Welcome to #WhyIExercise. It’s an honor to celebrate this week’s spotlight educator, Kevin Loadman. From the state of Ohio, Kevin is an English teacher and assistant varsity football coach. He has earned two bachelor’s degrees from Ohio State, Communications and English. Furthering his education, he has a master’s degree in 21st century teaching and learning. When he’s not on the field or in his classroom, Kevin can be found active on Twitter in the #FitnessEdu chat on Sunday as well as the #Ohedchat on Wednesday. Kevin’s Twitter handle is @LoadmanHHS.
Join me, as we hear Kevin’s story!
Originally, it was not so much about participating in what I would now consider training or even exercise as much as it was being involved in a variety of different sports & activities. I started out playing soccer both fall & spring, eventually transitioning to baseball in the spring. A few years of youth league basketball was mixed in there as well. In 5th grade, I traded out soccer for football. I added wrestling in middle school, but didn’t pursue that much in high school aside from the 2nd half of my junior year. Football was clearly my #1 love, and I continued that into college, earning a spot as a walk-on at The Ohio State University, and was a member of the team for 4 years, earning 1 Varsity letter.
I exercise for a number of reasons. #1 - I want to work towards being healthy and living what would be considered a healthy lifestyle. I feel that I need to set an example and standard that my daughter, students, and athletes can follow or at least gain information from. #2 - it helps fuel what has always been an ultra-competitive drive for me. It does not matter what it is, I am and likely always will be fiercely competitive. This led me to entering my first Power Lifting competition in the summer of 2013, and I continue that to this day. It helps drive my training and focus, as well as the constant learning that must be done in order to be successful. It also allows me to pass on what I know to friends, colleagues, students, and athletes. #3 - being stronger and getting in better shape is a confidence builder.
I am currently using Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 training program, which is very good in terms of achieving maximum strength. It is a program that is easy to follow, with auto-regulation built in to account for things as simple as how you are feeling on a given day. Wendler has published several books on the subject, and it lays out a very simple but effective training program that anyone can use. My personal favorite is “Beyond 5/3/1”. I also walk several days a week, usually my non-training days, in order to maintain a basic level of cardio that allows me to push harder in my training. This is certainly a phase of my ‘game’ that I need to work on.
My diet is something I am in a constant state of war with. I tend to do well during the week, especially during the school year, but need to do a better job in the summer in order to continue to make positive progress in terms of weight, strength gains, and especially body composition. I use a number of supplements in order to meet my goals, as part of the rest of my diet and training routine. The purposes vary, from recovery to energy to just building additional muscle mass.
Training is part of who I am, and it has a direct effect on my work as a football coach. I also do not believe I can advise any student, colleague, or friend on training & health if I am not actively involved in training. It also provides materials & information I can use in the classroom, as my training requires things like learning, dedication, discipline, and mastery (in this case the technical side of the lifts).
Personal: Continue to work to find balance between all of the things in my life (family, health, and professional). At the end of the year be able to say, and mean sincerely, that I grew as a father, coach, athlete, husband, and person. I also want to (having tracked closely) be able to see clear changes in my body composition, blood work (which is pretty decent now), and overall feelings of health.
Professional: Make learning more meaningful and personal for my students. Do my absolute best to find ways to connect with and help my students with their individual learning goals and needs. I want to help them see the value of what we are doing regardless of current ideas or future goals. Instill in my students a desire to master skills and achieve on a high level.
Fitness: Continue my growth as a lifter, both in terms of a constantly expanding knowledge base as well as continuing to get stronger as I progress towards both short and long term goals.
Balance . . . I need to do more than pay lip service to putting balance out in front of everything. It needs to be a deliberate and well thought out mission rather than just something that sounds good but I never take time to reflect on and it put methods into practice to help me achieve it. A standard of balance that helps keep me on track, while also prioritizing and giving the appropriate focus to each item on the agenda without any feelings that I neglected something.
I’d like to extend a sincere thank you to Kevin for sharing with us. If you can’t tell, he’s a real beast with a big heart. Kevin’s passion for power lifting is paired with his desire to be a role-model for his students, family, and #FitnessEdu community. To me, that’s a winning combination. Good luck with the football season and continued success in your training.
I leave you with Kevin’s favorite place . . .
Marilyn . . .
Kevin has written several pieces for the Elite Fitness & Training Systems website, better known as EliteFTS. His most recent article deals with the idea that in both education & athletics expectations are seen by some as mere suggestions. Take a read.
