Posts Tagged ‘Weight-Loss’

My Personal Resolutions for 2015

January 4, 2015


As some of you might be aware, I have been out of teaching for two long but enormously satisfying years. I have been taking on the privilege of being a stay-at-home dad to my baby son and his older sister whilst my wife continues on her quest to becoming an obstetrician.  This has included taking over all aspects of home and child rearing whilst my wife completed her rural rotation and endless night shifts. Although I was already a “hands on” father, two years making my children the sole focus of my life has proved extremely rewarding and quite useful as I prepare to go back to recommence teaching at the end of the month.

I have always loved my job and even though I’ve had a great time being a stay-at-home father, returning to the classroom has me bursting with excitement. I know there will be cobwebs to negotiate and things have changed in the last 2 years (since when did everyone have to have an iPad?), but I have an urge to come back as a better teacher than the one I was when I took leave.

These are some of my initiatives in the lead up to day 1 and throughout the calender year:


1. If they Wont Buy it For Me, I’ll Get it Myself – Every teacher buys stuff for their classroom. You just can’t avoid it. But, there are times after proposing a valuable resource and you get turned down by your school that you give up the idea altogether. There is no way my school would invest in hand held whiteboards for each student. I love them and will find so many great uses for them along the way. I can’t really afford a class set, but that’s not going to stop me this year.


2. Lose Weight – Two years of sandwiches has taken its toll. I’ve got 5 kilos to lose in a month. I’m not sure that’s possible, but it can’t hurt to try. Many people think that teaching is not a physical job. Boy are they wrong! To be at my best, I must be able to withstand the stress, exertion and sleep deprivation that this job demands. For me, it means I can’t get away with starting off the school year looking like the Duff blimp.


3. No More Worksheets! – I don’t like worksheets and have made an effort to avoid them at all costs, but the lazy voice in my head sometimes prevails. It also doesn’t help that the teacher resources handed to you at the beginning of the year features nothing but worksheet laden books. Where are the dice, playing cards, tokens and imitation money? I don’t want to subject my students to worksheets unless I simply have no choice.


4. No Yelling – I never yell at individuals and my students will tell their parents that I never yell at all. I wish they were right. I have on more than enough occasions yelled at the class as a whole for reasons such as disrespect towards each other or for treating a substitute or specialist teacher in an unbecoming manner. I have to try to get my messages across without screaming at them.


5. Develop My Students as People, Not Simply as Learners – Up until now I have approached teaching with 2 main objectives. Firstly to increase the self esteem of each individual by instilling a sense of cohesion in the group and empowering every individual. And secondly, to foster a love of learning by making my lessons engaging and relevant to the learner. This year I want to add a third plank. I want to help prepare my students for the real world by helping them to develop “real world” skills such as working within a budget, developing a stronger work ethic and having better organisation skills. I think I’ve dropped the ball a bit in that area and I sincerely wish to improve.

I’m sure that along the way I will have more to add to the list, but it’s a good start. Now to get those pounds off. Oh well, quinoa can’t be that bad, can it?

Exercising Wont Help Overweight Children: Study

September 30, 2012


A recent study suggests that we forget about getting overweight children to engage in physical activity and instead focus on healthier eating.

Eating less, not forcing children to do more exercise is the key to combating the childhood obesity crisis, experts have said, as a study shows youngsters compensate by becoming more idle at other times.

A major review of research into childhood exercise programmes has found that enforcing extra activity on children does not affect how active they are overall, as they simply do less at other times of the day.

This means that extra exercise programmes will not reduce the childhood obesity crisis and policies should focus on what children eat instead, experts said.

There are no quick fixes to losing weight. Enrolling your children into an extra-curricular sporting activity may be a good start, but it is unlikely to be sufficient. Physical activity doesn’t just involve football practice, it also involves spending less time in front of a screen and more time in the fresh air. It encourage children to walk to the local shops or library instead of depending on a lift.

The key to any life changing decision is balance and common sense. A change of diet might be paramount to weight loss but other factors should not be ignored.

Click on the link to read my post School Weigh-ins Are an Insult Rather Than a Solution

Click here to read my post ‘Considered Too Obese to Keep His Kids‘.

Click on the link to read Charity Pays for Teen’s Plastic Surgery to Help Stop Bullying

Click on the link to read my post, ‘Sparing Young Children the Affliction of Body Image‘.

Tips for Parents on Helping Their Children Overcome Obesity

September 19, 2011

It was great to read a list of suggestions by Joanna Dolgoff M.D. with suggestions for parents with obese children.  It was a welcome departure from the “name, shame and threaten” methods being employed by some sections of society on parents who clearly require support.

