Back to the Grind (With Some Help)

Well long time, no blog! I gave myself a week off because the rest of my life has been extremely busy the last few weeks. I’m afraid it’s only going to be piled on from here out so I had better get back to work after my self-awarded break. For my learning project the last week and a bit, I really struggled because my boyfriend was in the city so we would often go out to eat. However, I also am starting to get down to the last of my paychecks for the last few weeks so I’ve been trying not to spend money. I did do some cooking and made some good decisions this week (and also some that I regretted).

I took a night and made dinner for my family, including my grandparents, and my boyfriend. I can’t say that I did all the work, but this was definitely a great learning experience for me. One of the bigger barriers in eating healthy that I have is finding the motivation to cook. I was dragging my feet all week trying to decide what to cook and making a grocery list. Working in a group helped me with that this week. By bouncing ideas off of other people (what should I make? What do you like to eat?) I was able to get some ideas. Then, my mom helped me make a grocery list. This group work seems to be very effective for me and I’ve also seen Sir Ken Robinson’s talk about “Changing Education Paradigms” and it seems that this shift would be beneficial for me to make as an educator and as a learner. Robinson’s ideas of group work, creativity and valuing “non-academic” education are a few things that I’ve been thinking about lately.  (I’m sorry, I’m not sure why the last few seconds of audio are missing, but it’s just an overview of his thesis)

Having support and collaboration made this week’s goals far more achievable, fun and engaging. I think I can also attribute the successes that I’ve had in this project to the fact that it is relevant and engaging for me (two attributes that I am passionate about in my teaching). In my teaching philosophy (linked previously), I stress the need to be relevant to the students and engaging. I am exemplifying this through this project. This hands-on project is far more engaging than memorizing and spitting back recipes or defining each kitchen tool. Instead, I’m using these aspects to create new things that are relevant to my life. By being in charge of and accountable for my own learning (self-directed, inquiry learning), I am able to pursue my passions and make the meals that I want to make. I often find on recipe websites that the food is always hard to make and has crazy ingredients. If I had started with something where all of the ingredients are out of season or are things that I’d never heard of, then I wouldn’t be nearly as engaged in this project. Instead, I’m able to use the resources I want to create projects that are relevant to my lifestyle.

I’ve found that my biggest asset throughout this project is a simple app called Good Habit Maker. This app just sends push notifications that remind me “I enjoy eating healthy food”. By keeping this in the forefront of my thoughts, I’m able to think about it more often resulting in healthy decisions. I also had downloaded a bunch of recipe apps, but I’ve found that following Buzzfeed Food and Buzzfeed Health on facebook have the most relevant information for my lifestyle. They focus on simple and fast recipes (which is exactly what I need) but they also feed my love of food porn. By shifting the information that I used to see on my newsfeed from McDonalds and chocolate cake to recipes with only 5 ingredients or foods that are healthy fuel for your body, I’m able to control the media that I take in. These constant reminders of healthy food in the images I see and the things that I read help me to shift what I’m doing. By applying these concepts, I’ve also found that I am more willing and open to talking about eating healthy. My after work conversations with my friends would often revolve around how huge the craving is for chicken fingers. Now we’re talking more about our health, healthy foods and exercise. This collaboration with other people is a main motivator in my learning from what I’ve found in this project. I’m doing something I’m interested in and finding allies who are willing to help and support me. As an introvert, I was always skeptical about using group work in a classroom but I feel now that group work, collaboration and just being able to bounce ideas off of other people creates a better atmosphere and product for everyone involved.

I also think there are some downsides to this collaboration. This week was one of many cravings and those who support me also supported my cravings for cotton candy frozen yogurt. My boyfriend is a good role model for healthy eating because he is a decent cook. I find he doesn’t usually have cravings for unhealthy foods and his portion sizes are far better than mine. I often try to model my habits after him which can be a good thing but where he has that filter is where I need to create one. Being the girlfriend, when I ask to stop for candy, McDonalds or ice cream, he indulges my whims. While I appreciate that at the time, after I wish he would just drive straight home and be my buffer. I will have to practice being my buffer on my own without help. In this case, group work has put me at a disadvantage for when I’m alone because I can’t follow someone else’s example all the time. I need to develop these skills for myself in order to be successful. Being so busy the last few weeks, I’ve retreated back into unhealthy fast foods and indulged my cravings. If I don’t have these things handy, then I won’t be able to eat them (which is what I will start doing from now on). I will also be working on portion control.

Despite the downfalls of some groupwork, I really enjoyed the collaboration, help and support that I received from my mom and boyfriend in making this for supper. My dinner was a success and I got to share the work and the enjoyment with the people who support me.

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