Health Month in May April 29, 2011 9:23 AM   Subscribe

It's that time again. Join Team MetaFilter for the May Game over at Health Month! previously, (previouslier, previousliest)

For one thing, our team is in first place! Woohoo! For another, read what angiep has to say about Health Month:
Being part of this team has meant that I’ve had the incredible support to celebrate the things I do for good health, and am encouraged to return to healthy habits if I should slip. In two months I’ve lost 14 pounds, got on track with my school work, and had my family doctor say to me last week that I “made her day” with blood work, blood pressures, etc. that are all now in a healthy range. Back in October she said that if I kept up my habits, I’d wind up in the ICU. Small changes pay off, and the support of MeFites (I’m thinking we should call ourselves in HealthMonth “MeFits”) is inestimable.
If you joined our team for previous months, please remember that you need to re-join the team at the beginning of each month's game.
posted by ocherdraco to MetaFilter-Related at 9:23 AM (71 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

Health Month has done more to get me to exercise and change my habits than anything else I've tried in the last few years. I'm enthused about doing it again even though I blew it big time this month. The MeFits are the best support group I've ever had. If you're on the fence, try it with a few rules for free. It's worth the time and effort.
posted by immlass at 9:33 AM on April 29, 2011


Oh.... you have to pay...
posted by cyphill at 9:39 AM on April 29, 2011


Or you can ask a fellow MeFit/e to SPONSOR you. There, I said it. Sponsorship sponsorship sponsorship!! You can ASK for SPONSORSHIP. Then you can have as many rules as you'd like, for free.

Just ask for it here, 'cause you can't ask for it there.

I know I am not the only one on the team who can sponsor one or two people and would be happy to bring another MeFite into the MeFit team.
posted by ambrosia at 9:45 AM on April 29, 2011


I've got one sponsorship for a Mefite who wants to get MeFit in May! Memail me. Also, it's free to play if you limit yourself to 3 rules, which is not a bad number of rules for getting into the habit of getting into habits.
posted by drlith at 9:49 AM on April 29, 2011


I've got a sponsorship chip for this month, too. Memail if you want it. I liked doing three rules this month as a way to get my feet wet, and then I figured it had done me enough good (30 day flossing streak!) that it was worth the $5.
posted by dorque at 9:56 AM on April 29, 2011


They need a rule to get me to log into the site everyday.
posted by smackfu at 10:03 AM on April 29, 2011


First time player with 3 rules. Rawr.
posted by Glinn at 10:06 AM on April 29, 2011


I believe I have an extra sponsorship chip as well!
posted by Zophi at 10:08 AM on April 29, 2011


I've paid up for May, so I should be able to sponsor someone as well. MeMail me.

I did not expect the positive influence that HealthMonth as been for me. I like to walk my dog but my husband really doesn't care one way or the other if I sleep in. I mean, he wants me to keep my teeth but he doesn't check every day to make sure I flossed (and it would be weird if he did.) When I'm faced with a decision about my goals, I think about how much I don't want to report failure to my fellow MeFits. I didn't realize how big a difference just a little moral support could make.

So join up. You set your own goals, and you evaluate how big a challenge each of those goals is to you. We have a wonderful, supportive team dynamic and I'd love to see more people playing.
posted by workerant at 10:43 AM on April 29, 2011


I just signed up. 3 rules seems plenty to start with for now.
posted by tdismukes at 10:52 AM on April 29, 2011


May will be my 3rd month on HealthMonth, and I'll strongly recommend it too. And I think 3 rules is a good starting point for one's first month, plus it's free if you have 3 or fewer rules. (Not that there aren't plenty of MeFites who can sponsor you if you want to do more.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:54 AM on April 29, 2011


just signed up with three rules. thanks for doing this, ocherdraco! I have high hopes.
posted by jbickers at 10:55 AM on April 29, 2011


I just signed up, too. This sounds like a perfect motivator.
posted by Vibrissa at 10:57 AM on April 29, 2011


Just dropped by to say Health Month is great, I've lost 8 lb over the past 2 months doing it and feel wonderful, and I'm very happy to sponsor. Memail me.
posted by bearwife at 10:59 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


You'll never guess my username on Health Month...

