This inquiry into how to improve my health by understanding how to consistently make good nutrition, exercise and wellness choices has given me a new perspective on myself. Firstly, I had to rework my distal and proximal goals as the initial one was too broad. My distal goal is now: To get my BMI to 27. My proximal goals are:
- To lose 10% of my current weight by December 31, 2017.
- To meditate for 10 minutes everyday for 66 days (habit formation) to help me be more conscious of my emotions and thoughts.
To understand more about why and how I developed this new distal goal, please see my previous post.
What did I learn from this experience as a whole?
I learned about why I made many of the choices I did – how my previous experiences, beliefs, values and prior knowledge impacted on why I made poor decisions, many subconsciously. I learned that making healthy choices requires me to reorganise my environment and be cognisant of my thoughts and emotions. I’ve learned what cues me to engage in emotional eating and how I should respond. I learned it takes 66 days to truly make or break a habit.
My reflective journal and concept map really helped me identify patterns of behaviour, “see” my thinking, and dig down into where some of these behaviours originated. Meditation, or mindfulness, helped me identify my thoughts more clearly and attend to them instead of reacting.
How can I apply this knowledge to other parts of my life?
I learned new strategies in most areas of self-regulated learning.
- I am clearer now about creating measurable goals. After the acquiring and gathering information phase of my inquiry, I realised I needed to rewrite my goals as my original one lacked specificity.
- I found a version of the SMART goal called SMARTE. The E stands for equity and it asks us to consider how achieving our goal will improve the lives of others, particularly those that are more vulnerable. This really spoke to me as it gave my goal a larger purpose and made it more meaningful for me.
- I tracked how much time I spent each day doing different activities: studying for each of my PME courses, exercising, personal care, socialising, watching TV, etc… I didn’t drill it down to the minute, but by 30 minute blocks.
This was really helpful as it allowed me to create a work/study schedule to implement when I return to school. This has helped me address one of my biggest concerns about achieving my goal: will I be able to maintain my momentum when the pressures of work are added back in?
I used a concept map to help me process what I’d read, watched, and learning through conversations with others. This also helped me to see connections and drill down into my thinking and previous experiences.
I also wrote a daily reflective journal answering these questions about my nutrition, exercise and wellness:
- What good choices did I make today? How do I feel about those choices?
- Did I make any poor choices? Why do I think I made them? What were the circumstances?
- What did I learn about myself through the choices I made today?
I open-coded my responses which was a really effective way for me to identify behaviour patterns, thought processes, and feelings and helped me determine next steps. See previous post.
I used an app called HabitBull which allowed me to track progress on my goals each day. This helped me maintain focus on my goals as well as see which components I struggle with the most (eating 5 servings of vegetables).
I also changed which method I used for taking notes when reading. I was using SQR3 but found I was still recording too much information. I switched to using Cornell notes which helped me reduce how much I write and distill the key concepts more efficiently.
I think using the Headspace app to spend 10 minutes a day meditating was the most significant change I made and helped in a number of areas, but particularly self-attribution. It allowed me to hear my thoughts more clearly before I acted, which then allowed me to decide whether to do it or not. It brought the locus of control back inside me as opposed to feeling controlled by my environment. This was a key stumbling block in the past. I now understand how to organise my internal and external environment to help me meet my goals.
Seeking help or information:
This was more of a challenge, but I did consult with a couple of people – my pilates instructor and my sister who is a public health nurse with a masters in nutrition. Both of them offered practical advice which helped. I also got some helpful advice from fellow course participants and our instructor. The greatest support I got though was from my friend Katie and she helped by just listening. Explaining to her what I was learning and how I felt about it really helped me identify my underlying beliefs and values and how they were impacting upon my goal attainment.
Throughout this inquiry I wavered back and forth between being task-focused and task-avoidant. I loved learning about how and why we make choices, about habits and motivation. I struggled to make myself do the nutrition tracking some days, particularly when I know I had made a poor choice. Using the HabitBull app did prompt me to do it anyway so I could check it off my goal list each day.
I don’t question that I can achieve my goal. I think what I find difficult is appreciating how much energy and time I will need to invest. It seems more challenging on a daily basis than the long term possibility of early death and disease. However, breaking the distal goal down into proximal goals and only focusing on those does make it seem more manageable and reduces some of my anxiety.
Did things turn out the way I anticipated?
Well, I’ve lost 10 pounds so far and have a much broader knowledge base to work from. I know myself much better than I did four weeks ago certainly. I am clearer on the steps I need to continue to make to achieve my distal goal. However the process did clarify for me how challenging this task is and at times that is a little depressing, which I had not anticipated. More broadly I learned a lot more about how self-regulation and self-regulated learning works, which is what I anticipated.
How did this experience relate to what I learned in the course?
I think I understood theoretically how the different phases and components of self-regulated learning would work, but struggled to understand how it would work in practice. I am now much clearer and can appreciate how vital self-regulation is when engaging in inquiry learning particularly. Since inquiry is a cyclical process, being able to use strategies efficiently and flexibly throughout the process enables the learner.
How will this experience alter my future behaviours, attitudes and personal/professional life?
I think I’ve learned some fantastic strategies that will help me with my professional learning and certainly with completing my PME. I’m also clearer on what skills we need to be teaching our students. I have developed a new approach to our Year 3 unit on Learning that will focus on helping students develop self-regulated learning strategies while working on a passion project.
Personally, I think this inquiry has changed some of my core beliefs and behaviours towards healthy living and I feel more in control of myself than I did before.
For more information about this inquiry journey, please see the previous posts: