A massive well done to all our members from JCI Southampton for Stepping Up and getting involved to support local and national community projects.
We’ve been taking part in JCI UK’s Step Up January, kickstarting the new year by exercising for at least 30 minutes every day in January. Inspired by Mind’s RED January campaign we’ve all been doing a little more to start the year right and improve both our physical and mental health.
We’ve also been taking in the Pound a Day Challenge, living off just £7 for all food and drink for a week, raising awareness and money to tackle food poverty in the UK. For quite few members this was their first time taking on Pound a Day, but it was a great opportunity for members to share challenges, tips and experiences. It was a great way to start the year after the excesses of christmas and support our charity of the year ‘Southampton City Mission’.
“I thought pound a day would be pretty easy… So much so I kept up my marathon training whilst doing it. It turned out it was much more difficult than expected. I think the lack of vegetables was the biggest shock as I normally get at least 7 portions in a day and I just didn’t feel my energetic self over the week. I also just got very bored eating the same things over the week and clearly my emotions were probably getting to me as well.
Pound a day showed me the struggles and trade offs people have got to make when feeding themselves and families on limited budget. Nutrition vs Calories not an easy trade off to make. It is certainly a decision I don’t envy.”
“The £1 challenge, at least when I first heard about it, seemed simple and easy. I knew of all the cheeky ways to get free food at KFC and Burger King. Taking receipt numbers down and filling surveys, downloading apps, getting free samples, etc. I thought this was going to be a piece of cake… Then I read the rules and realised that I was very wrong. Turns out I wasn’t actually allowed to use apps or acquire free food from other sources using receipts etc. In hindsight, maybe I should’ve searched for vouchers because those were probably allowed. I decided to go the full student route and buy myself sacks and sacks of nothing but oatmeal and a bottle of multivitamins, with some sugar, salt, and pepper to “spice it up” a bit. My diet for the next three to four weeks would consist of nothing more than oats. The first week was more or less fine, I felt like I got into a habit of eating nothing but oats and the variation of oats. I would cook them normally at first before experimenting with the oven, frying pan, wok, toasting, and all kinds of abysmal ways to cook oats. On the bright side, oats tend to be a rather nutritious source of food. They have adequate protein and carbs to keep me going. On the negative side, they’re incredibly bland unless you season them.
By the 2nd Week, my life had become a spiral of madness and oats. Taking oat cakes, porridge oats, oat biscuits with salt, and oats cut into smiley faces was slowly driving me into madness. I felt the sweet succour of other food calling me as I downed vitamins with my glass of water. I wasn’t even losing weight which was the bigger problem. I managed to maintain weight, if not gain it. For the most part, my skin remained the same and my focus level remained the same. The amount of oats I was eating slowly drove me into what felt like an Edgar Allan Poe horror story. Although most of this sounds like hyperbole, it truly isn’t. On the bright side of this eternal oat fuelled darkness, I was saving money. For one kilogram of oats, it would cost me 75p. A sack would usually last me for two days or more. The vitamins were only £1. Thank god for free sachets of salt and pepper.
By the 3rd or 4th Week, I had unlocked a rather useless superpower. I had unlocked the superpower of being able to differentiate between the different types of oat and seasoning levels. I could taste how nutty it was, how bland, how little seasoning it had, if the salt was too much or too little. I could even taste the difference in water quality between the houses of Weston and my workplace drinking fountain. I had become a Sommelier of oats. It was at this point in my life I had accepted my fate as Master of the Oats. I mean sure, nothing was wrong with my physically, however, my mental state was questionable. It was in my moments of oat-fuelled stupor that I found myself staring down a dark tunnel with a bright light blinding me. That bright light being my WhatsApp messages pinging off. The other members of JCI Southampton were talking about an event and I had decided to catch up with the messages. To my utter horror and relief, I had realised that the £1 a Day challenge was only meant to last for one week. An immense sense of euphoria and disbelief washed over me. That was it. The end of my journey with oats. My oat-driven crusade against myself. My success and my own folly. This story and testimonial isn’t quite about how I survived the £1 a Day challenge, but rather, why you should always read the rules properly first.
Keep up the good work everyone!
This post was written by Zoe Toseland