Change Write Now: Season 1 Finale

This week was the final reporting in for the Change Write Now challenge. I’ve been considering this post for the better part of the week. Last night the official word came in an The Undead Poets Society (the team I was on with three other challengers) took over the top slot in the final week, with another team nipping at our heels the final sprint. (Both of our teams did a 600 point average score, meaning that each challenger on the team had to hit every one of their goals 6 out of the 7 days in the week.) For me though, it wasn’t the close final score that made the challenge for me. It was the path to get there.

A few weeks back, once we were listing in 3rd place in the rankings I took a look at the math involved. I’m a gamer geek and a recovering math geek on top of other eccentricities. Had I been more into sports other than MMA I might be rocking a fantasy football league somewhere – but I digress. What the math showed me is that we would have to average pretty high over the last 3-4 weeks to pull ahead into the top slot. So in one of my check-ins I mentioned (as I was the scorekeeper I was also the default “look at the rankings” guy) that while we could totally hit second slot, first place was improbable. Not out of reach, but would take some serious bootstrapping. I was aiming for second place.

Unanimously from my team came the response of, “The hell we can’t!” Had they not done that, there’s a chance one of those weeks I may have slipped a day or two. Like my birthday for instance. Even with having a beer and a couple shots I managed to stay in my calorie range. That team motivation kept me in calories every day during the challenge, even the “free” days. Even though the challenge was over this week and Season Two isn’t starting until Sunday, I’ve still kept in my limits.

My splurging this week was going out for barbecue last night. Even doing that I was only over about 80-90 calories for the day. Sleep did pay the price last night though, which is one of the key goals in Change Write Now – getting at least six hours a night. Even had the challenge been in session there’s no predicting one of those awesome leg cramps that you need to stand out of a dead sleep to get rid of and your leg is so messed up it twists back when weight is put on it. You know the move, the one that wakes you right the hell up and looks like a shifting scene from a werewolf movie. Good times.

Back to our team challenge, last week I checked in with the final math. If we all managed a perfect week, the top team would have to produced over a 590 out of 600 score to hold onto first place. Assuming, of course, that we all managed perfect weeks. Corrine Jackson may have thought I would be doing victory laps last night when our placings were announced, but Saturday night when everyone reported in perfect weeks was when I was really doing a dance. It was pretty awesome to see a group of three other people that were not only motivated the same way as me, but to have them pull it off.

If you’re interested, tonight is the last day to join up. There are currently over 60 people participating. Just go to the Change Write Now web site to register for it. The goals are (reproduced here from the CWN site):

Eating Healthy – 25 points

Basically, this is entirely up to you. If you eat the right amount of calories and nutrients for your age, weight & activity level over the course of a day, give yourself points. If you’re feeling guilty about your choices for the day, there’s probably a reason why. And that’s alright! Tomorrow’s a brand new day!

**We do have one caveat. Some of us struggle with eating disorders. If anyone does, please, please, please don’t let this game become a trigger for you. See a doctor. Some people may diet, but that is not our joint goal. The goal is to become healthy, and we would hate to inadvertently spark an unhealthy behavior for anyone.

Exercising for at least 20 minutes – 25 points

Some people may choose to lift weights, run, swim laps, do yoga, or hike a San Francisco hill for twenty minutes. Others may do a twenty minute workout with Wii Fit or twenty straight minutes of flailing around with Just Dance 2. We know of some writers who have treadmill desks so they can walk and work at the same time. Whatever you choose to do, get your body moving for twenty consecutive minutes a day!! Oprah and Dr. Oz have been kind enough to provide us with a twenty minute workout here (

Sleeping for at least six hours per day – 10 points

Poor sleep habits lead to more frequent colds, reduced energy, slower reflexes, and impaired thinking and learning. Read more here.

Consuming 64 OZ. of water – 10 points

Water is necessary for your body to operate. It makes up about 60% of your body weight. It flushes toxins out of your body and carries nutrients to your cells. A lack of water leads to dehydration.

Now, you may have heard that the 8 glasses of water rule is outdated. It actually does vary by person. The Institute of Medicine says a healthy adult female living in a temperate climate needs 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day. We’re aiming for 8 cups or 1.9 liters because it’s easier to remember.

Checking in with your teammates – 10 points

We can’t stress how important this is. Each day, you will be asked to check in with your team. Your methods (Facebook, email, Twitter) are up to you. Will power and discipline are only one part of the game. A support system is really what is going to help us succeed.

Just be considerate to each other. And ditch the negativity. This is one point we won’t budge on. If you’re struggling, it’s perfectly okay to talk about that and to be frustrated. But be encouraging and kind to each other.

Remember, team discussions are CONFIDENTIAL!

Adopting one good habit – 10 points

This should be the same habit for the entire length of the game. Here are some suggestions:

  • Read something good for your soul for fifteen minutes each day.
  • For every hour you sit at your laptop, you take five minutes to stretch and move about.
  • Decide to make one meal a day at home instead of eating out.
  • Try journaling.
  • Clean your house for twenty minutes each day.
  • Organize something for twenty minutes each day.
  • Take up flossing your teeth every day.
  • Have fruit with lunch.
  • Use a daily moisturizer with SPF 15+

Tossing out one bad habit – 10 points

Again, this is a habit you want to work to get rid of. Pick a habit and stick to it for the two months. Some ideas….

  • Give up smoking. (Sarah says she will make you cookies if you do this. And by “cookies,” she means something totally healthier… she just has to figure out what that is)
  • Stop swearing. (This is a suggestion from the book and most likely not something Cory or Sarah will be giving up anytime soon. :-))
  • Stop playing on Twitter during writing/working time.
  • Work on negative self-talk. Each time you put yourself down, pause and rethink something more positive.
  • Give up coffee or soda.
  • Watch only one hour of TV a day.
  • Stop playing Sims 3 for 4 hours a day.


With those goals listed above, here is what I got out of it…

  • 17 pounds lost
  • A dog that insists on taking a long walk on the weekends and any weeknight I’m home before 9pm
  • Several short pieces of fiction done and revised
  • A short piece done in conjunction with the novel I’m finishing (getting their voices back)
  • Down to coffee every 2-3 days (this wasn’t on purpose)
  • Soda once every day or two (and then diet soda)
  • A 32oz bottle for water that I refill several times a day
  • Fewer migraines (extra coffee if they do show up)
  • New recipes discovered and tweaked (and calorie counted)
  • Casa de Zombie Cookbook started and being added to every day
  • Writing routine modified to lead to less coffee drinking

Sounds interesting? Join in. Otherwise you can jump on the boat next “season.”

Coming tomorrow I’m going to post the recipes I’m doing including their calorie count. I’ll start with either brat chili or chicken tortilla soup.


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