Welcome to the Whole Life Challenge! We are excited to have you with us on this wonderful journey. This guide will help you navigate and fully benefit from the next 6 weeks. Click on any section of the table of contents below to skip to that section, or scroll down to browse the how-to-play guide in the same order that you’ll encounter each topic during the Challenge.
- Join or Create a Team
- Choose Your Play Level
- Suggested and Non-compliant Foods Lists
- Setting Your Sleep Prescription
- Privacy Settings - What can others see?
- Daily Play and Scoring
- Finishing the Challenge
There are two different types of teams in the Whole Life Challenge:
Official teams are teams run by owners of gyms, fitness programs, or businesses. They are official ambassadors of the program. Official teams are encouraged (though not required) by the Whole Life Challenge to host a preliminary and final event, provide prizes to their players, and provide support and coaching to those players throughout the Challenge. The team captain has access to team members' daily check-in statistics, so can keep tabs on progress and participation.
Many official teams are local to a geographic area and have a professional relationship with their members. For instance, a gym might create an official team for all the members of its gym community. Many of the players (if not all) on this team would be members of the gym, along with their friends and family members. This allows team members of the team to interact face-to-face regularly over the course of the Challenge, to show up for workouts together, and to attend both the preliminary and final events. Players may only be on one Official team.
Unofficial teams are personal teams that any registered player can create or join. Unofficial teams are typically made up of a group of friends or family members who to support one another throughout the six weeks of the Challenge. Official team players may even form unofficial teams within the official team.
Each player can join up to two teams (but only one of them may be an official team). For best results and experience in the Whole Life Challenge, we suggest that every player join or create at least one team. If you are in need of a team, possibly the best way to find one is to inquire on the Private Facebook Group. Before each Challenge begins and for the first week or so, many players and teams post messages there to find each other.
The Facebook group is private to WLC players, so you may have to wait a short time for your approval, but if you are a WLC player, you will be approved.
For more information on players and teams, including screenshots showing how to join or create a team, click here.
You can participate in the Challenge at one of three levels. Your level determines the nutrition rules you will follow. You will begin each day with 5 points, and you will lose a point anytime you eat a food that is non-compliant based on your nutrition level. The higher the level, the more stringent the food list is.
You cannot change levels once the Challenge beings, so choose wisely. To see the food lists for all 3 levels, please click here. If you have questions about the "why" of the rules, or just want deeper insight to our approach, please check out our Nutrition Rules Explained e-book. It's free to download.
The three nutrition levels are:
Performance—The most restrictive nutrition list in the WLC. If you already have good eating habits that you want to fine tune, you have athletic or performance-related goals, or you have a pressing health or inflammation condition that you'd like to address, choose Performance. The basic rules for this level (with a couple exceptions) are: no grains, no sugar, no dairy, no soda, no alcohol, and no artificial ingredients.
So what can you eat? Fish, poultry, beef, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, most oils, and sweet potatoes. Think of it as a short-term acceleration program. While elements of it can be adapted to your daily life post-Challenge, maintaining it over the long term could be difficult and may be unnecessary.
- Lifestyle—A good choice if you are looking for a long-term lifestyle nutrition program. This is a great start to a sustainable practice of living a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining it to a "T" post-Challenge might be difficult, but it represents something much more adaptable to a long-term program than the Performance Level. It will allow additional options in each of the five main WLC nutrition categories (grains, sugar, dairy, beverages, artificial ingredients). Long-term compliance will still be challenging, but sticking to the nutrition requirements for 6 weeks is much more manageable.
- Kick Start—A great place to start if you're new to the health and fitness game and need to make the most important tweaks to get yourself started in the right direction. Cuts out what your mom might call “junk.” This level gives you one or two things to eliminate in each of the five main WLC nutrition categories. You can eliminate more, but by starting with these over six weeks, you’ll be off to a great start. If you are just starting to make a lifestyle change, this level will definitely be a challenge that culminates in amazing results.
Remember, you can view (and download) all the food lists here. Some people like to print a couple copies - one to hang up in the kitchen, and one to take shopping.
To set or change your Challenge level from your dashboard, click on "My Profile" then "Game Settings." Next, click on the drop down arrow next to the Words "Challenge Level" and click the radio button next to the level you'd like to play the Challenge on.
Here are the steps to determine your WLC sleep prescription:
1. How much sleep do you get now? This is the place to start. Not what is optimal, but how much do you actually get? I'm sure it varies from day to day... so what's your average?
2. How much could you get, on average, realistically? This is where the rubber meets the road... This number should be a small stretch for you. Something that is achievable, but represents an improvement from what you're doing now.
3. THIS is the number you enter into your profile for your daily sleep prescription. Remember, on days where you achieve it, you'll earn your 5 points...on days that you don't, its a "no" and 0 points. There is no "middle ground".
