Minimalist Health Challenge

6-week Minimalist Health Challenge for diet and exercise

I’ve gone soft. Not soft emotionally, but soft in my arms. Specifically the jiggly part under my triceps. I’m sure you know which part I’m speaking of.

This softness is a disappointing development for me. Just over a year ago that part of my arm was firm and toned, along with my shoulders and the muscles in my back. Just over a year ago I could do SEVEN pull-ups in a row (which is not bad for a scrawny girl). And not cheater pull-ups, either. These were the real deal.

Alas, right now I could maybe do two pull-ups. Maybe.

The decline downward in health and fitness can be caused by a lot of reasons. Having a baby. Grief. Burnout. For me it was a change in priorities, which lead to a change in schedule. Specifically I replaced my early morning workout sessions with writing sessions. I don’t regret this decision, but one year later the lack of consistent physical activity is apparent.

In other words, I miss my biceps.

Because of this, and because spring break is just over six weeks away and my plans are to be in a sunny, warm location, I have some work to do. I want to tone up, eat better, and generally get this stiff body moving more. And I want to do it in the simplest, most minimal way possible without radically changing my routine, and without committing to an intense program.

So I’ve created a Minimalist Health Challenge for myself. Part experiment, part resolution, the rules of of this challenge are that there are no rules.

Instead, I’m asking the following questions:

Can I increase my overall health and fitness (aka be bikini-ready) in six weeks without a diet or a formal workout routine?

Can I organically fit physical activity into my day in a way that adds up to results but doesn’t require me to set aside a thirty-minute workout time? Is writing down what I eat enough to encourage me to choose healthy food?

My bet is Yes to all. Yes, I’ll tone up without actually “working out.” Yes, I’ll eat healthier. And Yes, I’ll be bikini-ready. To help, I’m doing the following two things:

  1. Keeping a food diary: Diet experts claim that there’s a lot of power in keeping a log of what we eat. I want to put that claim to the test. Without counting calories or tracking portion sizes or restricting certain foods, I’m simply going to write down everything I eat and drink and see what happens to my eating habits.
  2. Keeping a fit diary: Similar to food, I’m going to write down my physical activity for the day, plus notes about when they happen (ex. “twenty lunges while waiting for toaster in break room at work”). My theory is that we’re over-complicating fitness by compartmentalizing it into “workout sessions.” We’ll see what happens when I break down the compartments.

Like every good health challenge, I’m sharing a photo of my “before” at the start. We’ll see what kind of “after” a minimalist approach to health produces.

6-week Minimalist Health Challenge before picture

You’re invited to follow along with me on this challenge, and join in yourself. I’ll be posting regular updates, including what I’m eating and how I’m moving, on Instagram at @minimalisthealthchallenge.

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