This blog is about my experience with the Whole Life Challenge.
Ok let’s begin with the facts and figures. I am 54 years old. 5 foot 11 inches tall. Currently I weigh 173 pounds and at last testing, I was 15.8 % body fat. My waist is around 33 inches and on a good day I run just under 10 minutes miles in a 5K.
I have done 2 Whole Life Challenges – Fall 2013 and New Years 2014. When I began the Fall Challenge, I had been running stairs on my own almost every morning for about 16 months and had recently added in some jogging. I made up my diet as I went along. During this time I had lost 16 to 18 pounds.
A friend who is actively involved in Cross Fit guided me to the WLC. I do not do Cross Fit, nor do I have a trainer or go to any boot camps. As a matter of fact I do not even belong to a gym!
At the start of the Fall Challenge I was approximately 197 pounds and at my first Body Fat testing I was @ 23.5 %. I was squeezing into 35 inch waist pants.
In addition to all this, I am a recovering drug addict and I credit WLC with being a major factor in my current, and rather new, sobriety.
Now how do I get from where I was to where, I am and how does WLC tie into sobriety? The short answer is. Vanity, Accountability and my Competitive Nature.
Ok so let me break it down.
I have always been competitive and more than a little vain. (As a matter of fact, one of my primary goals in doing the challenge is that I wanted to have abs like Jason Statham!). So it only makes sense that I would want to log my points each day and obsessively track where I ranked in comparison to my teammates and the rest of the world in general.
Lets get to the fun stuff.
I did the initial workout for the first challenge in September. I was already struggling with my addiction and had been for a few months. I tried and failed to stay clean in the weeks leading up to the challenge and I am certain it limited my performance on that day. I was able to complete it and log my score. After that I did my best to maintain sobriety. I will not say I was perfect but I will say that my obsessive need to win forced me to not use on consecutive days for fear of losing points. (I know, I am kind of a freak – don’t judge me!)
As the weeks went on I was sober a lot more than I was loaded and would always out myself on the days I used. Funny side note. On one occasion when I used, I called a friend to tell him and he reminded me that drugs were not WLC compliant and he asked if I had deducted a point. I replied that I had deducted two. I also suffered an aggravation to a chronic injury to my left shoulder and had to adjust my workouts to accommodate arthroscopic surgery that I ended up having in December
Anyway I completed the first challenge with a perfect score, having used some bonus points. I had lost 7 inches between my waist and hips. My total weight loss was 17 pounds and I had reduced my body fat percentage to 19.8 %. Unfortunately I was unable to complete the workout at the end of the challenge so my ranking became more or less inconsequential I did however come out of it with a sense of accomplishment having completed and I saw a significant progress in chasing my goal of Jason Statham like abs
Not bad I guess ……
Next up on this journey was my minor shoulder surgery, which took place on Dec 20, 2013, about 3 weeks before the start of the New Year’s Challenge. For this one I put together a little team of people. The reason I mention this is that having people look at my progress and sort of look to me as a leader really helped to bolster my self esteem, which had been taking a beating due to my sobriety “slips”.
This time around I set what I thought were realistic goals which were – lose 2% body fat, be able to do under 10 minute miles in a 5K (at this point I was at about 10.30 – 10.45) and of course. The previously mentioned, Jason Statham abs.
As it turns out I had a couple of one day relapses in my recovery, both of which ended quickly for fear of losing points, but this time around I decided enough was enough and I got myself into a rehab. Upon arriving I was determined to stay as compliant as possible with WLC but I was also willing to just do the best I could knowing I had no control over my diet. Turns out, the people at the center were very supportive and prepared a special request diet for me. My wife logged in my points while I was there and I took deductions as needed but was unable to post reflections. As a result my points total was less than perfect, but still a respectable 600 out of a possible 605.
While I was at the recovery center I was able to workout 1.5 – 2 hours a day by getting up at 5 AM every day. With weight training out of the question, my workouts alternated between running 4 to 6 miles on the treadmill one day and walking 2 miles along with 1 hour of abdominal exercises and squats, the next day. I did this all but 2 days while I was there. The respect I was getting from my fellow residents coupled with the obvious changes in my appearance, continued to bolster my confidence and prove to me that if I could dedicate myself to the WLC, I could use that focus in my recovery.
I left the rehab a week before the challenge ended. My final work out showed an improvement of 36%. My measurement (body fat %) improved by 19% and I actually ran a 10K at under 10 minutes a mile, which far exceeded my target. And as for my most important goal….
Not exactly Statham like but ….
In closing I want to say that people should know that the WLC is not only for fitness “nuts” but it can easily make a person become one. It is attainable for anyone. I can’t say everyone will have the same level of results as I had but I promise anyone that if you just finish, you will be left with a feeling that you can accomplish anything!
* P.S – I have maintained my sobriety since the close of the Challenge and have been at least 90% WLC compliant. Looking forward to the next one !