May Health Challenge
So, I’m getting fat. True story. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve gained 10 pounds. TEN! And remember, I’m only 5 ft tall, so that’s like a normal sized human gaining 50 lbs1. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a wee bit, but the point is, this is entirely not acceptable. I knew when I decided to start school that I was going to have to give us things like training for half marathons, but I didn’t realize that my physical activity would drop to pretty much zero. Granted, I didn’t expect to move apartments and I certainly didn’t expect my dad to die during this time, so I suppose I have a few good excuses for my lack of focus on my health, but honestly, it’s just getting way out of hand and I need to do something about it.
So the other day when I saw Dr Dan’s blog posting about the May Health Challenge, I immediately responded, “I’m in. I’m so very, very in.”
The May Health Challenge, started by Dr. Julie and Dr. Mark (friends of the aforementioned Dr. Dan) is pretty simple. Pick something – or maybe two things – to do every day for the first 30 days in May to make your life a little healthier. Seems pretty simple, right? Of course, with my typical “Go Big or Go Home” mentality, I immediately thought of 27 different things I wanted to do: pack a healthy lunch, do 30 minutes of exercise, no sweets, 30 days of yoga, take a 30 day vacation on a tropical island. But then I remembered that the reason I’m in my current predicament is because I have no time – I’m already getting waaaaay too little sleep – which is bad for your health and, not-so-coincidentally, insufficient sleep is linked to overweight & obesity – so adding 27 new things to my plate is not going to healthify2 me. So I thought long and hard about what small things I could do to get myself back on the right path – things that are doable, but that will have an actual health benefit. And here’s what I came up with:
- Eat breakfast. For many, many years, I was not a breakfast person. But at some point I realized that I really should become a breakfast person, because it’s really important to get some nutrition action in the morning, and so I started making myself eat breakfast. At first, I really didn’t feel hungry, having gone so many years without breakfasts, but once I got used to it, I really started to like it. It makes you feel a lot better with some food in your belly in the a.m., and then you don’t end up overeating at lunch and dinner. Unfortunately, with my schedule being all messed up from the aforementioned scheduler messer uppers, breakfast seems to have fallen by the wayside. But it’s time to take back breakfast! Hard boiled egg and toast! Yogurt, fruit and granola! A homemade Egg McMaster! Even a bowl of cereal will do. For the next 30 days, I pledge to eat breakfast every morning (and picking up a muffin at the coffeeshop is not allowed!). I mean, if I’m trying to get back on track with being healthier, why not start with the first meal of the day?
- Do some form of physical activity every day (beyond my incidental walking and stair taking). It doesn’t have to be big long run or bike ride, but it does have to be more than just the incidental activity I get from, say, walking to the Skytrain Station, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work. After all, I’m getting that exercise now and it’s clearly not doing enough. For the next 30 days, I pledge to do some sort concerted physical activity every single day. Maybe it’s a trip down to the exercise room to ride the recumbent bike as I read a chapter of one of my textbooks. Maybe it’s a bunch of pushups during homework breaks. Maybe it’s stretch break every half hour in the office3. It will include at least a few runs along the boardwalk/yoga classes/trips on the bike path that my friend Patrice just told me about, but knowing my constraints, especially on days when I have classes, I intend to use this 30 days as a time to think creatively about how I can incorporate physical activity into my routine.
In addition, as coincidence would have it, my workplace just started offering a program for employees to work on their own health and part of the program is that you get to work with a health coach who will help you figure out things you can do be more healthy. I’ve already filled out the initial assessment and have been assigned a coach. And my first phone with my coach is in the middle of May – so I’ll be sure to report back to y’all on that as part of my May Health Challenge!