These suggestions are steeped in common sense and encourage a positive approach:

What Parents Can Do to Help

Be supportive: Overweight children need support, acceptance and encouragement from their parents. Children’s feelings about themselves often are based on their parents’ feelings about them. It is also important to talk to your children about weight, allowing them to share their concerns with you.

Don’t use food as a punishment or reward: Withholding food as a punishment may lead children to worry that they will not get enough food which may result in overeating. When foods, such as sweets, are used as a reward, children may assume that these foods are better or more valuable than other foods. For example, telling children that they will get dessert if they eat all of their vegetables sends the wrong message about vegetables.

Set a good example: Children are good learners and they learn best by example. Set a good example for your kids by eating a variety of foods and being physically active. Involve children in food shopping and preparing. Children may be more willing to eat or try foods that they help prepare.

Teach healthy habits: Teaching healthy eating practices early will help children approach eating with the right attitude: Food should be enjoyed and is necessary for growth, development and essential energy. Guide their choices rather than dictating foods. This will help your children learn how to make healthy food choices. Encourage your child to eat slowly. A child can detect hunger and fullness better when eating slowly.

Cut down on some fats: Reducing fat is a good way to cut calories without depriving your child of nutrients. Simple ways to cut the fat in your family’s diet include eating low-fat or non-fat dairy products, poultry without skin and lean meats, and low-fat or fat-free breads and cereals. However, make sure not to cut out healthy sources of fat such as walnuts, almonds and avocado.

Healthy snacking: You should make snacks as nutritious as possible, without depriving your child of occasional chips or cookies, especially at parties or other social events. Healthy snacks include: applesauce, carrot sticks with hummus, peanut butter on apples, yogurt, dried fruit, fruit juice popsicles, low fat cheese etc.

Increase your physical activity: Regular physical activity, combined with healthy eating habits, is the most efficient and healthful way to control your weight. Some simple ways to increase your family’s physical activity include the following: Plan family activities like walking, dancing, biking or swimming.

For example, schedule a walk with your family after dinner instead of watching TV or playing video games. Overweight children may feel uncomfortable about participating in certain activities so it is important to help your child find physical activities that they enjoy and that aren’t embarrassing or too difficult.

Instead of judging parents with obese children negatively, I feel it is important to encourage, educate and support parents.  Dr. Dologoff’s list is a reminder that the answers lie with positive change and the adcocation of healthier living.

Diet Book For Children Is a Concern

August 28, 2011

There are two significant problems with a book like Maggie Goes on a Diet, which is pitched at pre-teens and preaches dieting as the best form of weight loss.

The first problem is that young children should not be dieting.  On the child related health website,, it states that, “Diets that don’t include a variety of nutritious foods, or have too few calories, can be dangerous for kids.”

My second concern is the type of messages we send kids about weight.  At a time when these young children are trying to work out who they are and trying to find a sense of self it is terribly destructive to focus on their weight.  Children who need to lose weight don’t need a novel to tell them that.  They need a support network of loving parents and dietitians who will be able to consider the child’s virtues as well as their struggles.

As much as childhood obesity is a concern, in my view children lacking in confidence is of far greater concern.  It is not sufficient to tear down a childs self-esteem by recommending diets and drawing attention to their weight.  To be motivated to do anything positive one has to be in a positive mindframe.  You have to believe in yourself and think of yourself as worthy of the breakthrough.

I too have written a book (albeit not yet published) that focusses on an obese child.  But I have taken a very different approach.  My child learns not to obsess about his weight and see the bigger picture.  He is not going to get thin tomorrow, but in trying to improve his health he will reflect on the things he has learnt about himself over the course of the journey.

I don’t think the carrot stick for potato chip packet works or is very responsible.

Diet Book Targets 6-12 Year-Olds!

August 18, 2011


You don’t need me to tell you that it is unhealthy for preteens to target.  I would go even further than that and say that it’s unhealthy for preteens to be fixated on their weight to begin with.

Writing a book advocating child dieting is irresponsible and potentially destructive:

A book aimed at helping young children lose weight has outraged an eating disorder help group.

Maggie Goes on a Diet, aimed at 6 to 12 year olds, tells the story of an overweight girl who goes on a diet and goes on to become the school soccer star.

Its Hawaiian publishers pitch the book on their website as an inspirational tale for kids.

“Maggie has so much potential that has been hiding under her extra weight,” the website says.

Deb Schwarz, manager of Eating Difficulties Education Network (EDEN), a New Zealand not-for-profit organisation, says the book could have the opposite effect, and encourage eating disorders among children.

“Research shows poor body image is associated with depression, bullying, eating disorders, risk taking behaviours, and reduced physical activity. Messages like those in the book promote body dissatisfaction.”

She says there are concerns that dieting messages increase disordered eating in children.

