Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Banish Misfortune at YBC!

My wife and I both play in a Celtic/folk group.  After a couple months of not being able to play a gig in public we finally played one this past weekend.  While this post really has nothing to do with fitness, it has everything to do with my other big passion, which is creating/directing/performing music.  Enjoy!

Janet & Aaron

Friday, November 26, 2010

P.E. Has to Change, Part 1: The Problems

Photo by uwdigitalcollections'
The following is a dramatic reenactment of a key moment in Janet's (The Editor's) P.E. experience. Names have been changed to protect the sort-of-innocent.

Teacher:  Ok, kids, today we're going to play kickball.

Class (including Janet):  Yay!

Teacher:  Let's pick teams.  Ok, Timmy, you pick team one, and Sheila, you pick team two.

Class (everybody but Janet):  OK!

Janet:  Yay!  I'm going to be picked last.  Again.

Five minutes later, Janet has been picked last, even after the kid with two broken legs.  It is now Janet's turn to kick the ball.

Teacher:  Ok, Janet!  You're up.

Janet approaches the ball with trepidation, though still filled with the heady exhilaration that affects all elementary kids when it is his or her turn.

Janet:  (To herself)  Ok, just kick the ball.  Doesn't have to be far, doesn't have to be fast.  Just kick it and don't look like a douche...just don't look like a douche...

Pitcher:  I'd better do it slow so she can see it coming!  (Snickers with glee.)

He pitches the ball at a speed that may outpace a caterpillar, but not by much.  Jeers and cheers from the other kids about Janet's remarkable lack of coordination ensue.

Teacher:  Stop it.  That's not nice.  (Other kids point and laugh mockingly behind the teacher's back.)  Janet, just kick the ball.

Janet:  (To herself)  Ok, just gotta make like the Mighty Ducks and go from zero to hero.

Janet squares up to the ball, runs to kick it, but kicks too soon, bringing her foot down on top of the ball instead of the side.  It rolls from beneath her and she falls flat on her butt.  Hard.

Pitcher:  Ha!  She looks like a douche!  Laughter from the class washes over Janet's humiliated and very sore body.

Tinkly music brings us back to the present.  Doo-dee-doo-dooo!   Doo-dee-doo-dooo!

For those of us who were not blessed with the ability to avoid tripping over one's own feet, P.E was an hour of social mayhem.  P.E., especially in high school, taught us one thing:  that we were horrible at most organized sports.  Looking back now as an adults who have struggled with weight and fitness, we wish P.E had taught us more about how to actually succeed with physical skills and less about how to dodge bullies in the locker room.  From our perspective, the way that P.E. is traditionally structured only works for athletes, and it teaches those who aren't naturally gifted to hate, or at the least dislike, exercise.  We hate athletics, not because we're lazy or uncoordinated, but we just can't take the humiliation of failing in front of others and exposing ourselves to ridicule.

Aaron and Janet are far from the only ones who have had this sort of experience.  Rita Barry, the editor and creator of Fitblogger, says, "Oh, I don't know if there's enough words in the universe to communicate the terrible, horrible dismay that was P.E. for me.  I was heavy, uncool, tragically so, and it was really just a lesson in humiliation.  So much focus was put on sports and proficiency in them, as opposed to health and why this 'gym' thing was even important.  Gym for me became a lesson in avoidance, blending, and hiding more than it was about learning, challenging myself, or discovering a love of physical activity."  

A more subtle, but possibly even more damaging, effect of traditional P.E. instruction is the unsaid, but often implied, belief that athletics are the pinnacle of human achievement, and those who are not athletic therefore do not matter.  Think about Principal McGee's line in the movie, "Grease:"  "If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter."  We believe that two problems result from this belief.  First, Janet figured if she couldn't be an athlete, then she wasn't anything, and she believed that for a very long time.  Second, in Aaron's experience, he found that that attitude turns kids off to anything physical.  With the thousands of non-physical activities available, like video games, movies, television,  Facebook, and BLOGGING, it is very easy for a kid with low self-esteem to throw themselves into activities that are unhealthy in long durations.  We should note that we, as Band Geeks, are perfectly aware of the damage this attitude can also do to our music programs, especially if it is held by those who hold the purse strings.

