A U of T Student’s Recipe for Success

I’d like to consider myself a borderline foodie, and as a result, I refuse to let the quality of my meals slip just because of a few trivial things like ‘exams’ or ‘homework.’ I have a few go-to methods and recipes to make sure that even when heading to Robarts at 8AM for a 12 hour study session during midterms, I’ll still be able to have a healthy and preferably home-cooked meal to eat. Apparently cake pops and Frappucinos are not part of a balanced meal.

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When it looks this good, anything can be a part of a balanced meal.

I’ve come to the realization that the problems with being healthy while busy (for me at least) can be narrowed down to a few issues:

  1. Money
  2. Flavor
  3. Time

Sometimes, it may just be easier to grab a cheesy poutine from the food truck, but I still try to make myself decent food despite these issues. After many failed attempts with expensive veggies, bland food and simply just sleeping in too late to cook anything, I’ve finally figured out a system that works for me. So here is one of my favourite recipes, along with some of my useful shortcuts to go along with it!

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Couscous Salad!

Let me take a minute to express my outright love for couscous. All you have to do is add boiling water, and it cooks in 5 minutes. Even if a 5-minute cooking time isn’t short enough, this is the perfect food to make in big batches on a Sunday night, for a daily grab-and-go during the week. It’s also super customizable. So if kale or celery isn’t your thing, you can add whatever vegetables you love (or whatever vegetables are cheapest to buy!). I have a flyer app on my phone called Reebee that gets me all the grocery store flyers, so I scan it to stock up on fruits, veggies, and anything else I might need thats on sale.

Recipe: Amounts can vary depending on how much you want to make but here are the general ingredients! Enjoy!

-1 cup of cooked couscous
-1/2 cup of chopped kale
-1/2 cup of scraped carrots
-1/2 cup of scraped zucchini
-1 tomatoe, diced into small pieces
-1 small onion diced into small pieces
-1 tsp chopped ginger
-salt and pepper to taste
-lemon juice
-2-3 tbsp of olive oil

Instructions: Sauté ginger, carrots and zucchini and kale in a large pan. When cooked to your desire, add salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, mix together the tomatoes and onions with a little lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Once everything has cooled down, mix together in a large bowl and store in the fridge! This will save cooking time in the morning so you can be more relaxed. Or, you can always sleep in longer and rush out the door, but either way, you have a meal ready to go!

To make it extra special (this is where the flavor comes in), invest in some flavourful ingredients such as sriracha sauce, balsamic vinegar, sesame oil or fresh coriander (or other herbs). Most of these don’t go bad very easily and last in the pantry or fridge for a long time. It’s comforting to know that the $4 I spent on sriracha was well worth it.

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Just kidding, I never regret the sriracha.

Sometimes, even despite our best efforts, life can get too hectic to even make time for cooking (see: Finals week). If you ever need to find somewhere to eat on campus, there’s a app for iPhone and Android with the UeaT Campus Food Map! You’ll have all of the campus restaurants and cafés at your fingertips!

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 5.12.19 PM

Makes it easier to find Harvest Noon <3

So tell me U of T, what are your go-to healthy recipes? Let me know down below in the comments or tweet me your suggestions at @Api_UofT on Twitter!

My Toronto Staycation!

I really wanted to go on vacation this year. Like really, really wanted to go. Earlier this year I had my sights set on trying delicacies in Europe, touring ancient architecture in India, or having a breathtaking stay in Nepal.

But, alas, as summer rolled around, I knew it wouldn’t be possible this year, because of the summer grind. Vacations are hard enough to plan without jobs, school, student budgetary restraints (that’s a nice way of saying I’m a broke college student) and other summer commitments getting in the way. I’ve accepted that my cool vacation in a country I’ve never been to still awaits me (in the near future hopefully), but I didn’t want to spend my summer without ANY vacation time at all.

To solve my vacation blues, I decided to go on some mini-adventures to fulfill my vacation needs right here in the city- a staycation!

Things Api would like during a staycation:

  • Somewhere to relax!
  • Exotic food I’ve never tried before
  • Pretty, historical architecture
  • Nice Views

My first stop of the week was to relax out at the Waterfront. It’s a quick subway ride to union station and a short walk to the ferries and the boardwalk. I decided to bring a book and have a seat at one of the benches, and it was probably the most relaxed I’ve been in a while. I returned to reality feeling a little better about my upcoming finals.

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Perfect day to relax!

