It’s that time of year again. Your gym is probably doing some sort of challenge — Whole Life Challenge, Paleo Challenge or some other lifestyle challenge. These challenges are awesome. In fact, I look forward to doing one every year. It’s like my reboot for the New Year. It’s a great opportunity for me to clean my lifestyle up and to tinker with my diet in new ways that I have not yet tried. If you play the game, you will always learn something, no matter how many times you do the challenge.
Advice for participating in a challenge:
- Eat. Just because your choices are restricted does not mean the amount of food you eat should be limited. It scares me when I see a grown man doing a challenge but eating less than a grade-school girl. Make extra food and eat whenever you are hungry.
- Recover. Your body is going through a lot of changes, whether you realize it or not. Sleep is important for recovery and mental function on top of many other benefits. In the challenge at our gym, I make eight hours of sleep a night a requirement. If your gym does not require sleep, then make it a little game for yourself.
- Don’t compromise your beliefs. I’ve come across some weird recommendations included in challenges at gyms. If you want to try these, then do so, but also do your own research and/or consult with your wellness practitioner before making drastic alterations to your diet. As a doctor, I would not recommend a no-carbohydrates diet to an athlete on the brink of adrenal fatigue. If a requirement or recommendation does not resonate with you, then don’t do it. It’s not the end of the world.
- Create an accountability partner or group. If you are in a challenge as an individual player of the game, I recommend establishing at least one accountability partner. Perhaps you two can meet weekly or check-in via text or email, and give each other encouragement throughout the eight weeks. Going through something in life is always better with someone by your side.
- Be present. Play the game. You will be glad you did. However, realize that it’s just a game and do not beat yourself up if you do not get your nutrition points for one day or forgot to mobilize one day. Get over it. Move forward. And focus on the present. That’s what life is all about.
Have fun and improve your health with the challenges. Create new experiences for you and your community. You could start traditions within a community or family that will last for years.