What’s the Whole Life Challenge? Why is Everyone Doing It?

by Myla Cruz

Would staying healthier be easier, if it was a game? The Whole Life Challenge aims to create that reality for all its participants. For two months, competitors change the way they eat, sleep, sweat and literally breathe in pursuit of a reformed soul, body and mind. 

The eight-week-long Whole Life Challenge (WLC) is an underground game, which has drawn in nearly 20,000 players since being founded by CrossFit members Michael Stanwyck and Andy Petranek in 2011. Challengers pay $49 to commit to “7 Daily Habits,” which accumulate points for making health conscious choices. When rules are broken, similarly to many games, points are lost. Players team up and log their points online, creating a competitive edge the phenomenon.

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Wondering how this life-changing game works? 

Players begin by selecting one of three nutrition levels that get progressively stricter—fantastic news for those in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle but don’t want to immediately give up their daily glass of wine (try the “Kick-Start” level). All tiers of the game, however, ban beer, soda, bread and cheese. Yes, we’re crying on the inside too, but that’s why only the most tenacious bunch take this challenge. 

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Sticking to the program’s compliant foods for a full day nets a player five points. You lose a point every time you cheat. Participants can also earn five points for exercising ten-minutes per day and five more for getting a good night’s sleep. Activities such as stretching, drinking water and personal reflection also earn five points apiece. Failing to complete any of these healthy lifestyle choices on a given day subtracts five points from your two-month total.

Additionally, participants can also balance out the program and their cravings by earning bonuses for activities such as going four days without losing more than two nutrition points. This awards the participant with “Indulgence Bonus” points that allow you eat one of your cheat foods. 

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So, What’s it Like? 

“Eight weeks was a long time ... but I appreciated the accountability,” says Emer Smith in this NY Daily News piece. The 34-year-old is a WLC survivor  lost 15 pounds while partaking in the game. “I definitely had more energy—no mid-afternoon slump,” he said. “I saw improvements in my workouts. And my skin was nicer!”

“It’s a very holistic approach to just being well,” said Stanwyck. “It’s all of the daily habits, like sleeping, relaxing, connecting with other people.”

Know of other innovative programs working to give participants a fun approach to whole body health? Tell us in the comments below!

WATCH on Z Living: Change The Day You Die, where each week, one lucky person will get the chance to rewrite their future and start living a much healthier life. See a sneak peek here. 

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