This is another sad situation of literature published for the purpose of stirring controversy and making money at the expense of the vulnerable.

Not good enough!

Losing Custody of Your Kids Because of Obesity is a Disgusting Thought

July 13, 2011

Shame on you David Ludwig for making a conclusion that belies all common sense and sensitivity.  How can you justify the idea of taking children away from their parents because of their obesity?  How is such a move in the best interest of the child?

Should parents lose custody of their kids if they get too fat?

A commentary in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association says yes.

Harvard obesity specialist David Ludwig says putting children in temporary foster care can be more ethical than providing weight-loss surgery – but only in extreme cases.

Ludwig says the point is not to punish the parents – but to act in the child’s best interest, and provide care that the parents do not or cannot provide.

Ludwig says the goal is to get those kids back to their parents as soon as possible – and for parents to learn the proper ways to prevent future obesity.

There have previous calls for government intervention, in cases where parents either neglect or refuse proper efforts to control a child’s extreme weight.

A doctor from London cited a Wisconsin case from 2009 in which a 440-pound 16-year-old almost died at UW Hospital in Madison.

Doctors had talked about reporting the parents for neglect – but they didn’t have to, because the girl later lost 100 pounds with her family’s help.

The Journal article comes a week after an annual study reported that 27-percent of Wisconsin adults are obese.

This method will further punish a child with enough to contend with as it is.  No parent wants their child to be obese.  Yes, some do more than others to avoid obesity, but that doesn’t mean that they are not loving and caring parents.  Many of them, as reported, suffer from obesity themselves.

As a society we must learn to support rather than threaten.  The child’s welfare does not rely on just a loss of weight but also the continued love and support from their parents.  We must not fingerpoint or punish parents for obesity.  It won’t help one bit.  Instead we must offer as much support, education and guidance as we can to ensure that families are able to pass up cheap calorie laden products for the more expensive, yet far more healthy alternatives.


Kids and Obesity: We Have Reached Crisis Point

July 4, 2011

The figures being released about the rate of childhood obesity is quite alarming.  To read that half a million British children have liver disease makes me worry very much about what a difficult state we are in and how far we have to go to reverse this unfortunate trend.

Doctors say obesity levels are now so high that children are commonly suffering signs of disease more commonly associated with alcohol abuse, meaning many will go on to develop cirrhosis, with some requiring liver transplants.

Government estimates say around 500,000 children below the age of 15 are suffering from “non alcoholic liver disease” which is caused by a build-up of fat within liver cells, which stops the organ functioning properly.

The condition increases the risks of heart disease, strokes and type 2 diabetes, and can lead to cirrhosis – scarring of the liver – which is often not detected until it is too late.

Britain’s most senior liver expert said the country was now facing a timebomb, with thousands of lives already at risk, and the numbers of children suffering from the disease projected to “rocket” further in line with rising obesity levels.

Prof Martin Lombard, the Department of Health’s national clinical director for liver disease warned that the disease was rarely detected until it had caused damage.

He said: “Liver disease is a silent killer, which is putting the lives of thousands of our children at risk. We do not want to see the next generation dying young from a condition that can be prevented.

“We know that with childhood obesity on the rise we can expect more children to be at risk of fatty liver disease in the near future.”

Government figures show 30 per cent of children aged between 2 and 15 are now overweight or obese – a figure which is projected to double by 2050.

Prof Lombard said he was concerned that children suffering from fatty liver disease were at particular risk if they started experimenting with alcohol in teenage years. He said even modest amounts of alcohol could worsen the condition.

There is no medical treatment for the disease, but the extent of it can be reduced by weightloss and improvements in diet.

Introducing the Candy Diet!

June 30, 2011

Feeling guilty about the amount of candy you allow your children to eat?  Not anymore.  If anything, you aren’t feeding them enough!

Or, at least that’s what the research seems to suggest ….

Indulging a sweet tooth might not be anyone’s idea of a good weight-loss strategy. But in jaw-dropping new research, scientists say they’ve found something even more likely to be associated with unwanted weight gain in children and adolescents than eating candy:

Not eating candy.

For the study, published in Food & Nutrition Research, researchers at Louisiana State University tracked the health of more than 11,000 youngsters between the ages of two and 18 from 1999 to 2004. They found that children who ate sweets were 22 percent less likely to be overweight or obese than kids who shunned sweets. Adolescents? Those who ate candy were 26 percent less likely to be overweight or obese than their non-candy-eating counterparts.

And that wasn’t the only surprising finding. Researchers also found that the blood of candy-eating kids had lower levels of C-reactive protein. That’s a marker of inflammation in the body and a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses.

Who funds this research?  Could somebody please do a study that links the watching of televised sport to greater physical health?  I could do with some scientific evidence to persuade my wife that I’m not wasting my time

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