Many schools require health classes in addition to P.E., which we don't think is a bad thing in and of itself.  Though, in our experience, it was taught like life science.  Information was presented and tested.  You turned in your quizzes, you got your grades.  There was no teaching that pushed students to apply the information in the course.  (Janet would argue that this is the number one problem for every subject in education today.)

Both Aaron and Janet are music teachers, and we feel physical education has a whole lot more in common with music education than is apparent at first blush.  Both teach tricky and refined physical skills.  Both have social components that need to be addressed.  Both programs are being cut at many schools.  Finally, and sadly, we find that in many ways physical and music education fail us because certain factors are not being addressed en masse by educators.

A class doesn't have to involve humiliation in front of one's peers.  In music classes like choir and band, the possibility of public failure is just as high as in a P.E class, especially when we ask students to perform something in small groups or by themselves.  BUT, IT CAN BE ADDRESSED IN A POSITIVE MANNER.  By helping those students achieve and by creating a class culture of support, our students learn it's OK to take risks.  We believe that the use of Human Compatible Learning in physical education will work to everyone's benefit, including the athletes.

In our next post, we will explain how this method can be applied and its benefits.

In the comments, tell us about your experiences in P.E.  What did your teachers do that was effective for you and your health?  Or was your experience more like ours?  See what other Band Geek readers have said about theirs on another post.


Photo by tuchodi
My wife and I usually spend Thanksgiving with her side of the family.  Her parents own a ranch outside of Wibaux, Montana.  It is always a great time, as it is the only time each year her family gets together all in the same place.  This is also usually the only time each year I get to go hunting.  Between getting a deer each year and the free beef we get from my wife's family we're usually set for meat each year.  However, this year we had a winter storm the day before we were set to leave to go to the ranch.  So unfortunately this year we had to stay home.  We spent Thanksgiving with my family instead.

It was a nice day.  If we hadn't stayed, my parents would have spend the day by themselves as the rest of my siblings were out of town. 

As far as overeating I didn't do to badly,  I probably could have eaten less, but I didn't stuff myself silly either.  It was nice not to be in pain after eating a holiday meal. 

The only thing that is driving me crazy at the moment is a case of bronchitis which is keeping me from working out.  I have a feeling that if I did try and do a work out I'd be wheezing and hacking pretty quickly.  So I'm trying to sleep a lot and get healthy as quickly as I can so that I can get back to my normal routine.

I hope everyone reading this had a great Thanksgiving.  I'm so thankful that I have a great family to spend the holiday with.  I'm also very thankful that I've spent the later half of this year losing weight and getting healthier then I've been in a long time.  What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

School and afternoon runs!

Photo by Kr. B
Every Wednesday my school lets our students out a half-hour early so that the staff can have a PD hour, which stands for professional development.  Most of the time this hour really isn't all that fun.  Though last week I talk to colleague of mine about going running once a week after our meetings on Wednesdays.  She happens to be the cross-country coach and is an avid runner.  Lucky for me she is always looking for someone to run with.  So today during our PD hour I had to do everything in my power to keep my mind on the task at hand and not jump forward to my afternoon run. 

This was the first time I've gone running with somebody else. It's also the first time I've on roads and not a track or a treadmill.  We only went for a short run, 2 miles, because my colleague had to get back for a first aid training class.  I have decided that I enjoy running a lot more with someone then by myself, she was very nice a kept a slow pace since I'm still fairly new to running any length of distance.  Running out in the county and not on a track or a treadmill was also awesome, I loved the feeling of being outside somewhere and not confined to a track or a room.  I'm definitely getting into this whole running thing.

We will try and run together every Wednesday so long as the weather doesn't get to cold or nasty.  If I ever get in enough training, she already said she'd run a half-marathon with me.  She has run several.  It is so nice to run with someone who has had a lot of running experience, but is still willing to take a newbie under their wing.  Yeah for wonderful people in the world.  My hope is that everyone who is new to running has someone like this to help them get started.

