The Healthy Teacher Project: In The Beginning

“Money cannot buy health, but I’d settle for a diamond-studded
wheelchair.”

Dorothy Parker

What do you get the man who wants for nothing?

I’m married, I have a daughter, a roof over my head, a decent job, the trappings of middle-class life and a multitude of friends to enjoy it with. I manage to get away at least once a year and be it camping in the Peak District or sunning it up on the Mediterranean it’s more than most people get these days. I don’t mean this in an arrogant way, but as I move towards my mid-30s, things are going pretty well.

What do you get the man who wants for nothing? His health.

I’ll be honest, I’m not in great shape. Over the last 15 years a combination of the fat, flour and sugar triumvirate, copious amounts of lager and a predilection for slobbing on the sofa have turned this once 1500m running, football and rugby playing young man into a card-carrying member of the Beer Gut Association.

Been there, done that…

It’s not to say that I don’t know how to look after myself. I do. Two years ago I trained for a 35-mile charity bike ride around the Peaks, climbing ridiculous hills (including some of the Tour De France route in the north of Sheffield!) and wowing myself with how I coped with it. I’ve got a gym membership, a road bike and a mountain bike, a few fitness apps and plenty of sports kit. So why don’t I bother?

The reason is, I guess, that it’s easy to do nothing. There are amazing parallels between one’s health and one’s career. The only way to become a great teacher is to work hard at it. The people who find behavior management easy do so because they work at it every day. Those with the best subject knowledge never stop learning. The best questioners hone their technique constantly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – hard work breeds success. Any other route is cheating or luck; I’m not prepared to do the former and I’m amazingly deficient in the latter.

In order to achieve some semblance of health and fitness then, I’ve got to work at it. I need to suck it up and deal with the fact that the horizontal life of eating, drinking and rotting my brain in front of the gogglebox has to stop.

I had a bit of a false start last year. I paid for some personal training sessions and managed in the space of five months to lose a couple of stone. Then darling daughter was born and all of my resources went into getting the family through the first six (demanding) months of her life. But now we’re all in a good routine, it’s time to try to take up that cause again.

Three is the magic number

When considering how to begin this ‘fix my health’ project, I realised that it’s not going to be enough to concentrate on just my physical health – there’s my mental and emotional health to take into account as well.

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t me confessing to some demons that haunt my world (although we all have our foibles) – I just think that an aggregation of improvements in the whole sphere of health and fitness will have exponential benefits. So as well as looking at my diet and exercise through this (hopefully continuing) series, I’ll be considering things like mindfulness, organisation, habit-forming and managing stress. They all contribute to the greater health – or otherwise – of oneself, and by taking all of this into account, I feel that I’ll be able to improve quicker.

Now, this is going to take a lot of effort. It’s almost going to be a career in itself, except it’s not a paid job and I’ll both be the worker and the boss. But as I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, if all the other parts of my life seem to be in place at the moment, then perhaps it’s the best time to go for it?

Hold up, wait a minute…

Before I start, I make no promises. Nothing I post up here will claim to be proper scientific advice and if it works it only works for me. I’m not going to try any fad diets or programmes, or mad fitness regimes, all I’m going to be doing is trying to make small but significant changes and looking at the results. If it works, great. If I crash and burn, I’m not going to beat myself over it.

What I will be doing is setting myself goals on a monthly basis. As the saying goes: How do you eat an elephant? The answer is one bite at a time. Each month will be a bite.

So my goals for the month of January 2015 are:

  • Set up and start a habit-forming system to record my progress
  • Start the Couch to 5K running programme (I know this is a fitness regime but it’s been highly recommended because it’s relatively easy to get started and continue).
  • Lose at least 8 pounds.
  • No alcohol (this will be under constant review).
  • Start writing a reflective journal

Up there are a mixture of targets for physical, emotional and mental well-being. Over the next few weeks I’ll be looking at each of these goals, how I progress against them and the impact on my teaching practice.

I’ll of course be continuing the other series on this blog, but this is the biggie for 2015. Strap in and enjoy the ride!

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About workedgechaos

Teacher. Critic. Geek.
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