Fitness for Educators

July 25, 2015 by  
Filed under Exercise, School's Out

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A teacher friend and I running a mud run two summers ago.

A teacher’s life is often misunderstood. The illusion of the workday ending mid-afternoon along with summers off is misleading. It underscores the incredible amount of time spent lesson planning, grading, answering parent phone calls and emails, attending meetings, pursuing professional development opportunities and completing coursework to update certifications. As a result, teachers often are frustrated over scheduling time for needed personal commitments as they struggle to juggle the responsibilities outside of the classroom. Coaching and extra-curricular responsibilities often take precedence too. Add a traditional food services menu still offered in schools (high carbs, processed food, sugary drinks, etc) that most would define as less than healthful, and one can see how it can be hard for teachers to stay physically fit.

Teachers like to set positive examples for their students, and we teach the student much more than we teach the content. There can be, however, many roadblocks to teachers’ personal goals, and it’s unfortunate that fitness can easily take a backseat.

As a high school English teacher myself for the past seventeen years, I completely empathize with and understand frustrations. As a fitness enthusiast for most of my life, I’ve utilized tried and true tricks to stay in-shape even during the most stressful days of the school year.

While everyone is different, and there are a variety of specific nutritional plans and exercises that will work well for specific people, here’s a general list of simple practices anyone can incorporate into his or her daily life to promote more healthful living:

Teacher Tips for Being Fit ~

1. Schedule time for exercise. Teachers love to plan ahead and work by schedules so why not write your workouts within your weekly schedule. Scheduling 30 minutes of exercise in for three – four days a week is a good goal.

Before School Option:
Wake up a half hour – one hour early to give yourself time for a morning workout. Whether it’s spending time on basic at-home movement (such as crunches, push ups, bodyweight squats or simple stretches), partaking in a morning jog or visiting the local gym, you will be more wide awake and ready to take on whatever unfolds during the day. Also, getting up before the rest of your household might help squeeze your own needed time in.

During School Option:
If there is a gym facility available for faculty during the day, why not use your free period in the middle of the day for some movement? I know some colleagues who are completely refreshed after doing so and, thereby, combat the afternoon slump we may be susceptible to.

After School Option:
Go to the gym directly after you leave the building or go after dinner. I personally like to get my grading done before I go to the gym so that my mind is free but there’s something to be said for going directly to the gym right after you leave the building – you will get your workout over and leave your evening free for family time and any grading you may have.

2. Join a gym. This is one item in your budget that will be well spent. There are many gyms with various types of packages offered for single or family members, such as Life Time Fitness or XSport.

3. If joining a gym is not an option, exercise at home. There are many body weight routines available online. If you can push yourself through some crunches, push-ups, squats and toe raises at home, you’re off to a great habit. For a comprehensive compilation of home exercises in one convenient place, check out the world’s largest interactive list of over 200 calisthenics exercises HERE at Man vs. Weight.

4. Incorporate more movement during the school day. Take the stairs more often, go talk to colleagues across the building rather than sending emails and make an excuse to walk around the hallways or outside of the building during a free hour. I see some staff members partaking in regular walks every day during their lunch hour. Movement encourages thought, and this can be a great way to problem-solve or generate new ideas. If you really want some motivation, invest in an activity tracker such as a Fitbit.

5. Plan grocery shopping and prepare as many meals as you can over the weekend. I never have time during the week to ponder over meal plans so this is key to keeping me on track with healthful eating. Chances are your grab-and-go meals are going to be much more unhealthful than your planned ones. I peruse favorite magazines or sites such as Clean Eating for healthy recipe ideas, write down ingredients I don’t have at home and take my list to the grocery store.

6. Consume caffeine earlier in the day before noon. There are many benefits to drinking coffee but doing so earlier in the day will help you fall asleep more soundly.

7. Get regular sleep – this one may be the toughest!  You may think you are doing your students a favor by finishing that grading in one particular night but you will undoubtedly do a more thorough job as a wide-awake individual. Studies show this is true.

