Christmas Challenge Week 3 Review – Health Week

Wow we’ve come to the end of the third week of Minimal Student’s Christmas Challenge! With the amount of Christmas parties and food going on around this time of year, I thought it would be a great opportunity to go against the flow and focus on health.

Dec 13 : Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Give it a rest and a workout at the same time today by meditating for 5mins

For a lot of people, the word ‘health’ immediately implies body, and most of the time referring to weight. But the health of your mind is just as valuable. You can train and stimulate it by doing sudoku puzzles and so on, but there’s nothing better than just sitting still for a few minutes and letting it wander. People have no idea how hard it is to just sit without being distracted until they stop for a moment and try it.

Dec 14 : Only drink water today. It’s pure, simple and cleansing.

Water is the stuff of life. It may not taste like much, but it has no calories, fats, additives, sugars or anything, and yet it is essential for your body. It’s one of the only things that you can consume which is purely good for you. Drink a glass now!

Dec 15 : Have a meat-free day and/or try not to eat anything that comes in packaging for just one day.

Reducing meat consumption (and substituting it for tofu or at least white meat) can make a massive positive difference to your body. Packaged food is the same in many ways. We pay for the convenience of food, not only with our money, but our health too. I’m not saying we should ban either of them, but that we should be at least be mindful of the amount we’re eating, especially in proportion to fresh foods.

Dec 16: Incorporate exercise as part of your morning routine today. It’ll wake you up, even if it’s just 5 mins.

A lot of people reach straight for the coffee cup when they’re feeling drowsy in the morning. I love to drink coffee, but for me, exercise does the job of waking me up – it loosens my body muscles, gets my heart pumping and releases endorphins which puts me in a good mood for the rest of the day. By ‘exercise’ I don’t mean you have to go for an early morning jog or spend an hour in the gym before work (if you don’t want to). Literally a few minutes of equipment free exercise (see below) will make all the difference.

Dec 17 : No snacking today. Simple.

Ever since I read Patrick Reynolds post about Mallory Eating (I’m never going to stop linking to his amazing blog) I’ve been making a concious effort not to snack between meals. When I used to do it, most of the time I wasn’t actually hungry – I just saw the cookies on the table top and munched on them. Just moving them out of plain sight greatly reduced the amount I ate. Then I realized I didn’t really need to eat snacks that much at all and I stopped buying as much.

Dec 18 : Carbs – Cut out sugar today and/or buy the wholegrain alternative to your regular bread, rice, pasta, cereal etc.

Dorm life is a notorious opportunity for other people to steal your food. My friends used to wake up in the morning and find their milk, cereals and bread packets a little lighter than they remembered leaving them the day before. But I never encountered this problem. I found out that the reason was because my food was ‘too healthy’ (whatever that means) for them. They didn’t want to drink my skimmed milk, eat my bran flake cereal or my wholemeal bread or pasta. It made me laugh when  I found out, because it’s like killing two birds with one stone.

Dec 19 : Do 20+ minutes of equipment free exercise (except for clothes). No gadgets, no machines. Just run, jump, stretch and breathe.

I used to hate running in the gym because I thought it was a waste since I lived next to the beach. I still much prefer running outside, but the winters in Japan are so bitterly cold that it would be almost dangerous for me to do so. So even though I go to gym occasionally now, I still prefer to do most of my exercise without equipment. The main reason is because I can only use the gym at certain times, which isn’t always convenient for me. In the mornings especially, I have the urge to do a small work out, so I just do a few jumps, stretches, sit-ups, push-ups and a little karate. It’s quick, simple, and no set-up is required, just the way I like it!

If you haven’t joined the Minimalist Christmas Challenge yet, it’s still running daily on Twitter until Dec 25th. I hope to see you there!

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