Teacher weight loss became a focus of mine both as a brick and mortar teacher and as an Online teacher. In 2014 I decided to hire a registered dietitian and personal trainer to help me with teacher weight loss. I wasn’t 100% sure who to hire, but I saw this one trainer named Ilysha at my gym and noticed how lean her body is. To my surprise, I found out she was a dietitian, too. I had dealt with acne and other issues so I thought someone with her expertise would be perfect for me. Ilysha’s an amazing woman that has helped people with cancer and other serious health issues. So I decided to interview her! That way you can benefit from her expertise as well.
In this post, I want you to learn how to manage teacher weight loss without too much fuss. I know we walk around a lot while teaching, but we are often drained after working 12-14 hour days. Ilysha offers up some easy tips that will help you cut cravings. Also, she provides suggestions on how to easily create healthy habits rather than making them a burden.
Personal Trainer and Nutritionist for Teacher Weight Loss
Nikki: Tell us a little about yourself and the benefits of someone working with a registered dietitian. A lot of people just look up the word “nutritionist”, so tell us the difference between the two.
Ilysha: I am often asked about the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian. To start, the term nutritionist has no regulation. This means that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, even those with no formal training, education, license, or certification. A Registered Dietitian or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, has went through a minimum of 4 years of college from an accredited university, completed a 1,200 hour rotational internship, passed a VERY comprehensive examination, and continues to complete ongoing education.
I have been working as a Registered Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer for the past 11 years. Throughout this time I have made it a point to continue learning and expanding my knowledge in nutrition and training, while also growing as a coach who can connect with various personalities.
When a client hires me as their trainer and/or dietitian, some of the benefits they can expect include:
- Setting specific and measurable goals – both long-term and weekly short-term goals
- Personalization – I have seen and worked with numerous clients. Each with differing goals, sets of obstacles, taste preferences, workout styles, etc. Every client is unique and so requires a completely individualized program. I always start with a very thorough health and nutrition evaluation. This delves deep into symptoms relating:
- to inflammation
- sex hormones
- gathers a food and supplement intake
- looks at past injuries and/or surgeries and much more
If the client is doing personal training, I will do an in-depth movement screen. All of this allows me to establish a starting point as well as the best road to get them to where they want to go.
- Education – I want to always ensure that the client understands why they are doing what they are doing. This allows freedom to switch up food and workout choices and to improve motivation.
- Accountability – I am all about accountability! After we set goals, I have clients document their food and exercise. We discuss this and I check in regularly. This is NOT about perfection, but rather encouragement.
- Efficiency and Efficacy – I develop a program that makes the most sense for each client. It is realistic! And it will get them to where they want to be in the fastest and most effortless way possible!
- Confidence – I believe instilling confidence in my clients. I want them to learn how to implement these changes on their own so they can do this forever. That is the key to lasting change!
Nikki: When you mentioned encouragement rather than perfection I think of one of the biggest struggles I’ve had with eating healthy and exercising. I tell myself I have no time to do it and I end up yo-yoing. As an independent contractor with three different jobs that pull me in various directions all throughout the day I work from early morning to late evening. However, over the last year I’ve taken a new approach to making one small change at a time. I used to try to change everything at once and it just didn’t stick. I recently started the Miracle Morning routine created by Hal Elrod. It gets me up and walking first thing everyday. I know with that change I will create more and more healthy habits that turn into lasting change.
Sometimes I fail. However, I don’t let one fail or a few fails in a row stop me from moving forward. I make it a point to walk between my sessions. While walking, I bring my phone so I can answer work e-mails related to recruiting for the company I work for, iTutorGroup. I plan meals or eat healthy snacks. Also, if I have some days that are poorly planned I try to avoid eating too many carbs. Overall, I am now sticking with being consistent, not perfect.
Online Weight Loss Coach
Nikki: Talk about some of the experiences you’ve had working with clients online and explain how it works.
Ilysha: Currently, my online/virtual clientele is about half of my business and growing. Providing this option has not only given clients the convenience of time since they can be anywhere during their calls, but has also provided what I believe to be one of the biggest factors for success – accountability! Clients log their activity, exercise, and food consumption daily and I have access to see these logs. If they are struggling I send out a friendly text for support and encouragement.
Prior to appointments, I send any content that we will be going over. During their appointment (which can be done via phone, facetime, skype, etc.) I will make notes of questions covered, specific goals set, obstacles and accomplishments, recipes if applicable, workout “homework”, etc. These notes will be sent over within 24 hours of appointments so everyone is on the same page.
Nikki: I can speak to Ilysha’s notes, you guys! She gives the most detailed notes that you can refer back to again and again. I loved the recipes she shared and the goal setting we did.
Teacher Diet Plan
Nikki: What recommendations do you have for a teacher diet plan?
Ilysha: The great thing about a teachers schedule is that it’s typically easy to plan for – i.e. they start and end the actual work day at the same time (not counting planning, grading, etc.), break times are the same each day, no domestic/international travel is required, etc. Having this type of calendar in place really helps to develop a routine. To help make this routine a positive one, I suggest some simple strategies:
- Meal plan: Have a designated day that you plan your dinners for the week. I recommend ensuring you are including protein, non-starchy vegetables, and a healthy fat with all meals. A healthy starch OR fruit is optional but not typically necessary. I suggest picking 2-3 proteins for the whole week (depending on how much variety you want) so that you can batch cook this part the meals. Also keep in mind that you can plan in some easy, “non” cook options as well – i.e. rotisserie chicken, canned wild Alaskan salmon, frozen vegetables, a salad mix, etc.
