The more you use a muscle the stronger it gets… || Coach Walker (Fenz) Palecek

Over three years ago I wrote a blog post for the CFA community chronicling my first-ever 30-day challenge. Though I’d made a shift in my nutrition starting in 2010, I’d hovered around 80/20 forever; I’d honestly never done a 100% compliance. The difference was truly incredible and I was excited to share the support others. With our new website re-design, that post is lost to the internets (whew), but I wanted to revisit a few points now as we reach the end of the Whole Life Challenge.

My post included the usual tips about strategizing food replacements and food prep, but this is old news, all you Challengers are pros by now. But even so, you may hit a speed bump or two, so here are two other valuable strategies I’d like to share…

The first is my favorite; it’s so important, but easy to lose sight of:

“The “WHY” becomes really important when times get tough. A piece of advice I got from a blogger was: Write down why you are doing this. I took this important step before I started and it was paramount to my success. Instead of reaching for that brownie, I re-read over my “WHY.” Sure, one sweet treat is not really the end of the world, but I wasn’t doing this to see if I could follow a list of rules. My “WHY” was much deeper than that.”

Part of my ‘why’ was that I didn’t want to be a slave to sugar; I wanted to break out of that addiction. I also didn’t want my emotions to rule what I ate. So while making (and eating) paleo-friendly brownies might have fit the “rules,” I knew in the back of my mind it wasn’t the best decision, and it wasn’t going to help me reach my goals.

So, when you hit a rough spot, revisit the reasons WHY you decided to participate in this challenge in the first place, it just may get you over that bump.

In case you were thinking you would just avoid any roads with bumps, think again. For example, I initially avoided eating out. The idea of being surrounded by temptation and having to make a series of decisions was daunting (Perrier instead of wine, pass on the bread, sub veggies for pasta, and so forth). But here’s how I got over it:

“I read an article about addiction recently that stated the obvious: the more you use a muscle, the stronger it gets. Using a new muscle (to make a new decision) will feel very difficult at first; this is why old (a.k.a “strong”) habits are hard to break. The recommendation was to continue to put yourself in situations where you have to flex a new muscle, i.e., make a different decision. So, instead of avoiding situations (restaurants, parties, the break room), I decided to face them head-on and flex the “muscle,” so that over time it would get stronger. The decisions became easier and I personally felt more awesome each time I made a decision congruent with my goals.”

Whenever I think of that nugget of advice it totally changes my perspective. Don’t shy away from difficulty, embrace it, heck, seek it out! Sure, Fran isn’t the most fun ever, but you still come in and get after it, right? I encourage you to attack nutrition (or any other area of your life you are seeking to change) with the same gusto.

For those participating in the Whole Life Challenge, or for anyone facing any sort of resolution or challenge, I hope reconnecting with your WHY and taking initiative to make a new and better decision is helpful in your journey.

-Coach Walker (Fenz) Palecek