Healthmonth did a lovely job documenting how badly I fell apart thanks to a medication mixup last month. I know that doesn't sound positive, but seeing the ripples there should help preventing a recurrence. Also, May will be better, right?
posted by Karmakaze at 11:20 AM on April 29, 2011


I joined! I was planning on finally trying to kick my soda habit in May anyway; this looks like a fun motivator!
posted by Squee at 11:21 AM on April 29, 2011


How do those of you who have been doing this stay focused on it and above all remember to do what you're supposed to? My schedule is insanely busy and I know I have a few bad habits. But I feel like it's impossible to consciously break out of them.

Any advice y'all could offer would be appreciated.
posted by zarq at 11:22 AM on April 29, 2011


I did 3 rules in April and didn´t do so well because of mega-travel plans and a nasty cold, but apart from that it definitely helped me focus and do the things I am always meaning to do anyway. I'm on the team for May and might sign up for more rules this time.

In terms of staying focused and remembering, I mostly just wrote down the days when I should exercise or meditate in my planner, just like I always do, but instead of ignoring them I actually DID them sometimes, because I knew it was for health month. Flossing I was just magically diligent about, but I don't trust myself to do it without the sword of Health Month Check-in dangling over my head yet. Maybe someday.
posted by little cow make small moo at 11:30 AM on April 29, 2011


I've signed up with 3 rules. Thanks for posting a reminder each month! I meant to sign up last month, didn't get around to it, and forgot all about it.
posted by sculpin at 11:54 AM on April 29, 2011


Okay, this time I saw the reminder before the month started, so I don't feel all "yikes, I'm behind before I even start!" Count me in.

I'm trying to write up a custom Don't rule and could use some advice from more-experienced folks about the "how much do you like to do this?" question. How it works on Do rules seems fairly clear: If a Do rule is I Do want to exercise then the question means How much do you like exercising?

For a Don't rule, how does it work? If a rule is I Don't want to do X, does the question mean How much do you like avoiding X or does it mean How much do you like doing X (even though you know it's not good for you)?
posted by Lexica at 11:58 AM on April 29, 2011


I was trying to get a sponsorship but it looks like I have to have more than 3 rules to be able to apply for a sponsorship. And I already signed up with just 3, because that was all I could get in the free game. But now I do not seem to be able to edit my May rules in order to have more rules in order to even have the option to apply for a sponsorship so I can then have the rules I added. I think. And my endless loops through the site are beginning to drive me up a wall so I am going to give it a rest for now. Does anyone know how to get around this?
posted by little cow make small moo at 12:22 PM on April 29, 2011


little cow: if I go down to the bottom to "Next Month" and hit "Choose your rules", it lets me modify them even though I'm already signed up. And it let me pick a zillion rules even before I ponied up the $5, and then just told me I'd need $5 or a sponsorship before I could actually start. Is that what you're trying?
posted by dorque at 12:27 PM on April 29, 2011


My schedule is insanely busy and I know I have a few bad habits. But I feel like it's impossible to consciously break out of them.

It depends on what your bad habits are. There are myriad ways to reshape your daily life-flow, but they all have to do with exactly what it is you're trying to change.

Try setting up odd obstacles for yourself to help remind you that you want to not do that one thing anymore. Or try finding ways to remind yourself that you want to start doing that other thing. Play games with yourself. Set up a personal payment/reward system. Put a rubberband around your wrist and snap it when you feel cravings come on.

Above all else, keep a simple diary, one which doesn't take any real time out of your day but in which you record success or failure with habit-changing.

I mean... it all depends on what you're trying to reshape.
posted by hippybear at 1:18 PM on April 29, 2011


For a Don't rule, how does it work? If a rule is I Don't want to do X, does the question mean How much do you like avoiding X or does it mean How much do you like doing X (even though you know it's not good for you)?

It's more of a I'm limiting myself to "x" amount of the thing I'm trying not to do.
posted by Zophi at 1:29 PM on April 29, 2011


There were definitely a few days where the anticipation of checking in kept me from eating sweets at work, or got me to get up and go for a walk. And I had a really rough patch in April (TWO sick kitties!) and the encouragement of MeFits was delightful.

This time I'm upping the number of rules, partially as a prep for a dentist appointment near the end of May. :)

So yes, I also have a sponsorship chip available.
posted by epersonae at 1:31 PM on April 29, 2011


Ok, I think I have it now. For some reason I couldn't get to the page where it actually let me edit my May rules. Initially I was at the $5 or sponsorship page but then I could not find my way back.
posted by little cow make small moo at 1:35 PM on April 29, 2011


The interface is making me cranky. Why can't I find a way to look at the rules I've chosen? Much less edit them? Why does the Encyclopedia insist on disappearing the Table of Contents every time I click on an entry? Argh!
posted by Lexica at 1:47 PM on April 29, 2011


How do those of you who have been doing this stay focused on it and above all remember to do what you're supposed to?