Vacation spot number two was yummier than I expected. Toronto has endless possibilities when it comes to food from other cultures, but I wanted to try something something I’ve never had before. I ended up trying Kimchi fries for the first time and it was SO good! Kimchi fries are hand-cut fries with pulled pork, Kimchi (pickled cabbages), fresh leeks and a little bit of mayonnaise:

Some kimchi+pulled Pork yumminess <3

As U of T students, it’s fairly common to encounter pretty architecture, but I felt compelled to add it to my vacation list just because I need to see what else is out there (It’s not you Knox College, its me.) Therefore, spot number three was the Distillery District! This was probably the furthest spot from U of T, but its not so far out of the downtown core that it’s a difficult to get to. Truth be told, I’ve been to the Distillery before, but I just can’t get enough of it. I will use any excuse to take selfies with the twinkling lights at night time.

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I have about 20 versions of this picture because I take one every time I go #Guilty

My final vacation spot was…*Drumroll please*… The CN Tower! For one awesome view of Toronto, the ticket is totally worth it. If you look really closely you might be able to point out places on campus like UC, Convocation Hall and Varsity Stadium!

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Beautiful city, beautiful sunset!

Overall, my week has been awesome. It was nice to take a break from the regularly scheduled school programming. As the summer goes on, I plan to keep up my mini-staycations and visit somewhere different each week. So check out my shenanigans on Twitter @Api_UofT!

Until next time, U of T!

And Here We Are . . . The End of Term!

I used to snowboard a lot in the winter. Ever since I was about six years old, I was out on the snow-hills and riding chairlifts. But once I came to university, I stopped. I guess I got busy. Always finding myself, all of a sudden, at this same moment: The end of term.

Feeling rushed. Stressed. Panicked. Less than a week left of classes. Then exams. It’s especially hard because I can smell the winter break like it’s a warm, cinnamon-sugared beavertail at the bottom of the hill and I just want to bomb the course to reach it. But school and snowboarding, unfortunately, are two dissimilar things.

I can’t bomb school. I have to work hard. I have to do well. I have one final project this term (it’s true, but it’s my fifth year, so don’t hate me). I probably could rush it. But I know that if I take my time it will be better, more interesting, more enjoyable, and altogether more worthwhile.

The tricky part is committing, staying focused, and seeing the project through to the end. Whether it was my first end of term, or now my ninth, finding the energy and concentration is a challenge. Not to mention finding the time to eat, and to take healthy breaks.

And that’s where I bet most of us are right now. I’m assuming that everyone is busy, stressed, and resenting the day they ever chose to attend U of T. So I’ve decided to forgo regaling you with a tale of my own academic sufferings, and just get on with my schoolwork.

Yep, that’s right, I am going to study. I can do that, no problem. I’m going to take my time and do an excellent job. It’s not like I’ll slowly drift away to amuse myself with strange, funny, stupid, and generally pointless distractions . . .

Like these!

Okay, that was fun! But I should probably get back to work.

Ha, I love that! All right, I really need to study for that in-class exam on Monday.

Wow! Just wow! But that’s enough. Time to destroy this essay!

You know, I kind of want to see that. No! Stop! I need to focus!

Source: http://imgur.com/a/Culn9

Source: http://imgur.com/a/Culn9

Maybe I could become an extra once I graduate. THAT’S IT! No more! I have to finish my schoolwork!

What just happened? How long was I watching that stuff? I guess it doesn’t really matter.  It’s the end of term. Needing some kind of break from studying is inevitable. I’m not going to stress, or panic, or run away. I’m going to recognize that distractions and procrastination are normal. Good studying and good work require a break now and then.

Next time, though, I think I’ll go out for a walk. Get some fresh air. Call a friend. Eat some soup. And let my tired little brain actually rest, until it has to get back to work.

 

Good luck out there, U of T!

- Stephen

The Psychology of Food Labeling: Read before you feed

“50% less fat!” states the box of cookies on the shelf of my local supermarket.

“High fiber” says the box next to it.

While another box asserts “Made with goji berries!”

Have you ever paid attention to the bold claims splashed on the labels of food packaging in a blatant attempt to persuade us to buy them?  And how often we purchase these items with little deliberation because we think we are choosing a healthier option?

Society’s increasing preoccupation with health and wellness has created a heightened awareness of sensible and healthy eating ideals.  When people shop, they may now focus more on foods that are perceived as having reduced fat, sugar and sodium, as well as on foods that are organic or gluten-free.  Food companies are aware of this and market their products through “healthy” food labeling to cater to these ideals in the hopes of making them more attractive and competitive. Ironically, “healthy” food labeling can actually lead to unhealthy eating habits, such as excessive caloric intake of up to 35%1!

