So I need to make a change in how I eat, in order to make a change in how I feel. I’ve always been an exerciser, always played sports, and have been in pretty good shape all my life.
I’m 35. I’ve been actively running since I was 17. From the time I was 17, up until I was 33 or 34 (sans a few injuries), there wasn’t a day I couldn’t run 3 miles. For a good portion of that time, say 27-32, I could run 5 miles at a 7:30 mile pace at any given time. It wasn’t uncommon for me to play basketball in the morning, go for a long run in the afternoon, and also bike 10 miles in a day.
It was great.
But I took it for granted.
During those years, I sort of assumed I’d always be in shape. I thought that if you ran and kept slightly active, that you could get away with some things. So I ate and drank too much.
At the age of 33, maybe 34, things took a downturn for me professionally. I’m a highschool teacher, have been for over a decade, and have always been fine-to-good at it. The better I’ve gotten at my job, the harder of a time I’ve had keeping quiet about schools and what is wrong with them. Public schools are a governmental institution that provide important skills and knowledge that kids in this country need. Many of them - unfortunately the ones in areas that need it most - are poorly run, use governmental funds badly, and do not fulfill their promise to educate. Too often, they go largely unchecked by anyone. There isn’t a top-down balance. There isn’t real accountability. Numbers are easy to fudge, so we do and count extremely minimal gains as ‘progress’, lieing to taxpayers by saying we’re doing good. Things can be changed, but it means taking an honest look at what is wrong, admitting those things are wrong, and then changing them. It means starting slowly, accurately, and doing something about the things that are wrong. It means having talented people, that are willing to take some heat, willing to be honest, and willing to make a difference. Unfortunately, those types of people do not get promoted where I work. For us, they get silenced. I have a hard time staying silent, but this isn’t the spot for that.
What did happen was that when I was 33/34, in the middle of what (in hindsight) was a top-three teaching year, things started going terribly. I was in a school that had no discipline. It was also a place where kids were told they were extremely smart and going to college. They expected to get scholarships and things like that, but were never taught that to get those things, they had to give, had to work hard. So kids would lay on the floor in class, sleeping, yet think they’d go to a good school. They’d say there was no need to edit a paper, because they already wrote it once. They’d argue that there wasn’t need for a thesis or explanation, because they could say all they needed to be said in a single paragraph. And when they got low grades, they complained.
Which is the problem with grades.
Grades are arbitrary. Grades can be given by a teacher. They basically show who’s done what in class. That’s why we have standardized tests. The students at this school did quite badly on standardized tests, and I was showing - through those scores - that I was teaching them some of the things they were lacking. Yet, because I mentioned that they were lacking, that the scores were low, I was displaced from that school. On my evaluation, which is just as arbitrary as grades because it’s one person’s opinion of what they see and doesn’t have to be backed by real evidence, I was labelled a minimally effective instructor. Which meant they could move me. This went directly against the data I’d collected from third party sources, but it went against me nonetheless.
I mention this, though, because in reflection, this affected me much more than I ever thought. It took a toll on my body. I felt stressed. Tired. My body felt this. When I’d go to work out, I was sore. I had trouble sleeping, which meant I felt groggy. Feeling groggy, my workouts got worse. Worse workouts meant less calorie burning and natural endorphins, which meant that I turned to food and drink for pleasure. Which made working out even harder.
I weigh myself fairly often. During that time I did so less, but one day discovered that I’d put on fifteen pounds in about three weeks. Which made working out even harder.
I don’t feel the need to expound on this cycle, because it explains itself. The next year, I was moved, but this time with bias. It was even said by the next principal that ‘I’ve heard some things’ and ‘it’s my job to know’, implying negative when this person never once observed a class. It was an even more stressful year.
The cycle continued.
I only ever noticed this correlation when I thought long and hard about how I eat and drink. Viewing my consumptive trends, it made sense. This first started when family members referred to ‘summer Tom’ and ‘school year Tom’. The fact that there are two different Toms sucks. When my wife and sister both mentioned that they like ‘summer Tom’ better than ‘school year Tom’, I knew I had to make some changes.
I’ve tried fad diets, typically South Beach, and meet those with success. But it fades. I’ll do P90X, or sign up for a long run, and have results that don’t stick. I’d lose 20lbs, but then things would happen, and end up fatter than I was before. In this state, I heard about the 22-day revolution.
My brother told me about the diet, which I think he’d seen after Jay Z and Beyonce did it, which, of course, got it national attention.
The diet is plant based, and the author advocates for plant based eating. Summing it up: Americans eat too much. We believe the only way to get our food is through meat, but we can gain a lot more energy and health through plants, which come naturally from the earth. Like, if animals eat plants for their proteins, and we eat animals for ours, why not cut out the middle man and eat the plants?
Before starting (and then delaying even further), I read the book. I wanted to know what I was getting myself into and make an entire shopping list to have things on hand and ready. The stories in the book make sense. But so did eating plants.
Reading the book was when I made the connections between my habits and my health. While the job has been going bad: eating and drinking more, working out less, feeling worse. Eating and drinking more because I was using food/drink to cope with a hard day. Thus, my consumption was making me existence a little harder than it should. In turn, I’d feel worse, sleep worse, and the cycle continues.
It isn’t only food, though. It’s also exercise, and the ‘Revolution’ calls for working out. Odd days are cardio, even days are lifting.
I’ve taken some measurements before I begin, will take some pictures along the way, and keep you updated on my progress.