of cinnamon.) xxoo

  3. Sounds like a very interesting challenge, and 8 weeks isn’t really that long – best of luck with it! I’ve actually cut out most of these things myself recently. I’ve got a blog post in the works about it, but the short version is that I eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch, and then a different dinner for each day of the week. My diet is now vegan (apart from eggs) and gluten-free (apart from oats). I can relate to what you are saying about challenges like this perpetuating a binge/restrict cycle, and my diet is pretty impossible to stick to on days when I’m out and about. Still, I think it’s important not to worry too much about the days that spin out of control. I find the 80/20 rule is quite helpful in those situations – after all, it’s what we do for the majority of the time that counts the most! 🙂

  4. Hi Laura! I love your sense of humour and the way you write. It feels like you are right in front of me, in person, telling me your story. Great way to connect. All the best with the challenge. I am confident that you will crush this challenge. Looking forward to more updates and insights. 😉

  5. Love this line, ‘channeling the Cookie Monster and go around shoving goodies in my mouth mumbling “nom nom nom nom nom” (that Cookie Monster, he’s one eloquent dude).” Very funny.

    I’m a “steer clear” girl too. So I admire that you are trying to find a new way to approach this and humor is certainly a lovely way to dance your way into what has previously been a pitfall. This wa so funny! I’m with Sue Ann: loved the line about chewing your arm off.

    Is hunger a good thing? I’m mulling this over. I really am so mixed.

  6. Bread! Cheese! Yes – I could live on those as well. But, not for another 7 weeks. 🙂

  7. Thanks, Sue Ann! I understand the pull towards disordered thinking; I’m hyper-aware of what I’m doing and committed to dropping out if it starts to get that way. Oh – and brown sugar cinnamon? That’s always a go-to for me, too. 🙂

  8. I’m hoping that 8 weeks of being somewhat strict will lead to habits that keep me at that magical 80/20 split afterwards. It’s all about breaking the habit of reaching for sweets whenever I feel the slightest bit hungry!

  9. I’ve explored the same kinds of questions about hunger; I’ve always viewed it as an emergency — “I’m hungry so I’d better eat RIGHT NOW!” — but lately I force myself to sit with it a bit. Uncomfortable? Perhaps. But sometimes, the hunger pangs go away. Which still blows me away any time that happens. I mean, I’m hungry, I didn’t eat, and I’m still here and conscious? Huh. Whodda thunk it. 🙂

  10. Ok, not that I want to “rescue” you, but have you ever spiralized?? Making pasta out of veggies with a spiralizer is the best. I don’t know how it happens, but somehow a zucchini can turn into the most delicious, satisfying pasta with the magic of that machine. And spiralized white sweet potatoes are so yummy when you bake them with some onions. Please don’t chew your arm off! Spiralize!

    Sorry, didn’t mean to sound like an infomercial. This idea totally freaks me out. Can you tell? I applaud you and I can’t wait to hear all about it. I’ve toyed with the idea of doing the Whole30 thing (have you heard of it?) but I just don’t know if I have the guts. My life needs a re-boot and it would be great if I could suck it up for 30 days and just do it. Let me know if you have any words of wisdom!

  11. I loooove spiralising veggies. Courgetti (courgette spaghetti) is my favourite, but sweet potatoes are a very close second. I love them raw, but I also like to use them instead of noodles in soups – so quick and easy, but far more nutritious and no MSG! 😀

  12. LauraC – it’s funny – but I’ve already been rescued! 🙂 http://letgoandlive.me/2013/10/03/dear-amazon/ I don’t use it as frequently as I ought to, but I do love it. What I mostly use it for is what you talked about: zucchini pasta and sweet potatoes!

    I’ve heard of Whole30 and almost did a challenge like that among friends, but decided I’d never last more than a few days because it was too restrictive for me. That said, sometimes I think that even mostly following something like that for a month or 6 weeks is enough to reset some habits — like exercising some oft-used muscles. Hard in the beginning, but it gets easier as you go along.

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