“How do some teachers do it?”, you may be wondering. “How do they look so good and stay in shape, when they get up early in the morning, teach, come home tired and mentally drained, drive their kids to after-school activities, cook dinner, wash dishes, go to bed, and repeat the same process the next day?”
It may sound impossible to maintain your ideal weight and some semblance of muscle tone, but with some small changes, it is possible. Check out these 7 ideas to help you stay on track.
The common thinking is that to maintain an ideal weight, you need to exercise 30-60 minutes a day at least 5 times a week. FALSE!!!
To maintain an ideal weight, it is much more important to eat the right amount of calories and healthy foods, than to exercise every day. Even if you’re exercising a ton, but are eating too much, you’ll still be overweight.
“But Sherry, I like what I eat and it’s way too hard to change my diet.” No worries, I’ll share simple ideas that work and aren’t too difficult.
(Disclaimer: I am not a licensed health practitioner; these are just things that what work for me.)
1. Make small changes to what you eat on a regular basis. Small changes of 50-100 calories less per day add up to pounds of weight loss over time. Try these 3 tricks.
- Eat one smaller portion a day. Notice I didn’t say, “Eat smaller portions.” That’s too hard! Just pick one food that you eat on a regular basis and eat a little bit less of it. Do you eat a big bowl of ice cream at night as a reward for making it through the day? Serve the ice cream in a smaller bowl, eat 1/3 less, and savor it a little more.
- Pick 1 item to eliminate from your diet. I’m sure you can find at least one unhealthy item in your diet that you can eliminate pretty easily. The key is to pick just one. Ex. no more donuts. You may be tempted to pick 3, but don’t do it – it’s too hard for your brain to adapt to so much change at once.
- Only eat food that tastes delicious. Those stale cookies that you usually eat at department meetings; skip them. You try a bite of something at a party and don’t really like it; stop eating it and leave it on your plate or throw it away (unless it’s your vegetables or your mother-in-law’s cooking). (BTW – my mother-in-law’s cooking is very tasty). You really won’t be missing much by skipping foods you don’t like.
2. Shut down the chocolate drawer at work! Most departments have a chocolate stash somewhere, usually in a fairly visible location. If this describes your department, here are a few solutions.
- Band together as a team to start a weight loss challenge. Compete against other departments or with other teachers in your school. Add some high stakes such as contributing $20 each and the biggest loser wins it all. This will be extra motivation to get rid of the chocolate stash.
- Get rid of your chocolate stash by playing a game in class that involves giving out candy to students. You might like my crazy twist on a popular TV show which I changed to “Who Wants to Be a Big Candy Winner?, “Qui veut être bonbonaire?” or “¿Quién quiere ser mildulcenario?.” You can get these instructions with my 50 Free World Language Games and Activities to Spice Up Your Class.
- Buy a chocolate safe. (Did Sherry really just suggest this?) Yes, I have to admit that I actually have a chocolate safe in my house because I’ll be honest, I’m addicted to chocolate. My husband, AKA my chocolate dealer, has the code to the safe. I ask him for a hit of chocolate and he doles out a normal portion, so that I don’t eat the whole thing. Okay, okay, so this isn’t the most practical solution for school. Here are a few others that might accomplish the same thing.
- Put the chocolate in a non-visible, hard to access location (at the very least in a drawer), but maybe even far away in your department storage room. Just putting an extra door between you and the chocolate helps.
- Ask other department members to hide the chocolate. They can continue eating it, but if you don’t know where it is, you will be less tempted. I know these ideas may sound crazy, but it’s very easy to put on an extra 5-10 pounds over a few months, just by eating 4 Hershey’s kisses a day.
3. Cut out sugar for 3 weeks. It’s amazing how much craving sugar makes us eat more. Did you know that eating sugar actually changes your biome (the bacteria in your gut), and sugar-craving bacteria grow and continually want more?
Imagine a big sugar monster in your stomach saying, “Feed me!”. These bacteria get mad when you don’t feed them so cutting out sugar isn’t an easy task. (And by sugar, I’m not including healthy sugars that are found naturally in fruits).
After 3 weeks, the good bacteria are back, and you’ll find that you don’t desire sugary foods, plus regular foods like fruits and vegetables taste so much better.
Here’s the plan to make it work:
- Days 1-3: No sugar, but you can eat anything else you want. These first 3 days are the hardest. If you can make it through them, it gradually starts to get easier. Up your protein intake, which will keep your blood sugar levels higher, and drink lots of water. If possible, get rid of all sugary foods in the house.
- Days 4-14: No sugary foods and cut out some of the other junk food. If this is too hard go back to the first step, until you’re ready to do this step. While you’re working on this step, treat yourself to other things instead of food. Listen to good music, hang out with a friend, go shopping, or read a book.
- Days 15-21: No sugary foods, cut out most of other junk food. You’ll find that this isn’t as hard as it used to be because you no longer have cravings to eat all the time.
- Days 22-365: Rock your new bod! Enjoy the extra energy that you have without sugar and with fewer pounds to carry around each day.
4. Drink more water. Drink 2 large glasses of water first thing in the morning every day. Drinking 24 oz. of water first thing, flushes toxins from your body, hydrates you, and keeps you from being as hungry.
Drink more water during the day. Did you know that many times when you think you’re hungry, you’re really thirsty? When you think you’re hungry, drink a big glass of water and wait 15 minutes. Ask yourself, “Am I really hungry or just thirsty?”, and learn to distinguish between the two.
Drink a big glass of water at the end of the school day. You definitely don’t want to be drinking a lot of water in the 1-2 hours before bed because it will affect your sleep. We all know how precious sleep is for teachers, so drink your water early in the day.
5. Sleep more. When you are well-rested, it’s so much easier to eat healthfully and stick to all of your goals. Let’s face it, your whole day runs more smoothly. How often do we reach for chocolate or other junk food because we’re tired? It can be tough to get to bed earlier, so again, try a small change. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier the first 3 days, and another 15 minutes earlier the next few days. Just 30 minutes extra sleep each night can make a huge difference!
6. Ask a friend to join you. Some of these challenges listed above are tricky, but if you partner with a friend, you can share your progress, brainstorm motivational ideas, and hold each other accountable. Everything is better with a buddy!
7. Tell your students that you’re trying to lose weight.
#1. This adds some accountability on your part. They’ll check in with you and may even comment on how great you look.
#2. Your students will be less likely to bring in sugary sweets for you. Maybe instead they’ll bring an apple for the teacher. Ha, ha!
#3. You’re setting a good example for healthy living for them.
If steps 1-6 fail, then just do it for the kids! That always works, right?
Hope you found these tips helpful! Have other ideas that work well for you? Share them in the comments section.
And just so you know, I do think exercise is important, too, and will be writing a future blog post about squeezing exercise into your teaching day. 🙂