Let’s look at some common food labeling and how psychological mechanisms can produce paradoxical eating behaviors.

1. The “low fat/low calorie” label

Source: http://diethellno.tumblr.com/post/55343168425

Source: http://diethellno.tumblr.com/post/55343168425

When people see this label, the first assumption is that  there’s a low probability of overeating the particular food product. This assumption combined with the social acceptability of eating low fat/low calorie food triggers two psychological processes that lead to excessive intake. Firstly, cognitive dis-inhibition occurs—meaning that our mind feels less restricted about eating the food because we feel that it’s “okay.”  Secondly, the perception of the food product’s low fat/low calorie characteristic leads to lower subjective feelings of satiation—leaving us wanting to consume more2.

So the next time you’re tempted to buy a pack of 100 calorie cookies, remember that you’re probably going to feel like you have to eat another five packs just to feel full.

2. The “organic” label

Source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/kmallikarjuna/21-of-the-most-mesmerizing-food-gifs-725b

Source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/kmallikarjuna/21-of-the-most-mesmerizing-food-gifs-725b

Studies show that people perceive food products labeled organic as having less calories, having a better nutritional profile than non-organic products, and tasting lower in fat and higher in fiber3. This is a common misperception, however, as “organic” describes the method of food production, not its nutritional profile. An organic muffin could have just as many, if not more calories than a non-organic muffin!

3. The “reduced sodium” label

Source: http://confessionsofabadchemist.tumblr.com/post/34978560246/when-anyone-mentions-raman-spectroscopy

Source: http://confessionsofabadchemist.tumblr.com/post/34978560246/when-anyone-mentions-raman-spectroscopy

Ever since research has shown that high sodium intake can lead to hypertension, many people have taken precautions to lower their salt intake4 . Food manufacturers have indeed responded to the demand for low sodium goods and market them as such in hopes of higher profits. However, the “reduced sodium” label has a negative effect on taste perception, so people end up adding their own salt upon consumption5, in turn defeating the health enhancing purpose of the product!

So how do we make healthy food choices given the paradoxical psychological effects of “healthy” food labeling?

Read the Nutrition Facts on packaged foods. Pay more attention to the nutritional information on food packages than just the marketing labels at the front, as they reveal a lot more about the contents of the product.  Compare the information with that of similar products – you might be surprised at what you discover.  For example, cereals that market themselves as low fat and high fiber may seem healthy, but they may still be packed with lots of sugar!

Better yet, as Lesley Stoyan of Daily Apple stated at the Live Well to Learn Well conference at Hart House last week, “eat without a label.” In other words, choose whole foods such as meat, chicken, fish and fruits and vegetables that have more complete nutritional profiles more often than processed foods.

So what’s been your experience in trying to eat healthier?

 Cheers,

Gloria

Mindful eating: an approach to cause a gut reaction

“Watch what you eat” is the old adage given to anyone wishing to be healthier. Most people interpret the phrase using what as the keyword, and thus understand it as being more sensitive about the nutritional value and portion size of meals.

But watch is just as important a word.

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I hear she clocks him if she catches him eating badly. And then he becomes very alarmed.

While the contents of your meals do impact your health, so does the process of how you consume it1.

In the hectic storm of classes, extracurricular and coursework amongst other things, students barely find time to sit down for a meal. Some even find it to be a bother. So they tend to compact eating with another activity. Like me — I’ve shared countless meals with my laptop while I browsed the internet or did my readings, although it has not been most appreciative of the coffee or crumbs on the keyboard.

By combining eating with another activity, the act of eating becomes secondary to the activity because there is no attention paid to the food2. This results in continual hunger and overeating because your brain has not registered the fact that you have eaten3.  This can also lead to poor eating habits because you may not even be paying attention to what you’re eating4.

What I have described above is “mindless eating” – eating without intention or attention5.

A healthful and pleasurable approach to eradicating mindless eating is “mindful eating”. It is a strategy that has roots in the concept of mindfulness in Buddhist meditation6.

I know this was cheesy.

I know this was cheesy.

Mindful eating consists of paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking inside and outside the body7. This involves perceptual attendance to the physical characteristics of the food such as colour, smell, texture, flavour, temperature and even sound; as well as the somatic experiences of hunger and satiety. In conjunction, attention is paid to the mind to observe when it gets distracted during eating, when impulsivity arises in relation to food, and how the experience affects mood8.

