Welcome back to #WhyIExercise. We hope you’re loving the summer series. Please welcome Ashley Garden to the tribe. Ashley hails from Atlanta, Georgia. She is the Dean of Students at Woodland Middle School. Ashley’s education includes: B. S. Middle Grades Education - Georgia Southern University, M. S. Education - Walden University, and Ed. S. Educational Leadership - Kennesaw State University. You’re going to enjoy the journey of this life-long learner. Ashley can be found on Twitter @msgarden_edu.
Let’s hear from Ashley!
Even though most people don’t believe me from my height, body build and structure, exercise has not always been a part of my life. I have always been a bookworm and enjoyed learning, I was far from being an athlete or exerciser as a child. Even though I was not an athlete growing up, my family, especially my mom, did encourage healthy eating habits throughout my childhood and upbringing.
I’ve been on my exercise journey for about 15 years. As a young adult in college, to prevent gaining additional weight after the “Freshman 15”, which I gained every pound and probably more, I focused on working out by incorporating more cardio into my daily routine. Whether it was was working out at the local campus gym, walking everywhere on campus, or taking additional steps, I made a point to start getting active as I was getting older. About 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I really wasn’t surprised by the diagnosis, because its genetic and I also have other health factors that affect it. I was determined to beat this diagnosis and hopefully prevent other medical issues, especially since I’m single and hope to get married and start a family someday, so I made a point to really take control of my health, focus on my fitness regime, and monitoring my diet.
Prior to a recent car accident (May 2018), I was very active with my workouts, including HIIT training, weight training, and/or cardio 4 to 5 times a week, in addition to averaging 50 thousand plus steps a week just walking and constantly moving at work. My #fitcrew is what helps me make it through tough workouts and keeps me accountable throughout the week to meet my #fitgoals! Since my car accident, I haven’t been cleared to workout yet, so I have focused on stretching and adding yoga to recover from my injuries.
Food Regime: My food regime and diet is fairly simple. Like I said earlier, as a child I was always influenced to make good food choices and eat healthy. My mom always encouraged me to eat vegetables with every meal, especially green veggies and to always be mindful of starches, potatoes, rice, etc. Even though I had this healthy start as a child, I still can improve my discipline with my diet. I LOVE to eat and I don’t restrict anything, I just make sure that I eat in moderation. I eat and drink what I enjoy, whether it’s meats, a vast amount of veggies, dairy, and sweets, it doesn't matter . . . just in moderation. Since being diagnosed with high-blood pressure, I do make a point to drink a lot of water (about 100 ounces per day), read nutritional labels, and monitor my sodium intake. You can learn so much about what you eat just from reading nutritional labels.
Supplements: I take a daily multivitamin and I add ground flaxseed to a lot of meals and drinks for heart health and omega-3s. I occasionally use protein powder in post-workout or meal-replacement smoothies.
Fitness makes me a better educator and life-long learner. I feel better and hopefully from my lifestyle, encourage others (students and colleagues) to eat and live better. For the past 10 years, I have had the privilege to not only live in the South Fulton county area, but it’s an extra special experience that I get to also work in the same area where I grew up. I am a proud product of Fulton County Schools, Westlake High School (Atlanta, GA) class of 2000 and it just feels amazing everyday to serve students that were just like me. (The AVID program really works!) I grew up in a single parent, low-income household, but I defeated the odds that were stacked against me. I share this to say, that I hope and aspire to be a physical example to my students (through my personal perseverance, determination, and lifestyle) that despite the odds, anything they strive for is possible.
Personal: My car accident has opened my eyes and increased my faith in ways I have never imagined, and I’ve realized that life is too short not to experience every aspect of it. As a lover of food, travel, and life, my personal goal is to continue to try new restaurants and food, continue to travel the world to get more stamps in my passport, and experience what life has to offer through various experiences! I want to be the very best person I can be!
Professional: My professional goal is to continue to grow into a better educational leader. And to continue to learn more regarding effective instructional practices and school culture. I’m currently reading “Get Better Faster” by Paul Banbrick-Santoyo, to learn more about how to effectively coach and encourage teachers at my school to grow in their own professional practices to make an impact in their classrooms through instruction and climate.
Athletic: My athletic goals are to continue to get stronger and push my body through continuing to be active. I also aspire to run a 5k, so speaking and publishing this goal should help me stay accountable.
I want to give a #ShoutOut to my mom, who I feel will ALWAYS be my biggest personal and professional supporter and cheerleader. She is my rock and I appreciate her, not only as a parent, but as my friend! My #FitTribe Uche Ngoddy, Amaka Ngoddy, Chi Chi Ngoddy, Chi Chi Ezekwueche, Tomeka Ford, Rita Madden, and Ijeoma Ibezue. Also, to my professional #FitCrew #WMSFitFam Jason Stamper, C. Hankerson, Nardos Ghebreab, Carla Austin, Michael Chapple, Chanel Johnson, Elva Ratchford, and the #FitnessEDU crew. Without this AMAZING group of fitness gurus, fit leaders, and fit family, I would not have made the fitness gains and improvements that I have.
I’d like to offer a sincere thank you to Ashley for sharing her journey. I love her transformation from bookworm to athlete. She truly embodies the scholar athlete and the motto of AVID - Advancement via Individual Determination. May we all be models to our students both academically and physically like Ashley does. Thank you, Ashley, for putting your heart and soul in all that you do!
#MuchLove . . . Marilyn