The first 5k of the season up here in Montana is in March I believe, I've agreed to run a 5k with another friend of mine sometime this spring or early summer, but then I want to see if I can train up to a 10k before the summers over.  Two good initial running goals I think.  I never thought I'd enjoy running as much as I am. I can't wait for spring!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Drummers National Anthem

Photo by Garrette
This post has nothing to do with weight loss,
However, since I'm a band director and have conducting this piece a zillion times, I find the following extremely funny and true.

Drummer National Anthem:

oooo say can you BOOM CRASH
at the dawns early BOOM CRASH
Who's broad stripes and bright BOOM CRASH
through the perilous BOOM CRASH
and the rockets red 1-2-3
7- rolllllll-rollllll
o're the BOOM
and the BOOM of the

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Target Weight Achieved!

Photo by apdk at www.flickr.com
When I started actively trying to lose weight back in June, my original target weight was 195.  I figured since I was sitting at 230 pounds, 195 was good first goal, which, as of this morning, I have met.

Out of curiosity, I decided to see what my BMI is at 195.  I used a BMI Calculator at a friend's website.  Remember, a BMI isn't the only number that matters.  Body builders often have a BMI in the obese range.  According to the calculator, my BMI is 25.7, which is barely in the overweight category.  To get to the top end of the normal range, I need to get to 189.  That is only six pounds, I think I can manage that.

I've started running a few times a week, as this spring I want to be able to run a 5K with a few friends of mine.  I'm really enjoying it even though I'm a running novice.  I also do a circuit workout from a DVD workout called Power 90.  That's the workout I used the most over the summer, it worked really well.  I'm enjoying the mix of the two at the moment.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

This Should Scare You

If you've ever gone to a doctor or adjusted your health habits due to a new study's findings, this should make you poop your pants.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science

The article is long, but well worth reading.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Band Geek's Guide to the Gridiron

(Please note that the following is the Editor's overly anal and fussy perspective on college football.  Aaron just wanted me to scream and flash the crowd cam.)

A few weeks ago, one of our former students, Roy McKenney, mentioned that he was the drum major for this year's marching band.  He told Aaron that they were performing at the home football game at the University of Montana in Missoula, MT.  (Roy has lost 35 pounds, by the way!  Go Roy!)  Since we, the Geeks, would be in Missoula for our education conference, we elected to stay an extra night and watch them march.  There was only one problem.

Janet had to watch a football game.  She also had to ignore Aaron's chihuahua-like leaps of joy.

I received my Master's from U of M, so I guess I'm supposed to cheer for the Griz.  I went to classes over the summer, so I never was exposed to the psychotic fan fervor that defines U of M.  I had never been to a major sporting event, and I would probably feel more comfortable getting a root canal.  During a root canal I would just have to lay there and be sedated, and I would know exactly how to to behave.  Football game?  Not so much.

I decided that I would document and study the behavior I saw at the game so I could figure out how to act at any future sporting events.  I tried to see everything from a neutral standpoint.

First, I noticed that I missed the memo on what color to wear.

Our seats were in the student section, and I soon learned that the word "seat" was a misnomer, as there wasn't enough room to sit.  We stood sandwiched in with thousands of students, most of whom were working on their own type of sedation, though the drug of choice seemed to be Everclear.

Some seemed to be channeling the spirit of the bear, a ritualistic gesture designed to incite the murderous power of the beast to said football team.

This guy seemed to be channeling the spirit of a condom.

Also present were walking, dancing avatars for the team.  As cool as it was, how a guy driving a mini fighter jet in a bear suit will make them more likely to win, I haven't a clue.

There were several of our former band geeks present.  Roy, the drum major...

Logan, Roy's little bro, playing trumpet.  (2nd from left, center row.)  Logan lost a great deal of weight, as well, though I don't know the amount.

Andrew, another former student, playing saxophone.  Andrew doesn't need to lose weight.....dammit.

Here's the most puzzling aspect of the game.  I get the basic rules.

Get the ball in the other team's end zone.
Prevent them from doing the same to yours.
Don't die.

Ok.  Got it.  But does anyone else find it even a teensy-weensy bit hypocritical to go to these games to see guys get the piss pounded out of them, and then be all concerned when they get hurt?

Then again, band geeks everywhere owe a debt of blood to the players on the field.  Few would come to see the band by itself.  Sadly, no one has figured out how to make it a contact sport.
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