Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Elf 4 Health: Share Your Expertise

Some of you may know I've been participating in a program called Elf 4 Health. It's a 4 week program where we are matched up with another "elf" and have a challenge every day. We are in our last week and at the end I will be blogging about the whole experience. 

Today's challenge is to "Share Your Expertise". When I first read that I thought "expertise? I don't have an expertise" so as with most important decisions, I took to Facebook. I asked for ideas of what to write and I decided to write about all of them. 

Here was what I got in return: 

"Um, I think I heard somewhere that you TEACH kids. And you know about getting healthy. Need I go on?"

"So much! You know how to believe in yourself to do something, tenacity, ability to go to the gym when EVERY cell in your body wants to watch desperate housewives. You know how to deal with extreme tragedy and survive to see another day! You are a DAMN expert!!" 

"Pretzels... hip hop dancing are 2 just off the top of my head"

So here we go!


I've been teaching preschool for about 5 years now, and even still a lot of the time I don't feel like an "Expert". I kind of wonder if teachers EVER feel like an expert, mainly because every day is different. But I have people tell me how good I am at teaching, how I'm a natural and how it's something I was born to do. So I guess I'm doing SOMETHING right. So here are a few of the components in my teaching philospohy. 

  • EVERY child is different. What works with one, may not work with another. The key is to find what works with each child and do it. It may not be your particular style, but what's important is helping the child succeed. Step out of your own comfort zone to help a child. When you find out what makes a certain child tick, do research. Find ways to related to him or her. Seeing things from a different perspective can change your world as well as changing theirs. Being the first person to believe in them can be a rewarding experience for both you and the child. 
  • EVERY child deserves love. Kids these days are held to such high standards. It's important that each child feels loved and special. 
  • FOLLOW THROUGH! I CANNOT stress this enough. When you say you are going to do something, YOU MUST DO IT. A teacher/parent with no follow through will not be taken seriously and walked ALL OVER. It's hard, but you have to just tell yourself you are doing what is best for the child. 
  • BE IN THE MOMENT! When I was interviewing for my internship, I asked the interviewer's favorite part of her job. Her response was "being in the moment with the kids". There is not a day of my job that goes by that I do not think about that moment. Playing with the kids, watching them learn, not worrying about anything else is THE BEST. 
  • POSITIVE. It is SO easy to be negative. Don't do this. No. Stop that. it's SO EASY to do. So when you first walk into the classroom, make sure you walk around and say at least 3 positive things to the kids. It's a great way to start the day. 

I really could write an entire blog on teaching. But I'll stop there. 


Honestly, it kind of makes me laugh when people say this because it's so surreal that I'm here. It feels like a dream because I think of how I used to be and it feels like another lifetime. I constantly have people ask me (and my mom) how I lost so much weight. The answer is simple. 

Eat less. Move more. 

The funny thing is this isn't a complicated concept. I always knew that was how to do it. But these days, everyone is looking for a quick fix. So I'll break it down for you. 

  • Track what you eat. This is probably the most important part. Write it down. EVERYTHING. Count the calories in it so you can figure out what kind of balance you have going on. A great resource:Fitbook
  • Figure out how many calories you are burning throughout the day. I swear by my Bodybugg.
  • Take your favorite recipes and find out how to make them healthy. There are so many resources out there! I'm obsessed with my Biggest Loser cookbook, Skinny Mom and Cooking Light. There are also awesome bloggers out there with great ideas! 
  • DO NOT DEPRIVE YOURSELF. There will be times where all you want is chocolate. Have some freaking chocolate. 
  • DO NOT LOOK AT IT AS A DIET. It is one of my pet peeves when people ask me how my diet is going. It's not a diet. It's a lifestyle. If you look at it as a diet, when you go back to your old ways, you will gain back what you lost and possibly more. 
  • BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. You can do it. I promise. 

I'm kinda surprised someone suggested this because I have days I don't believe in myself. At the beginning of my fitness journey, 2 things helped:

  1. I had a personal trainer who was expecting me to do certain things. I am a people pleaser to the core, always have been. And I really wanted her to be proud of me and not disappointed, so I went to the gym when I needed to. Did what she told me to. And before I knew it, I actually liked doing those things. 
  2. My journey was NOT a secret. I posted weekly pictures on Facebook and discussed the challenges and successes. Having all my friends and family members along for the ride and offering encouragement when I needed it and knowing that TONS of people were supporting me was an AMAZING help. 
Now the biggest part of believing in myself is doing A TON of self pep talks. "You can do this. Don't stop. You've got this" are things I tell myself almost every single day. I may not believe it, but I know if I don't say it, the negative thoughts will seep in. And we hate those. 


If you knew me 5 years ago you would know I was (and still can be) THE BIGGEST EXCUSE MAKER. Knowing this about myself is why I picked 24 Hour Fitness. It's open ALL THE TIME and on my way home from work. There is no reason NOT to go. My previous gym closed at 8 which I would use as an excuse not to go. In the 3 years I've been going to 24 Hour I think I've been past 8:00.... once. So that excuse was stupid. 
If I don't go, I still pass it. There are times when I truly just can't-- yesterday was one of those days. But for the most part I just tell myself to suck it up and get my butt in there. 


Quick recap for newcomers: When I was 17 I was in a near fatal car accident where I broke my hip and developed bursitis, which was a HUGE hurdle in my fitness. I was overweight because it hurt to use my hip, but it hurt to move my hip because I was overweight. And somehow I told bursitis to take a hike! 

As someone who is EXTREMELY accident prone, it seems like I'm always getting hurt. I could easily just throw in the towel and give up. Except I'm a fighter. I always have been so quitting isn't really an option for me. The point is to just take it one day at a time, believing in yourself, and working toward your goals. And you will get there. It may take years, but you WILL get there. Just keep going. 


This one cracked me up. Katy and I have an obsession with pretzels. They. Are. Amazing. (See: Don't deprive yourself) The best kind of pretzel is a fresh baked one with no salt, while you are watching the Rams dominate Air Force. 
Pretzel Advice:

  • Always enjoy with friends
  • Only eat when hot
  • ENJOY!

Hip Hop is a class I got into at the gym a couple years ago. I missed dancing and decided to do it and learned that I hated it. But I kept going and once I learned the dances and Katy started joining me, it became one of my favorite parts of the week. Hip Hop Advice:

  • Don't take yourself too seriously. Laughing is the best way to do it. A good ab workout too
  • Push yourself to reach that 500 calorie burn.
  • Don't look at yourself in the mirror if you are as white as I am. 
  • HAVE FUN!!!!!

So there you have it friends, my expertise at the recommendation of my friends. I hope you took something away from this one!



  1. Jessica, this is a great post!! I love your teaching tips, especially the ones to follow through and be positive. Those are what I focus on in all interactions in professional and personal life. Congrats on your weight loss and amen to never giving up chocolate!!

  2. Thank you!!! Ever since I wrote it I've noticed just how much I practice follow through and how important it is, though it may not be fun. :)