Saturday, March 15, 2014

Flappy Bird. Where Are My Priorities?

I refuse to sit on the couch and let life pass me by.  I refuse to be the one always taking and not giving back.  I refuse to let my time get sucked up by irrelevancy.

This week has been one of reflection for me.  I've been considering my priorities, reflecting on how I spend my time, and analyzing what I can do to live better.

Here are my conclusions: I care more about my health than sitting on the couch watching Netflix.  I love my friends & family so much that I want to be present in every moment with them.  I want to live a long life and make an impact for Jesus Christ, and, therefore, I will spend more time eating better food, exercising, and loving others.  I want to build relationships with students, colleagues, friends, and family.  I want more time face-to-face with these people instead of emailing them or writing on their Wall.  I want to experience life fully.

Ultimately, when I pass on, I want people to remember me for the passion I had for the Lord and others, not what I posted on the Internets.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Healthy Perspective

Transformation of 2013: wishing I had taken better before shots.

There are some posts that just seem to sit in the queue while I ponder them.  Even though, there wasn't really any post in draft form, this is one I have been mulling over a while.

Last year, I underwent a major transformation. I lost a considerable amount of weight (and kept it off), due in part to inspiration from friends, several apps, and good old-fashioned willpower.  Actually, not much of that was willpower, most of it was inspiration and apps.  On my journey, I learned about and used several apps which helped me stay the course.  This year I am again working to lose another big chunk of weight.

So, without further ado, here is my list of must-haves for leading to a healthier lifestyle.

1.  My Fitness Pal: I had this app on my phone for about a year before I started using it.  My good friend, Sara, had encouraged me to journal what I was eating.  Doing it digital was much easier for me.  I can even scan barcodes to find what I am eating.  I love the analytics of seeing how many grams of carbs, protein, and fat I eat.

You can access MFP online, too, which allows more customization, such as changing the percentage of the macros (carbs, protein, fat).  Ultimately, I think lowering my carbs is helping me lose weight.  This app has led me to stop eating so much processed food.  My goal is to log 365 days in a row.

2.  Pact: A decent app that keeps you accountable for working out, logging your food, and eating healthy fruits & veggies.  You have to use the app to check in at your gym or use the movement tracker if you aren't at a specific facility.  Pact syncs with MFP so you automagically get credit for logging your food.  In order to document what you are eating for fruits & veggies, you have to snap a pic and load it to the app.  The "community" upvotes it, if they think you are eating it.  I find this to be the biggest drawback, as it can be difficult to "show" you are eating certain foods, or if you forget to take a photo before you eat it.  Also, members of the community don't always understand what a vegetable is.  This morning I took this pic:    

Apparently, they didn't think green and red peppers were vegetables.  Hm....

The only caveat is that you do get charged every time you don't exercise, eat veggies, or log your food for that week.  You decide the amount of money you get charged.  It can be an extreme motivator.

3.  EveryMove: Another app that syncs with MFP.  You can log what activity you complete, and it credits you with points on EveryMove.  The rewards aren't that awesome, but it's something.  I don't have to open it to get the points.

It also syncs with my Fitbit.  I don't have to log anything.  It just populates my activities and gives me points.

4.  SleepCycle: This app does cost 99 cents which I think is well worth the data it gives you.  I like that you can add sleep notes so you can see how things like drinking caffeine, eating late, working out and stress are affecting your sleep.  There's also a fade out sleep aid that will play sounds such as ocean waves, autumn leaves, rain, wind, and countryside ambience to help you fall asleep. SleepCycle syncs with RunKeeper and Facebook, too.  They continue to add new features.

5. FitBit: I just ordered a Fitbit Flex. It should be here soon. Fitbit will integrate my sleep tracking and my movement tracking. I know it does more than that.  I will update this post as soon as I start using it. I can't wait to see how this will help me reach my fitness goals.