8. Drink water throughout the day. Stay hydrated. Perhaps keep a thermos at your desk. Yes, we live by the bell but, hey, if you have to run to the restroom in-between periods, that’s another opportunity for movement!

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The very infrastructure of a teacher’s day does not cater to our health needs so it’s important that we’re cognizant of all we can do to remedy our time management and stress levels.

Try some of the steps above and you will have more energy for life both in and out of the classroom. Moreover, you will be setting a better example for your students, and will feel more positive about yourself and your life in general.

 

 

 

Top 10 Ways to Boost Your Workout

February 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Exercise, Listing through Life

Happy February!  Having a wee bit of trouble keeping up with your new year’s resolutions?  No worries – here are some ideas for embracing the sheer joy of exercise!



1.  Invest in a spray tan and stroll into the gym with your newly applied color.  It’ll accentuate your muscles and make you feel fabulous flexing them.  My A+ recommendation = Get Your Tan On

2.  Equipment everyone should have at home when you can’t get to the gym:

a.  10 & 15 pound dumbbells

b.  a jump rope (fun, inexpensive, easy cardio!)

c.  an exercise ball – there are so many exercises you can do with this from performing crunches while sitting on the ball to lying on the ground with the ball squeezed between your calves and performing leg raises.

d.  your able-bodied self! (push ups, sit ups, lunges, squats, kicks, etc . . . none of these powerhouse moves absolutely require a piece of equipment)

Honestly, that is all you truly need to get in a solid workout at home.  Check out my Workout for the Weary for more info.

3.  Treat yourself to a new exercise outfit.  My A+ recommendation for the ladies = the Best Yoga Pants Ever!  Trust me!!

4.  Schedule hot yoga, massage, and a mani & pedi all in the same day.  I did this once and can’t wait to do it again.  Heaven on Earth!  My A+ place for hot yoga =  The Only Guaranteed Moment is This One

5.  Break out of your mold and try a new exercise or use a piece of equipment that you’ve never used before at the gym.

6.  Try a new type of cardio.  I just played racquetball for the first time – very fun!!!  Additionally, here’s a review of a class that holds benefits for all gym goers:  Improve Posture and Poise with Pam’s Pilates and Progression in Pam’s Pilates

7.  Can’t commit to one gym?  I just learned about this thanks to TimeOut Chicago!  It’s a Yoga Fitness Passbook that allows you to try one class at many yoga studios.  Genius!!

8.  One goal on my list for this year – and it should be yours too:  schedule a photo shoot with a physique photographer!!  It’ll motivate you to get into tip-top shape.

9.  Double your repetitions on all exercises for a month, then check out your cuts in the mirror!

10.  Check out my favorite resources for fitness facts:  Muscle & Fitness Hers and Oxygen.  Both of these magazines are packed with step-by-step exercise instruction, nutrition nuggets and inspiring fitness facts.  Gentlemen, Muscle & Fitness is highly recommended!

Workout for the Weary

January 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Exercise


No matter your shape, size, age, agility, strength – you CAN benefit from even the slightest amount of exercise.  I’m about to give my secret away here and reveal the exact exercises I’ve been performing for the past 19 years, exercises that helped me lose 33 pounds within three weeks after my daughter was born, that not only helped me maintain my desired weight every year since but made me more toned than before I was pregnant (honest!), and that energize me on even the weariest mornings.  They will cost you a mere 5 – 10 minutes and they are easy enough for everyone to work up to.  Why not do them while watching the morning news?  Or turn on some soothing morning tunes.  If you’re a night owl, perhaps you can squeeze them in while catching some late night T.V.?  . . .

Are you ready?!  This is the exact amount, exact order I execute.  Nothing fancy, not a lengthy routine at all ➜

**You can do these simply with your body weight or you can use a set of 10 or 12 lb free weights.  I alternate between body weight and free weights, and purchased my dumbbells at Target for about $12 – 15 per set.

