Sunday, May 27, 2012

School Lunches

I stumbled upon a new blog today that someone at work had bookmarked about a young girl's photo documentation of her school lunches.  It makes me glad to not live in the UK, although sad not to live in Asia where it seems they have some pretty weird but yummy lunches.

This blog touched me this week partly because of my own recent quest to improve my own school lunch (since I'm a teacher and therefore eat at a school too).  I've been watching what the students in my many classrooms bring with them each day for inspiration (sometimes - I'm surprised by the number of unhealthy lunches that make it to school with students too).  In our Ontario public schools for the most part we do not have cafeterias like in the States and UK (based on my assumptions from watching Jamie Oliver's School Lunches), but we do have cafeterias in our high schools.  They aren't the healthiest, but they seem healthier than the ones featured on tv and in the blog above.

For now, our public school systems provide an opportunity to purchase milk (real milk and not the sugary watery stuff) for 50 cents a ticket.  Students have a choice between white and chocolate but the school limits the amount of chocolate purchased and in some schools your parents select white or chocolate for you to be delivered to the classroom.  We also have healthy delivered lunches once a week - usually pizza, pitas, or subs.  But sometimes hot dogs with veggie sticks.  It is important to note that province wide schools are now required to meet health requirements for food provided to students.  That means that the pizza delivery companies in order to keep the school orders had to switch to whole wheat thin crust, low fat cheese, low sodium, etc.  All pop and candy machines were also removed from the schools.

This has nicely coincided with Chris' posts on what he has been eating and conversation between us reminiscing about our childhood lunches.  So I ask you...what did you bring for lunch when you were in school?

I tended to eat peanut butter and honey or jam sandwiches, bagels with cream cheese, tuna sandwich occasionally, or a wrap with chicken lunch meat.  For snacks I was allowed one treat ie. Joe Louis, fruit roll up, or granola bar and as many fruit and veggie options as I wanted.  I usually had yogurt, cottage cheese or a homemade muffin as well.  I also took part in the milk program where I had white milk most days, but the occasional treat of chocolate milk. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Inspiration: Fitness Lessons from Elementary School Boys

On Friday I had the pleasure of teaching at a school that was hosting their own track and field day for grades 4 to 8.  I was lucky enough to supervise the boys' track portion of the event and left feeling inspired and amazed.  Here's what I saw:

The track events consisted of 60m, 100m, 200m, 400m, and an optional 800m run.  The boys went in heats based on grade and/or age so there was a break between races to watch 6-7 heats before they were up again for the next and longer race.

Lesson #1: Running is more fun with friends
Every race had an audience of at least 100 boys, plus parents, volunteers, and younger classes that came to observe.  Every runner looked like he was having fun watching and racing.  The boys that had the most fun ran side by side with a friend, pretended to be flying like a plane down the field, or somersaulted at every corner.  There were cheers and high-fives and pats on the back.  It was awesome to see such spirit and sportsmanship.  Many boys even crossed the finish line and then made another lap to encourage and run alongside those that crossed the finish line far behind the front-runners just so every runner would have someone to cross the finish line beside.

Lesson #2: Surpassing our own expectations feels fantastic
There were a few boys that were very overweight.  One in particular stood out above all other runners.  We cheered him on from the 30m mark until he walked across the 60m line in more than double the other runners' time gasping for breath and announcing that he was not going to race anymore. We told him he had to do the 100m but he could walk it.  He ran/walked the 100m to our cheers and claps and jogged across the finish line less winded than before with a huge grin on his face.  He said he most certainly was not going to run 150m.  We told him it jumps to 200m and he most certainly was going to try it.  He lined up for the 200m and took off running, he slowed to a jog, he walked...the other boys corss the finish line when he was approaching the 100m mark...a few boys continued running, caught up to him, and cheered him on as they jogged/walked side by side the rest of the way home.  The entire crowd of more than 200 people cheered.  he smiled and said nothing.  We said he could run one lap (200m) for the 400m race.  He lined up for the 400m and completed it crossing alone smiling and laughing.  The 800m optional race began and he lined up - he completed half.  He was so proud, he was impressive, he made me happy for him and ashamed of myself for not trying my 1km run. 

