In case you don’t know about The Whole Life Challenge, it is is an online lifestyle/fitness game that I have been participating in over the course of the past year
In case you don’t know about The Walking Dead – Where the F have you been for the past 5 years ?
Anyway, The Walking Dead, to most people, is a Zombie/Survival Show pitting Humans against Zombies and other Humans, and on the surface, that is exactly what it is about. To me though, it is much deeper. To me it is an experiment on whether outside influences can change the fundamental nature of a person. Of course a Zombie Apocalypse will change a person’s habits, I mean it’s not like people can do their weekly run to Trader Joes or take a morning shower. Changing habits is a given, no what I am talking about is, does a person hold onto their humanity in light of the new and dangerous state of the world ?. Or at least that’s how I see it.
Now how does that compare to The Whole Life Challenge ? Well I am writing this on the advent of what is going to be my 12th Challenge so I kind of consider myself a veteran and sort of an expert, to the point that I am now a World Wide Ambassador !
Of course Challenge IS very much about changing habits, losing weight and getting healthier. The guidelines, as laid on the website require you to adapt a new regime in the areas of diet, exercise and mobility, adding supplements to your diet, and increasing daily water consumption. In addition there is a rotating “lifestyle” requirement that changes throughout the 8 weeks, that is geared towards being more present, grateful and reflective in our daily lives. The results of these things, over the course of the two months, invariably add up to weight loss and improved health.
But the question is, do these things add up to a change in our fundamental nature ? Well they did for me.
Let me explain. When I entered my first Challenge, I had been working out on my own for about 17 months. During this time I had lost 20 or so pounds. I was making my diet up as I went along and felt I was doing ok. During the next 8 weeks, still working out on my own, but adhering to the guidelines described by the site, I lost 23 pounds and dropped my Body Fat Percentage from 26% to 18%. Of course these are great numbers and alone, they motivated me to continue to be more or less compliant to the diet and workout parts of the Challenge during the 2 months between my first and second Challenge, as well as motivated me to enter above mentioned second Challenge. Now backtracking just a little, at the onset of the first Challenge, the group I was involved with to start, asked that we declare what we hoped to accomplish over the next 2 months. For me, my goals were all about vanity. I wanted to drop body fat, get abs like Jason Statham AND be at the top of the leaderboard when it was all over. Not shallow at all !!!!!
So, how does this add up to changing my fundamental nature ? At the onset of the second Challenge, based on my sort of loud presence on social media as well as my dramatic weight loss, I ended up gaining a small following of people and we formed a team of which I was the leader or Captain of a team I named The Whole Life Crushers. We were, and still are, a rag tag group. not associated with a gym, from different geographical areas, and connected, for the most part, by a Facebook page. So a true “cyber” team, as it were. A small group of us did meet up for our base line and close out workouts for the first and second Challenges that we did as a team but that sort of petered out by the time the third and now fourth ones rolled around. We are now solely connected electronically.
But I digress, what I want to stress is what I see as a change in my fundamental nature. I am, and always have been a competitive person and that was both a blessing and a curse during my second, third and to a lesser extent, fourth Challenges. A blessing in that it kept me focused on adhering to the rules so I could win, as well attain my fat loss and Jason Statham abs goals. A curse in that I had a tendency to get really frustrated in my lack of progress. Frustrated to the point of wanting to give up. Of course, now I had my little team. They were quick to point out that I was a big part of them being involved and that I was an inspiration to them. So this is where the shift in my nature began. I was more or less forced to put my selfish goals on the back burner, and focus on helping out my teammates through reminders for them to log in, and posting daily updates on our Facebook page, that I hoped came off as motivational. This behavior was not indicative to who I was prior to getting involved with the Challenge. Other examples of my change of nature came between my third and fourth Challenge. I was declining some birthday cake at work and I was asked if I was trying to lose more weight for an event or to fit into my prom dress or something. My reply was simply, “No, this is just how I eat now”. No Challenge or rules involved. Just a new me, and an awareness of how I wanted to feel. In addition, during my fourth Challenge, we were asked to just be present in the moment, to the best of our ability, for one week. For me, this was a game changer. I really took the time to observe myself while interacting with people. What I discovered was I had this annoying habit of cutting people off while they were talking, jumping in so I could state what I was thinking. So basically, not listening to what they were saying. Now I am not a mental health professional so I can not say if this is an indication of bad habits or a self centered nature but either way, this is not someone that I wanted to be, and since then, I have done my best to curb it.
Finally, and most significantly, I feel proof of the changes in my own personal nature lie in two things.
First, my goal during this Challenge is to keep as many of my teammates as involved as possible. I would still like to decrease my body fat and improve my running time in for Marathons but I know both of these things will happen through adherence and discipline. I am not stressing about it and I don’t plan to be obsessive about monitoring it week to week. I am forced to do a monthly medical procedure that sets me back for a week each month and that alone would make me give up, but knowing I have a team to support and be supported by, keeps me moving one foot in front of the other
Second and, to me a more significant change in my nature is that I have signed up to run this years LA Marathon again and I am doing it to collect money for St Judes Children’s Hospital. This may not seem like a big deal but it is my first ever Marathon (at 55 years old) and I remind you, I am the guy who entered my first Challenge in order to get abs like Jason Statham !
So in closing, just as Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead went from a sort of douche who just wanted everyone to get along, to a badass mothereffer that will do anything to help his people. I feel I have gone from a selfish and shallow douche who only wanted to look good, to a bad ass mothereffer who will do anything to help his people !
pk – 12/28/2016