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How the WLC Is More Than Just Another Nutrition Challenge

By August 31, 2015Running a Gym
Reading Time: 6 minutes
The next Whole Life Challenge starts in:

I know what it’s like to be the busy owner of a busy business, hesitating to add something new to my plate for fear it will “upset the balance” I’ve worked so hard to create.

Adding something new or different always feels like it could cause the whole stack to come crashing down. Of course, the right addition to the mix could relieve some of the strain, allow me to set aside some tasks, and offer me some much needed relief (while still getting things done).

When we created the Whole Life Challenge this was our exact intention: to build something that would relieve the strain on us as business owners and deliver results to our clients. We wanted a challenge that was crazy-effective and easy to run.

We also wanted a Challenge that wasn’t just another busted nutrition challenge. You know the one: a spreadsheet, and few teams, an arbitrary set of criteria (entirely based on food), and half-hearted participation from our people that ends after a few weeks of initial enthusiasm.

Instead, we wanted to create something that would get people stoked, in for the win, and ready to make change for life. Humbly, I think we did it.

The WLC is built on an online platform that creates less work for those leading the Challenge, while simultaneously creating the time and space to work with clients on the things that truly matter: changing their daily habits for the better and getting them real results. Let’s take a look.

WLC Nutrition Rules Explained

The Whole Life Challenge Is Not a Nutrition Challenge

Let’s get this out there right off the bat: the Whole Life Challenge is not a nutrition challenge. Nutrition may be one of the 7 Daily Habits (and the habit that shows up most frequently, with our clients eating three to five times every day) but the Challenge is much more than food.

We track six additional habits beyond nutrition: exercise, mobilization, sleep, hydration, reflection, and well-being practices (things like meditation, organization, and gratitude).

This approach creates consciousness around the entire constellation of habits most likely to lead to long-term, positive change. While we recognize that focusing on one (or two) elements would have a positive impact, we believe focusing on all seven leads to genuine, lasting lifestyle change.

Each day on the Challenge, players log in and record their score in each of the seven areas. Scoring for the non-nutrition elements is a simple “yes or no”:

  • Exercise for 10 minutes
  • Mobilize for 10 minutes
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Drink one-third of your body weight in ounces of water
  • Complete the day’s Well-Being Practice
  • Reflect (in writing) on your day

Do them all, and you get all your points. Miss any, and you still get the remaining points.

For nutrition, things are just as easy. Players start each day with 5 points. They keep those points when they eat foods that are on their nutrition list, and lose a point each time they eat something that isn’t on the list.

There are three nutrition levels, each with a varying list of compliant and non-compliant foods. Each player chooses their level: Kickstart, Lifestyle, or Performance. Each player selects a level that corresponds with their readiness to make changes. Generally, the Kickstart level eliminates fewer foods than the Lifestyle level, with the Performance level requiring the tightest diet.

Why Only 10 Minutes a Day

You may be asking yourself, “Where’s the challenge in only exercising for ten minutes a day?” It’s a good question (and a reasonable one when you’re used to a longer, harder training regimen).

Simply, the WLC is designed to develop sustainable habits – ones that last over the long term (think ten-plus years), leading to significant, life-altering changes to one’s health and well-being.

We believe that anyone can survive a super-intense, boot-camp style competition or challenge, but what happens once it’s over? For most people, things go right back to the way they used to be, change left by the wayside. We want to avoid this at all costs.

Therefore, we ask not for huge, drastic changes, but for consistent habits that can be maintained throughout the Challenge and beyond. Just ten minutes of exercise and ten minutes of mobility, adequate sleep, some water, and a focus on lifestyle adds up quickly to create real, quantifiable benefits (and it’s easy enough for everyone to fit into their life).

Do-It-Yourself and the WLC

Why not just do fitness/nutrition challenge on your own? In addition to the obvious benefit of focusing on an entire universe of good habits, the WLC makes running a solid, productive challenge truly easy. Here are some of the key features:

  1. Administration and organization is all done for you via the online platform. All you need to do is get your people to sign up. This is a huge benefit: no Google sheets, no tracking, no score keeping. Just a smooth process for running an epic Challenge.
  2. Anyone, anywhere in the world can be on your team. They don’t have to be members of your gym. This allows you to build your sphere of influence and have an impact on more lives than you could running an in-house-only challenge. Invite current clients, prospects, and even your friends and family members to play.
  3. The gameplay fosters communication and interaction among your team members. Use the WLC Communication Feed to talk to (and lead) your team and encourage them to support one another. The platform is super-intuitive and easy to use, and it quickly becomes the center of the Challenge for your players. Rather than create (and monitor) Facebook groups, you have everything in one spot, with sub-teams able to communicate internally without showing the whole world.
  4.  You’ll have a one-stop engagement tool to help your players succeed. You’ll see their specific behaviors and coach them in each of the 7 Daily Habits. You’ll have a global view of everything that’s happening, giving you the option to help whenever you’re needed.
  5.  You can divide your team into subgroups, each lead by a different coach from your gym. This is an awesome tool for creating small, tight-knit squads of four or five, fostering communication, encouraging teamwork, and developing camaraderie. This feature will also let you ramp up the in-house competition between sub-teams (if you like).

There are many more benefits of the Challenge, too many to list in a blog post. Here are a few more:

  • The site is responsive, so your players will be able to enter their scores on a desktop or mobile, wherever they are.
  • You can do pre- and post- measurements for your players (including body composition and benchmark workouts) so they can see the result of their participation in the Challenge.
  • If you want a more competitive element, the dashboard allows you to see how you rank against every other Team in the Challenge.
  • When you form a team, we’ll guide you every step of the way, with a support desk throughout the Challenge, marketing materials to give your potential players, and a ton of useful, educational content posted on our blogs every week.

Why Run a Challenge at All?

There is a lot of effort that goes into running a challenge (even one as well-organized as the WLC). Why bother at all?

While people don’t join a gym or go to work each day in order to participate in a challenge, they do come to lead a better life. They come for leadership. They come to learn and contribute and be fulfilled. They come for more.

Participating in the Whole Life Challenge might be completely outside the context of what they think they need, but more likely than not, it contains one (or more) of the things they’re missing from their daily life: accountability, commitment, consistency, camaraderie, and support.

They’ll get it from the WLC, and they’ll love the experience. In the process, they’ll participate at a level and pace appropriate for their current desire to change, leading to confidence and success that will bleed over into other parts of their lives.

The Challenge isn’t really a Challenge. It’s a system of support and friendly competition that breeds healthier, more confident people in a matter of weeks. They become closer, better friends, teammates, and colleagues. It’s definitely not another busted nutrition challenge.

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Andy Petranek
Andy is what you’d call a modern day Renaissance Man: a former professional trumpeter who attended the Eastman School of Music; a snowboarder, mountain biker, surfer, kayaker, outrigger paddler, mountaineer, and former Marine (Gulf War veteran); a professionally sponsored adventure racer; and the oldest participant to qualify for and participate in the CrossFit Games at the age of 43.

Andy is a certified CHEK Practitioner and holistic lifestyle coach. He holds a spectrum of certifications from CrossFit and is also a Vivobarefoot certified running coach. He has trained as a Zen buddhist and graduated with a Master’s degree in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica.

Andy founded CrossFit LA one of the first and most successful CrossFit training centers in the world and the first to be featured in national media. He is the co-founder of the Whole Life Challenge, Inc, currently its president, and is also a consultant and life/business coach. Andy lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Julia, and son, Dashel.