in like a lion

March, man. March is brutal. For one thing: the weather. Last year at this time it was temperate and beautiful. Sandals were worn. Skirts.

This year? Rain and more rain, with high temperatures barely cracking 50 degrees.

So maybe I can blame the weather for the fact that I am totally lagging on my second Health Month.
health month march stats

Don’t let the points fool you: I’ve healed myself twice (and Not So was kind enough to heal me once as well) so technically I should be barely scraping by at around 5 points.

Surprisingly, it’s the little things that are catching me out – flossing, for example. Some nights it’s just too much, you know? Cooking dinner four nights a week – well, some weeks we’re doing a lot more takeout than others, is all I’m saying. (It’s a good thing I don’t have a ‘clean the house’ rule, too. Seriously.)

I’m not as motivated this month as I was last month and it shows. Shockingly, being sick for three weeks (and then having a sick kid) kind of takes it out of you! Not to mention the fact that we’re doing a huge lifestyle restructure, which is good – very good – but not unstressful.

There are a few things lurking on the plus side, though. Sugar, for example. Sticking to the three-days-a-week rule this month? A breeze.

And since I’ve been forcing myself to floss (almost) every night, my gums have been a lot happier. It’s like every dentist I’ve ever had knew what they were talking about! Crazy.

Maybe the trick is to not load up on rules. Incremental changes are the way to go. I’ll keep that in mind for next month, when I – oh, who am I kidding? I’m going to do what I always do: vastly over-estimate the amount of time and motivation I possess and then feel horrid when I don’t accomplish everything on my list.

Join me next month! It’ll be like a slow-mo train wreck. You know you want to.

Recap: February Health Month

Sooo-o, I managed to make it through February. Barely. Let’s take a look back, shall we?
February Health Month

I managed to follow my paltry two rules meticulously until the last three days of the last week. Screw it, I thought. I’m stressed and cranky and having a breakdown or whatever.* I can do better next month. So I had dessert. Two days worth of dessert.

But a weird thing happened: after two days of sugar, I didn’t want any more.

Which is so not a thing I ever thought I’d say.

Anyway, the stats:

Health Month Progress Graph

You see that dip there at the end? That was me, stuffing my face with ice cream sandwiches and my first Snickers bar in a month. (And the climb on the very last day was me nursing a wicked sugar hangover.)

But! Despite falling off the wagon for the last couple of days, I still got my badge:
Health Month Badge

Isn’t it pretty and shiny?

I’m playing again this month; you can follow along here. Sign up for next month while you’re there! You can even be on my team. Maybe.


Changing habits, one badge at a time

The entire concept behind Health Month is pretty excellent: make changes to your patterns and habits by making it into a game. You get to set rules and then win points every day for following them. You earn fruit, and if your Life Points get too low, you can replenish them (or someone else’s) by using your fruit. And then at the end of the month, if you’ve followed all your rules, you get a FourSquare badge.

I probably don’t have to tell you how intensely I covet the FourSquare badge.

Health Month was created by Buster Benson, the same guy behind the fantastic 750 Words, a site that encourages daily writing by creating challenges and giving badges as rewards. Health Month is a similar setup, only with lots more options. You can totally customize your goals – anything from “Sleep More” to “Exercise Daily” to “Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup.” There’s even a wheel you can spin to add to the random aspect: sometimes you get extra points, but occasionally you lose points. It’s all part of the fun!

Since I’m just starting out, this month’s rules are pretty basic: take a multivitamin every day (easy) and only allow myself added sugar 3 days per week (…not so easy). The idea is to make incremental changes rather than major lifestyle overhauls.

And, two weeks in, it seems to be working. Despite the fact that I crave cake like no one’s business, I am kicking ass at Health Month.

my Health Month wall

That said, next month I plan to really bump it up. It should be pretty fun to watch, so if you have any interest in making any changes to your habits or diet or whatever, you should sign up for next month too! Make sure you add me as a friend so we can keep track of each other’s progress, or throw fruit at each other, or whatever.