Where does the time go so fast? January disappeared in a flash. This semester I am the teacher of record for 5 classes with over 200 students. I know have slipped back into the old habit of not saying NO . . . I do say No at first and then relent to pressure. The recent budget cuts have already impacted our department at the U and there are more cuts coming. . . so here I am teaching more than what is typical in our university. The typical tenured faculty member teaches 1 or 2 courses a semester . . . the administration recently announced that faculty might expect a 3-2 load next year. Great that would be a cut back for me since I taught 4 courses in the fall and 5 this semester. So I have fallen into my workaholic habits. . . I have been sucked into the trap of work - work - work. Don’t misunderstand what it is that I am saying. I am not complaining or whining. I have no one to blame but myself. I teach to ensure my students have the courses they need to graduate. I teach even more courses to ensure that the budget cuts can be minimized.
Yet, I find that I pay a terrible price in terms of my health. During the last four weeks I found myself teaching 3 days a week in the classroom, teaching online 2-2 days a week, testifying in a court case, helping one Ph.D. student with her dissertation proposal, one M.S. student with his thesis proposal, drafting 3 research applications to the Internal Review Board, supervising one intern in the community, presenting 3 research presentations at a conference, teaching an in-service workshop on online learning, and drafting a journal article for submission.
Not much time to exercise, chat on SparkPeople, or log my food. I made a pledge to myself to not return to this hectic work schedule but it has happened and I must work through it and survive. I must find a healthy life balance between work and my personal life. It is a struggle but I am trying to prioritize my activities to ensure that I draw a line at how much time I spend working. I cannot work 70 hours a week and have any time to exercise, so it is back to the basics.
I have made a list of priorities:
1 Teach my classes and manage the grading in a timely fashion
2 Prepare healthy meals and snacks each day.
3 Exercise 30 -45 minutes a day (At least that is the goal – may not be realistic but it is optimistic hope.)
4 Track my food and exercise daily.
5 Huddle on SparkPeople and check in on the discussion boards (20 minutes a day).
Over the past four weeks I have struggled just to fulfill my first and second priority. At least on two days when I teach in the Marriott Library computer lab, I get considerable exercise. The ground floor entrance was closed for remodeling, so now you have to walk up 3 flights of stairs to enter the 3rd floor entrance of the library and then walk down the 3 flights of stairs to the ground floor where the computer lab is located. Yes, I could take the elevator, but why . . . given that it ensures that I get 45 minutes of stair climbing exercise two days a week. Once in the computer lab I never sit down as I help the students to do the very things that I demonstrate at the front of the lab. When I teach on Monday evening I lecture for 3 hours . . . and I typically get about 2500 steps as I walk around in the front of the classroom. Yes, I use a computer but I have a wireless mouse so I can advance the slides from anywhere in the room. I usually do not count this as exercise but it has helped to get some steps in on the old pedometer and Bodybugg. I have to find ways to work more exercise into my routine. Last summer I was getting 10,000 steps a day and now I find myself struggling to get 7,500 steps. Some days I found 5,000 steps an impossible accomplishment.
So true confessions are that I have slipped back into the old workaholic habits that helped get me into this unhealthy body. I have been exhausted for the past two weeks but I did not slow down. Now I have come down with the flu . . . a sign that I am not taking care of my health. It is the very signal that I needed to remind me that I must put myself back on the priority list. Whereas, I have somehow managed to lose 35 pounds since last March (2008) . . . 10 pounds since Thanksgiving. . . and I have not started to gain, the weight loss has slowed in the last 4 weeks. I need to stop and get back to taking care of me NOW! I need to find a way to either delegate or cut back on some of my ambitious plans in the classroom. I need to take time to take care of my health or I will not be able to help anyone else.
Well that is an update and a true confession. This blog is the first step to regaining some control and towards finding a better life balance.
Thank you everyone who sent me messages of encouragement and support. I love you all for your kind words . . . you have reminded me that I need to take time for me. I sincerely appreciate every one of my Spark Buddies. Thank you for not giving on me!