If you notice the date of this blog post, that’s not an accident. The third Monday of January is generally referred to as “Blue Monday”. The days are short and dark, the Christmas magic is a distant memory and a lot of those resolutions we’ve aimed to live by are starting to fall by the wayside. This year, the start of a new decade, I’m keen to flip the narrative around “the most depressing day of the year” and use it as a springboard for a bit of a health kick. But first… a bit of reflection..
Two Years In
It is hard to believe that January marks the two-year anniversary of Siddiqui Education and with anniversaries tends to come a period of contemplation.
The last two years are a bit of a blur with some great highs and not so great lows. Ultimately, two years in and I am proud to say I’ve been up and down the country motivating and building the aspirations of thousands of disadvantaged students, I’ve been able to support my family and garner the respect and support of schools, businesses Universities and the public. Every day feels like a new opportunity to collaborate with the fantastic education and business communities all in the name of supporting current and future students and supporting social mobility.
When I reflect further however, it is hard not to think about what my motivations were in setting up my business. In order to do it, I had to say goodbye to my life as a full-time teacher. During my ten years of teaching I saw so many changes to the profession, my mindset had always been to work hard and do the best that I can. I continued to do this even as the professional and political landscape slowly changed around me. I eventually decided that the only profession I had known for over a decade, had changed so much that I was not able to give the things that mattered to me the most, my full attention. For me this was my family, specifically my wife, Mel and my daughter Amelia who was growing every day into a remarkable little lady. With a family to support, it’s never easy to go from a steady income to betting on yourself, but in 2017 due to a variety of personal and professional challenges, Mel and I decided that I needed more of a work life balance. This then was the catalyst for me to leave full time teaching and venture into the world of business.
When I think about those months just before I handed my notice in, I don’t think I really realised how much they impacted me emotionally, mentally and physically. I’ve always been of the mindset that if you put the work in and just keep going then things will sort themselves out. It however reached a point where I know if I hadn’t re-evaluated my life and made the conscious decision to make a change, then my self-conflict between work and family would have led me to a pretty negative place.
Now with being a business owner and having a brand-new addition to the family (my son Theodore is four weeks old at the time of writing this blog. He is currently gurgling away next to me at 4am as I type away) I face challenges, but I feel in control of those challenges and revel in making the most of what the world of business and education have to offer. The most important thing for me is that I am in control of how much I can and can’t be there to see my children grow up.
Somethings Got to Give
As you get older and more people and creatures are dependent on you (we have two cats and a dog to add to the mix too), something eventually must give. You’ll either see your kids less than you want or work a little less. My best friend and I had made a deal to watch the new Star Wars film on its opening weekend, but that was poo pooed by the early arrival of Theodore (I’ve only just forgiven him). It goes without saying, as your responsibilities increase your time for yourself decreases.
That’s where this health kick comes in. During my time as a teacher, I’d always make time for fitness. Whether it was a spin class, a HIIT class or a run, staying fit was a huge part of my life. In 2017, I trained hard to run the London Marathon whilst juggling family and work. Running the London Marathon and being able to live stream it for BBC Sports Facebook page is still one of my proudest accomplishments. That was in April in 2017, not soon long after that, things at work and life in general started to sour and as a result, in this case, it was my fitness that suffered. Two and a half years later, the business is plodding along nicely, my work life balance is restored so 2020 is all about getting fit and healthy. But I can’t do it alone.
Edutwitter, a little help?
When I was training for the marathon, I was juggling work, a young family and Gogglebox but I was still able to do it. I personally believe this was because of two reasons. Reason one, the fabulous Fiona from fitmode.co.uk. I remember Fiona approaching me at the gym and offering to help me get fit for the marathon. With a few subtle changes to my stretching, resistance training and diet, she helped me shave thirty minutes of my time at least. The second reason was the online community. Every week on the run up to the marathon, I would post a little summary of how I had done. What times I was getting for my runs, how they were different from the week before, what new stretch did Fiona make me do this week. Those social media posts were met with such positivity and support that they kept me motivated, but they also kept me accountable. I personally feel that updating people on my fitness highs, lows and goals helped me to consistently keep up the training.
So, my plan for 2020 is to do this again, but specifically with the education community. The reason for this is because Edutwitter and the online education community at large can be tremendously supportive when someone needs help. Secondly for me, fitness is my way of staying positive, creative and mentally healthy. I’d never profess to being knowledgeable on all thing’s wellbeing, but for me, being fit is my wellbeing. So, I am hoping, by posting regular updates of my fitness journey, I will help those educators struggling and give them a platform to share their fitness trials and tribulations.
So long story short (too late) on Monday the 20th of January 2020 and every Monday after, using the hashtag “EduFitter” I will be posting a general tweet about my health and fitness successes the week prior and my general plan for the week ahead, with the hope that others will share their highs and lows too.
The posts won’t follow an exact formula other than they will be posted on a Monday. There will be a follow up post every Wednesday where I will be sharing a tip from fitmode.co.uk. Although I’m not training for a specific fitness event, I’d like to share and have people who get involved share:
Weight loss goals: Don’t worry, I won’t be sharing before and after topless pictures. I will more than likely share if and when I lose weight and what I ate that week to help me.
Fitness event goals: Whether it is fun runs, park runs, jingle jogs, your first HIIT class, signing up to a gym, walking your dog. Whatever has kept your heart rate up (no that doesn’t include Channing Tatum!) or whatever fitness event you are looking forward to/nervous about it would be great to share.
Music to get fit to: This is worthy of a blog all on its own!
Podcasts to get fit to: I’ve learnt more about business and educational theory through podcasts in the last two years than any other method. I would love to run and listen to a podcast knowing other educators are doing the same ready to share their thoughts and feedback on a Monday.
Ideas you come up with during exercise: Some of my best ideas for my lessons and business have come to me during a run (this blog for example). Exercise can be a fantastic tool for self-reflection and meditation, and it would be nice to know what ideas have come from this time of your week.
So, as we get into a routine for this year and this decade, I am determined to use #EduFitter to keep me at a consistent level of healthy. I don’t think I’ll be running a marathon or I’ll have a six pack any time soon, but with your support I am certain I can get rid of a bit of this marriage gut/dad bod/Gogglebox gut with the hope of helping others online. Happy health everyone and I look forward to sharing this journey with you.