In 2018, Mir P. was at an intersection in her life. Mir filled her days with teaching high school students writing, managing the English department, and supporting her school admin as an in-house professional development facilitator. She used her evenings pursuing her passion for writing but did not gain the traction she aspired to, receiving rejections for articles and book ideas from publishers.
“I was burning every candle at every end. I was running around all day. It was very hectic. It was demanding. Teaching is demanding no matter how you do it. You stand all day. You’re on all day.”
As an educator, Mir found that opportunities to pay attention to her nutrition were few and far between. Teachers are confronted with unique challenges regarding maintaining a balanced diet and teaching. Between short lunches, demands on their attention, and frequent comforting snacks in the teacher’s lounge, Mir explains, “It’s really hard to eat well [as a teacher]”. Mir has been a loyal Barre enthusiast for the past 10 years. However, despite her consistent workout schedule, she still struggled with the nutrition piece. She was feeling tired, run-down, and always hungry. “There was just no time for me,” Mir stated.
Eventually, Mir was tired of being tired. After a few failed attempts at working with other nutrition professionals, she was recommended Stronger U by a teacher friend. Feeling like she was running out of options, she decided to make the leap and signed up for her first session. Within her first 12-week session, Mir reached her weight loss goals and transitioned into maintenance. She was enjoying the extra energy and results from her work with barre. Still, after some time, she realized that there was more she could learn to make her Stronger U habits a lifelong change, “I wanted to sustain this for the rest of my life.”
“I needed to complete the part of my [Stronger U] education that went a little further than experiencing the initial success.” Mir shared. During her second session with her coach Jodi, Mir developed her knowledge in nutrition and solidified her skills to sustain her needs for the long haul. “Jodi was really flexible at looking at different solutions that I could maintain for a long time. She also gave me strategies for the long-term, like: ‘if it starts not to work, try these numbers’, ‘if this is happening, try this’. She essentially taught me how to deal with setbacks, which I hadn’t learned during my first session.”
Over time, Mir started to apply Stronger U’s approach of looking at the data to build knowledge about herself to other aspects of her life. “Not being afraid of the knowledge, but using it to inform what I do next. That’s been a helpful strategy I’ve learned from Stronger U. When I’m feeling things aren’t going well, I think, ‘okay, so, what can I learn? What can I do to make it better?'”
Fast forward three years and now, Mir is no longer in the classroom. Instead, she has moved into a new role as an Instructional Specialist. In this coaching position, she helps educators throughout her district hone their skills to be more effective in the classroom and facilitates district-wide professional development. She is also teaching courses at a local university.
And she’s still writing in the evenings. “With my writing, I had tried to do it many years ago, to publish a book, but again, it didn’t work out. So, I thought, ‘I’ll do something safer, like blogging, where people can’t say no to me.’ But then I started to think, ‘it’s time. When is this going to happen?’ I started sending my articles to a couple of education publications, and they started saying yes.” In fact, in 2020, when the pandemic started, Mir opened her email to see a message she’s been working towards for nearly two decades: a publisher approached her about writing a book. “I started thinking maybe I just had to get to the point where I had something that people wanted to hear. Maybe I just wasn’t there yet. Maybe this is what growth is. It doesn’t happen necessarily when you want it to happen.”
Last May, Mir’s first book, “Teach More, Hover Less,” was published. Her second book will be hitting shelves in March, and she is scheduled to present at an English Teacher’s Convention in Disneyland. “Just like we tell people with Stronger U: you’re not going to get there overnight, you’re not going to lose the weight overnight. It’s going to happen, you just need to get to that place where you’re ready.”
As many teachers prepare to head back into the classroom over the next month, Mir offered some of her best tips for prioritizing teachers’ needs while meeting the demands of working in education.
Mir approaches her eating the way she does her teaching—with a plan! “You can plan your week using the same skills you use to plan your lessons. So, the question is, how are you setting yourself up for success?” First, she takes the time the night before to input her food into her tracker. Then, she’ll copy and paste meals to help make the process even faster. She believes that the next day will run smoother and create an opportunity for success by taking 10-15 minutes in the evening to pack a lunch, prep meals, or input your food into your tracker.
Use the Right Tools
- Keep transportable containers on hand.
For example, Mir loves to use her salad container with a separate cup for dressing so that everything is fresh and crunchy when it’s time for lunch (even though she packed it the night before).
- Keep an insulated bag large enough to carry your food.
You can place your day’s prepped meals in it and place them into the fridge the night before.
- Have convenience foods that you enjoy on hand.
Since school lunches are short and teachers aren’t usually able to leave the building, keeping prepacked protein bars, shakes, beef jerky, and tuna packs in your desk is a great way to have a plan B in case your lunch doesn’t work out.
- Use the Stronger U Facebook Community as a resource.
She checks the feed every morning and uses her time in the community to learn more about recipes, progress from other members, and help support other members on their journey.
Keep transportable containers on hand that are functional for your needs. For example, Mir loves to use her salad container with a separate cup for dressing so that everything is fresh and crunchy when it’s time for lunch (even though she packed it the night before).
She recommends keeping an insulated bag large enough to carry your food, so you can prep your day’s meals and snacks and stick it into the fridge the night before.
Mir also recommends finding convenience foods that you enjoy. Since school lunches are short and teachers aren’t usually able to leave the building, keeping prepacked protein bars, shakes, beef jerky, and tuna packs in your desk is a great way to have a plan B in case your lunch doesn’t work out.
Lastly, Mir recommends using the Stronger U Facebook Community as a resource. She checks the feed every morning and uses her time in the community to learn more about recipes, progress from other members, and help support other members on their journey.
Protect Your Time
“At lunch, kids come, colleagues come. We’re not wired to protect our time. We’re wired to help when people ask,” Mir explains. While on the clock, teachers will compromise their minimal free time to support students and colleagues alike. Mir found that by going outside to eat lunch, she could create some boundaries that allowed her to enjoy her meal without interruption, eliminating the unintended outcome of getting overly hungry and reaching for something that wasn’t in her plan.
She also has become a well-oiled habit-stacker and considers her daily barre workouts non-negotiable. So how does she find the time? Simple. She treats it with as much importance and consistency as brushing her teeth. She keeps her workout clothes closer to her bed than her work clothes. She wakes up a little earlier than the rest of her family to make sure she has the time to focus on herself.
Four years ago, Mir was looking for a way to focus on nutrition in an impactful way. With the help of her Stronger U coaches, she now nourishes her body, practices kindness to herself in all aspects of life, and can be the best educator she can be to students, teachers, and now, readers.
To learn more about Mir’s book Teach More, Hover Less, check out her website!