The May Health Challenge – The Beginning

The May Health Challenge began in 2012 as just a simple way for me to help get motivated to overcome a personal health roadblock. My hope was to find one health buddy in the community. What I ended up finding was hundreds of them. We had no idea that the challenge would resonate with other folks as much as it did, and we’re so happy that it has.

We had just moved to Guelph and opened our clinic in the fall of 2010, with no family or friends in the community. Upon arriving, I had experienced an ectopic pregnancy which was difficult, both emotionally to lose the baby, and physically as it was quite painful. Unexpected complications arose and I was left with some chronic lower body pain that persisted for well over a year. For a long time, it was a struggle to walk just a hundred meters, let alone around the block. By the time 2012 rolled around, I was still not back to my previous physical activity level. At all. I was never a superstar athlete, but I could always run 5km, or kick around a soccer ball without being in constant pain.

It was disheartening. Physically and mentally. And also a constant reminder of the baby we tried to have for years, and then lost.

It was also difficult as a health practitioner to be providing health advice and exercises to patients while feeling like I couldn’t demonstrate some of the simplest exercises myself.

And this is where the May Health Challenge came in.

I needed to find a way to feel better. To move more. To have less pain. To have my mind break the cycle it was in. I needed to stop catastrophizing. I was going to be okay. It was going to get better. I just needed to do something. I needed to set a goal, form a habit, and be accountable.

I was fairly new to twitter, and to the Guelph community, and also a very private person (you wouldn’t think that from all my tweeting I’ve been told). The thought of broadcasting out a personal health challenge to people that would hold me accountable sounded daunting.

But here’s the thing – as I put my challenge out there, I soon found I was amongst the most supportive community. People not only encouraged me on my goals, but joined me with their own personal health changes. It started in the month of May, a hashtag was formed, and the May Health Challenge was created.

We’re going into our sixth year and I can’t thank the May Health community enough for their support and encouragement. I’m so inspired by the challenges participants have picked in the past and to see the camaraderie that has developed with other participants.

It has turned into a wonderful annual check-in for me and for others to step up our own health, in our own way.

So that’s how it all began. I’m still finalizing my challenge for 2017 and would love to hear about yours.


Photo credit: Dr. Mark Kubert

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