Teacher Wellness: Continue The Summer Exercise Habit!

Sep 8, 2015

Y’all know I don’t do a lot of guest blog posts around here, but when I find a SUPER Together Teacher, I invite him/her to send a post my way. Maggie Goldstein has been a middle and high school teacher with KIPP for the past five years. While teaching, Maggie pushed herself to keep a balanced life in and out of the classroom. She has run two marathons, lots of half marathons, and spends a lot of time biking, hiking, skiing and eating the delicious food that San Fran has to offer. Maggie offers some suggestions on keeping those exercise habits once school begins!

Most people start new routines and resolutions on January 1st, but teachers are different. Throughout the summer, we are constantly preparing mentally and emotionally for (drum roll) the first day of school! The first day of school is an opportunity to start fresh with a more balanced life, well-planned lessons (planned well in advance, of course), a clean desk, and a classroom that is chock-full of student work on display.

As the summer comes a close, many teacher friends have been talking to me about their new school year resolutions (mostly centered around exercise.) One friend is particularly determined to continue her workout routine. She has even been waking up at 4:30 AM during the summer to practice getting there on time! Mind you, after that she goes home and back to bed. But still, 4:30 AM! During the summer!?! Talk about a true commitment to making a resolution work.

It is possible to be a healthy, active teacher (yes, even in the most high intensity, no excuses, data driven environments.) Here are the techniques we can use to keep the balance, exercise, feel good, and therefore be a better teacher, partner, friend and all-around-person.

1. Plan your workouts mindfullyAt the beginning of the week (ideally when you have your weekly round-up) write your workouts into your Weekly Worksheet. Make sure these workouts are realistic and balanced. For example, start out with a goal of working out three days of week and increase once you have mastered your goal for a month. If you need to sign up for classes online, or schedule a workout date with your partner, do it at the beginning of the week. I personally like to schedule my harder workouts at the beginning of the week so that I start off strong and get ‘wins’ right away. I schedule low-key workouts (yoga, long walk, etc) for my tougher teaching days and fun, social workouts for Friday (it really is the best way to start your weekend). The more you keep your weeks consistent, the more you will stick with your new school year resolutions.

2. Use (and enjoy) the weekends! The weekends are your time when you can work out longer and during the day. When you go into your week knowing that you’ve gotten a great workout before it has even started, you will feel energized, confident, and refreshed! Try to use the weekend to plan a group outing to hike, bike, or run in a place you’ve always wanted to explore!  (Here’s a picture of me, my old coworker, and our hubbies exploring the hills around San Francisco on a weekend hike!)

3. Create checklists: When you plan your workouts in the beginning of the week, make sure you actually write them down and block off time so that nothing can come in the way of your exercise.If you like to check things off, try drawing circles at the top of your weekly worksheet for the number of days that you want to work out. For every workout, fill in a circle!  Double the gratification!

4. Pack your supplies: Embarrassing truth: sometimes the hardest part about working out for me is putting on my workout gear. Make sure you do the preparation to make your workout actually happen. Pack all of your supplies the night before: clothes, food, water bottle, shoes, bag, watch, etc. and put it next to your door so you don’t forget it on the way out! (And don’t let hunger stop your workout! Bring a good snack!)

5. Have an accountability partner: We’ve all heard this before. If you have someone to hold you accountable, you are more likely to follow through. Get a partner for your workouts so that you don’t back out. Share your goals with your partner so that he or she can support you in reaching them. This should not be someone with whom you feel competitive, but rather an ally who can cheer you on when you are tired. (For all you tech people, check out Strava or other workout tracking and sharing software.) See pic: Text your accountability partner a sweaty selfie to share workout wins!

6. Work out on the way home. Once you hit the couch or think about your yummy dinner, it will be hard to get back out the door. If you work out on your way home (running trail, gym, spinning, yoga, Crossfit) you will be less likely to get stuck in front of the TV, computer, or refrigerator. I signed up for a yoga studio three blocks away from my school (with a teacher discount!) It was close by work, on my way home, and it was a date during the week to look forward to; all things that helped me find workout consistency success!

7. No excuses. Just like you wait for 100% and believe that every child will learn, shift your mindset to knowing that you will actually work out. Do not let yourself opt out! When you start making excuses for yourself, text your accountability partner and say something like “I need motivation, tell me to go for a run.” If you were planning to run, start off with a walk just to get outside! The walk might lead to running and if not, that is okay too. Something is always better than nothing!