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The Whole Life Challenge: There Is No Right or Wrong

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The current state of media-driven health and fitness (not to mention food) is a nightmare. Everything looks perfect, every meal is curated, fitness wear is red-carpet ready, healthy people are in a permanent state of bliss, and you’re practically a criminal for missing a workout.

The industry that claims to represent health and fitness and whose mission it is to make you feel “good” needs you to feel bad. Some trainers or businesses may even mean well, but getting you motivated involves having you constantly compare yourself to people whose lives and bodies you can only envy and curse yourself for not having.

There is nothing wrong with aspiration. Seeing someone healthy, vibrant, and active can be inspiring. But there is a fair chance the comparison is going to make you feel worse over time, rather than better. Why? Because comparison doesn’t work. How often do you win when you play the comparison game? Consider that for a moment.

Compounding that is that being healthy feels good, but working hard and giving up the things you like generally does not. This process can be become even more challenging when your “motivation” is that you feel crappy in comparison to someone else. Nothing about that whole scenario feels good.

We get it – and we have a solution for you. The kind of health and well-being you want starts with you, not something outside of you. It’s about being the best you can be, not trying to be as good as someone you saw in a magazine.

Being Healthy Is About You

The Whole Life Challenge Starts With You

We’re here to tell you that we at the Whole Life Challenge understand – and things are going to be okay. You can forget every supermodel-on-the-beach photo shoot, ignore every health-foodie Instagram account, and ease your anxiety about whether or not your workout is going to get you those perfect abs in four minutes a day.

What makes the Whole Life Challenge different from many other programs is that we don’t promise you a beach body, a six-pack, or buns of steel. We don’t promise you anything more in these weeks than an unforgettable education in what it really means to be you.

What makes the Challenge so effective is there are no right or wrong answers. It is a game, a process, a learning experience. What it offers is a chance to figure out how health and well-being work for you, in your life, doing the things you like. It is a day-by-day process of commitments followed by action. In this game, you win every day.

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The Challenge Gives You Guidelines… and Permission

We provide you with the lists of Challenge compliant foods; give you basic guidance around exercise, stretching, sleep, and water; and share simple daily practices that contribute to health and happiness. Beyond that, and even within that, you have permission to do absolutely anything you want.

We encourage you to experiment (what you might call “make mistakes”). For example, there are a lot of foods that might technically be included in a “healthy” diet that you can abuse the absolute snot out of. Want to eat handfuls of nuts and dried fruits whenever you feel hungry? We encourage you to give it a go. Want to see if walking around the block for exercise gets you the results you’re looking for? It might, it might not. How about whether or not spending time with your good friends is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself today? It’s far more important that you know whether something works or doesn’t, than that we tell you what to do.

You are a conscious adult and you’ll be treated as one here. The most important requirement is that you pay attention to how your choices make you feel. You are going to be the one who decides what to keep and what to throw away — you are going to be your own partner in wellness far longer than we are. Your daily score during the Challenge is at best a visual representation of your choices — not of whether or not you’re a good or bad person.

The Challenge is simply a chance to compare how you feel today with how you felt yesterday and to take action on that, without judgment.

Then It’s Up to You to Play

The best way to get the most satisfying, fulfilling, long-term, surprising, and unexpected results is to play. We don’t mean to play the Whole Life Challenge, but to play in your life. Have fun with health and try not to stress about individual choices.

Did you not get to the gym today because you decided it was more important to spend time with your kids? We promise that a day with an hour of rough-housing, tossing a ball, or even spending time at the beach can be as good for you in the long term as a day pumping iron.

Did you eat the cookies your kids made you after twelve straight days of sticking to clean eating? Who is to say the love that comes from that moment isn’t the thing that’s going to keep you healthy until you’re ninety?

Being Healthy Is About You

Figuring out what is right for you involves trying new things. General prescriptions for exercise, nutrition, and important daily practices don’t suit everyone’s individual needs. They can be great places to start, but only you know what excites you, makes you curious, or gets you pumped up:

  • Practices to relieve stress like spending times with friends or quietly reflecting alone can contribute deeply to your sense of energy and well-being.
  • From hiking to yoga to dancing, you can stay healthy and active without having to hit the gym everyday if it doesn’t suit you.
  • There are no limits to the number of times you are allowed to start making different choices again. Did today not go as planned? Did meetings and errands make mishmash out of your food and exercise plans? Well, today is over and no one is going to stop you from getting up tomorrow and trying again.

Playing with us gives you a lot more than just knowledge. It allows you to develop your own wisdom — the ability to listen to and trust yourself, and to know what the right thing to do is, rules be damned (even ours).

Being Healthy Means Loving Every Part of Your Life

Perfection’s reign in the world of health and well-being is at an end. It is far more important that you try and pay attention than it is to “get it right” every time. As you play the Challenge, you’ll learn you don’t have to give up the things you like. You will also learn the list of things you like can (and will) include many healthy habits.

We believe that life is not about depriving yourself of the things that give you the deepest sense of enjoyment. There are times when the most indulgent choices are appropriate for every person. With the awareness and personal wisdom you develop through participating in the Whole Life Challenge, you will gain a whole new sense of deep enjoyment and fulfillment around health and well-being and the things you can do to get yourself there.

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Michael Stanwyck
Michael Stanwyck is the co-founder of The Whole Life Challenge, an idea that developed during his seven years as a coach and gym manager at CrossFit Los Angeles.

He graduated from UCLA with a BA in philosophy as well as a degree from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, and feels food is one of the most important parts of a life - it can nourish, heal, and bring people together.

Michael believes health and well-being are as much a state of mind as they are a state of the body, and when it comes to fitness, food, and life in general, he thinks slow is much better than fast (most of the time). Stopping regularly to examine things is the surest way to put down roots and grow.

He knows he will never be done with his own work, and believes the best thing you can do for your well-being starts with loving and working from what you’ve got right now.

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