Weight loss gives Bouvier opportunity for teaching

BRISTOL — Mount Abraham Union High School Assistant Principal Justin Bouvier does a lot in his job to help young people.
This past year, Bouvier has found yet another way to help kids grow through sometimes difficult passageways. He’s been upfront about his struggles with obesity and the entire school has witnessed his transformation. He said kids have not been shy about telling him they noticed the change
A year ago Bouvier weighed 327 pounds. Today he weighs 177.
Bouvier’s story of losing 150 pounds demonstrates the same willingness to build on strengths and assess weaknesses he asks from students all the time.
When he decided a year ago he wanted to achieve a healthier weight, he tackled the challenge on all fronts. Bouvier enlisted friend and Bristol Elementary PE teacher Michaela Wisell to run two miles with him every day. They’re still running, and he’s added yoga to the mix.
He worked with nutritionists at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and took a long hard look at the emotional roots of overeating.
Over the first six months of his new regime, he lost 70 pounds. He opted for gastric bypass surgery in August and continued to lose weight.
Today Bouvier packs a cooler stocked with healthy food every day he comes to work.
“I eat lunch in the cafeteria and kids are fascinated by what I bring. They’ll say, ‘So what are you eating for lunch?’” said Bouvier. “So I open my little cooler and out comes my celery sticks and my sunflower butter and my sliced turkey or whatever I’m eating for the day.”
Students’ questions lead in turn to easy conversations about healthy eating habits.
But Bouvier’s dramatic physical change has continued to inspire deeper conversations with kids as well.
“I always relate it back to when they’re like ‘Well I can’t possibly change’ and I’m like ‘Oh really? Talk to me about that.’
“And they’ll say, ‘Well you’ve changed, right? You’ve changed your weight.’ And I’ll say, ‘Yep. And I’ve changed my eating habits and my lifestyle and my exercise patterns and it was hard. It’s really hard.’
“Change is some of the hardest work that we have to do as a human beings,” Bouvier added,
And his inevitable questions for a kid is, “What changes can we make to make your education experience better? What strengths do you have that are leading to the changes you want to make?”
“Those are really powerful conversations,” he said.
Read Gaen Murphree’s profile of Justin Bouvier by clicking here.

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