This is as far as you need to go - that's it!

1.  100 narrow stance squats:

At first, break them into smaller sets, completing 10 – 15 at a time and resting before completing the next sets.  Work your way up to four sets of 25.

  • Feet pointing forward, shoulder width apart
  • Hands on hips OR arms at side with or without weights
  • Be sure your knees do not extend past your toes as you squat
  • No need to bend down too far
  • More challenge:  perform bicep curls or overhead presses at the same time

2. 100 wide-stance squats

At first, break them into smaller sets, completing 10 – 15 at a time and resting before completing the next sets.  Work your way up to four sets of 25.

  • Feet pointing outward, past your shoulders
  • Hands on hips OR arms at side with or without weights
  • Be sure your knees do not extend past your toes as you squat
  • You will naturally bend farther than with the narrow stance squats.  As you get the hang of it, attempt to execute deeper squats.
  • More challenge:  perform bicep curls or overhead presses at the same time

3.  100 calf raises

I usually just do 100 in a row.  Again, you can break these up into sets; you’ll earn the same benefits.

  • Perform these holding weights OR simply with body weight

4.  100 abdominal crunches

  • see Diet, Exercise, or Act of God for easy details on how to do this!
  • Beginners, do the first set only.  Incorporate 2nd – 4th set as you progress.

THAT’S IT!!!

After this routine, you should feel like you got a pretty good run for your time.  These fare me well whenever I can’t go to the gym for whatever reason.  The best part is that they can be done anywhere, anytime.  Try them and let me know what you think.

Running for All

May 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Exercise, School's Out

Down below is a running program given to me by a colleague who overheard me murmer that I’d like to run continuously for longer distances.  She’s a marathon machine herself and surprised me one day at work by placing the following program on my desk.  If I can do it, you can do it.  I’m not a runner by any means but following this program is making me run for longer stretches of time than I thought possible.

Upon completion of this 8-week program, I will be able to run 30 minutes non-stop.  I’m over half way there!!

I feel giddly, like a little girl again, in the middle of a great cardio session.

Try it with me!!

Points to consider before you begin this 8-Week Beginner’s Running Program →

1.  If you are not accustomed to any exercise, consult your physician first.  Unless you have a known health risk, your doctor will probably encourage you to begin a run-walk program such as this.

2.  Schedule your workouts!  You won’t find time unless you make time.  Put them in your BlackBerry, computer, appointment planner, on your fridge . . . wherever.

3. Expect bad days.  Everyone has them, but they pass quickly, and the next workout is often better than the previous one.  I find my body actually bounces back stronger after I’ve rested for a day (or week) or two.

4.  Don’t rush.  Rushing leads to injuries and discouragement.  Be patient and go slow.  The goal is to reach 30 minutes of continuous running, not to set any records getting there.

More GG Training Tips ➔

~ To fuel up for your workout, have a snack about 1 hour before.  To ensure you don’t lose all those hard earned muscles afterward, have a snack afterward. Click here for my list of pre- and post- workout snacks to fuel and replenish you: Best Pre- and Post- Workout Snacks

~ Always walk a couple of minutes for warmup before you begin and walk another couple of minutes afterward.  Don’t stretch before running.  Save it for after your workout or in the evening while watching T.V.  I get some of my best stretching and yoga moves in that way!

~ On occasion, skip your running workout and do a cross-training instead.  Bike for 30 minutes, elliptical train, do the row machine, or walk the stairmaster.  The break from running will refresh you plus you’ll develop new muscle.