1. You sleep only 5 hours during the week, but 8 hours on the weekend, making your average, 5 hours; 50 minutes. Committing even to 5:50 would be rough, since it would mean, based on your current habits, that 5 out of 7 days, you'd get a "no" for sleep in the Challenge. You decide that an improvement would be to increase the amount of sleep you get during the week to 5:10. Realistic. Achievable. A small stretch. While it's much less than your average, it's a number that would work well for your for the Challenge.
2. You sleep about 6 hours 30 minutes per night, no matter what day of the week it is. You decide that an optimal night's sleep for you, where you feel your best when you wake up, is 7:45. This simply isn't realistic - to jump from 6:30 to 7:45, so you decide to take a baby step... committing to 6 hours 45 minutes for the Challenge. Perfect.
3. On nights where you go to bed before 10:30pm, you get 7 hours 30 minutes of sleep - which, you decide, is optimal for you. On nights where you go to bed later than that (about 4 days per week), you get 6:30. Rather than committing to getting 7:30 of sleep each night during the WLC, you decide to focus on the nights where you're not getting to bed early enough. You believe it would be possible to get to bed 15 minutes earlier on those nights. A stretch, slightly uncomfortable, but you could do it. So, you use 6:45 as your sleep prescription for the WLC.
To enter your sleep prescription from your account Dashboard, click on MY PROFILE, then GAME SETTINGS. Scroll down and click EDIT on the bottom right. Now, click the drop-down arrow next to the bed icon and word SLEEP. Enter your hours and minutes, then click SAVE.
Starting the Challenge
The Whole Life Challenge begins and ends with the Whole Life Challenge Self Assessment. There are three phases to the self-assessment. Each successive phase allows deeper understanding of how your life and body change over the course of the Challenge. The more information you measure and record, the more complete the picture you'll have of how you improved over the 42 days of the Whole Life Challenge.
To access the self assessment, start from your dashboard, then click on MY PROFILE, then SELF ASSESSMENT as in the screenshot below. Use the radio buttons to select Phase 1, 2, or 3.
- 3 Quality of Life questions
- Your personal goal for the Challenge
Please note that information in Phase 1 is not editable after day twelve of the Challenge. Please be sure all information is accurate before that time.
- Waist and hips measurements
- A measurable workout
- 8 more Quality of Life questions
- A before photo
Phase 2 provides a more complete picture of your current fitness and well-being and will help create a clearer picture of your results once the Challenge is over. You will also earn an indulgence token to start the Challenge with if all your Phase 2 information is recorded and saved by the end of day fourteen.
Please note that Phase 2 data is not editable once saved, so please enter it carefully.
1. Waist and Hips Measurements - take note of exactly where on your body these measurements are taken - repeat-ability is the key to an accurate difference between your preliminary and final values.
You will repeat your measurements when you complete the Challenge. Your improvement in your workout score and measurements will be part of the formula used to determine your final ranking among your teammates.
2. A measurable workout - For a workout to be measurable, it must be a physical activity that can be scored or timed with a single number. A 5k run is a good example. You start when the gun goes off, give it an all-out effort, and get a time when you cross the finish line. Your time is the measurement.
3. 8 more Quality of life questions - click on the blue box to open a pop-up with the eight additional Quality of Life questions. You may have to disable any pop-up blocking software to answer the questions successfully.
The Quality of Life questions are an opportunity to measure what sort of impact the WLC has on your entire life. Changes during the Challenge won't just be physical, and, often, measuring these changes gets left out of the equation. Remember the adage, "what you can measure, you can manage?" This is your chance to do just that - evaluate where you are now, and then reevaluate your position at the end of the Challenge to see what's improved.
Answer the questions by considering what your life is like right now — not the way you hope it turns out or how you know it’s going to be during the challenge. You will see your preliminary and final results displayed side by side on the finals page after the Challenge ends, so be as accurate as possible.
The Quality of Life questions are not required, but we highly recommend answering them. The results will have no impact on your standing in final rankings. They are for your reference only.
4. Before Photo is for your reference only. It will not be used to determine your official score. To add a photo, click on the camera icon and choose a JPG or PNG file to upload.
If you wish, all of your measurements and your photo can remain private on your profile. To set what is public and private, click on MY PROFILE, then click on PRIVACY AND NOTIFICATION SETTINGS. Now, check the boxes of the items you want to make public. Don't forget to click SAVE when you're done!
The Challenge officially begins at bedtime on Friday night. Starting then, and continuing through day 42, you'll be adopting the WLC 7 Daily Habits and scoring yourself based on your actions. Remember, scoring for day 1 (Saturday) opens at 7:00 pm Saturday night (local time).