Lesson #3: Even when we're exhausted it's possible to find a final burst of energy
On one of the lengthier races (I believe the 400m) two boys rounded the final corner looking exhausted.  They were at a slow jog and were so far behind the front-runners they looked like they were just trying to cross the finish line.  They did not realize they were running for 6th place as ribbons were handed out for the top 6 runners of each race.  We shouted to them that they were running for 6 and they glanced at each other and took off at full speed.  They cross steps apart from each other and collapsed onto the grass beyond the finish line.  They gave it everything they had when they thought they had nothing left to add.

Lesson #4: Finishing is more important than winning
The oldest heat of boys consisted of only 5 runners.  There were 6 ribbons to hand out for every race so each boy in this heat was guaranteed to get a ribbon.  This did not go unnoticed by the boys as they very early on decided that they would determine the finishing order.  They went full tilt for the 60m dash.  They lagged behind the slower runners for the 100m and 200m races allowing them to finish in the top spots.  They ran side by side, 5 guys in a row, for the 400m and 800m races and stopped 10feet before the finish to cross in their predetermined order.  They didn't care who was faster or had more endurance.  They cared that they all got recognized for finishing to the best of their ability and to them that meant getting first place on at least one race.

Lesson #5: Some people are just born to be runners
There was one boy that you could tell was apart from the rest.  He lined up in his track gear with Brasil across his chest.  He crouched differently at the starting line.  He wiggled his toe into the grass to get a good starting grip.  His arms were locked into running position and you could clearly see the strips of muscles running up his calves.  He just looked like a runner amongst schoolboys.  He ran differently than everyone else with precision form and large fast movements.  He never gasped for breath.  He crossed almost every line in half the time of all the other boys (even 2nd place).  I say almost because for the 800m he jogged next to his entire class, even the ones skipping or rolling or holding their shorts up around their waists, until the last 50 feet where he turned on his jets again.

This is what running should feel like.  It should be fun and exciting, full of friends and cheers, and focused on finishing and doing your best even when you didn't know what your best was going to become in the end.  Next time I run I plan to run like a 10-14 year old boy.  I hope you do too.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Shopping for Clothes

For the last month I have done nothing for my fitness other than the occasional walk or weigh-in (I regained the 10lbs I lost since I started blogging) and this has put me in a funk.  I am the only one to blame for my lack of dedication, but most days I feel like blaming anyone and anything but myself.

I have, however, been very focused on my mental and emotional health.  I feel like I don't get to workout because I have no "me time" to do things that I want to do or even time to rest.  I have been going out and socializing with new and old friends more often, attending events and activities, and spending more time vegging on the couch.  I have been very happy.

That catches you up to this week when a friend passed on a beautiful coat to me that is now too big for her (Yeah Rachel!!!).  I could achieve a goal of wearing this coat next season if I dedicate myself to my fitness.  In the meantime I went shopping to update my Spring work clothing collection.  I must say that I love clothes shopping most of the time.  I love browsing through new clothes and trying on things that are "not me" at first glance but surprise me once put on.  I hate poor customer service though.

I went to a clothing chain store where I had some style money and a rewards gift certificate for in order to save myself some money (as I hate how little clothing I can buy for double the price my husband pays ie. Chris t-shirt $6, Amber t-shirt $20).  I gathered at least 6 items before someone came to start a change room for me and then I did not hear from a salesperson until I checked out over an hour later.  I managed to fill my change room and try on more than 30 items of clothing and leave my change room twice to fetch other sizes and items and I never once was asked if I needed help.  And...there was only one other person in the store!

Needless to say I wanted to take advantage of my free money so I purchased clothes anyway.  I bought a short summer dress, t-shirt, pinstripe capris, dressy work tank, and three pairs of underwear.  Those eight items would have cost me over $220, but I got them for a grand total of $130 - still far too pricey in my opinion.

The end result though of spending an hour with myself in a dressing room trying on so many items of clothing is that for the first time in a long time I really wanted my 20 year old body back or at least my 20 year old tummy.  My body wasn't perfect then (I do not desire it to be either) but it certainly looked better in clothing - particularly dresses.  So...I have rescheduled the gym into my life three times a week starting this week and have informed my husband (he is a great supporter) that this summer my priority is me and my fitness.  I have decided that I will be coming first for two whole months and that my world will not fall apart around me while I take care of me.  Looking forward to blogging about what I can accomplish when I switch my priorities.