Beginner’s Running Program → → →

(indoors or outdoors)

Week 1

Day 1 – Run 1 min, Walk 2 min, Repeat 10x

Day 2 – Walk easy for 30 min

Day 3 – Run 1 min, Walk 2 min, Repeat 10x

Day 4 – Walk easy for 30 min

Day 5 – Run 1 min, Walk 2 min, Repeat 10x

Day 6 – Run 1 min, Walk 2 min, Repeat 10x

Day 7 – Rest

Week 2

Day 1 – Run 2 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 10 x

Day 2 – Walk easy 30 min

Day 3 – Run 3 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 7x, Run 2 mins

Day 4 – Walk easy 30 min

Day 5 – Run 4 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 6x

Day 6 – Run 4 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 6x

Day 7 – Rest

Week 3

Day 1 – Run 5 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 5X

Day 2 – Walk easy 30 min

Day 3 – Run 5 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 5X

Day 4 – Walk easy 30 min

Day 5 – Run 6 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 4x, Run 2 min

Day 6 – Run 6 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 4x, Run 2 min

Day 7 – Rest

Week 4

Day 1 – Run 8 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 3x, Run 3 min

Day 2 – Walk 30 min

Day 3 – Run 9 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 3x

Day 4 – Walk 30 min

Day 5 – Run 10 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 2x, Run 8 min

Day 6 – Run 11 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 2x, Run 6 min

Day 7 – Rest

Week 5

Day 1 – Run 12 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 2 x

Day 2 – Walk 30 min

Day 3 – Run 13 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 2 x

Day 4 – Walk 30 min

Day 5 – Run 14 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 2x

Day 6 – Run 15 min, Walk 1 min, Run 14 min

Day 7 – Rest

Week 6

Day 1 – Run 16 min, Walk 1 min, Run 13 min

Day 2 – Walk 30 min

Day 3 – Run 17 min, Walk 1 min, Run 12 min

Day 4 – Walk 30 min

Day 5 – Run 18 min, Walk 1 min, Run 11 min

Day 6 – Run 19 min, Walk 1 min, Run 10 min

Day 7 – Rest

Week 7

Day 1 – Run 20 min, Walk 1 min, Run 9 min

Day 2 – Run 20 min, Walk 1 min, Run 9 min

Day 3 – Run 22 min, Walk 1 min, Run 7 min

Day 4 – Walk 30 min

Day 5 – Run 24 min, Walk 1 min, Run 5 min

Day 6 – Run 26 min, Walk 1 min, Run 3 min

Day 7 – Rest

Week 8

Day 1 – Run 27 min, Walk 1 min, Run 2 min

Day 2 – Run 20 min, Walk 1 min, Run 9 min

Day 3 – Run 28 min, Walk 1 min, Run 1 min

Day 4 – Walk 30 min

Day 5 – Run 29 min, Walk 1 min

Day 6 – Run 30 min!!!!!

Day 7 – Get that well-deserved rest!!!

*Always walk 2 – 3 minutes for a warm up before you begin to run and walk another 2 – 3 minutes as a cool down.  Don’t stretch before running.  Save it for afterward (think of it as a reward!)


GG’s Gym Etiquette 101

January 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Exercise, School's Out

My Tried & True Dos & Don’ts For the Gym!!

These peeps all seem to be using proper gym etiquette.

The gym is a place to release tensions, detoxify, energize and renew.  When I walk through the doors of my gym, I immediately feel a sense of relief – it’s my place to unwind while maintaining fitness.  I’m very lucky to have met quite a few very dear friends at the gym as I spend a significant amount of time there.  In order to get the most out of the gym and earn those friendships, there are etiquette rules gym goers should follow.  Here are those that immediately come to mind ~