***Update: So, I have been using my Fitbit for almost 3 days now.  I already feel like it is motivating me.  I have been motivated to work out every day and even after that, I took the kids on a 2-mile walk both days.  I am tired every evening, but I see the 10, 000 step goal, and I want to meet it.  I still haven't been able to get there, but that may be due to the fact that we are on spring break.  I can't wait to see how it translates into weight lost.

A few of the features I like are the ability to sync with My Fitness Pal so I can see how the calorie intake stacks up against the steps taken.  It also measures my BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)--something not viewable on MFP.

Next week, when we are back at work, I'm hoping to see more steps taken.  I'm also thinking about getting up and taking walks in the morning.  We'll have to see how that goes....

Saturday, March 8, 2014

9 Fun Activities for Teachers during Spring Break

#9: Hang out with friends (used with permission from M. Vandagriff)

***Updated 3/14/14: I wanted to document what I have completed, mostly for my own "journaling" purposes.

I was inspired my Matt's post about fun activities to do with your kids during Spring Break.  So, I thought it would be fun to create my own list of fun activities that teachers can do during their time off.

1.  Pick a recipe from Pinterest and make it!

During the school year, I never have time to actually make recipes from Pinterest.  One of my goals is to make a recipe I pinned on Pinterest.  I just created a new Clean Eating board so I have some fun new recipes.
I was so excited to make a recipe yesterday for Chipotle Sweet Potato Quinoa Tacos.  I didn't have all of the ingredients, but it was oh-so-yummy and healthy.  It's the first time I have made quinoa, and it surely will not be the last.

Right before I put the filling in the tacos.

2.  Go to a movie.

One of my favorite pastimes-- I love the movies because I can zone out.  And, there's popcorn.
I saw Non-Stop on Saturday night.  I love relaxing at the movies, and I was absolutely relaxed because I just had a massage before that.

3.  Go on a field trip.

Teachers need field trips, too.  Why not choose a place you've never visited and go there?  Who knows? It could a place you want to investigate for a future class trip.  I'm excited about going with the Bug to the Dallas Aquarium on Monday with her class.
We went on Monday to the the aquarium.  The kids really enjoyed it.  The last time I went was on a trip with my 3rd graders at a previous school.

Sara, Me, Bug, Hen, and Andrew at the Dallas World Aquarium

4.  Take time to explore a new app or web tool.

It seems as though we never have enough time for exploration. Why not pick a tool and get to know it? I'm looking forward to having time to work with Explain Everything.  It's one of the few paid apps we purchased for every one of our school iPad minis.
Sierra and I are working on a project from our trip to the aquarium.  I'm also going to help my friend today with homeschooling her 4 girls.  I'm hoping to explore several "newer" (to me) apps.

5.   Create & Submit a proposal for a conference.

Our district just issued their call for presenters for the annual Learning Institute in August so that is one I will be drafting.  Why not submit a proposal for Podstock or Coppell ISD's Design Techniques for Technology Integration?

6.  Work out!

I'm looking forward to not having to rush through my workout!
Surprisingly, I have been every day to the gym.   I even took the kids to the park twice!  I think it's due, in part, to my new Fitbit.

Hen and Bug at the park.

7.  Relax (get a massage or pedicure).

It's so important to take some time for yourself.  Keeping your tanks full helps you serve the needs of your kids better.
My wonderful masseur always does a wonderful job of releasing all my tight spots!

8. Write a blogpost.

My colleague, Suellen, and I were discussing blogging last week at a training.  She is a veteran ITS, but she doesn't blog.  I believe she is at the point where she should be sharing her knowledge.  Don't just curate and take from the Internets--give back and share with others! Don't have a blog? Why not start one? If you do, share something you are learning as a professional.
I think I've blogged more this week than all time.

9.  Go out for coffee (or lunch or to a Dueling Piano Bar) with a friend or two.

Whether you like to stay low-key or hit the local club, this is another activity that usually helps "fill up your tanks" so you will be ready for your students.
Does going to Costco with my friend Sara count?


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