The Healthy Teacher Project – Revival

Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.

Kate Moss

I’ve been on and off with the Healthy Teacher Project for years. I made a rather stupid commitment to ride the TPT for my 36th birthday; well surprise surprise dear reader, I failed miserably in that goal. Partly due to failed planning, effort and a variety of other factors, it just didn’t happen.

I’ve fluctuated around the same weight for about 20 years now. I’m not actually going to state what that weight is, because I don’t think it’s relevant right now. Why I’m reviving the Healthy Teacher Project is due to three factors.

1. Age. I’m in my 40th year. Like Stuart Lock states in his incredibly inspiring post, I don’t want to die in middle age, and yet all the factors – weight, genetics, environment, upbringing, diet, etc – all point to that right now. I’ve still got time.

2. Image. There’s a photo of me aged 15 somewhere, and I am thin. Not just slim, but thin. Since then, all I’ve done is develop a build like James Haskell without any of the definition. I’m never going to be stick thin, and I don’t want to look like Chris Froome, but to look like I belong on a road bike would be a start.

3. Health. At about the age of 35 (give or take a couple of years) a wild youth comes back to haunt you. Within my group of friends – who are all of a similar age, i.e. late 30s – there’s gout, kidney problems, liver disease, skin complaints, IBS and all sorts of other wonderful ailments abound. Weight is a catalyst for all of these things – and is a precursor to much more worrying situations such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and so on. No thank you.

So where does this revival begin? Well if you know me at all you’ll not be shocked to know that I’ve started with reading and research. Some of this I’ll be sharing as this series progresses, but as a starting point, here are some guiding principles that I’m going to try and stick with.

1. Systems, not goals. Throughout my career I’ve always known that it is working through quality systems that successful outcomes are realised, not ambitious goals alone. In fact, according to the likes of James Clear, you can be successful without having goals – it’s the habits that make the difference. So this will mean things like

2. You can’t exercise the weight away. In earlier attempts to get healthy, I’ve relied on burning copious amounts of calories through vigorous exercise to overcome the volume of crap entering my body. This is problematic for two reasons: one, it doesn’t address the fact I’m could still be consuming a terrible diet and two, sustaining the high heart rate required over the time period needed to burn 500-1000 calories is not good for the body. So I’ll be looking to a two factor approach to my diet: calorie deficit and moderation in make up. An approach like this is recommended by the likes of Tim Ferris, and it’s also simple physics – I cycle a lot, and the effort required to move my body around the hills where I live will be a lot easier for every kilo lost. That said, this is not to say that I won’t be exercising at all; I’ve got a plan for that too, but let’s look at food and drink first.

3. Discipline. I’ll talk more about this in a future post, but this one will be the hardest. A regime, and sticking to it, will be my ultimate personal challenge. Weight loss is a lifestyle, not a switch you just flick. So factoring in quality sleep, making good choices, planning in time for exercise and balancing this with a demanding job and quality time with the family is going to be a task in itself, but given the circumstances I’ve outlined above, its not something I’m above. The difference between discipline and systems is that the latter will be about establishing a routine, whilst the former is about holding myself to that routine. Anyone can build a system. Not everyone can do it. However, I’m holding myself to Cal Newport’s maxim that even a little more effort and discipline will make me much better than most. So I’m fine with that.

So, there you go. I’ll report back in a few days to bring you up to speed with how the first week has gone.

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