Cross trainers? Check. Water bottle? Check. Headphones? Check. Tincture? Shit. Of all the things to forget.

The bitter winter wind whips my already-frozen cheeks, as I turn tail and trudge back to the end of the parking lot to fetch the little amber bottle from my trunk. It’s bro-dude rush hour at my gym and I just want to get my workout over with, but the walk is worth it – over the past 10 days, cannabis has become the most essential support element of my fitness routine.

I’m among a group spread across North America whose members have just completed the most tripped-out health challenge ever conceived: Green Flower Media’s Cannabis Health Challenge. The three-tiered lifestyle plan stresses the value in pairing physical activity, clean eating and mindful reflection with – you guessed it – marijuana.

“I think the biggest misconception about cannabis is that it makes you dumber, stupider, lazier and more irresponsible… if you use cannabis to take some time to be a little more reflective in your life, people make a lot of positive changes,” says Green Flower CEO Max Simon.

Green Flower, an online educational resource base for all things relative to cannabis wellness, news and culture, launched the challenge on its website in early January for members of its Insider community. Participants were tasked to complete cannabis-supplemented mind-body activities each day for 10 days and track their progress.

Cannabis Fitness

And while it may seem counterintuitive to hit a blunt or torch a couple dabs before jumping on the elliptical machine, we’re not talking out-of-body, walls-melting kind of smoking. The benefits of the challenge hinge on mindful, measured and conservative consumption; just the “minimum viable” dose (a couple hits off a vape, a five-milligram dose of tincture or a comparable equivalent), Simon explains.

“In the world of cannabis, probably 90 per cent of people are using too much. Too much and too frequently. There’s pretty strong diminishing return that happens when you over-consume,” Simon says, adding that microdosing saves money, enhances clarity and ensures users are getting the most value from the plant.

Cannabis is a curious supplement to physical activity, with its potential to help disrupt pain signals on their way from the brain to the rest of the body. It’s also a natural bronchodilator, with the ability to help stimulate deeper breathing. Combined with the inherent psychoactivity that can catapult an active person into a focused mental space, cannabis is something of an athlete’s secret weapon if used with intention, Simon says.

Another key component of the challenge is mindful nutrition. Participants are asked to drink a full, 12-ounce glass of water, and eat at least one serving of fresh fruit or veggies after a session. And finally, they’re posed with a different reflective mental exercise each day, built around the concepts of goals, potential and gratitude.

“If you look at obstacles to (exercise, clean eating and positive thinking), it actually turns out that when used mindfully, cannabis is the perfect solution.”

Green Flower offers a few recommendations on pairing specific cannabinoid-dominant strains with particular wellness activities and suggestions for best administration practices. The optimal strain isn’t just always a question of indica-versus-sativa, either – terpenes can play a big role in the plant’s effect. Limonene and pinene-heavy strains, for example, can be stimulating, while myrcene and linalool-heavy strains can prove sedating. But broken down simplest, Simon says combining THC with CBD is key to maximizing the holistic potential of cannabis as a wellness tool.

Marijuana Strain

A few high-profile participants took on the initial round of the challenge, including former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, cannabis activist Steve DeAngelo and 420 Games founder Jim McAlpine. Anyone up for the challenge can self-start by joining Green Flower’s Insider community.

Insiders are sharing their results on the site, which range from increased stamina to stronger personal relationships.

For me, the results were a little more subtle, but still noteworthy. While I used cannabis in a wellness capacity before taking the challenge, the past couple months of cold weather have been less about conscious consumption, and more about getting baked and eating Doritos in my underwear. Faithfully re-introducing marijuana in my regime helped restore my healthy relationship with the plant and its place in my gym bag.

“A lot of what this plant teaches you is about intent. So if your intention is to use the plant to be healthier, happier and more productive, you’ll actually be pretty surprised,” Simon says. “I want people to give it a shot enough to be surprised.”

Victoria Dekker is an award-winning print and online journalist, covering life, culture and business in the cannabis sphere and beyond. Connect with her on Twitter @deadtowrite.