As the school year approaches, many parents are getting a list of recommended school supplies for their kids to be successful this upcoming school year. As teachers and educators, I thought it would be a good idea to also give you a back to school list that will support your healthy habits. I am going to start a goal setting series next week, which will be good if you want to establish some healthy habits this year, and make this the first school year you actually get healthier during the year. I know that had a huge impact on my productivity and attitude at work last year. Even before you set specific goals for yourself for this upcoming school year, you can still make a decision to change. This is really the first step, but I’m getting ahead of myself. What I will do with this post, is offer you some tips on how you can make this the most productive teaching year of your life, and improve yourself as a teacher, simply by being healthier. Making lasting change will involve creating new habits. This back to school list will be the items you need to support your healthy habits.
1. Portable containers. I use Pyrex containers, but Tupperware or anything else will do. Try to have enough to be able to pack five days worth of lunches at once. This will reduce the amount of time you will have to spend doing dishes during the week, and if you pack your lunches all on one day (preferably Sunday), you can have your lunches ready to grab and go as you head out the door.
2. Notebook. I have become much more productive since I started carrying around a notebook to write things down to remember. I use it to take notes on conversations I have with people in meetings, and anything new I’m learning. I also use it first thing in the morning to jot down the first two things I think of that I’m grateful for. The habit of starting my day being grateful has been an awesome way to start the day.
3. Pedometer. Track how much you are walking at work and try to add more each week. I wrote about this specifically in an earlier post.
4. Stainless steel or glass container for water. If you have to use a plastic container, but the other two are healthier options if you can make it happen. Carry this around with you at all times. It is critical that you are hydrated at all times. I know as a teacher, there were often times when I would be really thirsty, but someone needed help during passing time, or one of a million other tasks came up and I couldn’t run down to get water. Avoid this problem by being prepared ahead of time. I try to get the biggest container I can that I can still comfortably drink out of.
5. The Compound Effect. I talked about this book briefly in an earlier post, but I think having a system to help support your habit changes is critical. If you’re not a reader, this is a good book to start as with as it is very straight forward and to the point.
6. A barbecue. I cook most of my meat on the grill. If that’s not your thing, you can adjust, but this is an easy way for me to cook at least all of my lunches for the week. A good gas grill saves me a lot of time preparing meals.
7. Good shoes for walking. I walk mostly on concrete so I had to get some shoes that had more cushion in them because my feet were having trouble when I was walking 8-10 miles a day. I was wearing Nike Frees for awhile, but started to have some problems with my feet. I am a big proponent of doing as much barefoot training as possible, but if you’re going to walk a lot on pavement, minimalist shoes are going to be rough unless you’ve been training your way into them. Be careful. I didn’t think you could get injured walking, but I was wrong. That makes me feel really old, but that’s the truth. Protect your feet. Again, I am barefoot as much as possible, but I needed the extra cushion on the pavement. Find what works best for you.
8. An efficient meal plan. It is much easier to prepare food you already know how to make that is healthy, than it is to try and figure it out. Spend a few hours a month learning how to make healthy food. There are literally thousands of resources online. You could always check my blogroll on the right side here. Mark’s Daily Apple has a ton of healthy recipes for free. Again, this is going to be the most important piece of your lifestyle change. I know it sucks, but there is no other way around it.
9. An efficient workout plan. An exercise plan to compliment your walking is awesome. If you haven’t been active much I propose the first few months just doing simple body weight exercises like I mentioned in a previous post. After you get a solid foundation, it is a good idea to start some weight training. If you are in the Willamette Valley area, I would recommend checking out Matt Espinoza. If you’re anywhere in the Portland area and you’re not working out with Dewey Nielsen, you’re really missing out.
10. A reason. This will drive the whole process. Why are you wanting to change? What is the motivation that is going to push you over the edge when you feel like giving up or quitting? This has to be a big reason (living longer, seeing your grandkids, some athletic goal, etc). Don’t pass by this without giving it much thought. The next few weeks will be about goal setting, and before we set any goals, we have to know WHY we want to change. And, that WHY has to be significant enough to keep us going when we lack motivation. The beginning of the change process will be the hardest. As you are establishing new, healthier routines it will be tough. However, once you have established these routines as habits the work gets much easier. A big reason to change will help you stick to it while you are establishing these habits.