Eating mindfully can contribute to the development of a balanced, wholesome relationship with food by facilitating a learning process through which an understanding of how food affects the mind and the body can be reached9.

So the next time you find yourself sharing a meal with your work, consider taking a break and making eating an experience rather than an evolutionary formality.

To discover more about mindfulness and mindful eating on campus, check out Mindful Mondays and Mindful Eating: Food & Mood.

Gloria

The Juggling Act

The concept of “living a balanced life” has always been such an elusive one for me.

Growing up, I maintained a relatively erratic lifestyle, and I carried that into my first year of U of T. I’d sleep 3 hours one night, and crash for 15 hours another (no doubt after I had stayed up for at least 36 hours cramming for a paper).  I would go two days without a proper, substantial meal one week, or spend 4 hours in the cafeteria every meal, going back for fourths, and sometimes even fifths. One weekend I’d be out with my friends three nights in a row, but the next I’d neglect to do my laundry for fear that I’d waste precious “studying” time by having to fold clothes instead.

The worst of it was that I thought I had this lifestyle down to a carefully calculated system. To me, the “balance” I found was within two extremes, wrongfully thinking they’d somehow cancel each other out. Needless to say, everything started to take its toll on me – I started to get more severe mood swings, I started crashing for longer periods, and I frequently began to fall sick at least every two weeks.

Source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/tabathaleggett/the-stages-of-pulling-an-all-nighter

How I ended up feeling most days.

Second year came around and many of my habits remained the same, but I noticed that subtle changes helped drastically improve certain aspects of my life.

I joined intramural volleyball again, but this time, I made it a point to attend practices and games weekly.  I hadn’t played competitively since my high school varsity team got cut back in junior year, but it didn’t matter – I still loved the game, and playing on a regular basis made me remember how good it felt to exercise. The endorphin rush was just what I needed to kickstart a day of studying after practice. I traded in going out every night of the weekend to give my body a chance to rest and recuperate from a hectic week of school.

Instead of listlessly doing mass sign ups for campus group memberships at the UTSU Clubs Fair (with my actual involvement going only so far as to just receiving the email updates), I decided to get more involved in Friends of MSF, a campus group that advocates for a cause I feel passionately about.

All these little changes began to make me feel better – as clichéd as it sounds, I felt more purpose day-to-day and it was refreshing to make friends with people who actually cared about the same things I cared about and who were actually excelling in school (not just getting by!).

The art of balancing life here at U of T often feels like a precision juggling act – we look to those who seem to have it all figured out as mythical creatures who have achieved the impossible and managed to maintain a life where “work hard, play hard” really does exist.

I’ll let you in on a secret – those people who seem to always get it right are not so different from you and I. They’re just doing everything they love with the right amount of time commitment to each endeavour.

I still struggle greatly with healthy eating habits, studying smart (not the same as studying hard!), and keeping an active lifestyle outside of intramural season, but my experiences have only taught me for the better (and I’ll definitely be keeping you guys updated on my progress along the way). Now that I’ve gotten a taste of a more balanced life, I’m determined not to let it slip away.

Source: www.tumblr.com/tagged/enough_sleep/

I’m still working on figuring out the magic formula to have all three.

P.S. If you have any advice to give incoming first-years on balancing academics with personal life, tweet us and don’t forget to hashtag #StartUofT!

It’s Crunch Time!

It’s crunch time! I mean that literally because I have a twenty page paper due in a few days that is still in the midst of being born from my mind. I also mean that figuratively because during what has been a very painful three day essay writing marathon, I have been relieving my stress with crunchy food.

So I started on Friday night with carrots, a healthy option. These provided me with the crunch I was seeing and had the extra bonus of not messing up my writing space. This healthy option sustained my need for crunch for the night.

Saturday was required a snack with a crunch slightly more extreme crunch factor. This is why at 11pm on Saturday night instead of writing my essay I was searching through my storage room for my deep fryer. I found the fryer and proceeded to make these little wonders…

Beer battered onion rings my fellow students…mmmmmmmm! Admittedly not the healthiest of snack options, but with all that essay writing I deserved a treat. And also, onions are a vegetable…let’s justify it like that.

