08/24/15

Dear Teachers,

Dear Teachers,

As we approach the start of a brand new school year, I can feel the excitement in the air. I hope that all of the teachers out there have had a restful summer, and that everyone is all prepared, motivated and excited to make this the BEST school year yet!

My wish for every single one of you this year is to remember what inspired you to go into this profession when you first decided to take this path. Did you want to make a difference? Did you want to be a role model? Did you want to play a part in developing the future of our country?

Whether this is your first year or your 40th, as the new school year begins, I encourage you to dig deeply and remember those first moments of deciding to become an educator.

It takes love and courage to be a teacher. No matter what is thrown at us each year, we pick ourselves up and return; thinking of ways we can learn from the challenges of the past. We go to sleep brainstorming ideas to motivate, inspire and create learning environments that help our population. We wake up with headaches, runny noses, and personal problems. Yet we get dressed, get in our cars and drive to school. And on the days when life becomes too much and we must take a “mental health day,” we spend time preparing plans and activities to ensure that our students are productive while we’re out. We are constantly thinking, planning, worrying, and wanting the best for our students, as if they were our own family.

And even on the most frustrating of days… even when dealing with the most frustrating of students… even when stressing about the most frustrating of policies… we return each year, because we love this profession, and have the courage to continue to try and make a difference.

The courage we carry helps to support students who are overlooked and undervalued. We will face children with the odds stacked up against them. They might live in poverty. They might have gone to bed hungry the night before. They might not have a place to call home. And although these factors may impact how they interact and deal with their world, our willingness to be there for them, go the extra mile for them, and provide a structured, safe, comforting, and meaningful learning environment for them, day after day, is something they really do appreciate; even if they don’t express it in a conventional way.  As teachers we must have the courage and faith to believe that the long hours, meticulous planning, and effort that we put into our profession is truly making a difference in the lives of our students.

No matter what our students walk through the door with this school year, we must show each and every one of them that we care. We want them to feel empowered. We want them to feel like they’re someone important.  

This year I challenge you to greet each and every one of your students as they walk through your classroom door. To laugh and have fun with them. To reach out to someone if you need help. To know that it’s ok to have a “bad” day. To have the courage to love them, because you may be the only one who does.

To be that teacher that your students will always remember.

Best wishes for an amazing school year,
Stephanie

11900078_10153637979557474_1162757858278255119_n

 

08/11/15

7 Ways to Boost your Athletic Confidence

I’ve had my share of negative thoughts when it comes to doing any kind of physical activity; especially when it comes to working out around others who may faster, more experienced or in “better” physical shape than I. Deciding to take the step and start an exercise routine is a choice you should make based on what’s right for your body, what’s going to improve your health and what’s going to make you feel good about yourself.  However there’s something that many who want to begin running, going to a gym, swimming or any other type of exercise often lack: CONFIDENCE.

Working out in a public place can be especially challenging. Many people who are new to a gym, a fitness class, or even a running/walking path seem to focus their attention towards those intimidatingly “perfect” athletes, overlooking the fact that there ARE people of all ages, shapes, abilities, sizes, fitness levels and body types working out right alongside them!

When I first starting becoming more active, I remember feeling completely terrified of being laughed at, doing something wrong or having my flab jiggle much more than my so-called peers. It took me some time to figure out that I was being silly, and once I was able to find the athletic confidence to quiet down my insecurities, I was able to walk into a gym, public track or lap pool without fear or anxiety.

So how do you move past the nerves and find the courage to start?

PicMonkey Collage

7 ways to boost your athletic confidence

 

1. Use the buddy system. Grab a friend and get moving together! I’ve found in times when I’m most nervous, having a familiar face can be just the thing to get you settled into a strong workout routine. Working out with a friend or family member can also provide you with support and motivation throughout your journey!

2. Dress comfortably and wear clothing that fits. When you exercise in clothing that fits, feels good and looks good, your athletic confidence instantly boosts! It’s hard to enjoy a workout session when you’re feeling self-conscious about stuff riding up, rolling down, or making you look like a sack of potatoes (think big cotton t-shirts that you hope hide your fat– been there!). Invest in a few mix-and-match outfits, and as always, shoes that are appropriate for the workout you are doing. Bonus tip- always head into a workout with a sweat towel, deodorant in the pits, fresh and clean clothing and limited perfumes/scented lotions. Nothing will destroy confidence faster than feeling self-conscious about your hygiene during a workout!

3. Set goals. When you set a goal, and visualize yourself achieving that goal, you’ll instantly feel a boost in confidence. Sign up for that 5k. Register for that group fitness class. Join that gym. Once you’ve set the goal, share it with the world! You’ll gain accountability, tips, and maybe even a few workout buddies as you create connections with other like-minded people.

4. Speak and think positively about yourself. Share your successes with others, call yourself a runner if you run (even if it’s just a slooooooooow jog!), believe that you ARE an athlete, call yourself an athlete, and never, ever talk negatively about yourself and your abilities! It’s ok to be a beginner. Even the most experienced of athletes is constantly trying to better themselves!

