Whew! What an exhausting day. I have so much respect for people who have a full time job AND a family AND who manage to get anything else done ;)
Last night, Jerry, the kids, and I went to Anson's for pizza. There, we met my friend Chris and his wife, and their two boys, so that Chris and I could figure out a game plan for today. Chris is a health teacher at a high school in a nearby school district, and he invited me to come in and speak to his class about anything health related--diet and exercise, mental illness (depression and anxiety), how running has helped my health, etc. Basically to give a face to all the stuff they are studying.
He actually invited me to do this a long time ago, but I ended up declining. I was not in a good place mentally, and I felt like it just wasn't my place to talk about health when I clearly wasn't doing well myself. That was in the midst of my weight gain and depression/anxiety a year ago. Now, I feel very comfortable talking about it, and if there is one thing I'm passionate about, it's helping teenagers to feel good about themselves and NOT deal with the same battles I did.
Dinner last night was delicious (Anson's pizza always is! Jerry and I got a Reuben pizza). When I got home last night, I still wasn't sure of exactly how I was going to focus my talk to the class. There were three classes, each one 45 minutes long, and the whole class time was mine. Since I'm not used to giving presentations or speeches or anything, I had no idea how long it would take me to talk about things or tell my story.
I tried to get it all figured out last night, but I finally just gave up and decided to wing it. I did get a folder of photos together on the computer, in case I decided to use them. This morning, after I got my kids off to school, I got ready to head to high school for the first time in 16 years.
When I got there, Chris met me at the office, where I got a visitor's pass, and then we went to his classroom. I got there 20 minutes early, so I could get comfortable. The first class was the smallest, with just 12 kids, so that was a good starting point for me! On the way to the school, I had decided that what I would do is quickly go over my story, focusing on the points that were most relevant to teenagers (bullying, depression, eating for comfort, not giving up my favorite foods, and only making lifelong changes rather than fad diets); then, I would show them some fun stuff--the clip from the Today Show, the trailer for From Fat to Finish Line, my size 24 jeans, etc. And then see if anyone had questions.
Luckily, Chris made a worksheet for the kids to fill out, so they actually had to pay attention ;) And they got bonus points for asking *good* questions (asking "What's the date today?" or something like that didn't count). When I first started talking, I was really nervous. But about two minutes later, I started to relax, and just tell my story like I was talking to a friend. The time went by pretty quickly!
There weren't any very dramatic reactions, so I had no idea what the kids thought at the time. I just hoped I wasn't boring them. At the end, they did ask some really great questions, though. Some of them may be reading my blog, so I don't want to put anyone on the spot--I have to be pretty vague here.
I was particularly touched by one boy who told me that the part of my story about my not being able to be an active parent was relatable to him. He said his mom was very overweight, and that she wasn't able to be an active parent to him or his brother when they were young. Hearing that made me so sad! He wanted to know some ideas of things he could do to help his mom lose weight. Even if nobody else got anything out of what I talked about, I was really glad to have talked with him personally at the end of class.
The second class was right after the first. Based on the questions the kids in the previous class asked, I modified my story a bit, so I wasn't saying the exact same things over and over. Again, they asked some really great questions. The class had just finished up a chapter on depression and anxiety, so I was really glad to talk about that with them. Chris had told me about a couple of students in particular who would benefit from it. Some of the kids were clearly asking questions for extra credit, but there were some kids whose questions made me want to hug them and take them out for coffee to discuss. I think I would have a hard time being a teacher, because hearing the difficulties that kids go through would be so hard.
After the second class, Chris had "study hall", where the kids all work independently. We just chatted, and he told me some fun teacher "secrets" (for example, while the kids are using their computers to take a test or something, he can open up a program on his computer that allows him to see EVERYTHING that they are doing. So he can catch kids Googling, copying and pasting for tests, and prove it with a screenshot! Very interesting.) Also, I felt really old. When I was in high school, the only classroom with computers was the journalism lab!
After study hall was the third and final health class. I was feeling very comfortable by that point, and wasn't even really nervous at all. One thing that I talked about was how losing the weight gave me the confidence and courage to try new things and get over fears (or at least face the fears!). Ironically, one of the fears I had was when Chris first asked me to be a guest in his class--speaking in front of people is very scary! So as I was talking about facing fears today, I was actually facing one of my own.
The third class flew by, and before I knew it, I was heading home. I'm really glad that I did this! I hope that at least a few kids got something out of what I talked about. I mentioned to Chris that I don't think I could be a teacher, because talking so much was exhausting. He agreed that on the days where he does a lot of lecturing, it's really tiring. But I think that if I was a teacher, high school would definitely be the age I would want to teach. I could tell the kids all really liked Chris, and he is a very good teacher with great ideas.
The day was fun! I would definitely do it again if Chris asked me to.
Unfortunately, I don't have any relative pictures for this post! So here is a picture of Joey watching me cook dinner :)