Back then I thought my reasons weren't teaching related so they didn't belong on this blog. But now I realize that prioritizing one's time is one of the most important things a healthy teacher does, so it is absolutely something I should share with you here.
A couple years after getting married, my husband and I were getting comfortable (read: overweight). I was comfortable in my grade level, making resources that worked great for my own class and were also publishable quality. I had insights to write about here on this blog and a collaborative blog a few times per week. I had so much I wanted to share with others, feeling so productive, that I was getting to sleep around 1 am every night.
Then one of my former colleagues passed away at the age of 52.
The last conversation I had with her, she had been talking about how she NEEDED to lose weight. Her doctor told her to get serious about it. She sounded serious about it. But before she did anything about it, her health took a turn. She had to leave teaching. And although things were up and down for a while, she never got the chance to improve her health the way she wanted to. She never found her balance as a healthy teacher.
After mourning her, I started thinking about what I should learn from her life and tragic death. I decided that I needed to make my health a priority. I bought a Fit Bit, and although it took me a year, I cut some of my bad eating habits, exercised regularly, and lost 20 pounds. My arthritic knee stopped bothering me. Although it took me 2 years, I started going to bed closer to 11 than 12. I went to physical therapy for a 10 year old shoulder problem that had gradually escalated from occasional ache to actual pain, and actually got strong enough to change the way my arm moves. The pain is pretty much gone.
How do you become a healthy teacher?
How did I take back control and become a healthy teacher?
After receiving that initial wake up call that drove me to action, in order to turn intention into a plan, I made time. Yes, I had to give up some things I enjoyed, like some blogging time and some resource creating time.
If you're struggling with the question of, "How do I make time when I'm so busy," I read a quote on Instagram a few weeks ago that was very poignant:
Instead of saying, "I don't have time,"
Try saying "It's not a priority for me."
I think about this in the context of exercise and food preparation.
Once I had a plan, I had to stick with it. Dwelling on fear was a good initial "kick in the pants" but in the long term it's not a healthy way to stay motivated. So in order to keep going, I looked for healthy teacher role models who I could relate to. To do the same, ask yourself:
Who is my healthy teacher competition?
b. Someone the same age as you, who has been training for 15 years
c. Someone 15 years older than you who has been training for 15 years
d. Someone who is in their 80s who can run a marathon
I have answered c and d. Because the fact is, (a) I can't turn back the clock. No matter how hard I exercise, I won't look like I'm in my 20s because I've already been there, done that. To set a long term future goal, I need to look for healthy teacher role models who are older than me and fitter than I currently am right now.
Even my friend who is (b) exactly the same age as me and running marathons is not useful for me when looking for workout inspiration, because she's got too much of a head start. Unless she slows down, which I don't wish on her, I won't catch her. And THAT'S OKAY. We all have our unique assets and flaws.
Instead, I look at my colleague (c) who eats right, works out regularly, and in spite of a hip replacement and being 15 years older than me, is in better physical shape than me. SHE is my healthy teacher role model. I know that if I keep up the work I started 3 years ago, I can reach her level of fitness. I bet if I work hard, I could do it in LESS than 15, but if I want to do that, I need to get on it! And who knows, maybe someday if I work hard enough I'll be (d) and 80 year old marathon runner. I just enjoy knowing that as a human being, I may have the potential within me, even if I don't choose to take my fitness quite that far.
And finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention my workout partner, who I am married to. He was at a similar fitness level as me to start with, and we have been holding each other accountable with our exercise regimen. I'm lucky and grateful!
It's not easy to start and stick with a healthy lifestyle. Not every decision I make is the best one for my health. But I start every day with a plan, inspiration, role models, accountability, and a mindset that my health is a priority.
Shut the Door and Teach
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