Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hardest workout yet, and thoughts on food deprivation

Yesterday was Total Body Circuit day, 25 minutes of pure torture. Even Tania's modifications were very challenging, but I was proud of myself for not giving up, and being able to practice better planks and getting trained for full push-ups. I still have a long way to go in these areas, but I'm happy where I am now, considering I am quite the beginner in all of this.

I am also starting to feel the positive side effects of working out everyday. My overall mood is improving and I feel more energetic. Being able to finish the 25-minute Shaun T workouts is also a great feeling. I feel very proud of myself. The sluggishness is gone and I look forward to seeing more improvements as time goes by.

It is also the first day of fall break, four days of pure bliss, no work. I woke up at 9:30 this morning to let the dog out and feed her. I went back to bed but stayed up browsing my smart phone. I think I half-slept in the middle of it. I decided to get up at 11:30 to make some breakfast/brunch/lunch and catch up on my British shows. I had leftover Asian salad and three soft boiled eggs. I felt like I wanted to eat more and decided on a chocolate chip cookie and a mint.

I want to practice a healthier diet but the mere thought of it makes me cringe, because no matter how glamorous healthy diets and recipes look on the screen, in real life, it makes me depressed. I love food. I love indulgent meals and desserts and snacks. I don't think I can give up processed food or sugar. I don't want to deprive myself of these things that truly make me happier about life!

I don't plan on changing my diet or abstaining from certain things health enthusiasts find horrific, because I know I will fail. I love food too much. But I know I can start making smarter choices, like portion control. It's an ongoing, learning experience, but I know for sure that this whole 'diet' thing is not for me.

Which brings me to the reason why I started working out again. My goal is mainly to feel better about myself, mentally and emotionally, by giving my body the physical activity that it needs. Being completely sedentary has taken its toll on my mental and emotional wellbeing that I started getting depressed again. I don't want to pay for a therapist or take medication for this, so I decided to work out to help combat these blues. My primary goal for working out isn't to lose weight or look good, but to feel good and to feel healthy, even if, by mainstream standards, my body shape isn't exactly the most 'perfect.' I don't care. I have come to a point in my life where physical attributes don't really bug me as much anymore. Sure, I get body issue woes every now and then, but they're pretty minor. It's the emotional and mental stability that I find really important these days. These are my foundation to being the best person I can be for myself, and for the people around me. And, this is why I work out.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Me Time: A Change In Perspective

October 6th, Monday. I tuckered out last night at around 12 and knew that tomorrow was going to be rough. I haven't been getting enough sleep during the weekdays, partially because I always feel anxious about coming to work the next day.

I thought I was going to break the commitment before it even started when I woke up at around 5am, that is, after already tossing and turning in between. I tried to go back to sleep, half slept, and woke up at 5:30. I looked at the alarm set on my phone: 6:00am. I only had 30 minutes left to sleep. To hell with this, I'm not working out. I need more than 30 minutes to survive the rest of the day. It was, after all, a Monday.

I couldn't sleep after that. I looked at the clock: 5:50. Out of nowhere, something inside me pushed myself out of bed, and I suddenly found myself putting on a sports bra, workout pants, socks, until finally, I was in my Nike's.

I told myself that I was going to start slow. The reason I gave up a workout routine was because I pushed myself too hard, thinking I could do it. I don't need Tania. I can totally do the entire thing without the modifier. And when I realized that I couldn't, I threw in the towel and said to hell with it.

Not this time. I was going to swallow my pride, listen to my body, and go slow.

I followed Tania the entire time. And it felt great.

That was, until after the cool down. I was ready to begin my day, when I realized how freaking nauseated I felt. I knew I had to quickly prepare my breakfast (oatmeal and bananas), but I could barely walk to the kitchen. When I realized how unfit I was, the familiar feeling of demotivation started setting in.

And with it came other negative emotions, like job dissatisfaction, feeling tired and sick, and wishing that I could just stay in and go back to sleep. Ugh, I had to work after hours today, too. And it's only 6:45.

But I knew I had no choice. I had to keep moving, so I did. I made breakfast, but could only take a couple of bites. I've always skipped breakfast, and this is something that I've been working on to make a daily non-negotiable. I kept my leftover oatmeal in a container and stored it in the fridge for tomorrow.

My day went by quickly, but I only saw the slightest difference in energy, not so much in mood. My husband said it would probably take a week -- maybe more -- to see a real difference. I'll try to be patient.

Tonight, there's that familiar feeling of dreading the next day again, especially since I knew I had to continue waking up 30 minutes earlier to be able to get the workout in. I used to work out after work, but since I have been doing overtime, I knew that wouldn't be much of a commitment and more like wishful thinking. Besides, I do chores, cook, and clean when I get home.

