Observations and Prioritizations

Yesterday, I was thinking about how much working out and nutrition has become my PRIORITY in the past three months. To be honest, I’ve always been the type of person to prioritize work above all else. Part of the reason why I wanted to leave the food industry is because I wanted to start prioritizing my relationships with my family and friends. However, even as I went into teaching, work was still my priority. At the beginning of the school year, I would wake up, be at school by 6:40AM and leave around 6:00PM. Or bring work home and work until about 8:00PM and then start thinking about taking care of myself. On the weekends, I would still work and lesson plan for at least 4 hours a day. About a quarter of the way through the school year, I started feeling a little burnt out, so I backed off on my hours. I still worked 7 days/week, but by the time February rolled around, I could no longer keep up. I started thinking about working out again and committing to it as a way to get my energy levels up and de-stress.

I went to the gym a few nights a week with my (now) husband. Then I started really getting into working out and started working out 6-7 days/week. When Whole30 started, food prepping became a priority hand-in-hand with working out. If I didn’t work out in the morning, I would workout when I got home. I am now going into work at 7:30AM and leaving every day by 4:00PM (the latest). I share this because, today I was getting observed (which usually means someone from the district comes by to check in). I found out we may be getting observed on Monday. When I prioritized work, I would spend hours ruminating over what to teach, how to teach it, and plan extensively for lessons to make extra sure that I was doing everything I could to make sure the observation went smoothly. Yesterday, I noticed a huge mental shift because I rushed home to work out and made sure I had dinner before I even thought to prep for the observation. Old me would’ve freaked out, panicked, rushed home, spent hours looking for the “best” lesson and then another few hours prepping everything. I am typing this up today because I wanted to wait and see how the observation actually went before I went on to say what I’m going to say now. The observation went just as well as any observation in a classroom can go. I got kudos for doing what the district and principal is focusing on for our school and I didn’t feel unprepared at all. I say this not because I’m an experienced nor excellent teacher (this is my first year and I’m far from both) but because I’ve realized that work should never be the priority.  If I don’t spend those extra hours obsessing over the details of doing things perfectly, and I spend some extra hours taking care of myself and my relationships, I can still excel at work. In fact, the positive mindset that comes from having taken care of myself makes me do better at my job when I’m at work and allows me to relax when I’m at home.

So, I guess what they’ve been saying all along is true. It’s important to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. Because I no longer miss a workout and am eating healthy 90% of the time (Okay maybe 85% if you count Almond Butter as a unhealthy food) I don’t feel guilty for letting myself down. Because I don’t feel guilty for letting myself down, I’m better equip to deal with all of the other things I may have to prioritize on a daily basis. So, here’s a little “Wohoo, go me!” I have a hard time telling myself I’m doing good, but I’m feeling it today!

 

So…how does it feel?

The top question I’ve received as a newlywed is “So, how does it feel being married?” Or, “Does it feel different being married?” Much like waking up the day of your birthday, or after your birthday, it’s not like you (or the person you’re married) wake up a drastically different person overnight. So, it’s mostly true when I say, about the same!

However, to explain the nuances that go from being in a relationship, to engaged, to married to the passerby wanting to make small-talk is much too philosophical of a conversation. I’ve been honest, for the most part, my favorite thing about being married so far is that we no longer have a wedding to plan. I know that it sounds like such a trivial difference, but the reason why it’s my favorite thing is because we now have the rest of our lives to plan for, the rest of our lives. As we both have agreed to become our very own little family (of two). I find comfort in knowing that I get to create and plan the traditions, rituals, and life with someone as a partner as opposed to following those things as someone’s child. So, in a way, I guess I feel a strange sense of freedom to create and pursue my own happiness as long as I’m learning to compromise with this partner of mine.

To add onto that same sentiment, it also means that I do have to spend most of my time compromising with this partner of mine, regardless of how frustrated we may both become with each other. That responsibility is something that I have been absorbing slowly in my engaged life and I feel much more evolved in as a married woman. Not for any reason other than it has been a slow evolution, and I’m growing each day knowing that is going to be our biggest challenge. (I like to know how challenging something is and prepare for that before I ever give myself the illusion that anything worth pursuing comes easily).

