Sep 04 2009

Start “Fresh”

By Lisa Garner

Although we mourn the end of our summer vacation, the majority of us are genuinely happy with the beginning of the new school year. Sporting tans, a little less weight, and for a few of us, some resemblance of muscle tone, we arrive refreshed, revived, and rejuvenated as we prepare our classrooms and ourselves for the “new year.”

Similar to the resolutions we attempt to make every New Year’s Eve, teachers set goals and objectives for their schoolwork but rarely for themselves. The time has come to change that! If teachers aren’t well rested, nourished, and physically fit, imagine the impact it has on our students. We need to establish the same mindset and behaviors which we were able to adopt during the summer and carry them over into the new school year.

So what type of steps can we take in order to insure that we are successful in our battle against the bulge in addition to promoting a healthy lifestyle for our students? First, we need to lead by example. Secondly, we must establish a nutrition and fitness program which spans throughout all curriculum areas and not just P.E. Finally, parents, teachers, and coaches need to work together as a team to help our children learn the importance of eating properly and exercising daily. The time has come for us to turn off our computers, lock up those remote controls, put down the chocolate and soft drinks, and get off the couch! No excuses!

Over the summer, we had the opportunity to rest, exercise, eat fresh food, become more spiritually centered, and lead a much more tranquil lifestyle. Our days were filled with fun and frivolity. When we return to campus in the fall, we are presented with our first challenge, the dreaded “welcome back” faculty meeting. As a reward for not retiring or changing professions over the summer, we receive another canvass book bag overflowing with office supplies and the illicit GOODIE BAG!” Brightly colored wrappers and the all too familiar labels like: Snickers, Reese’s, and Twix line its interior.

Like men attracted to Home Depot, we become hypnotically transfixed on its contents, but this year we are going to SNAP OUT OF IT! No more donuts, no more coffee cakes, no more half eaten picked over Toll House cookies in the faculty lounge. No more birthday parties full of enough sugar to send Cookie Monster into a diabetic seizure! Enough is enough!

To start the year off right, all it takes is a little pre-planning and support. Many of us succumb to temptation when we become stressed or crunched for time. It is much quicker to grab a well preserved food item than it is to sit down and have a piece of whole grain toast or a salad. This is probably the main reason why many of us gain approximately 10 or more pounds throughout the course of the school year. Let’s face it, if the junk food or carbs are there, we’ll eat them. The key is to pre-pack your own healthy snacks and lunches just like we ask the parents to do for their children. As for support, there is something to be said for “safety in numbers.”  The best remedy for individuals who are battling any type of behavioral or physical issue is a support network whether it’s from friends, family, co-workers, or even strangers. So get together with other teachers and administrators in your school and come up with some suggestions for implementing a nutrition and exercise program for the staff. Check out some of the suggestions and resources below.

Suggestions and Resources

Organize an independent on site support group which will meet once a week to discuss health and fitness issues.

Contact a weight loss company such as Weight Watchers and ask them to hold meetings before or after school.

Find a fitness center which will offer employee discounts for staff members at a local gym.

Get another teacher or friend to be your workout buddy.

Organize on site fitness classes such as: Yoga, Zumba, water aerobics, fitness swimming, etc…

Purchase a set of fitness videos and get a couple of people to work out in the faculty lounge, gym, or even a classroom before or after school.

Contact a nutrition expert or chef to offer monthly cooking classes on how to prepare healthy snacks and meals.

Get involved with a charity and participate in a fitness training fundraising program such as: Team In Training, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Live Strong Army, Vision Walk, Race for Autism, etc…

Surf the Internet and sign up for an online program such as the National Body Challenge.

Many of these sites offer online weight trackers, customized meal plans, delicious recipes, workout videos, expert diet and fitness advice, and lots more.

Like a brand new pair of sneakers, don’t let the first smudge mark cause you to start running through mud puddles. Whether it’s that leftover sliver of double fudge birthday cake or a bag of flash baked Cape Cod potato chips, everyone caves to temptation at some point or another. Just because the chips are “labeled” 40% reduced fat doesn’t mean you should eat a second serving! Remember, those food manufacturers are tricky little devils. They may stamp the bag “baked not fried” and 40% reduced fat, but 23 chips still contain 130 calories, 50 of which are FAT!

So stay well informed with the Nerdel Team this year and learn how to make smart “fresh” choices for yourself and your students.



Posted in: Teacher To Teacher