A realization just literally came through: I basically work the entire freaking day. My job starts at 7:30 and ends at 4:30. After that, I either get home or do errands. When I get home, I cook and clean. It never stops.

In other words, I think I made the right decision to wake up 30 minutes early to start my day with "Me Time", my workout. If I could keep that perspective, I think I would feel more motivated to continue.

Saying it one more time, in front of the mirror: 6:00-6:30am working out = Me Time. You're doing this for you.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Commitment

I have not been at my physical, mental, and emotional best for the past month, maybe even for the past year. And I think my body is finally trying to tell me that enough is enough -- it's time to put myself first and be healthy.

I have certainly gone down a dangerously unhealthy path since getting married. I guess happiness has its tendency to make one slack off and take important things -- like health -- for granted. But I don't think I am doing our marriage any favors by letting myself go like this.

I know I've made 'commitments' before to start living a healthier life, but I never really pulled through on any of it. It is so easy to give up because I would always find an excuse, like 'not being ready' or 'I'm too stressed at work.' I know that at the end of the day, these are meaningless excuses.

I have really been feeling the negative side effects of letting myself go. My moods have been so crappy. I haven't been waking up motivated to start the day. I always find the excuse of not being completely satisfied with my job, when I am pretty sure a big part of this dissatisfaction (for life in general) comes from my complete lack of energy and overall wellbeing.

Self-image issues are also beginning to blatantly interfere with my mental and emotional wellbeing. I am over 140 lbs., the heaviest I've ever been in my life at only 5 feet, 5 inches tall. Even though my husband tells me every single day that I am beautiful, I can't help but disagree and deny these words of love and appreciation.

I know I can be more beautiful, more healthy, and more happy for him. But most importantly, I know that I can be all these things for ME.

I set my alarm clock 30 minutes earlier than my usual wake-up call. I am going to start my day for once. I pray for the strength to stick with this newfound commitment, to not make meaningless excuses my crutch, and to finally put myself first. "Me Time" begins tomorrow. May the Universe and God's spirit be with me.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Those 'Teaching Moments'

It was a long and tiring week. I had my first classroom observation by my supervisor and being a new teacher, I felt pressured to prove myself to him, even though I knew I didn't have anything to worry about. After all, he's seen me teach before. Still, now that he's actually my boss, I had to step up and go the extra mile.

I was being evaluated on my ability to encourage students into higher-order thinking, where every child is constantly engaged and thinking outside the box. I had to teach but at the same time facilitate intelligent conversation between the students. I had to provide some pretty in-depth teaching moments.

It was a challenge, but during those 45 minutes, the class pulled it off. I was so proud of my kids. They showcased their creativity and wit. They spent a great amount of time synthesizing their learnings and going beyond what was taught within the curriculum, and taking it to real life situations and history. A few of them even engaged in a healthy debate. In other words, the lesson was entirely student-centered, which was not only a great thing to share with the principal, but also a memorable teaching moment for me!

I live for those 'teaching moments' at work. I find fulfillment, not in being able to teach kids something new, but in seeing kids teach each other, while I'm just there to mediate or facilitate. I treasure those moments when kids learn to ask meaningful questions and aren't afraid to embrace their curiosities. I love seeing kids experiment and find out things for themselves, with just their hands and their brains to rely on. I love witnessing the magic of light bulb moments when they suddenly figure something out. Oh, the joy in their eyes whenever that happens! It makes everything so worth it,

It's amazing when a big decision instantly turns things around, leaving my old place of employment and moving to this brand new one, with a brand new supervisor and in a brand new environment. Last year, I simply wanted to find the joy that I once lost in teaching again. I can honestly say that now, that joy is back.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Appreciating What I Have: 10 Things I'm Grateful For At Work

Today is Monday, and it was actually a pretty decent Monday for a change! I didn't have such a hard time waking up early today, despite feeling ill this weekend. It looks like I'm coming down with an ear and/or sinus infection, but overall, I still feel pretty okay! There are times when I do feel demotivated at work, when I get consumed in thoughts of my 'ideal scenario', and forget to appreciate what I have now. And although it's imperfect, what I have now is pretty awesome. So, in the spirit of counting my blessings and truly appreciating what I have, here are 10 things I am currently grateful for at work:

1. I am grateful for my students. All 19 of them. My third graders are truly what keep me going whenever I feel demotivated at work. I just think of how much they make me smile and laugh with their quirks. I think of how smart and witty they are and just overall brilliant. I think of how lucky I am to have this particular group of students, because even though they can be quite a handful, their 'youness', for lack of a better term, makes it all worth it. You know how that Dr. Seuss passage goes, "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than You?" My students are the epitome of that passage. They just make each day so much more bearable, simply for being who they are.

2. I am grateful for where I work, in particular, a 2-minute drive, 5-minute (10 minutes tops) walk away from home. You have no idea how much of a relief this has been, and how much gas money I'm able to save and use for other things, like small pleasures. Oh, how wonderful it is to work so close to home!