Welcome to our third installment of #WhyIExercise. I’m thrilled to introduce you to this week’s spotlight educator, Mari Venturino, a 7th grade science and 8th grade AVID teacher as well as Blended Learning Specialist from San Diego, California. Originally from Sacramento, Mari attended UCSD where she earned both a BS in Biology and a M.Ed in Secondary Education. Mari is a board member of the San Diego CUE, a GAFE Trainer and Innovator, and co-creator of Breakout EDU Digital. She is also a host on the EduRoadTrip podcast, and co-creator of #FlyHighFri. She can be found on Twitter @MsVenturino.
Without further ado, let’s hear from Mari.
I grew up playing sports, including soccer, baseball & softball, swimming, gymnastics, and dance. I was also very active as a kid, preferring to run around outside rather than watch tv. When I got to college, I stopped playing sports because I was too busy with school and wasn’t sure how to get involved. I did walk to class at UCSD--living in the Eleanor Roosevelt College dorms and The Village and walking to science classes in Revelle, it was almost a mile one way! After college, I joined a gym and started going to workout classes. Now, it’s something I do for fun, either at the gym or with friends at home or outside.
I exercise to stay healthy and fit, and to reduce my stress. I love how I feel after I’m done exercising. However, I will admit I often have a hard time getting going.
Right now, it’s not so impressive. I’ve been overloaded with work and outside of work commitments, and I haven’t been good about taking time for myself. I can see how much it’s affecting me, not only physically, but also mentally--I find myself getting stressed more easily. So, current fitness needs to get stepped up. Mainly it’s walking my dog and doing workout videos at home. I love taking Zumba and spin classes, and hiking when I have time. I also have started #EduHike, a meetup for teachers who enjoy hiking. I’m hoping to plan another one in August in San Diego.
I love food! My favorite foods are cheese and ice cream. In general, though, I eat very healthy and I enjoy cooking homemade meals. I’m thankful that we have great access to fresh produce in California, and avocado goes with everything. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy some junk food on occasion, but I enjoy it in moderation.
I don’t take any supplements, unless you count dessert (my happiness supplement) every night!
When I exercise, I feel less stressed and I can handle frustrations better. Plus, I love going out to PE on my prep period to run or play sports with my students. This is a great way to make connections in a different setting.
Personal: I want to establish a better work-life balance, and turn off the electronics for set periods of time in the evenings and on weekends.
Professional: My goal is to use my prep period effectively and take home as little work as possible. This way, I’ll have more time to work on Breakout EDU Digital! I also run our tech club, Viking Tech Crew--we’re relaunching this year, with new student leadership, and a new format (blog post coming soon…).
Athletic: I want to find another half marathon to run. I ran my first in July 2014 (Costume Run) and second in September 2015 (Disneyland Half). I’m considering signing up for the San Diego Triple Crown: Carlsbad Half, La Jolla Half, and America’s Finest City Half.
I’m also hoping to organize one or two more #EduHike adventures before the end of 2016.
I’m going to stick with my 2016 #OneWord, intentional. I’m working on being intentional with how, where, and why I spend my time.
Exercising with friends is a great way to stay motivated. Plan a walk together--even if it’s not strenuous, it get’s you up and moving.
I’d like to extend a big thank you to Mari for sharing with us. I met Mari at a #GafeSummit and was immediately drawn to her positive attitude and passion for teaching. When she organized her first #EduHike, I thought it was brilliant. What a great way to connect, share, experience nature, and get fit at the same time. As educators, we don’t always feel like we have time to exercise. But Mari nailed it, go outside and take a walk. Even better, go outside and hike with some friends. The next time you go for a hike, be sure to use the hashtag #EduHike. We’ll be looking for it!
Good luck on all your endeavors, Mari. You’re touching precious lives every day!!!
Marilyn . . .
Welcome back to #WhyIExercise! You're going to be touched by this week's spotlight educator, Teresa Gross. She is a middle school literacy teacher outside of Rochester, New York. During her 15 years as an educator, she started out as a speech therapist, and is currently teaching 6th - 8th graders. Teresa can be found on Twitter @teresagross625.
Let's hear Teresa's fitness journey.
