Keep calm and skate on: an update

As much as I enjoy putting a mouth guard in and my fists up, I’m a princess at heart. A clumsy princess, but a princess nonetheless.

Annette is shown participating in Jiu Jitsu with a crown drawn over the photo.
That’s supposed to be a crown…

Only two sessions remain in my Skating Level I class at Varsity Centre. I’d say I’m going to miss it, but I already know I won’t be able to resist picking up where I left off in the new year. I registered in the class in September because my skating could only ever take me in one general direction and my favourite – and only – way to stop on skates was body-checking the boards. I’m happy to announce I’ve not only developed my skating skills and feel much more comfortable in my skates, but I’ve also gained a new appreciation for figure skating and have enjoyed my chance to be an awkward ice princess.

A picture list of complex carbs (sweet potato, whole grain bread, oats) and simple carbs (soda, donuts, white bread, cereal) is shown.

The not-so-sweet truth about sugar: Healthy habits at Hart House

This week, I dropped into the Healthy Habits program that runs every Monday in the Hart House Reading Room from 12 to 1 p.m. Healthy Habits is a laid-back discussion about nutrition and tips for eating well and is led by a holistic nutritionist.

What I really liked about the event was that it was informal and thereby unintimidating. We all sat in the corner of the Reading Room on the couches and, in essence, had a chat. The topic varies week to week and you’re welcome to attend just one session or as many as you like, whenever you can. This past Monday, we talked about sugar – very timely if you ask me, given that Monday was also Halloween.

The word "sugar" is spelled out using table sugar.

How do they do it? Juggling academics and athletics

As a campus tour guide, I receive a lot of questions surrounding student life and whether a school-life balance is something one can expect to manage at the renowned U of T.

Seeing everyone’s defeated, exhausted expressions on campus, I thought it’d be a good time to share some of my tips and tricks of the trade that have helped me to juggle three jobs, three sports and a full-time course load.

A drawing of a woman with many outstretched hands to juggle different life responsibilities.
Disclaimer: I don’t usually look quite so glamorous while doing it.

1. Sometimes you need to downsize. Sure, juggling five balls looks really cool but if you’re exhausted and you’re about to see them all fall to the floor, consider whether you might be able to take one out of the equation. I know it’s hard, we’re very ambitious students and we prefer to be able to persevere and to succeed without giving anything up, but I encourage everyone to critically evaluate whether the cost is worth what you’re gaining.

Take an active break! : A small gym exercise routine

October is a terrifying time of year – and that has nothing to do with Halloween. I have never before been so overwhelmed with things that need doing/studying/writing. But we’ll get through this… right?

I’m kidding of course, we always do and we will again – that thought has always been helpful to me when I’m swamped and feeling hopeless.

When there’s so much to be done, it can be hard to squeeze in some physical activity. As many of us live in residences and apartment buildings with small exercise rooms, I thought I’d put together a simple small gym study break as a perfect addition to my self-care routine!

Try 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions of each of the following exercises for a fast, full body workout between textbooks!

Annette is shown in 3 stages of a pushup.

Fueling my commuter student day

I lived on residence for my first three years at U of T and now that I’m living off-campus I face a real nutritional challenge. I used to pop into my residence repeatedly throughout the day, which gave me the chance to make some food and sit down to eat. Needless to say, these days that’s not exactly feasible.

It’s been a learning curve, but I’ve managed to identify some strategies for success when it comes to feeding myself as a new commuter student. I was doing a terrible job of it initially and learned my lesson the hard way when I fell ill and enjoyed a throbbing headache for three whole days. If you take anything away from this post, try to remember that while it can be challenging, time-consuming and expensive to stay on top of healthy eating sometimes – it’s worth the work. You might save an hour or two by cutting corners or cutting meals but you’ll lose much more than that when you’re feeling unwell later on.

Veggies are shown with a text overlay which reads "Those who think they have no time for healthy eating, will sooner or later have to find time for illness."

Skating Level I at Varsity Centre

Last week, I started my skating class at Varsity Centre. I LOVED it.

In addition to registering for the class, I registered to rent skate – which I’ll have access to every week for the hour I spend in class. I haven’t put on a pair of my own skates in a long time, so I imagined any pair I could dig up at home would be four sizes too small. I really appreciate the option to rent because not only is it inexpensive ($20 for the duration of the class) but it also means I’m not lugging skates to and from campus on top of my course materials.

When I got to Varsity Centre, I swiped my TCard and made my way to the arena (a familiar route, having attended a couple of MoveU skating events there already).

This is the entrance to Varsity Centre where you swipe your T-Card.

It wasn’t long before I ran into my coach, whom I identified right away (she was wearing a big headband with the word “SKATE” across the front so… lucky guess). Shannon later explained that what she was wearing was a concussion headband with significant padding to protect her head. “Cool!” I thought.

Getting in the door: Overcoming barriers to participation in physical activity

I’ve realized I’ve done you all a great disservice by not expanding the perspective from which I write. I’ve recently come to appreciate just how easy it may be for me to engage in physical activity on campus compared to some of my peers. So this year, I vow to do my best to step out of my shoes and into some of yours.

To start, I asked what prevents students from participating. With help from my peers and the people of Reddit, I’ve become aware of a few big hurdles…

Nobody likes to be the new kid. Being new at the gym can be incredibly unnerving. I can totally understand that. Gym culture these days is hard to avoid and it seems to be growing increasingly garish.

White and grey text on a black background reads "Set some goals, then demolish them."
The community can be a little intense sometimes.

Hello September: Play Day and early goal setting

Welcome back everyone! It’s hard to believe it’s September again.

My name is Annette and I’m excited to be a returning contributor to the Life@UofT blog this year. I’ll be continuing to cover all things physical activity and fitness with a weekly post you can expect to be published every Friday.

If you’re new to the blog, hello and welcome! If you like what you find, you can check out the archive to catch up on all the fun we had last year.

A bit about me: I’m a fourth-year student double majoring in Physiology and Biochemistry and minoring in German Studies. I’m absolutely wired right now on account of impending doom (read as: LSAT), but I’m doing my best to be excited about all that will follow for the rest of the year. I’m a peculiar person – half of the time I’m a bit of a grandma who likes to go to sleep early and sleep lots, drink tea under a fuzzy blanket – that sort of thing. The other half of the time, however, I’m curtain climbing and training to be a ninja – I just don’t know an in between.

Annette is seen hanging upside down from a set of aerial silks.
(I spend a lot of time upside down…)

September is a big month, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that. Between moving in and out of apartments/residences, shopping for textbooks, starting classes and trying to override a very “Hakuna Matata” lifestyle and/or sleep pattern, there’s a LOT going on. You should see my calendar, it’s absolutely BONKERS.

Soul on Ice Film Screening: Past, Present and Future of Black Hockey Players

Was anyone at the Soul on Ice screening last week? The Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) partnered with Hart House to put together a free screening open to students and community members of Soul on Ice, a unique documentary about the past, present and future of black hockey players.


I was a little hesitant because I’ve never been a hockey fan, nor do I know much at all about hockey. The screening took place at the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport in the Kimel Family Fieldhouse – it was my first time standing in this stunning space, and now I’m eager to check out a Varsity game there in the future.

Your MoveU team was there, directing people prior to the start of the film.