Do

  • Do invest in gym attire that you feel good in.  True, you are going to be sweating up your duds in no time flat but, trust me, if you feel good you will perform your exercises with that much more vigor and get a better workout.  Here is one of my personal favorite sportswear lines – Body Language Sportswear.
  • Do wear color from time to time.  Everyone wears black.  Try a brighter color to boost your mood.  In fact, invest in colors you can mix and match.  GG Tip:  Feeling a couple pounds heavier? – Wear the same color top and bottom; the monochromatic effect will slim you.
  • Do wear white socks.  Period.  Any other color will make you look like the lights went out in the locker room when you were changing and you didn’t get a chance to check yourself in the mirror.
  • Do wipe down the cardio machines after you use them.  You just spent 20, 30 or 45 long, hard minutes grinding away . . . the next person doesn’t want to share your excretions.
  • Do let others work in during your rest periods between sets. This may not always be practical, but offer to share when you can.  It’s an easy way to make friends too or meet that cute guy or girl.  🙂
  • Do refrain from melodramatic squeals and moans while pushing your limits with the iron.  There is one particular character at my gym who obviously thinks he is much more macho than he is.  He apparently has no peripheral vision to see all the rolling eyes around him.

Don’t

  • Don’t wear dirty gym clothes.  This would officially make you disgusting.  Yes, everyone around you could tell.  One way to avoid being a skank is to take your gym clothes with you into the shower and let them hang to dry for tomorrow.
  • Don’t wear baggy pants or shirts.  Not only will you not feel good in them, you won’t be able to see the muscle work you are accomplishing.
  • Don’t get overly skimpy.  You don’t want something flying out that shouldn’t during an overly enthusiastic aerobic jump or superhero set.
  • Don’t hover around a person while waiting for the machine he/she is using.  Either ask politely to work in or find another exercise to do while you wait.  There’s always something else you can do to be more productive than make the other person feel hurried.
  • Don’t stand directly in front of someone performing his/her set.  Chances are, the person is checking himself in the mirror and nothing breaks up the pumping pattern more than an oblivious hogger.
  • Biker shorts, fanny packs, thong leotard over spandex.    Enough said.

Diet, Exercise, or Act of God?

April 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Exercise, School's Out

I’ve heard many line openers at the gym but the title to this post particularly sticks out in my mind.It certainly is more creative than “Can I work in with you?”  Or these . . .

Line Openers at the Gym

·I like your shoes/ Did you get new shoes?/Those are interesting shoes. – (For some reason, this one’s a biggie.Do my feet stick out or something?)

·____ is your color. (Boring.)

·How long have you been working out here? (Also boring.)

·Wow, if I do those exercises, will I get those abs?(hmmmm)

·You look like my future girlfriend. (Now that’s cute!)

To answer the first question . . . while I’ve been blessed with a fairly fast metabolism (thanks, Mom!), maintaining a low fat diet and working out 6 days a week certainly plays a factor in maintaining my physique. Here’s a set of exercises I’ve been doing – without fail – since a week after my daughter was born.I gained 33 pounds when I was pregnant with her and lost it all within 3 weeks. Now, I am currently in my 40s and maintain my “6-pack.”  Unfortunately, because I am a teacher, you’ll just have to take my word for it or ask one of my gym buds.  No pictures allowed!! 🙂  

 

15 minutes, five mornings a week – if I miss a morning, I do them at night; it doesn’t matter which days of the week, as long as it’s five times within the week.I can honestly say that I’m in the best shape of my life and this little routine definitely plays a factor toward that.So, sshh, don’t tell . . . here it is ~

GG’s No Fail Daily Exercises

On the floor:

1.  100 crunches . . . lie flat on your back, bend knees, feet planted, hands behind neck

2.  50 alternate side crunches . . . same as above except crunching (25 each side, alternating with each crunch)

3.  For more challenge, add this:  50 alternate side crunches w. knee lift . . . elbow reaching to opposite knee as knee lifts to meet elbow (25 each side, alternating with each crunch)

4.  For even more challenge, add this:  100 “bicycle” crunches. . . legs raised an inch, parallel to ground, elbow reaching to opposite knee as knee lifts to meet elbow (50 each side, alternating with each crunch & keeping legs raised)

That’s it!  We can pin exercise routines on Pinterest until our fingers fing, but the truth is one needs only find that one routine that works and makes one feel comfortable and  the results will follow!!  Now let’s get those 6 packs popping!

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