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second lesson: health, appearance

I’ve cared about my health and appearance a lot more in the last few years. Being healthy and looking healthy will help you in so many different ways, in and out of the classroom. The cumulative effect is huge. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and avoid junk food and packaged food. I keep grains to a minimum. I snack on apples, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, sometimes dark chocolate. I exercise, both strength exercises and sprinting. I already mentioned that I stay active in the classroom. I notice other teachers (usually using less energy in the classroom) complain at the end of the day or week about how exhausted they are. I feel great. Your students will also respect you more if you have a lot of energy and if you look healthy and strong instead of sick and fat and weak. Classroom discipline will also be much better if they see that you have all the physical and mental energy that you need to discipline them.

So how do you look and feel healthy instead of sick? Nutrition matters. Avoid any kind of junk food. Cakes, cupcakes, candy, biscuits, crackers, ice cream, pretzels, french fries and the like are all off the table. I won’t pretend that I never eat them, but I keep it to a minimum. In the long run, I’m much happier. If I have junk food at my house, I eat it. One of the best ways to limit your junk food is just not to buy it at the store and bring home. You’re forced to cook a real meal or eat a healthy snack. If you have to get something, don’t buy half a dozen kinds of things that you like to eat. Just one at a time, and you can’t buy more until you’ve finished the first one. Eat a ton of vegetables, and get a variety. I eat a lot of broccoli, onions, tomatoes and the like. But it’s hard to get all the energy your body needs with just stuff like that. Potatoes and other tubers can make up the bulk of your calories. Pumpkin and related melons are also excellent. Meat and eggs are plenty healthy, they have nutrients that you can’t get from fruits or vegetables. But they are more energy dense, so don’t go overboard. The cooking oils you usually find in the store have a fat profile different from what our cavemen ancestors ate when we were evolving. They have been shown increase your odds of getting cancer and heart disease and can even affect your mood. Avoid them as best you can. These days I usually just boil my food together. At first it will be less satisfying but your tastes will adjust and it will soon enough seem normal. It doesn’t have to be bland though, I will at things like garlic and chilies or even make a curry.

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