Over the past 10 years, a healthy lifestyle has become extremely important to me both personally and professionally. Working with middle school students, particularly young women, I consider myself a role model for them. I want them to feel good about themselves and see the beauty they have inside and out. Showing them a balanced lifestyle, which includes healthy eating and working out is important to me. So many of our young women are dissatisfied when they look in the mirror. I hear from them on a daily basis, “I need to lose weight.” I want to empower my female students to be proud of who they are and embrace their natural beauty.
Exercise has always been in and out of my life. It found its permanent place approximately 10 years ago when my dad passed away and I went through a divorce. I was overweight and feeling overwhelmed with what was happening in my life. I needed a way to relieve the stress and anxiety I was feeling. I started out small, just doing some Pilates on a regular basis. It amazed me the results I started to see and feel. I was not doing it to lose weight or for anybody else. It was for ME. As I started to build up my stamina and strength, I added other workouts in.
Over the course of approximately 3 years I had lost around 50 pounds and was feeling 100% better. It was a complete lifestyle change for me. I realized I had to make exercise a part of my daily life. Ever since then, I have tried to incorporate it into my daily routines. It’s not that I “find the time” because then it sounds optional and it’s not optional. It is part of being a healthy individual.
It’s difficult for me to share this picture, but in doing so I hope others are inspired to implement a healthy lifestyle. It can be done. I am living proof of that.
It might sound simple, but I exercise to relieve stress, maintain a healthy weight and because I enjoy it. I get to combine two of my passions depending on my workout…...reading and listening to music!
I like a variety of workouts. Over the past few years, I have accumulated several different workouts and accompanying equipment I can use in my living room. A few examples are cardio kickboxing, Pilates, toning ball, balance ball, yoga, and riding the stationary bike while reading. I have nicknamed it my “Book & Bike” workout. It allows me to take any class, at any time, without leaving the comfort of my own home.
Walking is one of my favorite workouts. Living in NYS, we have a short amount of time with warm weather. I take full advantage of it. There is a route I take that is almost entirely uphill. I sometimes do half the route (about 30 minutes) and other times the entire route (about 60 minutes). I immensely enjoy the time to myself. Listening to music and cutting myself off from social media, it is a great time to reflect, recharge and relax.
I also enjoy the freedom to work out when I want and not be locked into a schedule as I might be if I joined a gym. My favorite time to work out is between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM, which is impossible during the school year. On the other hand, it is ideal for the summer and when we have time off. During the school year there are times I wake up at 4:30 AM to get a workout in or wait until after work in the evening. It has been a challenge for me to find a balance between fitness and my professional life during the school year. It is a work in progress.
The most important element for me in my routine is that there is no routine. The only requirements I put on myself is to try and integrate abs and arms with my lower body workouts. In addition, I aim to work out at least 4 times weekly. I mark a calendar with an “X” to keep track of my progress. Some people might need more structure, however it is a system that meets my needs and works for me.
Unfortunately, I have always been somewhat of a picky eater. In my twenties, I started developing debilitating migraines. When I was living on my own again, I cut many foods out of my diet to see if I could find a source. Since then, I eat very plainly and drink mainly water. As a result, my migraines have essentially disappeared. The only beverages I consume on a daily basis are water (a lot of water) and coffee. In addition, I have started eating smaller portions throughout the day. I have always been more of a “snacker” than wanting to sit down for large meals. I eat foods like carrots, almonds, yogurt, bananas, oatmeal, cheese, protein bars, salads, etc. Since I do eat such a limited variety of foods, I have been attempting to incorporate more protein in my diet with smoothies. I use cranberry juice, orange juice, strawberries, ice and a protein powder. Eating a balanced diet is extremely challenging for me. I am getting better with some support from my amazing PLN!
Students are the reason I do what I do. The more balanced I am, and the healthier I feel, the better I am as a teacher. When I am well rested, healthy and fit, I have more energy, am more focused and can put 100% into my instruction every day. My energy level is mirrored by my students. The more engaged I am, the more engaged they are. I am also a role model for my students to find a healthy balance between their academics, social and athletic lives.
I find it incredibly motivating to have a “check-in buddy”. Whether you check in about workouts, diet or just to encourage each other. It can be via twitter, voxer, text, etc. Whatever works for you, but don’t feel you have to do it alone. I have found great support through the #fitnessedu team. I highly recommend finding a support of your own.