5. Knowledge is power. Starting a workout routine can be intimidating, no doubt. Especially if you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve been there and have had all those questions of doubt floating in my head too: “Will I look stupid?” “What if I don’t have the right form?” “What if I get in the way of more experienced people?” The more you learn about exercise, the more comfortable you will be working out consistently. If you are able to add a trainer into your budget, even for just a month or so, you’ll automatically boost your confidence knowing that someone is there to help you every step of the way. Someone like Coach Becky Fox, from Fox Fitness, is a perfect example of someone knowledgeable, patient and experienced in the fitness field. She’s able to make her clients feel like they have control over their fitness and health by explaining every part of her program in depth!

In addition to working with a professional, consider reading some exercise books, blogs or watching videos to help you learn good form for any exercise you want to try. Also- don’t be afraid to ask others who are working out around you. You’ll be surprised to find that most people are willing to help! Become a pro at recognizing non-verbals to help you identify who you may think will be helpful, and of course, don’t forget to smile! If you’ve just joined a gym, it’s probably a good idea to take a tour or go through the facility’s orientation, so you’re able to learn as much about the gym as possible and boost your confidence.

6. Clear your mind. When you walk into a gym, or head to the local park for a few miles around the track, try to clear your mind and only focus on the goals you have set for this workout. People who are out there working out are there for the same reason you are. That focused runner on the path, the sweaty weight lifter working on reps, that person on the rower stopping for a water break: they’re not there to pass judgment on anyone. They’re trying to fit in a workout and improve their health- just like you. And many of them also deal with insecurities of their own! It’s human nature. Always keep this at the forefront of your thoughts and walk into a workout with a clear and confident mind. A good playlist of your favorite tunes or an affirmation you repeat to yourself will also help get you in the clear zone! I like to repeat the word “JUST GO” over and over again when I’m running- especially on those longer distances when I’m losing the motivation to keep pushing!

7. Smile, feel good and have fun. A workout doesn’t have to be “work.” Of course you want to get the most out of a walk, run or gym session, but it shouldn’t be a miserable experience that makes you NOT want to return the next time. Make sure you are well rested, well fueled and well hydrated before you do any exercise. That will help with the “feel good” part. As for the fun part goes, if you hate running, don’t run! Not a fan of the treadmill, try a fitness class (think Zumba or Orangetheory!). Don’t force yourself to do something you aren’t going to enjoy. A good rule of thumb is to give it 2-3 weeks before saying you’re not a fan. Give it time, recognize there’s a learning curve for all activities and give it a chance. And a smile? A smile is an instant confidence booster. Every. Single. Time.

Do you have any tips to add to this list? Do share! :)
Steph

08/10/15

Never stop starting

Recently a reader was led to my blog by searching “tired of failing at weight loss and having to start over”.  I’m not sure how or why that search led them here, since it directed them to my Orangetheory review, which isn’t really about weight loss failures. Maybe I was meant to see their search and write THIS post. Maybe that person will see THIS post and find some comfort and empowerment in what I’m about to say. So to this mystery blog reader,  let me start off first by saying this: Continue reading

08/9/15

Key lime cookies

I love all things Key Lime. 
I live about 8 hours from Key West, and believe me, it is WORTH the drive to get all of that key lime goodness in your life. 

Key lime margaritas.
Key lime pie. 
Key lime rum cake.
Key lime marinated shrimp.
Key lime cookies!

Since we didn’t visit our islands to the south this summer, I figured I needed to whip up something with these tart little gems. While I was at the farmer’s market a few days ago, a beautiful bag of key limes caught my eye! They’ve been sitting on my counter ever since, just begging to be squeezed!

So I squeezed them. And here’s what came out. 😉

11224095_10153598706977474_4896732154926991332_n Continue reading

08/8/15

#Backtoschool recipes: Fruit & nut “hangry” bites

Many of you know I’m a school teacher. Middle school, to be exact. 

I actually work for the professional development department of our school district but I’m assigned to a school in a relatively newly formed hybrid position. A lot of people have asked me about what I do. Basically I’m in a grant funded role where I teach students in the morning (three periods of 6th grade comprehensive science) and then work with teachers during the second part of my day. My work with teachers can be anything from completing observations and providing feedback, facilitating book studies, writing trainings, modeling lessons, supporting new teachers, and so much more. 

Teaching in itself is an extremely exhausting, demanding and busy job. Adding coaching in the mix makes for quite the on-the-go day for me. But I love it!  Continue reading

08/1/15

A fun #yoga event at Fox Fitness!

Yoga has been on my radar for-ev-er.
It’s always been something that I’ve been intrigued by, but never thought I could actually learn to do. 

The thing that has discouraged me from diving in is the fact that I have never felt as though I had “the right body type” to be able to do certain poses or stretches. So although it’s been on my mind, I’ve never actually made the decision to start.  Continue reading

07/30/15

Almond and butternut squash muffins

I was at the farmer’s market the other day and butternut squash was on sale for $.75/lb! I purchased a few and they’ve been sitting on my counter top just waiting to be used. 

I’ve had my eye on a butternut squash cheese and beer soup I saw someone make the other day that looked divine.
I’ve also been wanting to whip up a batch of my roasted garlic mashed squash that is tdf!
And I’ve been craving muffins like crazy, so…butternut squash muffins? Why not! Continue reading