Try limited and realistic rules to start with. The daily check-ins remind you so you have the mental focus to build the habit. It helps if you're already motivated to make the changes anyway. My big goal for the month was to build up my walking habit, which was ruined by a moderately serious allergic reaction to some medicine. But for the first part of the month, I was walking more regularly than I have since I moved back to Austin.

I'm starting from scratch next month with an achievable goal (a little lower than last month) but I'm pretty sure I'll be regular again in no time at all.
posted by immlass at 1:52 PM on April 29, 2011


Yay healthmonth! Team Metafilter has been super awesome and supportive, and has really helped me out.

With regards to staying focused and remembering what you've signed up to do - start small. If you want to go with three rules, throw in one that's already a habit (or near to one) that you'd like to maintain, along with the ones you want to start establishing. The daily check-ins I do first thing in the morning for the day before, which helps me to keep my rules in my head for the day. I'll be thinking at least a little "well, I didn't drink enough water yesterday, so I really need to make sure I've got my water bottle at hand" or "I'm doing well on my soda quota, so I can relax a little bit on that today." It also only takes me about five minutes to check in, so it's not a huge onerous thing. Participating in the community aspect of things over there by writing a little something about the day or throwing out a tip or a thought also helps me to keep things a little more in mind.

Oh, and I can sponsor lots of people. I have sponsorship chips and to spare, so just drop me a message. Especially if you're just trying it out, it's good to go for free at first until you see whether you like it.
posted by lriG rorriM at 2:04 PM on April 29, 2011


I'm in for another month! Hoping to do more than 3 rules for the first time. I have found knowing I'm going to be accountable to HealthMonth very helpful in building good habits.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:13 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just to clarify - what's the way to actually ask for sponsorship? I've been refreshing the great big page where everyone does it and watching for team Metafilter members to show up, but is there a more direct and simple method to sponsor someone than having them post there?
posted by lriG rorriM at 2:18 PM on April 29, 2011


I'm gonna re-up if I can! I haven't been perfect, but this is somewhat surprisingly the most effective thing I've done to rein in my sleep period's inexorable shift latewards.
posted by ignignokt at 2:28 PM on April 29, 2011


BOY THE HEALTH MONTH SITE IS A REAL PAIN IN THE ASS TO NAVIGATE!! It should be *easy* to make updates to rules for future months, or stay on the same team for more than one month, or request sponsorships, and NONE OF IT IS. BOOOO HEALTH MONTH GET IT TOGETHER.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:38 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


How do those of you who have been doing this stay focused on it and above all remember to do what you're supposed to?

Checking in every day is a good place to start. Also, for me at least, labeling something as a "rule" and not "something I ought to (or ought not) do" really puts me in a different frame of mind. Which doesn't mean I never break my rules, but the mental weight of doing so is a lot greater.

I'd also describe myself as a busy person, and so for me one of my key rules has been to limited the Dreaded Internet Time Suck. So essentially, several of my rules revolve around replacing wasting time on the Internet with more productive and beneficial activities--starting work earlier, exercising, practicing the piano, doing some housework, GOING ON DATES, etc. Some of these are actually enjoyable and relaxing, so it's not like I'm completely replacing all my fun with misery and gloom.

For a Don't rule, how does it work? If a rule is I Don't want to do X, does the question mean How much do you like avoiding X or does it mean How much do you like doing X (even though you know it's not good for you)?

The latter. So, if one of my rules is "avoid sugar" (x days a week), then the top level how much do you like it rating is to be read as as "I want to marry sugar" (and thus it will be very difficult to avoid it).
posted by drlith at 2:49 PM on April 29, 2011


I went a little overboard my first month with rules. I think I'm going to try to be much more careful with exactly what I want to get done in May.
posted by SNWidget at 4:44 PM on April 29, 2011


In defense of Health Month and its imperfect interface, the whole thing seems to be built and run by one guy with a young baby. I'm willing to cut it a little slack, especially since its gotten me to regularly floss, meditate, do yoga, cut down on internet, etc. Nothing else had made a dent in these attempts. Those frustrating aspects will surely work themselves out soon.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 6:55 PM on April 29, 2011


I emailed Buster how to ask for a sponsorship and he replied:

To sponsor someone, he/she'll have to "apply for sponsorship" after they choose their rules (assuming they choose more than 3... 3 or fewer is free), and then you'll be able to go to the "sponsor me!" link on their profile page.

