Welcome back to the final post of our summer #WhyIExercise series. It’s an honor to welcome guest bloggers, Bethany Petty and Lee Ann Raikes. Join us as they share their fitness journeys.
Please welcome Bethany Petty from Missouri. Bethany is a high school social studies teacher. She earned her BSEd in Secondary Education from Southeast Missouri State University and her Master’s in Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum from the University of Missouri - Columbia. As well as being a teacher, Bethany is an educational technology instructor, blogger, and author of Illuminate: Technology Enhanced Learning (EdTechTeam Press, 2018). She was recently presented with the Outstanding Young Educator Award from METC (2019) and was recognized by EdTech Digest as a finalist in the School Leader category (2017;2019). Bethany conducts professional development sessions focusing on intentional tech integration to enhance learning throughout the country. Follow Bethany on Twitter @Bethany_Petty.
Let’s hear from Bethany.
#WhyIExercise . . . Bethany
When I started teaching in the Fall of 2008, I was like most first-year teachers - trying to keep my head above water while doing my best to do the best I could for my students! Even though I was an athlete in high school and college, and coached multiple volleyball teams when my playing days were over, my physical health and fitness took a backseat to my teaching career. All of my spare time was spent researching, studying, and creating content for my students.
Shortly after I started teaching, my long-time boyfriend finally proposed! In addition to teaching and lesson planning, I found myself eyeball deep in wedding planning and, according to my friends and family, becoming the epitome of bridezilla! During the second semester of my second year in the classroom, I found out I was pregnant with our firstborn, Hanna. A little over one year later, I learned I was pregnant with our baby, Molly. Needless to say, my first few years of teaching were quite eventful!
Why do I share this brief biography, you ask? During the first part of my teaching career, my focus was on everyone else other than myself. I totally took myself off of my list, so to speak, shoving my physical and mental health to the back burner. Shortly before my 30th birthday, with a fantastic marriage, two beautiful and healthy daughters, a Master’s degree, and years of teaching experience under my belt, I decided it was time, once again, to make my physical health a priority.
In typical “Bethany” fashion, when I decide to do something, I DO IT. I decided that running would be a great physical activity for me because it didn’t require much equipment - other than a great pair of shoes - and it was something that I could do by myself. I used the Couch 2 5K running app to build up my stamina and to actually learn to run. As an asthmatic who is prone to shin splints, I never ran more than I had to in volleyball practice and conditioning! Running became an amazing outlet for me to sweat out my stress and do so in a relaxing, solitary environment.
Also in typical “Bethany” fashion, I ran too much, building up my mileage too quickly because it just felt AWESOME, and I ran into injuries. As a former athlete, I knew what I was feeling in my knee wasn’t quite normal, but I pushed through. This landed me in months of physical therapy, trying to get back to normal.
During that time, unable to run, I found myself getting antsy and anxious. I needed another physical outlet! This is when I stumbled upon Beachbody on Demand programs that let me workout from home, with minimal equipment. Once again, the convenient accessibility to workouts and sweat sessions helped me put myself back on the list, making my health and physical fitness important again.
So, why do I exercise? My workout time, whether it’s with weights, on my treadmill watching Netflix, or on the road listening to 2000s pop radio, is my “me” time. I’m refilling my cup, so to speak, so I can be the best version of me for all of the people who are counting on me in my life. I have the energy and focus to volunteer as a coach for my daughter’s soccer team, cart both of my girls to hours of dance classes and piano lessons throughout the week, while helping with homework, nightly reading, and “snuggle nests” before bed. I exercise to give the gift of health and wellness to myself, my family and my students deserve the best version of me. And - I deserve it, too! #WhyIExercise.
Please welcome Lee Ann Raikes from Ottowa, Illinois. Lee Ann is a 7th grade Engligh Language Arts teacher. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and her Master’s from the University of Phoenix. Lee Ann’s educational philosophy is to teach to the whole child. She believes that students are humans first and students second. And that building relationships within the classroom is the key to success. Follow Lee Ann on Twitter @mastereducator.
Let's hear from Lee Ann.
#WhyIExercise . . . Lee Ann
Humans are born to move. From kicking inside the womb, to countless tries at taking our first steps, movement literally drives us forward. It is humorous to me how in my younger years, I didn’t focus on finding time in my schedule to exercise. I just did it with no conscious effort or the thought of being pushed to discomfort. After graduating from crawling to walking, I went right into running. When I mastered the art of riding a bike, I never got off. I loved swimming so much I even become a lifeguard. As I grew older, life seemed to get in the way. There were schedules to maintain and my joyful mindset of just getting up and moving was replaced with angst and the thought of going through the pain cave. Just like life, my exercise habits have gone through a variety of phases. However, as I am entering the back half of my life, I have not only found a love of pushing my body to its limits once again, but I also now know the countless benefits that exercise offers. Why do I exercise? Let me count the ways.
I am adopted and have no idea what lies in my medical history. This unknown has made me choose to make healthy decisions when it comes to diet and exercise. The benefits of exercise are proven to add years to your life as well as help with countless health issues from diabetes to depression. I watched my mom as she developed and suffered with Alzheimer’s and I understand how remaining active can help deter that terrible disease. Being an educator, I have read all the research on the importance of adding movement in the classroom to stimulate thinking. Clearly, moving our bodies is important both physically and mentally. I am known to have an upbeat attitude as well as countless energy which comes from adding exercise to my daily regime. I don’t want to live my final years taking multiple medications or being limited due to inactivity. I know schedules dictate, but making sure to take the time to take care of myself only makes me a better wife, mom, grandma, friend, and educator. I am selfish and I want to be around as long as I can watch my children and grandchildren grow.
This is an extension of living a healthy lifestyle, but is so important when dealing with day to day pressures. There is research that states that teachers take on symptoms of PTSD and I can verify that is an issue. I, like most educators, take upon ourselves the issues that our students bring into the classroom. There is nothing better than taking the time to get out in nature and take a walk, ride a bike, or run in order to keep stress at bay. Self-care is vital in order for being the best version of me I can be.
I have run 16 marathons and countless half-marathons and have done it all with a wonderful group of women. We have traveled all over in our adventures and have created memories and life long friendships. There is nothing better than making exercise fun and something to look forward to. These women continue to encourage me, inspire me, keep me honest, and push me to limits I never knew I could reach. I insist you find your posse, get out there, and turn exercise into experiences.
Thank you so much, Bethany and Lee Ann, for sharing your stories. Bethany, what a great reminder to find that “me time” in order to be the best versions of ourselves. I can’t wait for your next book to come out. We’re ready to celebrate with you. Lee Ann, you clearly have a passion for adventure, testing yourself, and camaraderie. May we all have your sense of adventure. Again, thank you both for sharing your stories with us.
Readers, what an honor to share 12 outstanding educators and their inspiring stories about #WhyIExercise. As we start planning for our school year, be sure to carve out time to exercise, eat healthy, and get plenty of sleep. As the saying goes, “We can’t take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves.” Have an amazing 2019-2020!!! Let’s continue to cheer each other on both in education and fitness.
If you’re interested in participating in #WhyIExercise next summer, please complete this Google interest form.
#MuchLove . . . Marilyn ❤️
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.