Okay, so my confession: the Whole Life Challenge is only a little over halfway done, but personally I’m about all the way done with it. And I have only one thing to blame this on: Panera.
Yes, the new Panera opened right by my house! And it’s all sorts of awesome. I can order online and they’ll have it ready, sitting out waiting for me, on a shelf and I can just grab and go. And I really do love their food. It’s healthier than normal fast food so it doesn’t feel as much like I’m cheating, either (either that or I’ve gotten especially skilled at ignoring the guilt).
Initially, I was good; I ordered salads and sandwiches in a bowl instead of on their tasty, tasty bread. But that got old quickly — especially when you can’t HELP but smell all the freshly-baked goodness awaiting you inside. And not only that, but anytime you order something non-breakfast, you get a side. And what are your choices? Chips, an apple or a piece of their fresh-from-the-oven french baguette. After accumulating a refrigerator drawer full of apples, I succumbed to the temptation and started getting the baguette. And you know what? It was OH SO GOOD.
Of course, that also meant that I was now getting docked nutrition points — the Whole Life Challenge gives you 5 potential nutrition points per day, and any non-compliant food subtracts one from that total — and my run of perfect days came to an end. But did I care? Not really, to be honest. I could feel my competitive attitude about the challenge slipping away into a puddle of good intentions.
Even with Panera so close and my motivation so distant, I found that I was still following the nutrition guidelines pretty closely; the Kickstart nutrition level was easy enough that it fit into my lifestyle almost seamlessly. And that gave me hope, because the goal of the Whole Life Challenge was to create habits that were going to be easy to keep for the rest of your life. I’ve always known that the stricter levels weren’t for me anyway (frankly, I don’t think there’s any reason to give up potatoes and rice), and the looser Kickstart level gets me pretty close to where I’d like to live my life.
The other aspects of the challenge — exercise, sleep, water, reflection, stretching — are just as important, in my opinion, to living a healthy life and I’ve been totally nailing them. With the nice weather, I’ve been getting in the exercise part religiously (my dogs, perhaps, aren’t as happy with all the walking I’ve been making them do, however — they are the laziest creatures I know, outside of myself). Stretching had been something that I did frequently but not regularly, but now I look forward to my nightly ritual before bed. Water and reflecting upon my circumstances have never been too difficult for me. And sleep — oh, wonderful sleep! — is by far the most crucial of all. These past two weeks I’ve been not getting enough and every day I’m reminded that without sleep, everything else is exponentially more challenging. That is, when I’m not so tired that putting together a coherent thought is a challenge in and of itself.
By my count, there’s another 3 weeks of the challenge and I’m no longer “in it to win it”, but I’m being mindful and aware of my habits and choices. It’s a process, for sure, and one worth doing. I don’t care for having a list of foods that I’m not supposed to eat, but giving myself the leniency to break the rules from time to time has been working to keep my binging urges at bay while still keeping me eating healthy.
So, here’s to the Whole Life Challenge for helping me curb the sweets, here’s the Panera for reminding me that bread isn’t evil and here’s to me, who keeps moving forward, figuring things out, bit by bit, or, rather, bite by bite.