So far it's worked with a couple of folks I know.
posted by angiep at 11:33 PM on April 29, 2011


Heath Month the idea is awesome, Health Month the site needs some work, but I'm over there & loving it. The support (and fruit!) I get from the team is super-de-duper helpful.

Thanks ocherdraco for organizing this!
posted by saveyoursanity at 1:04 AM on April 30, 2011


I've just joined up as- surprise!- psychostorm and requested membership. I've been meaning to do this for ages!

Thanks for organising this, ocherdraco.
posted by psychostorm at 3:45 AM on April 30, 2011


I just signed up for a year, so I've got a bunch of sponsorship chips now. Looked through the current requests and didn't see anyone from Team MeFi on there, but if I missed you (or you subsequently need one) let me know.

And yes, the interface is difficult to navigate. So much that a few days into my first (free) month I said that although I liked the concept in general, I couldn't see myself paying for it unless the interface were significantly improved. But by the end of the first month I was ready to pay for a second, and by the end of the second to pay for a year up front. In spite of the klunky navigation. (With time, you learn where the important stuff is, and ignore the rest.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:23 AM on April 30, 2011


April was my first month and its having a positive impact, so a big thank you to ocherdraco for sterling work organising this and actually getting me to sign up.

Oh I also have sponsorship chip's if folks need them.
posted by Z303 at 4:33 AM on April 30, 2011


This looks great. Also signed up with some simple rules that I've been working on for awhile, but I like the game and rewards options. Hoping to do well enough to push myself more next month!
posted by saffry at 9:04 AM on April 30, 2011


Hm... looks interesting--I wonder if Buster would be willing to barter a couple of months of membership for a re-design of the site for ease of use by members?
posted by tzikeh at 10:19 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been randomly going through the sponsorship place and helping out mefites but can't find an easier way. Warning to new people that during the beginnings and endings of months the place gets spammed by people looking for sponsorship that seem to be playing only for 4 square badges. It is one of the annoying things of the site.

The site is a tad confusing but anytime anything broke down on my side Buster was pleasant to deal with and he fixed it within a day or two and offered to reimburse me life points.
posted by kanata at 10:32 AM on April 30, 2011


If there are MeFites who would like sponsorship, the simplest way I've figured out is to make all your rules that you would make, (i.e., more than three) and then post here asking for sponsorship. Anyone wanting to sponsor you can then just go to your Health Month profile and click on the link that says "Sponsor me!"

I have two sponsorship chips burning a hole in my pocket, so post here or MeMail me if you are interested.
posted by ambrosia at 11:24 AM on April 30, 2011


Just signed up. This looks awesome, and I plan to imagine my month punctuated with Super Mario Bros. 1-up noises.
posted by timetoevolve at 11:59 AM on April 30, 2011


I plan to imagine my month punctuated with Super Mario Bros. 1-up noises.

Maybe we can get Buster to add that to the site.
posted by saveyoursanity at 12:56 PM on April 30, 2011


I just signed up because my Mefite husband did it last month and seemed to enjoy it. Could someone sponsor me? He's being sponsored, or he'd do it himself.

Go Team Mefi!
posted by Terriniski at 2:28 PM on April 30, 2011


I can sponsor you Terriniski. I just need your sponsor number or your name on the site.
posted by kanata at 7:39 PM on April 30, 2011


Thanks kanata - I just got an email that drlith is sponsoring me. All set and looking forward to May!
posted by Terriniski at 7:54 PM on April 30, 2011


I strongly agree with MissPinkKate and tzikeh that the site needs a redesign. And get rid of the damned wheel. Or make a box to check that says you don't ever want to spin it.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:12 PM on April 30, 2011


Ok, I'm in. If at any point this thing asks me to click a cow, I'm handing control of my account over to sculpin.
posted by hades at 9:48 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've just signed up, added four rules and asked to join the Mefite group. I'm also having a bit of trouble navigating the site, but it looks like lots of people have gotten into it, so hopefully won't be too hard to "play" the game?

Any tips on what I need to do next? I think I'm all set up for the month, just have no idea how to track what I'm doing on the site. Will this become obvious once the month starts?
posted by mosessis at 11:39 PM on April 30, 2011


You should get a daily email reminder to sign in and play. You should see in your start page (http://healthmonth.com/hello) a 'play this turn' every day to fill in whether you've passed or failed each rule, and also a link to play previous turns if you've missed some days and need to fill them in late.