The seven daily habits are:
- Nutrition—worth 0-5 points each day
- Exercise—worth 5 points each day
- Mobilize—worth 5 points each day
- Hydrate—worth 5 points each day
- Sleep—worth 5 points and based on the previous night (e.g. Tuesday's sleep score is based on the Monday night's sleep)
- Well-Being Practices—worth 5 points each day
- Reflection—worth 5 points each day
You can earn a maximum of 35 points each day.
Enter your daily score in the “Daily Play” tab at the close of each day, beginning on DAY 1 (Saturday). You will have from 7pm until midnight the following night in your time zone (29 hours) to record your score for each day of the Challenge.
Scoring for day 1 includes your sleep score from Friday night's sleep and Saturday's adherence to the other six habits.
The rules for each category are:
Nutrition (0-5 points)
You begin each day with all 5 possible nutrition points. You will subtract a point for each serving of a food that is non-compliant (based on your nutrition level: Kick Start, Lifestyle or Performance). When you record your score, enter the number of points you have remaining out of 5 at the end of the day.
Click HERE to for a comparison of the levels as well as a complete list of what is allowed and prohibited in each of the 3 Nutrition Levels of the Whole Life Challenge. Generally: If you don’t know whether something is allowed, don’t eat it.
REMINDER: Losing points for food choices during the Challenge is normal and expected. Making choices is part of life. Don’t choose perfection over your happiness or quality of life. If you’re at your best friend’s wedding, drink the wine and eat the cake! Losing the points is worth it. As far as we’re concerned, learning how to make choices that result in long-term health, happiness, and well-being is much more important than earning a perfect score.
Exercise (0 or 5 points)
The Whole Life Challenge emphasizes daily activity. To earn credit for the exercise habit, you must accrue at least 10 minutes of activity each day. We recommend 3-5 "workouts" each week with 2-4 days of more restful activities like hiking, walking, pick-up games, or even riding your bike or walking to work or on errands.
How does the Whole Life Challenge define “exercise?” We let you decide. If walking around the block is exercise to you (and it takes you at least 10 minutes), then you have met this daily requirement. Generally speaking, if your heart-rate is elevated and you are doing something to build or increase your strength, endurance, stamina, flexibility, speed, power, balance, coordination, agility, or accuracy, then we’d call it exercise.
For those of you who like to train hard, remember that active recovery counts too, so go out and have fun, play Frisbee, kick a soccer ball, take a walk, ride a bike. Sometimes, “playing” is as important as going hard for your overall well-being.
Mobilize (0 or 5 points)
The requirement for earning 5 points for this habit is 10 minutes of accumulated mobilizing time. It can be done all at once or broken into chunks over the course of your day. What is mobilizing? Mobilizing means taking an action that increases your range of motion in a muscle or joint. This includes any sort of stretching, yoga, foam rolling, dynamic stretching (movement), using a mobility tool (lacrosse ball, vibration device, e-stim device, etc).
What doesn't count? Anything that requires the work to be done by someone else - getting a massage, going to physical therapy, etc. If you need some ideas, check out our the Mobility and Stretching section of the Whole Life Challenge blog.
Hydrate (0 or 5 points)
Calculate 1/3 of your bodyweight in pounds and drink this amount each day in ounces of water (22 mL per kg of bodyweight) to earn 5 points for this daily habit. Water, coconut water, and herbal tea count towards your daily requirement. Coffee, other caffeinated beverages, and alcohol do not.
Sleep (0 or 5 points)
At the beginning of the Challenge, determine for yourself an amount of sleep that you will get to earn your 5 daily sleep points. There is no fixed calculation for sleep hours (we generally recommend at least 7 hours per night, but that might not be possible for you). Choose the number of hours/minutes that is close to what you're averaging now, and represents an amount that you would be happy about achieving each day. Think "small stretch", and remember that a small, incremental improvement each day, multiplied out over months and years will lead to huge benefits. The number should be both believable and achievable.
Well-Being Practices (0 or 5 points)
Each week, we will introduce a new Well-Being practice. You will earn 5 points for incorporating this habit into your daily life. These habits will range from physical activities like taking a walk alone or decluttering your space to practices with more intangible benefits like meditation or increasing mindfulness. Each new practice begins on Saturday and will be announced in advance via our blog, on your dashboard, and by email.
Reflect (0 or 5 points)
When posting your daily score, you will have an opportunity to earn 5 points by posting a “Reflection,” or a short recap of how the Challenge is going for you, what you've noticed, what you're learned, or what you are going to change. Think of your reflections as a public journal. It will be visible to teammates and other players in the Challenge, and other players worldwide will be able to comment on your reflection with support, motivation, or suggestions.
