Whole Life Challenge: Week 6

My new nutritional base
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Let’s not get into the minutia of what went wrong this week. No one needs to know about clandestine spoonfuls of ice cream at midnight or the burgers with the bun … and the fries. Who cares about the points lost to spontaneous drinks with friends? Right?!

Whole Life Challenge

Yes, there were missteps, but here’s the good news: While imperfect, my overall approach to consumption has, over these past six weeks, shifted in three big ways:

1. Alcohol isn’t a given.

I mentioned in my very first post that I felt like my alcohol consumption was getting a bit too habitual. I was drinking wine with dinner every night and often refilling my glass at least once, sometimes twice. I would do this mindlessly, without really considering how much I wanted the extra glass or the price I’d pay for indulging. Booze interferes with my sleep, so I was often waking up groggy and dehydrated after a restless night. I’d get through the day, but I certainly wasn’t at my best for the next day’s work or WOD.

 Yes, throughout the challenge, I’ve often “cheated” with more than one drink per week, but it’s a conscious decision every time, and I tend to save those cheats for high-quality, “cheat-worthy” glasses. And as a result, alcohol is no longer a daily thing for me.

2. Protein + vegetables = my new base.

Remember your first introduction to the food pyramid? Maybe you used crayons to color it in during health class. Guidelines have changed over time, but the first iteration I remember had a broad, starchy base filled with illustrations of bowls of rice and loaves of bread. I know better than to completely trust the Standard American Diet, but that concept of building meals around grains stuck with me for years.

The challenge has forced me to let go of the idea of “needing” a starch to balance out my plate. Vegetables don’t need a bed of white rice – they’re even happier on a pile of spicy arugula or massaged kale.

3. Sugar is actually a treat.

Was I gorging on cookies and cupcakes pre-challenge? No. But I was definitely ignoring the sugar content on foods that seemed healthy enough: spaghetti sauce, cereal, prepared soups, yogurt. And much like booze, a “little treat” was a daily occurrence. I’d have a couple of cookies or a handful of chocolate chips from the cupboard as a midday “reward” for … doing stuff? Being awake? It didn’t really matter because I was going to have the treat either way. And when that starts to happen, a treat is no longer special. It’s simply a habit.

Sugar addiction is a thing, and I had it to some degree. I think some of my initial grouchiness and feelings of impatience with the challenge were withdrawal symptoms. Adhering to the restrictions (for the most part, anyway) seems to have re-calibrated my relationship with sugar. Even though I still enjoy sweet stuff, I no longer crave it the same way I once did. It’s much easier to say “no” to sweets, and when I do partake, desserts taste even sweeter.

Exercise and Mobility

The CrossFit Open is here! Now that 15.1 is in the books, how do you feel? If things are a little tight and achy from the waist up, my CrossFit pal Shanté Cofield, DPT, has a suggestion for you: a peanut. This one’s for mobility, not protein, and it’s 100 percent Paleo.

Lots of overhead work in 15.1 means you'd better make sure that thoracic spine of yours is moving well. Help yourself out and make a 'peanut' with two tennis balls (or lacrosse balls for you brave souls) and mobilize that thoracic spine. Peanuts are also great for soft tissue mobilization of the paraspinals (the muscles next to the spine). Lie on the floor with your knees bent and position the peanut under your upper back with your spine in the dip between the two tennis balls. Use your arms to support your neck and head as needed and keep the abs engaged. From here you can do a variety of different movements, the most basic of which are demonstrated in the videos on the right. The main thing is to try and go vertebra by vertebra, mobilizing each segment one at a time. The peanut can be used for mobilizing the low back, but it's best to exercise a bit of caution in that area so as not to promote hyperextension of the low back (excessive lumbar lordosis). The video on the left shows how to make a peanut and everything on the right is how you should be using it. Be sure to follow on FB and Insta for all things movement and mobility related. Come move with the Maestro. #crossfit #crossfit718 #crossfitgames #open #crossfitopen #movement #mobility #mobilization #fitfam #maestrofied

A video posted by C. Shante Cofield DPT OCS CSCS (@themvmtmaestro) on Feb 27, 2015 at 11:31am PST

Instructions for making and using your own mobility peanut can be found here. Roll out!

Water and Supplements

These are my go-to categories. Even if I spent the entire week eating pizza on my couch, I’d still cash out with 14 solid points.

Lifestyle

Week 6 was about list making and productivity. I hate to be like this, WLC, but I’ll take your prioritized list and raise you a color-coded whiteboard. Yes, I created the 1-2-3 list each day, but I actually used my own organizational system, which takes into account my deliverables for the week and breaks them up into daily deadlines.

Coming Up...

Screen-free meals. This is a tough one for a freelancer who works from home. Will my usual lunch dates — Hannah, Marnie, Jess and Shoshanna — understand?