We’re Still at it: Two Weeks Into the Whole Life Challenge

In some respects, the past two weeks have flown by. In others, it feels like it’s been six months since we started the Whole Life Challenge as a team.

whole life challenge

Team aSweatLife has more than 15 people from all over the country (and the world) taking part. It’s safe to say that our experiences with the challenge have run the gamut. From totally positive to altogether OVER IT and quitting, we’ve all been very honest with each other about how it’s going.

As a refresher, the Whole Life Challenge is a team challenge that began on September 17 all over the world. Teams sign up together to encourage each other in building and improving upon seven life habits. We signed up to see what it was all about, and since it kicked off, we’ve battled learned from the challenges this experience brought up.

Everyone on our team has a different take on the first two weeks of the challenge. They’ve recapped their experiences in brief summaries.

Some of us are enjoying the journey.

There have been several days that the “expat in a new city” slump was really getting to me, but I thought, “You gotta get off of the couch and get your sweat on so you can put a ‘yes’ for exercise” and the rest of my day was truly transformed. And when it was meditation week, I did it all week and it helped me sleep better. Starting today I am seriously cutting myself off from Facebook and even the thought refreshes me.

I realized in the past two weeks how giving up dairy has a positive impact on my health and that I feel much better when strength training and doing cardio every single day.

I think the biggest things for me are that I could definitely do better with the moderation on the beverages. Losing a point makes you think about what you started with and if it’s worth it. And as for the weekly challenges, it’s amazing how little a task seems when you only have to dedicate 10 minutes. And sometimes, things really only take 10 minutes! Stretching has been huge for me.

This challenge has made me realize how much better I am about drinking water and getting sleep when I consciously make an effort to do them more often (and how much of a difference those two things make)! There’s also definitely a balance for me in trying to get everything in each day and not stressing out too much if I don’t. I have been putting in a deliberate effort to take note of everything I’m putting in my body and how it affects me. My biggest surprise I’ve found is that I actually really do enjoy meditating! I definitely need a guide to help me (downloading the Buddify app was clutch), but even when I “suck” at it, it still helps calm me down.

I THOUGHT I did not drink much during the week but once I started having to deduct points for alcoholic beverages, I realized that I was consuming 10+ drinks a week. I made an active effort to cut back during the second week, including going to a five-hour client dinner without a single sip. It actually was a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be and I’ll likely go “dry” to more work events going forward. And to help me with my mobility time during the challenge, I downloaded a stretching app (literally called “Stretching”), which has a simple routine that I repeat daily.

Emily B:
For me, this challenge is all about learning to be intentional with what I eat, do and think. This doesn’t mean I have a “perfect” diet, but that when I indulge, it’s because I really, really want to and I’ll appreciate what I’m eating (or drinking, more like – imbibing a beer or two is my thing). The difference has been that I don’t just take something – like a drink or a cookie – because it’s offered to me and because it’s there. It’s a premeditated decision to have something I truly want. It’s also showed me what I don’t actually want – two weeks in and I haven’t had any soda – the longest I’ve gone without a Diet Coke in a very, very long time.

Some of us prefer to pick and choose what to focus on.

For the first week (pre-vacation), I really committed to ten minutes of yoga per day and enjoyed it. I also worked to cut sugar out of my coffee and go straight plain black coffee (ugh). Not my favorite but it’s something to try. My main issue is that the nutrition score feels way too punishing. So instead, I’ve been giving myself a holistic score, rating how I feel about my choices that day on a scale 1-5, and ignoring the losing “points” for eating cheese on a salad or whatever. I like aspects of this challenge for the holistic view on health, and dislike other aspects for the black and white view on health (if you did this, you’re healthy/if you didn’t, you’re not).

Catherine B:
I like the reflections aspect of the challenge. I think the more someone can write down what they did/ate/thought about, the more impact it will have that propels us towards change and building a habit. Looking back on the day helps me realize what worked or didn’t work and set thinking goals for the next day. I also like the changing weekly lifestyle challenge – it adds in that layer where we can recognize that being “healthy” is not always just about nutrition and exercise – clarity, peace, self-love and more are just as important.

Catherine T:
From the beginning I paid very little attention to the restrictions within the nutrition component of this challenge. I generally eat pretty healthy, but I also think it is important to #treatyoself. That being said, I stopped eating the office granola bars every hour and have been feeling a lot better. The lifestyle challenges and making time to stretch have been my favorite parts of this experience so far. So often these types of plans are only focused on nutrition, but wellness is so much more than that. I touched my toes yesterday, which sounds silly, but is a big improvement! These efforts are a perfect demonstration of how a little effort each day can generate positive results.

Some of us are still figuring out how to incorporate WLC into our lives.

I didn’t mentally prepare at the start of the challenge and have found it difficult to commit. Rather than chip away little by little at the challenge here and there, I simply gave up because I had a wedding the first weekend of the challenge. I then fell behind on reading the emails. Rather than attempting to stick with a few simple aspects of the challenge, I got overwhelmed and stopped all together. I’m trying to reset this week and pick up a few challenges that I can try, even if I’m not committing to the entire challenge at this point.

I was surprised by how difficult it was to maintain all seven habits on a daily basis. In order to make time for exercise and mobility, it meant I wouldn’t make my goal hours of sleep (which is only six hours nightly, not a very lofty goal to begin with). This was incredibly frustrating for me for the first two weeks, but after reading the other team members’ recap posts and daily reflections, I have a new outlook on this challenge. I can’t get it all done, but each day I can pick something from the challenge to focus on and to make myself proud that I’ve accomplished at the end of the day. For me, the next few weeks of the challenge are going to be less about the WHOLE picture, and more about what I can feasibly do on a daily basis.

And some of us prefer to just #liveyalife.

I realized the constant tracking and thinking about what I was eating and when I would stretch for ten minutes. And the lifestyle challenge – it was creating more stress than bringing good. So, after week one I called it quits. It is also encouraging me to stop using my Fitbit and constantly think about how much I moved or how hard my workout was and instead just live my life!


No matter where we are in the journey, it’s encouraging to know that there are multiple “right” ways to go about this challenge. Check back in with us in the next few weeks for a half-way point update from the team!

Let us know!

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About Maggie Umberger

Maggie moved to Chicago from North Carolina in 2014 with a degree in Journalism and Spanish, a 200-hour yoga certification, a group fitness cert and a passion to teach and to sweat. It wasn't until she found aSweatLife that she really started to feel at home. Here, she's incorporated her passion for health and wellness into her career as she helps to build the network of Ambassadors, trainers and fitness enthusiasts that exist within the aSweatLife ecosystem. You can also find her coaching at CrossTown Fitness and teaching yoga classes at Bare Feet Power Yoga, Yoga Six and exhale.