If you wish, you can limit who can read your reflections to your team only. You may change the visibility of your reflections in your privacy settings.
Though not part of the official rules, it’s important to note that reading your teammates’ Reflections in the feed—and then offering them encouragement and support—is a big part of the Whole Life Challenge. This is where players can check in to see how other people on the team are doing. This is the heart and soul of the game. It’s where people from both official and unofficial teams can engage, support, empathize, and interact.
Your first score of the Challenge will be entered at the close of DAY 1. You may record any day's score starting at 7pm (local time) of that day. The scoring window is open from 7PM the night of until midnight of the following night - a total of 29 hours. If you fail to enter your score by midnight the following night, your score is automatically recorded as a 0.
For Nutrition, you will be asked to enter a number between 0 and 5. Enter the number of nutrition points you kept that day. Remember, you begin each day with 5 and lose a point for each serving of food that is non-compliant at your level.
Indicate “yes” or “no” for the next five habits—exercise, mobilize, hydrate, sleep, and Well-Being Practice —to indicate whether you incorporated each habit into your day. Finally, write and save a reflection. For all six of these habits, you will earn 5 points for a "yes", or 0 points for a "no". There is nothing in between.
In the event that you forget to record your score in time—and we all do it from time to time—you may use a “mulligan” to enter your score. A mulligan gives you the ability to record any score you may have missed for any reason. A mulligan is not permission to give yourself a perfect score. It is an opportunity to re-open scoring for a day you missed entry for.
All players begin the game with 3 mulligans.
Daily Play - Entering your Score
From your DAILY PLAY tab, click on RECORD YESTERDAY'S SCORE or RECORD TODAY'S SCORE
Click SUBMIT after entering your score and reflection:
You have 3 minutes to edit your score. Click the "X" to accept it, or EDIT to make changes.
...and Confirm that you'd like to use your Free Day bonus.
...and you've got a perfect score, complete with Reflection!
During the Challenge
During the Challenge, you'll want to do things like check your progress, make status updates, post pictures, read and comment on teammate's reflections, and check the leaderboard.
Here are some screenshots of how to do each.
To check your progress, click on the "DAILY PLAY" tab:
To update your status on your team's communication feed, click on the DAILY PLAY tab, then your team's name, then enter a status update, then click POST UPDATE. Attached photos or images may be either JPG or PNG files only.
Players are encouraged to comment on your teammate's reflections and status updates.
Finishing the Challenge
As a reminder, the Whole Life Challenge Before and After Measurements consists of:
If you are a member of an official team, your team leader will likely plan a finals event and enter your workout time/score and body measurements during this event.
If you are not a member of an official team, or if your team leader hasn’t planned a finals event, we recommend that you take your Whole Life Challenge Body & Fitness Measurements on Saturday morning.
There are no penalties for taking your Whole Life Challenge Before and After Measurements early, and you have four weeks after the Challenge ends to enter your "After" Measurement numbers. That said, the Saturday after Day 42 is where all of your efforts will culminate. This is the optimal target day for your final Before and After Measurements. Make every effort you can to do it on that day.
If you are not playing with a team, you will receive a Final Stats page that details your overall performance during the game
- Days scored
- Average daily score
- Weekly averages in each of the 7 Daily Habits
- A comparison of any fitness and body measurements you entered
- A side-by-side comparison of your Quality of Life questions, Before and After photos, and stated Goals and Outcomes.
If you are playing with a team, whether it is Official or Unofficial, you will have a Team Stats page that will show you a little bit about how each of your team members did - attendance percentage and average daily scores
If you are playing with an Official team and your team captain has created official fitness and body measurements for your team, your team members' details will also include their improvement percentages in their fitness and body measurements and you will be ranked among your teammates in three categories (as long as you have completed your Preliminary and Final Self-Assessments):
1. Total Daily Points—This will account for 50% of your final ranking.
2. Workout Improvement—This will be determined by your percentage improvement in the time or score of your WLC Workout. This will account for 25% of your final ranking.
3. Body Measurement Improvement—This will be determined by your percentage improvement over the initial measurements. This will account for 25% of your final ranking.
You must enter your final daily score and both Before and After Workout and Body Measurements to appear on the Finals Board.
The player on your team who is ranked highest is the player with the lowest combined rank score based on the combination of these three rankings. In the event of a tie, the player with the higher average daily score will be ranked higher.
Whole Life Challenge HQ does not declare an overall winner of the worldwide Challenge. In fact, there is no overall winner. You will be able to see results from other groups around the world, but none of these results will have any bearing on the winner of your group.
Final ranking in Daily Points will not be negatively affected by the use of bonus points.
Awards and Prizes
Official teams may or may not offer prizes. It is up to the team leader to decide if and how these prizes will be awarded.