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    Posted December 3, 2012 by
    Sacramento, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    CNN Fit Nation: 2013 Triathlon Challenge

    High School Teacher, Coach - Change All Our Lives!

    I'm thoroughly blessed every day in my life as a Special Education teacher in Sacramento, CA. Teenagers are my life and I wouldn't have it any other way. This is a wonderful season of life for me—I’m happy, I’m growing professionally, and because I’m single and have no children I can fully invest in these hundreds of students that I get to see every weekday.

    My joy truly is to invest in their education, health, and welfare on a daily basis, but to a great degree I have lost sight of my own needs. I don't say this to gain your pity, but rather to show that I am aware of the need to change and that I am ready to change my life. We talk about goal setting with our students as a vital part of their education—to know why we are doing something gives us the drive to get there. In my hypocrisy I have forgotten to practice what I preach. I haven’t decided the way in which I’ll restart my life. I don’t have my goal.

    I want this to be my goal.

    I want to show myself and show my students that they can set goals, maintain an eye on the road markers and the timelines, and accomplish what once seemed impossible through diligence, determination, and keeping that steady progress towards the end of the race.

    To be honest, I also want my students to learn what it is to cheer on an adult. We all hear how important it is for us to invest in youth, completely ignoring the fact that youth are equally capable of investing in adults, youth, any member of their community. I know if they know I’m doing this some of my soccer players will go with me on runs. I know some of my students will hold me accountable to the training they will inevitably ask about. And, because some of them do spend their lunch period hanging out in our classrooms, we will have those discussions about nutrition.

    They've had years of nutritional awareness discussions and education. They've benefitted from federal and state programs that didn't exist previously. Still, they're no better off than I was at the end of high school, still making poor eating choices and not thinking of what will happen because of them. I played high school volleyball and soccer while I worked at a coffeehouse and a burger joint, so while two sports kept me relatively healthy-looking the groundwork was set for my terrible habits. If the practice time wasn’t set I wasn’t practicing, and I was constantly around decadent, high-fat foods. Even my three years as a vegetarian back then masked the reality of a diet of deep-fried and sugary foods (yes, cheese sticks, French fries, funnel cake—even those amazing blended coffee drinks—they’re all technically vegetarian!) that have resulted in a 55 pound weight gain over a decade. I gain weight pretty evenly over my body, so I could play off my size 12-13 pretty well, but I’m afraid to know my BMI, my body fat percentages, my cholesterol levels… I need a reality check, and I want my students to learn from my mistakes.

    Their smaller waistlines and fast breakaways on the field or the court hide the same consequences their soda/spicy chip/corn syrup/refined flour diets will eventually have on them as they did on me. Them settling for these lifestyles now will lead to them settling later on and, I’m afraid, becoming like me, wishing I had made the changes I should have made much earlier, trying to do this before it’s too late.

    I’m no longer content in my complacency. It’s time for a change. Help me make this change.
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