February is #SpartanMonth

I’ve made a tradition of living under strict austerity during the month of February.  It started a few years back when I decided to forgo hot water for 28 days.  I did it as a way of helping myself appreciate the luxury of a hot shower.  Just over ten years ago I dedicated a month of my life to Hurricane Katrina disaster relief in Louisiana and Mississippi.  I can count the number of showers I had that month on 1 hand.  It was the only option, considering how difficult it was to find running water.

My friends thought I was crazy for taking ice-cold showers in the chilliest month of the year, but I can’t describe how invigorated I felt.  It was the pleasure I gained from those cold showers that inspired me to create #SpartanMonth.  #SpartanMonth is an extension of my cold showers.  The idea is that we often take everyday luxuries for granted, but there’s much to be gained from extreme simplicity.  You can improve your overall health and wellbeing.  #SpartanMonth has 10 simple rules.

1. No hot water.  You’re not allowed to touch the hot water knob on your tub, sink, or shower.  Simple as that.  Cold showers can be good for you!

2. Exercise twice per day.  Complete a 15-minute workout twice every day.  I prefer to do my first routine at 5:30am and the second just before I go to sleep at 9:30pm.  Some people might need to adjust the plan to meet their abilities.  Here’s what each routine involves:

  • 50 push-ups

  • 50 hindu squats

  • 20 pull-ups (You can buy a pull-up bar, but I find something to hang from in my environment.)

  • 20 chin-ups

  • 200 flutter kicks

3. Drink only water.  Does this rule need further clarification?  No coffee.  No beer.  No whiskey.  No soda.  No milk.  No tea.  Just drink water.

4. Run 1 mile per day.  You might enjoy running further.  That’s allowed, but #SpartanMonth requires running a minimum of 1 mile each day.  No rest days.

5. Eat only whole foods.  You cannot eat any processed foods.  The only food you can eat from a package are whole foods (plain oatmeal, plain rice, frozen vegetables, etc).  

6. Eat 2 pounds of vegetables per day.  Much like running, you’re welcome to eat more than this, but you must eat at least 2 pounds of vegetables each day.  Since high-quality fresh veggies are tough to find in February, I like to use frozen vegetables.  Plus they don’t rot in my freezer.

7. Consume no meat, eggs, or dairy.  Trust me, if you eat a well-rounded plant-based diet, you will get enough protein.  You won’t miss anything you need to build a strong body.

8. Sleep 8 hours per day.  I like to sleep from 9:30pm-5:30am.  You might prefer something different.  This will be a challenge for those of us who are used to a grinding schedule.

9. Read for 1 hour per day.  #SpartanMonth is more than just a physical challenge.  You should build your body and your mind.  I recommend reading nonfiction books that help you learn a new skill.

10. Meditate for 20 minutes per day.  Meditation can have an unbelievably positive impact on your overall wellbeing.  Not sure how to meditate?  I recommend using Headspace.

#SpartanMonth isn’t designed to be easy.  I guarantee you won't be the same after your first #SpartanMonth.  Perhaps you’ll decide to keep some or all of these rules going forward.  I decided to make these rules a regular part of my life all year.  Join me on social media using the hashtag #SpartanMonth.  Challenge your friends to complete a #SpartanMonth!  Prepare for greatness!  

Note: Some of us have health conditions that prevent us from completing all of the rules.  #SpartanMonth is about the spirit of being healthy and going without luxuries for a short time to better appreciate the things we have.  Feel free to adjust the rules to fit your health needs and physical abilities.  You may wish to consult your doctor before beginning a new diet or exercise program.