I just love the simple Nike quote of, “Just do it.” Whatever it is, whatever your passion, whatever your reasons…...just do it. Do it for you and nobody else. I highly recommend the book "Shoe Dog" by Phil Knightly. The memoir tells the story of how Nike started out small and later became a world wide phenomenon. The perseverance, support and innovation of the masterminds behind the popular brand is inspiring. It models collaboration, communication, risk-taking, trust, respect and leadership. It is not just for athletes.
As I think about next year, a combined personal, professional and athletic goal is to maintain balance. I also think that might be my #OneWord. Believe in yourself, imagine the endless possibilities and find a healthy balance in all that you do.
A sincere thank you to @RunnerGirl13_1 for inviting me to tell my story! It was an honor and pleasure writing this.
A big thanks back to Teresa, for opening her heart and her mind with us. Her transformation journey is truly inspiring. As educators, we can’t take lightly the role we play in influencing our students academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. Teresa is a role-model indeed!
As we continue on our own personal fitness journeys, let’s take it from Teresa, and . . .
Marilyn . . .
For more inspiration from Teresa, follow her blog, “Loving Literacy”.
Welcome to our first spotlight educator for #WhyIExercise. I’m so proud to introduce Michael Courington, a K-5 elementary principal from Illinois. Michael is transitioning into his first year as principal after being the vice- principal for five years, an RTI interventionist, and a fourth grade teacher. He was born in Melrose and raised in River Grove, Illinois. After earning his undergraduate degree from Elmhurst College, he has since received two master's degrees. On Twitter, you can find him @MrCourington53.
Let’s take a peek at Michael’s story.
My father was a habitual exerciser. I have memories of him sitting at the kitchen table with an orange juice and a banana lacing up his gym shoes before sunrise. He would workout every morning before work. He introduced me to tennis at age 5 and always had time for a game of catch, tennis, or simply holding the football for me while I attempted to kick it through imaginary uprights. I fell in love with lifting weights around 8th grade. I went into High School wrestling at 103 lbs so lifting weights was a way for me to put on some size. It wasn’t long before I was in the gym every day after school. As an adult, I now find myself at the kitchen table before sunrise with a coffee lacing up my gym shoes.
Exercise is my lifeline. The reason I move every day is simply out of habit at this point, but I am reminded of the “why” when I have to miss a day for any reason. I do not operate the same on days when I can’t exercise. I find my energy levels are lower and my mood is off. I read “The Happiness Advantage” last year and exercise ranks among the top 5 things a person can do to raise their levels of happiness. I enjoy sharing smiles and positive energy with those around me. Exercise is one of my methods for maintaining a positive outlook on life.
My philosophy is pretty simple. I have to sweat . . . every day.
I love riding my bike (106 miles in one day is my biggest achievement). I dig running shorter distances (9 miles is my longest run). I still love lifting weights at the gym. I do indoor rock climbing. I have a 50 lb sandbag that I use every now and then. It is safe to say that my approach to fitness is rather eclectic, but the rule that remains the same . . . sweat every day.
I do not watch what I eat too closely. I do enjoy a daily AM shake that is filled with greens, carrots, fruit, and protein powder.
Fitness permeates every aspect of my life as a professional. A school leader must have high energy levels to carry out the demands of the job. Furthermore, the Spartans (our students) expect and deserve me to smile, project positivity, and be someone they can count on. I try to leave “my stuff” at the door and a focus on fitness helps me do that.
Personal: I have joined the #SixtyBooks movement on Twitter and have set the goal of reading sixty books by 12/31/16. I’m currently on book 36, “Mindset” by Carol Dweck. Exercising the mind is important too!
Professional: My goals are simple: to educate, serve, and care for the children each day they are in the halls and classrooms. To be a model of the Spartan Code and to instill in our students the value of being respectful, responsible, and their best every day with everyone. Always make decisions with the question, “Is this best for kids?” in mind.
Athletic: Sean Thom has inspired me to return to the obstacle races. I have a goal to complete a Spartan Race in 2017.
My one word is SPARTAN. Read more about it on my blog.
I'd like to personally thank Michael for sharing his story with us. We all have different functions in education, but nurturing and educating children remains the same. Michael's positive approach to both his physical and mental health is sure to inspire many. And . . . good luck on your Spartan Run! You'll have to check back in with us to let us know how it goes.
As Michael reminded us, remember your "why".
Marilyn . . .
If you're interested, my bio can be found in the "About" page.
As educators, we know the importance fitness has on both our bodies and minds. This blog is a celebration of educators and the role exercise plays in our lives.