Additionally, I feel that it’s finally time to let go of any sort of blame or anger I hold on towards my parents (which again is something I have slowly been evolving towards), but now in my married life and newfound crevice of adulthood I feel it is so much more important. I owe it to my new family member to create a life of light and happiness (mainly). To hold onto negative and non-present problems is no longer necessary to my survival as the pain I’ve experienced no longer needs to exist if I do not allow it. Rather, I need to save the space for perseverance through challenges that are real and worthy of this life my husband (tehe) and I have decided to create.

So, per my previous post, depression sucks, but I have more reason than ever to understand and fight it off. Onwards and upwards :).

Sugar is a Helluva Drug

Hi Internet World!! I am finally returned from wedding and honeymoon bliss. Both were, in every sense of the word, bliss. I will definitely share my feelings on traveling to Bali and being married as well. This post however, unfortunately, will be about the delicate balance of my body’s chemistry and the dangers of sugar.

During my honeymoon, I decided that I was feeling so good, I wanted to eat the sweets and things I enjoyed without worrying, and indulge I did. Was it worth it? In many senses of that word, yes it was. I enjoyed the heck out of my honeymoon. However, one week post return, I must report that I am still feeling the awful side effects of depression from my sugar indulgence. Upon returning, I decided to administer my lack of motivation and my devotion to sleeping 10+ hours to jet lag. However, after a few days of this and the napping in the middle of the day until dinner time and then sleeping right after dinner and sleeping in during the morning, it was a positive sign that my depression was back. I definitely worked out every day since my return (and even during some days of my trip), but I want to curl up into a ball and shut out the world.

Thankfully, I married the most understanding human in the world, who tries his best to understand this confusing duality that haunts my life. How I can go from waking up at 5 am, doing laundry mid week, and having bountiful energy to not being able to stay awake long enough to function beyond my work day. How I can go from wanting to talk to everyone to not wanting to leave the house to run simple chores. How I can go from being a positive and motivating person, to someone who only sees hell in a dark hole.

I share this because now I know that over-consuming processed sugar contributes a large share to my depression. It must somehow deplete me of my natural endorphins and set off triggers that normally wouldn’t bother me. Alcohol is also most definitely included in this equation, however my need to consume a sweet baked treat is a million times stronger than any need to consume alcohol. Sugar is a dangerous drug for me and leads me to this dark hole. I’m trying my best to ride this out and not let my cravings take over. I am holding onto dear life to get past this (hopefully short) lapse of depression. I could say, what a horrible way to start a marriage, but the sake of my husband is what is keeping me afloat to fight this off as quickly as I can.

Parenting Coach

One of the things that caught me off guard when I officially became a teacher was that, of the many hats I wear, I would have to sometimes be a parenting coach. This notion still makes me uncomfortable for two main reasons:

  1. I do not have my own kids.
  2. I do not like to tell other people how to live their lives, let alone how to raise one.

Unfortunately, I find myself kicking myself in the behind for not being able to say things to parents that they really need to hear more often than not. But, on my morning run, reflecting on how I could improve as a teacher, my brick wall is a handful of my students’ lack of motivation. I’ve tried everything I can from positive rewards, community circles, parent contact, punitive punishments like detention, letting them just showcase one item to turn in that week, more parent contact, but I’m running in circles. A few of the students have come a LONG way, but not far enough to my standards by this time in the year. But I’m stuck with 3 thorns in my side. My solution, just isn’t working and I attribute, in large part, to inconsistency from classroom discipline to home-life discipline.  Obviously as a teacher, I can do more and am trying new strategies all the time. But, I know that home-life plays a large role because all of these students also come to school saying things like “I’m lazy/stupid/not good at this/not smart enough”. I know for a fact, that I am not teaching them these phrases, but someone (probably at home is). So, parents, here is some unsolicited advice on what to do if your child’s teacher is calling you to notify you that your child ain’t doing sh*t in the classroom.

Use positive reinforcement. Your kids want your attention all the time. You can choose to give them positive attention for positive things they want or negative attention for messing up. However, providing them with negative feedback just reinforces negative behavior.

This should be a no-brainer, but please don’t use put-downs when referring to yourself or your children, they will pick up on these mindsets and start implementing them in their own. Be kind to yourself and your children.

