When I was a kid, I really wasn’t very interested in reading. It took more effort than watching a movie or listening to a story. As well, it required that I concentrate for longer than my hyper-active attention span could muster. The one exception to that was “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. In those, you’d read a page or two and then make a decision. Do you explore the dark cave or go back the way you came to investigate the noise you just heard?
Since starting at my new school, I’ve been faced with an avalanche of decisions.
- Do I go home and grade the open-response items I put on the Chapter 1 test so the kids will have feedback before they move on to the next big thing, or do I go to the gym and spend some quality time with the elliptical machine?
- Do I stay up an extra hour preparing healthy meals for the coming days, or do I go to bed at a reasonable hour so I’ll have the energy and patience needed to make it through a full day of problem-based learning facilitation with 60 9th graders and 60 10th-12th graders?
- Do I take the much-needed 3-day weekend retreat that has become a tradition, or do I stay within the confines of civilization where there’s access to the Internet so I can grade online writing assignments (360 of them)?
- Do I take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime, week-long professional development opportunity out of state requiring me to prepare an entire week of lesson plans and substitute-friendly learning activities, or do I stay here and do things myself?
Most of these decisions are interwoven. If I go to the gym, I’ll have a higher energy level and a better attitude for the problem-based learning activity. If I go on the weekend retreat, I’ll be relaxed, but I’ll probably also make poor food choices. If I prep my meals, it means I’ll have more time to do work at school during my 30 minute lunch break, so I can at least print off the seating charts for the substitute folder for that week I’ll be out.
“Make Good Choices.”
Kristen, the registered dietitian who has been my source of knowledge, inspiration, and, when needed, consolation, has always told me to make good choices. When I tell her that I’ve taken an action or made a choice that turned out not to be in my favor, she always asks, “what would have been a better choice?”
The difference between “then” and “now” is not that I didn’t want to make good choices “then.” It’s not that I lacked the analytical capacity to make good choices “then.” It’s simply that I was nutritionally-illiterate then. I wasn’t equipped to make good choices about what to eat, what not to eat, and what the role of physical activity (and inactivity) played in weight control.
You haven’t heard much from me in the last month because I’ve been covered up with work and life. I haven’t been to the gym since September 5th. I had to log into my gym account to look that up! My work obligations, for better or worse, often take precedence over my life obligations. As a professional educator, I cannot bring myself to let the intellectual well-being of 180 young people fall to the wayside because I haven’t done “leg day” this week.
So how am I doing? Surprisingly well.
My last weigh-in was 193.0 pounds. The last time I updated you on my progress I weighed 191.8 pounds. I lost my weight by making good choices. I’ve kept it off by continuing to make the best choices I can. In the real world, we have to deal the hand we’re dealt. Sometimes the best choice is the least-worst choice. When those days come, I learn from them, taking steps to not get myself in those types of situations going forward.
If you’re trying to control your own weight, make good choices. Learn how food works. Learn how to balance your caloric intake with your caloric expenditures. When I can’t get to the gym, I eat less. When I’m eating less, I I make sure that the foods I do eat are whole grains, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and the “good fats.” When I do have time to get to the gym, that gives me a bit more flexibility in my food choices and my “discretionary calories” (Fun-size Twix, I’m talking to you).
A good friend recently told me that he and his wife had decided that they were going to focus on losing weight. As badly as I know they both want and need to lose weight, success all comes down to how well you play “Choose Your Own Adventure.” In my previous life, I wanted to lose weight. In my previous life I needed to lose weight. The difference between then and now is that I have equipped myself with the knowledge and nutrition literacy resources necessary to make good decisions. I know how to look things up. I know who to ask if I can’t make sense of what I find. I use my brain to decide what I put in my mouth.