These are fast and easy to make…get an onion, slice it into ring and pop out the centre of the rings, in a bowl mix up some flour, salt, baking soda, and cornstarch and and then stir in a cup of your favorite beer. (If you don’t drink alcohol you can actually replace the beer with water.) Dip your onions in the batter and fry for 3 mins in oil warmed to 375 degrees.

So that was Saturday. On Sunday, i was feeling guilty for eating so many onion rings so I turned to another crunchy alternative that is a bot more healthy than onion rings. Toasted pita with eggplant dip.

The recipe for this is a bit more involved than the onion rings, so I’ll post the link here. This provided a low fat option that gave me the required saltiness and crunch that I was craving.

Three straight days of writing is exhausting. I don’t usually do this. I like to start my papers nice and early, but this term I simply ran out of time. Now I find myself scrambling to finish the list of assignments on my calendar that are all due next week.

I find taking a few minutes to eat something really good makes weekends like this not as bad. It’s a treat for every few pages I finish. It wards off sleep and lethargic writing.

If my tummy is happy then my brain usually works a lot better!

Happy writing people.

-Lori

 

Student Burn Out — Stressful Times Call For Simple Measures

Most of us have days when we feel overloaded, overwhelmed, and underappreciated. When the dozen or so balls we keep in the air aren’t manageable. When dragging ourselves out of bed requires the determination of Hercules. It’s called burn out. If the “lacklusterness” of school or my day-to-day routine lasts for over a month, I consider myself burnt out. But it helps in knowing that I’m not alone and that it’s not permanent. I’ve even found that it is possible to feel content and stimulated with a full course load! All it requires is a little bit of organization and a whole lot of motivation. Burn out may visit from time-to-time but it definitely doesn’t have to stay!

This school year, I have experienced greater levels of burnout than I normally do. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve entered my senior years of university and have to start making concrete decisions about the rest of my life or if it’s because the stress of the past several years has built to the point of overflowing. In any case, the emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion that I have felt the first few months of the academic year have rendered my problems insurmountable.

I suppose that the stress of managing 5 courses, 3 on-campus jobs, and a handful of personal and professional relationships was bound to take its toll sooner or later. This past semester, every day was a bad day. The negative effects of my burn out spilled into other aspects of my life. To top it off, I was sick with headaches, stomachaches, toothaches, body aches (you get the picture!) for most of the semester.

Thankfully, after several sessions of personal reflection, I’ve been able to reassess my priorities and regain my footing. When I finally accepted it for what it was, I decided to simplify my daily activities to regain control of them. I started taking regular breaks while studying. I stopped thinking about Tasks 3, 4, or 5 when I wasn’t even done Task 1. I changed what I ate to spice things up. And I wrote. I wrote down my frustrations on a piece of paper and read them out loud. Then I ripped up the piece of paper into as many pieces as I possibly could. I can’t describe how liberating it felt. And over time, the burnout faded away.

Since then, I’ve taken several steps to prevent another burnout from becoming a full-blown breakdown:

1) Lately, I’ve been starting every day with a relaxing ritual. Rather than jumping out of bed the moment I wake up, I spend at least fifteen minutes every morning meditating, reading, or day dreaming. I’ve realized that stress-free mornings translate into stress-free days.

2) I’ve set boundaries, which has probably been one of the smartest things that I’ve done during my undergrad years. I’ve started to say “no” to requests that demand my time and willpower. Saying “no” to certain requests has allowed me to say “yes” to the tasks I truly want to accomplish.

3) I’ve resolved to take a daily break from technology. Once a day, for at least half an hour (better than nothing!), I completely disconnect – shut off my computer and turn off my phone. Somehow, I find it strangely comforting when I can’t be contacted for short periods of time.

Experiencing burn out, whether or not it’s full-blown, is a risk of being a student (especially at UofT!) Some months look bleaker than others and that’s okay. It’s important to remind ourselves, however, that the best part about burn out is that it’s temporary.

Stay healthy,

Ishita

Goals That I Probably Will/Might/Probably-Won’t-But-Like-To-Tell-Myself-I-Will Accomplish This Year

Hello bloggies!

I hope you enjoyed your holidays!

I feel like I haven’t posted since last year. (Ha, see what I did there?)  I’ve spent the past few days trying to actively pull myself out of Holiday Mode (somewhat unsuccessfully I may add).  I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions because I forget what I resolved to do come January the 2nd.  But in an attempt to remind myself that I can’t lie in bed forever, I wrote up a list of goals that I probably will/might/probably-won’t-but-like-to-tell-myself-I-will accomplish this year:

1) Express my appreciation to family and friends: We live in a fast-paced world and it seems that saying “thank you” has become underrated. And so, despite having a “Go! Go! Go!” mentality, I want to spend 2013 slowing down and smelling the roses.