Don’t make excuses for your child. It doesn’t matter if they are the “youngest” or the “only child”, they still need to follow through with the same responsibilities that any of your other kids, or students in the class, have to follow through with. Which leads to…

If you baby your child, they will remain a baby. Some of my 4th graders whine or throw tantrums like toddlers still when they get in trouble/don’t get what they want. All of them because they must get away with this behavior somewhere. All of these also happen to be only children or the youngest in their family (I swear!). But, not all of the only children or youngest children act like this, which tells me their parents tell them “no” sometimes. I’ve literally had a parent tell me her child would be “sad” because he wasn’t getting Pokemon cards because I gave her a negative update. She was asking me what to tell her son. That tells me that he’s probably used to getting what he wants and the parent has a hard time taking responsibility for making her child “sad”.  Hopefully him feeling “sad” will make him avoid the negative behavior in the future.

Your kids will not hate you because they didn’t get what they want. In fact, your kids will love you no matter what. You just need to stand your ground and take control. They need to learn that they have to earn rewards. Otherwise, you’re setting them up for getting rewards for not even achieving a goal. Kids will always try to see how much they can get away with, and if you’re allowing them to get away with anything you’re stunting their growth. If you don’t want to raise entitled, unmotivated kids don’t allow them to get away with entitled, unmotivated behaviors.

If one strategy doesn’t work, try another. Get creative, get to know your child (which I’m sure most parents do) and if you yelling at your kid every time the teacher calls doesn’t work, try something else. Ask your child to share with you their feelings or the reasons they won’t complete their work. Get involved and work with them to accomplish goals. Set and finish projects at home, like organizing their video games, painting their room, washing all of the dishes, or folding all of the laundry just to let your child experience how good it feels to accomplish a task.

With all of that said, my next steps as a teacher is to get better at partnering up with parents to come up with concrete goals we can work on together with their child. I’m going to go ahead and try to own that parenting coach hat when I need it on.

Workout Freedom!

I was scared of becoming free of Insanity workouts because I was afraid without a program, there would be nothing to hold me accountable for working out. Maybe the fear is what has pushed me even harder to hold myself accountable. Life post-insanity has been awesome. Mainly because now I get VARIETY and I’ve incorporated weights back into my life. To preface, I wake up at about 4:30 every morning to knock this out before work and my lovely fiance has been my support system by coming along for all of my runs and gymtime. Here’s a layout of what I did last week:

Monday – Jillian Michaels -Shred It with Weights – I wasn’t quite willing to let go of the comfort of my own home, and I missed using my Kettlebell. Because of the added weights, this workout was definitely still a challenge for me.

Tuesday – 4.5 mile run with a 9.20/mi average. I must say, Insanity has done WONDERS for getting me in shape. I was able to complete the run with no breaks and I felt like I could keep going, but I knew I also had to go to work at some point.

Wednesday – Gymtime! I had my gym membership haunting me because, ever since I joined the Gym in October, I ended up gaining weight. I have total anxiety about going to the gym because I hate working out in front of other people if it’s not teacher led. However, we went early enough where it wasn’t crowded. I did the elliptical to warm up and a variety of weights. I won’t share my weight routine until I figure out what I’m actually doing because I’ll just end up saying something like I did the thing where you pull on a bar with weights. I did do some deadlifts, I know what that’s called.

Thursday – Corepower Yoga – Sculpt. This is by far, my favorite class in. the. world. You get to sit in a heated room, do yoga, with cardio, and weights. It doesn’t get more challenging than this for me. I’ve been incorporating this into my recovery days with Insanity almost once/ week. The only reason I’m not going all the time is because, I do like variety in my workouts.

Friday – 4.7 mi run 9:07/mi – I do miss my runs and I dread them less than I used to :).

Saturday – Rest day, but I did do some Yoga Sun A and Sun B Salutations in the morning.

Sunday – Gym time again, same routine for warm-up, but I worked on abs and legs.

I actually have my week scheduled the same this week and just finished my home workout right now. (I did an Insanity video). This probably isn’t a big deal for people who have a regular workout schedule (something I kind of threw by the wayside a while ago). For me, this is EVERYTHING. I’m finally free of my insecurities telling me that I can’t do it or that I can save it for another time. To be honest, I think the biggest motivator was actually seeing changes in my body. I keep getting scared that these baby abs I’ve worked on will suddenly disappear. (Like I actually check to make sure they’re still there). But knowing that what I’m doing is actually working, feeling great on a daily basis, and actually having fun challenging my body is something I haven’t felt consistently in years. I’m definitely becoming more and more of a “YAS!!!” person and back on board with taking some fun risks.