3. I am grateful for my boss. For the first time in a long time, I feel like the big boss trusts me and believes in my ability to handle my class. Absolutely no pressure or negativity; only support and encouragement. No micro-managing; only someone who believes in my own independence and leadership. It feels great to be able to enjoy teaching again, and that is mostly because of the leadership we have in our school.

4. I am grateful for my co-teachers, especially since one of them happens to be my mom! I love being able to eat lunch with her everyday. I love seeing her in action and learning from her. I've said this so many times, and I'll say it again -- my mom was born to be a teacher. And although I can't exactly say that about myself, I feel extremely blessed to work side by side this kind of educator.

5. I am grateful for growth. I've been seeing this most especially in my students. Transitioning from the comforts of 2nd grade to the amount of material and depth of expectation in 3rd grade proved quite challenging during the first month of school. August was a very exhausting month for all of us. But now I can say that the kids are adjusting well and starting to get the hang of things. It's amazing to see them improve each day, which makes my job so much more fulfilling.

6. I am grateful for the extra support I get daily from the special education team. I have quite a soft spot for special education, and I am always so thankful for the amazing SpEd professionals who support us regular classroom teachers everyday. It makes my job so much easier to have that extra support, yes, but I think the fulfillment comes mostly from seeing these kids grow and mature under the wing of such nurturing individuals. So, hats off to you, SpEd team!

7. I am grateful for recess! Yes, I am a firm believer in physical activity in between grueling hours of work inside a stuffy classroom. You'll be surprised how even a short, 10-minute health break outdoors can change the disposition of a student, making learning so much quicker and effective.

8. I am grateful for the little things, some of the little pleasures that make even the most mundane things at work so much easier. The teachers' workroom, which houses all our supplies, the printer, and a copier, which is just two doors down from my classroom. Our teacher's lounge, where I actually don't mind spending my lunch with other staff members (someone once said that a happy teacher's lounge makes a happy school).

9. I am grateful for my kids' parents. I've never had this much parent support and involvement before, and I am loving it! I, for one, love keeping in constant contact with my kids' parents. I think this is so important, because I believe success in school is a three-way partnership between the teacher, the student, and their parents.

10. I am grateful for the financial support I am able to give my family for having this job. It's rare to hear about a teacher being thankful for their living, but in the spirit of gratitude and appreciation, you'll hear it from me today. It's not much, but it's still something.

Sigh. That felt great, and now I'm ready for Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My mind is giving me insomnia!

Ever since work started up again a month ago (new school, new perspective), my mind has been overflowing with so many different things that it keeps me awake at night. The melatonin supplement helps sometimes, but most nights, I just can't give myself a full night's sleep! I know this is bad. I know that we all need enough sleep to give our body time to repair itself, but sleep has been such a challenge for me lately. I've tried everything, from sleep hypnosis videos to yoga-before-bed sessions, but I just can't do it! I know my body is craving it, to sleep like a baby again.

I've been wanting to do so many things lately, and I think that's why my mind has been racing. I have a lot on my plate, but I always try and think of ways to squeeze in the things I want to include in my daily routine. 

For instance, today I decided that I wanted to do yoga on a regular basis again. Our town yoga studio is offering a great rate for teachers, which is primarily what made me decide to maybe try it out again. Going to a regular gym is too expensive for me, and yoga has always been the most consistent form of exercise I've done and I'm pretty sure I'd stick with, especially if there's an actual instructor making me accountable. I'm signing up for daily classes again starting next week. 

I also have been toying with the idea of getting nationally board certified. This is my third consecutive year of teaching elementary, which makes me eligible for it. I thought, hey, why not? It's a credential I could bring anywhere in the states, and it gives me an edge if I apply for another teaching job elsewhere (in case my husband finds a better job opportunity out of town, which is a likely possibility in the very near future).

But since I am still finishing up my third year of teaching, I also have to renew my current teaching license! I'm taking two of the required teacher competency tests next week. I've been reading up and reviewing what I can from study guides and test samples, so I'm not really that worried. What I'm worried about is my dossier, which I need to complete before June next year. I mean, I can totally do it; I finished a dossier the previous year as well, but as usual, I want it to be perfect. And this makes me nervous.

Aside from these things and my daily lesson planning, grading, and trying to keep our house in order, I can't help but keep these thoughts and plans and ideas running through my mind, especially late at night! I know I have to learn to let go sometimes and let my mind rest, but I'm not exactly sure how. I've tried reading before going to bed, but I still always end up waking up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep until it's time to wake up at 6:30. My body is starting to feel it, that's for sure. I've been getting more headaches and starting to feel more fatigued each day.

Any tips on how to clear your mind to prepare for a good night's rest? Please comment below! I need some advice!