First university affiliate to take part in program


Kirsten Beverley, physical education instructor, demonstrates to her students the proper way to do a push-up during their exercise and weight control class September 27 in the Gym Annex. Photo by Shane Flanigan.

Bethany Johnson

Lynda Barnett, senior communication studies major, struggles with high blood pressure and wanted to lose weight before graduation.

She joined the Whole Life Challenge on Sept. 15 and lost 15 pounds in two weeks.

“I had never done anything like this before, and I knew I could stand to lose some weight,” Barnett said. “For me, there are many benefits in keeping up with this challenge. I hope it helps improve my overall lifestyle.”

The Whole Life Challenge is an eight-week worldwide competition in which participants follow strict nutrition and exercise guidelines.

Participants must check in daily to an online scoreboard and score themselves based on how closely they follow guidelines. Six possible points can be earned each day. They can earn three points for following nutritional guidelines, one for working out for at least ten minutes, one for stretching or doing yoga and one for taking fish oil supplements.

The challenge originated in Los Angeles in 2009 through the worldwide fitness program CrossFit.

Kirsten Beverley, physical education instructor and CrossFit affiliate, said Kent State is the first university to participate in the challenge collectively as a group. Beverley offered the challenge as an option to her students in physical education classes.

“I want people to understand the challenges these students are facing,” Beverley said. “I dare you to try and follow the guidelines for a week. It doesn’t seem like a lot on paper, but it adds up.”

The current challenge began Sept. 15 and will end Nov. 8. The next challenge is in the spring, and students can sign up for free with the Kent State affiliate through CrossFit Akron.

Barnett admits the challenge may not be for everyone.

“I don’t know how many students, especially students of age, would commit to this challenge and truly give up alcohol,” Barnett said. “I would recommend this challenge, but I don’t know if people realize you also have to be mentally strong and not give into the peer pressure from your friends.”

Beth Avram, senior geology major, said the toughest aspect of the challenge so far was sacrificing the taste of her coffee.

“I’m a cream and sugar girl,” Avram said. “Now I have to drink coffee with this terrible sweetener in it called Stevia. It’s disgusting, but it’s the only sweetener you’re allowed to have.”

Avram said so far she hasn’t had any problems with the fitness, mobilization or fish oil guidelines of the challenge. But the food guidelines are a different story.

“I’m really bad at getting the food points,” Avram said. “You basically have to buy a whole new pantry of food.”

Beverley said she believes this is why America is so far behind other countries nutritionally.

“[Americans] don’t put a priority on preparation and enjoying the meal,” Beverley said. “We are only concerned about finding the fastest and easiest thing we can eat.”

But at 5 foot 8 inches and 115 pounds, Avram isn’t in the challenge to lose weight.

“Finding new recipes, learning to take the time to prepare food properly, changing my normal routine and ultimately learning better habits for the future are the things I wanted to get from this challenge,” Avram said.

Participants with the highest rankings at the end of the competition can win prizes. But Beverley said the real prize is what you get out of it in the end.

“The Whole Life Challenge isn’t about creating a fad,” Beverley said. “It’s not like the Atkins, South Beach or juicing diets. It’s about learning to live a healthy life forever and being aware of what’s going into your body and how it affects you.”

Contact Bethany Johnson at [email protected].