It feels really good but a bit awkward to be writing about something outside of my norm, but this isn’t going to be about ed policy, classroom practice or technology. There won’t be anything about literacy or systems thinking. The only thing on my mind this morning is health. My health and the health of educators. Today I want to move beyond all of those unhealthy years I’ve spent in schools, tell you that I’ve found a path forward, and see if anyone wants to join a new kind of team.
It’s important for me to share this story because I’ve always been a “big guy,” both of my parents passed away young (57 and 61), I have two wonderful kids (6 and 9), and because my life as an educator - for many reasons - has often been in conflict with my physical health. This past year has added the “final straws” for me. First, my father-in-law passed away, which both left my kids with only one Grandparent and prompted me to leave my position in a Bronx, NY high school and move to Massachusetts. Family first...period. Finally, I’ve been out of work this past year while getting set up here, so there has been the type of unforeseen set of anxieties and stressors in my family’s life that are always brought about by change.
Doing something about my health has afforded me a fantastic level of optimism and agency in my life. We aren’t always in control of situations, so I believe in embracing the facets of life in which my choices will directly impact the outcome.
I’ve lost 40 pounds since April vacation and have another 30 to go.
Along the way, here’s what I’ve come to know about our modern culture (feel free to join me in admitting taking part):
- We eat too much food. Whether we are super-sizing, socializing or sitting around the house, it’s just too much.
- We use food to mark any and all special occasions. The irony being that we’ll celebrate birthdays with junk food, calling it a treat, where it’s not a present for our bodies.
- Like so many products out there, food is marketed to give us emotional responses to it. We, in kind, tend to think food will help us emotionally. Bacon cheeseburgers and Bloomin’ Onions to don’t solve life’s struggles. We don’t respect ourselves, become adventurous or get along with our family because of what we eat. These things happen because of the way we feel about ourselves and those around us.
- We are too high-strung and don’t sleep nearly enough.
As an educator, my lifestyle always exacerbated these issues:
- I always stood throughout my classes, but far too much of my overall day was spent at a desk, either with student work, at meetings, or with content to review. Before my children were born, I’d be at the gym by 5 so that I could make school by 6:30, but that wasn’t happening anymore. I also tended to eat when I was sitting.
- I barely slept. Lots of people don’t get their 6-8 hours a night. I rarely got more than 5.
- The stress. I felt not only the weight, urgency, and overall responsibility for the students’ education, but also the struggles against public opinion, unwise political reforms, and painfully shrinking budgets with which to work.
- The parties. Everyday was cupcakes this, pasta tray that, bagel mornings and Friday social hours.
- Time. I was always eating something quick, which can mean unhealthy. The schools I have been in usually allotted 25 minutes for lunch. Not healthy.
I’m looking to start a team!!
Take Shape for Life is an organization with the research, people, mindset and resources that I’ve needed. It’s first and foremost about leveraging the strength of their organization and the personal nature of a “health coach” to understand, focus and maintain a healthy state of mind, but it also has components that are helping drop my weight fast. Eventually, because they depend on word of mouth and therefore spend very little on traditional advertising, there are also built-in opportunities for a level of financial health with which everyone can get involved.
Like everything in life, I think this works better for people with a support team, so I’m writing this because I’m proud of what’s going on in this corner of my world, I’m excited about how it’s happening, and I’m hoping to find some people who are looking to make a change in their lives.
You can find me to tell me about your experiences and talk about what I've learned through Take Shape for Life right here in the comments, at a new email I’ve set aside for this, firstname.lastname@example.org or on either of my Twitter accts @TSFLNewEng or @DavidHochheiser
You can read about TSFL all over the news, watch a few videos on YouTube from a wide range of people, see how it’s presented by the founder and a number of top coaches or read through the official website.
If you want to feel better throughout this school year and beyond and/or you know someone else who might, I’d love to hear your stories and team up to move forward.