One thing I didn't quite 'get' when playing was how the 'x times a week' works. So say you've a 'don't' rule to only eat sugar 4 times a week. In effect, you fill in each day whether you did the thing, or not. In any given week, you can fail that thing 4 times. Every day you fail beyond that, costs you a life point. Obviously, the rule itself, and how many times you must succeed - 'a do' rule - or not fail 'a don't' rule depends upon the rules you pick.

I started late last month, but found it useful, even if I didn't record my results for the day every evening. I did find that easier to do though than doing it the morning after.

Also, I have a couple of sponsorships left, so memail with your healthmonth username if you want one.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:53 AM on May 1, 2011


There's usually a "play today's turn" link right across the top of the page, but for some reason it doesn't show up on the first of the month. However, you can still get to it from the bottom nav bar, under "Your current game."

You can record your accomplishments for a day all at once at the end of the day, or even the next day (or even later than that, if you forget, although there's a small bonus for being "timely," i.e., recording a day no more than 24 hours after the end of the day). Or you can visit the "today's turn" page throughout the day and check things off when you do them, which is what I do. Also, if you spin the wheel at the start of the day, you know how your points will be affected.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:59 AM on May 1, 2011


Oh, I did find a useful firefox extension - timetracker - that helps track your internet usage - handy for when you have that rule on healthmonth. It just has a timer in the bottom bart that counts up for the day all the time you're using firefox - it stops when you close or change focus to another window.

The official version on the firefox addons is only for firefox 3.6; there is a tweaked version that works on firefox 4 here on hotfile, and I've also chucked a copy on wuala so it's less annoying to download.

To use, you'll need to see the 'add-on' bar (ctrl+/) - should be a gray bar at the bottom of firefox. To install in FF4, go to 'addons' in firefox, click on the 'cog' in the top right, 'install add-on from file' and find the timetracker-1.2.5-fx4.0.xpi you downloaded.
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:18 AM on May 1, 2011


Getting a few spammy requests for sponsorship from strangers (non-Mefites). Is that pretty normal? Just a beginning of the month thing?
posted by Glinn at 7:51 AM on May 1, 2011


It's an infuriatingly normal beginning of the month thing.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:07 AM on May 1, 2011


Buster asked if the foursquare badges should come or go (here), and so far the overwhelming consensus seems to be for them. I think that the spamming would be far less prevalent without them. The beginning and ends of the month are always kind of cruppy. Hopefully, it'll get sorted out eventually. And the user interface. The idea of the game and the site itself is too good to let it be buried under a deluge of spam and frustration. In the meantime, if you need or want sponsorship, just let me know. Now I've got the process down.
posted by lriG rorriM at 8:55 AM on May 1, 2011


I've been thinking: maybe we should start a wiki of all our interface frustrations, and thoughts on how to fix them. What do y'all think?
posted by ocherdraco at 9:34 AM on May 1, 2011


I think that is an excellent idea. I have no idea how to go about starting a wiki, but I'm happy to help out.

And I still have one Sponsorship chip left, if anyone wants it.
posted by ambrosia at 11:38 AM on May 1, 2011


You could enter the interface frustrations in the ideas tracker, no need to setup a wiki.
posted by Z303 at 4:45 PM on May 1, 2011


True. I had completely forgotten about the idea tracker.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:40 PM on May 1, 2011


Starting over this month. I will make it this time. Just requested to rejoin the team.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:22 PM on May 1, 2011


I'm on there. YAY!
posted by Kitteh at 5:07 AM on May 2, 2011


Why didn't I see this on time? I've asked to join the team too.
posted by clearlydemon at 12:21 PM on May 3, 2011


Okay, I've signed up (same username there as here).

Will try to recruit the honey (also a mefite) this evening.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 4:53 PM on May 3, 2011


Is there any way I can see the details on a custom rule after I've submitted them? There were some specific conditions I wrote that I forgot.
posted by ignignokt at 8:38 PM on May 3, 2011


joined last night with three rules. i think that's plenty.
posted by jander03 at 4:21 AM on May 4, 2011


ignignokt: if you go to the screen where you record whether you followed your rules or not ("Start today's turn" if you're caught up,) it shows your personal notes on rules there.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:46 AM on May 4, 2011


Thanks! Saw that when I checked in later.
posted by ignignokt at 4:21 PM on May 4, 2011


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