Featured Blogger Kristen from Living Everyday Strong - How Fitness Made Me a Better Teacher


R E W I N D to 4 years ago . . . I was in the middle of my first year of teaching, pre-wellness journey, overwhelmed and beyond exhausted, running myself ragged just trying to stay afloat.

Teacher friends, have you been here? Are you here now? You are NOT alone.

I was tired a l l t h e t i m e, running on Dunkin' Donuts / / extra cream and sugar, mindlessly snacking throughout the day, and indulging in a cold beer (or 4) every evening -- just to wake up and do it all over again the next day.

Against every best practice I learned in undergrad, I taught from a chair and rarely moved around my classroom for the better half of my first year. My energy was low, my irritability was at an all-time high, and I had, what felt like, a chronic headache.

Side note: A classroom full of 9 and 10-year-olds is quite possibly the l a s t place you want to be when you feel like this.

I had all of these dreams and goals to give my students my very best -- to challenge them, to empower them, to support them, and to love them -- and I was falling short . . . every day. I was letting my students down, and, simultaneously, letting myself down.

F A S T  F O R W A R D to now . . . 3ish years into my wellness journey, 4 years in the classroom, eating well, exercising regularly, F U L L of energy, and showing up for myself and my students every day.

If you've read my story, you know that I didn't make this change overnight. I sort of stumbled into this lifestyle one small change at a time, and my biggest motivator became progress of a n y kind. One of the first aspects of my lifestyle to change was my activity level. I made movement a habit and almost immediately F E L T better. Wellness journey – kickstarted. One small, underwhelming change at a time, I transformed my life.

I wanted to make a change, but I had no idea how/where to start. So, I started walking. A lot. I figured I couldn’t go wrong here. I got obsessed with my Fitbit and was determined to hit my step goal every day. I walked around my neighborhood, around the playground at recess, on the treadmill, etc . . . any chance I could get. You guys – almost instantly, like not even a week later, I started to feel SO much better. I had more energy in the classroom, and I was not nearly as exhausted when I got home from work. Even better? I didn’t even want to eat the pita chips and spinach dip or drink 4 beers [understatement] every night. My eating habits began to change and hellooooo progress! My body was changing, I was feeling better, and I was hooked.”

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Teacher friends, I get it . . . we're B U S Y. We are responsible for an enormous load, and we're engrained to put our students [and everyone else, for that matter] before ourselves. Burn-out is real, and this career we went into because of our love for children and learning is becoming all-consuming and less about passion / / more about checking the boxes.

I realize that what I'm about to suggest may be a radical concept, but just hear me out . . .

Spend an hour on yourself every - single - day.

Make YOURSELF a priority . . . your happiness, your health, your wellness. Show up for yourself first, because, friends, YOU CANNOT POUR FROM AN EMPTY CUP! [insert clapping emoji]

Find a form of exercise you actually enjoy . . . strength training, running, barre, yoga, spin class, rock climbing, etc. and spend an hour m o v i n g every day.

Fuel your body with R E A L food . . . throw out all the processed junk and restock your fridge with a l l the colors! Click here for my top tips on how to 'healthy' grocery shop affordably.

Make self-care a routine . . . find a podcast you enjoy and listen to it during your commute, buy that book you've been wanting to read and decide to read for 10 minutes before going to sleep, call a friend or family member just to chat, etc.

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Pour into yourself so that you can pour your very best into others.

80% of the time I eat fresh, wholesome foods, and I find pockets of time throughout the day to listen to podcasts, read new books, and call my mama, but F I T N E S S was, and still is, my game-changer.

A combination of strength training and high intensity cardio is my go-to exercise regimen, and when I committed to making m o v e m e n t a priority a few years back, here's what happened:

  • My nutrition mindset shifted. I no longer crave the 'highly processed / / full of sugar' foods, but instead actually want to eat fresh, nutritious food.

  • My body began to transform. I was losing fat and building lean muscle . . . a look I never dreamed I'd be able to achieve.

  • I found a sense of confidence that I had been longing for. I became comfortable in my own skin and no longer pick myself apart in the mirror.

  • My clothes fit better, and I don't try on countless outfits before settling on one that I feel 'okay' in.

  • I have more energy, less irritability, and z e r o headaches!

The best part . . .

  • I am able to show up for my students the way I have always dreamed I would. I poured into fostering relationships and creating a classroom community, and my teaching became energetic and engaging.

  • In learning to schedule the hour in for myself each day, I became better at time management and prioritizing. I now leave school shortly after my students do, and I never [ever] take work home with me.

  • I make room for what's most important, prioritize my tasks / / check them off one by one, and I give my students and co-workers my very best during the school day . . . because, at the end of the day, I'm choosing to spend quality time with people I love and filling MY cup so that I can wake up the next day e x c i t e d to be a teacher again and pour into my students.

  • Learn more about my time management techniques and how I boost my productivity here!

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Friends, that hour for yourself is important. Making yourself a priority is important. The strength and confidence you will build through exercise is important. Your happiness, health, and wellness is important.

If you want to give your absolute best to those around you, you must first believe that YOU deserve to be happy, healthy, and well . . . and commit to it.

Here's to allowing ourselves the grace to spend time pouring into ourselves this week so that we are able to graciously pour into others.

xo, Kristen

Living Everyday Strong