- Grocery Shopping – have a specific day (or days) planned each week to do all of your grocery shopping. Since you’ve already meal planned at this point, making a grocery list should be based off of that. And if you hate the grocery store, there are plenty of delivery options now – instacart, thrive market, pea pod, etc.
- Have a designated day or days to meal prep. This can involve all of your cooking, portioning, and putting together of your meals. This may also only involve chopping of vegetables or just cooking your proteins. Just prep what you need to make life easier and your plan realistic.
When I am working with clients, developing this positive routine is a big piece of the puzzle. I help by providing grocery lists (based off their taste preferences, what stores are near them, etc.), “back up” options (i.e. eating out options, better bars, etc.), meal ideas, and strategies/ideas that fit their schedule and lifestyle. However, the above template makes for a great foundation!
Exercise for Teachers
Nikki: Keeping a teacher’s schedule in mind and perhaps including some movement during the day, what are your recommendations for exercise for teachers?
One of my favorite tools to utilize with clients is a step tracker. This is like the food journal of activity and such an excellent way to keep a client accountable for their movement! The great thing about teachers is that they can get a lot of steps during the day just doing their job. This is especially true when they are conscious about it and do the little extra things – take the stairs as often as possible; go to the farthest bathroom; park far away; go for a walk at lunch; stand and pace whenever you can (and when you do sit try replacing your chair with a stability ball). Some of my teacher clients have even started utilizing a treadmill desk at home – they can grade papers, lesson plan, etc. all while getting steps!
Nikki: I love the treadmill desk. Ilysha suggested this to me when I started working as an Online teacher. I got so many more steps in because of this suggestion. Now I’ve made it a point to walk at least 7,000 steps a day and it has really helped me maintain my weight.
I gained 17 pounds due to lack of movement and eating more unhealthy foods between 2016 to 2018. Health authorities recommend walking 10,000 steps a day, which is the equivalent of 4 miles. I finally had enough so I started eating more veggies and using a step tracker (thanks to Ilysha’s recommendations) to get some clarity on how much or how little I move each day. I have an old vivofit that I use.
What are your suggestions for other types of exercise?
Ilysha: If you are trying to sneak in a little more exercise during the work day, there’s tons of exercises you can do. Use a set of mini bands or just your body weight during breaks. I have often given teachers exercise “homework” just like this. Maybe some of your colleagues would join you!
Outside of the work day, just think about what’s realistic. Are you a morning person? If so, getting to the gym or out for a walk/run before the day starts is a great way to set you up for success. Are there classes that you love? Find ones that work and put them in your calendar in advance so you have less of a chance to make an excuse to skip them. Do you like the one-on-one attention and need the extra accountability during the week? Hire a trainer to help game plan and keep you on track!
Lifestyle and Weight Management
Nikki: How have your successful clients made this a lifestyle?
Ilysha: For someone to be and STAY successful in their nutrition and fitness pursuits, it has to feel effortless. Even enjoyable! They have to like the activity they are doing and enjoy the food they are eating. They can’t feel like they are deprived, have constant cravings, or feel exhausted all of the time.
A crucial piece in getting to this point is goal setting. I believe in setting small, overly realistic goals in various aspects. Here are some goal examples:
- a step goal
- plan a specific amount of vegetable amount per day
- meal prep goals
- bringing lunch to work every day
- incorporating protein at breakfast for energy
Once that initial goal has been met consistently and feels easy, we can move on to a new goal. My clients are typically pleasantly surprised at how even the smallest goals, when done consistently, can reap great consequences!
Nikki: I love that!
Habits of Health
Nikki: What other habits need to be implemented to be successful?
Ilysha: Some things my most successful clients have in common and have gotten them not only to their goal, but to a true lifestyle change, include:
- Food Journaling: writing down everything you are eating (with portions), even on the worst of days, is one of the BEST ways to help keep you accountable!
- Setting and sticking with a routine: this can be a little different for everyone but can include things like: picking a day of the week to grocery shop and/or meal prep; packing lunch every night before going to bed; going for a walk during your lunch break; getting to your favorite class every Monday and Wed; etc.
- Lots and lots of vegetables – one of the keys to keeping you full without overdoing calories. And I promise you – if you think you don’t like vegetables, you just haven’t found the right ways to prepare them yet!
- Protein at all your meals – of key importance in keeping you satisfied and energized and staving off cravings.
- Finding activities you enjoy to get you moving every day! Walking, tennis, yoga, Zumba, etc. etc. If you haven’t found what you love yet, keep trying
- Being open and honest during sessions – being open about imperfections and struggles allow us to set more realistic goals and strategize about how to get there in a manner that makes sense to YOU.
Nikki: Ilysha is amazing to work with.
If you’re interested in working with her email with the subject “Teacher Weight Loss” at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also fill out a request form by clicking here and mention Teacher Weight Loss in the comments.
I would love to hear your struggles or wins with eating healthy and exercising. Please share in the comments.