2) Try new things: I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I don’t like change.  I prefer predictability.  I’m used to ordering the same thing at a restaurant, shopping at the same stores, and watching the same shows.  Needless to say, my world can get somewhat repetitive and uninteresting. In 2013, I am determined to try the strangest dish on the menu the next time I go out.  Or shop at the small vintage clothing store between the bank and the bakery.  Or watch the slightly questionable T.V. show that all my friends are crazy about. I’ll mention the new things I try in a follow-up post! Stay tuned!

3) Get my G2…finally: I realize that most 20-year olds have a driver’s license by now.  But I have an excuse, I promise!  When I was 16, the “I can finally drive now” realization didn’t hit me as hard as it hit some of my friends.  And when I entered university, the subway was more practical than a car, so it became very easy to put off my driving test. But it’s probably time to get on that.

4) Watch a football game: A friend of mine is football-obsessed. Truly. He actually schedules his classes according to game timings. (I know!)   He’s been begging me to watch a game since I’ve met him.  And because I’m athletically-challenged, I’ve been avoiding it as long as I possibly can.  But sitting through a game would be the perfect way to achieve Goals 1 and 2 (see above).  So I hereby decree that I will force myself to watch 22 sweaty men chasing an inanimate object football at least once this year ;-).  If I’m honest, though, this is one of the goals that I probably-won’t-but-like-to-tell-myself-I-will accomplish in 2013.

5) Complete all readings for my courses in the week that they are assigned: Seems like the easiest way to avoid procrastination, right?

6) Fit in fitness: Have you ever noticed that laziness gives rise to more laziness?  I always seem to get more accomplished when I am swamped.  I recently found a mobile app called MyFitnessPal that calculates your caloric intake based on food choices and activity level (http://www.myfitnesspal.com/).  I’m planning on using it to track my diet and exercise.  It’s not about losing weight.  I’m just hoping that keeping a “Fitness Journal” of sorts will reduce the amount of junk food I eat!  Maybe adding regular exercise/fitness to my schedule will increase my productivity ten-fold!  Wouldn’t that be lovely?

Looking at my list, I’m proud to say that many of my goals seem doable and realistic.  I might actually achieve them!  If I do, I’ll let you know. And if I don’t, please remind me!

Good luck with your goals this semester! I hope 2013 is your best year yet!

Till next week,

Ishita

Fake it ’till Ya Make It

This is how I feel about my classes starting today.

Welcome back to mayhem. For me, the winter break has been one of rest and relaxation, balanced with an above average daily intake of food. While my mind is somewhat ready to get back to classes, my body is not exactly co-operating. There may be some kind of sub-conscious biological operation at work.

In the next few weeks I will need to muster some motivation to get my body to class. I would much rather be feasting and napping…the combined content of my winter break. Instead of looking for cheap texts online, I find that I have inadvertently  typed in the address for discounted Caribbean travel. I’m dreaming of escape and I haven’t even attended my first class of the term.

So what’s a vitamin D starved student to do? Well I could take to daily tanning sessions. I could spend my reserved text book fund on a cheap cruise to Roatan. I could take a nap instead of going to class tonight. I know I won’t actually do any of these things. I’m far too predictable for that, but I can do some things to get my head and my body back in the school game.

I have found that the ritual of clearing out last terms binders can be inspirational (sorry if you take e-notes this exercise looses some of its tactile satisfaction). I enjoy dumping binders of old notes into old boxes. It’s liberating and as soon as they’re empty and have been refilled with gleaming white rule, I get the urge to write on the pristine pages. This urge is comparable with the need to walk on a lawn of freshly fallen snow. If anything newly emptied binders make me want to take extensive notes.

This is also the time of year that I like to empty out my backpack, particularly the little pockets that I can barely get my hand in. I always end up finding school supplies, that over the course of last term, I had completely forgot purchasing. Just today I found one of those white out pens and a pack of paper band-aids. If you’re lucky you might also find some lost TTC tokens, a few twoonies, or twelve packs of gum.

I’m not saying that these little rituals will get you to class this week, but they might ignite that back-to-school feeling. You know the one, you used to get it when you were ten and you got your new lunch pail and trapper keeper. As much as you and I might be less than eager to resume classes, you have to admit that having all your school gear in order helps to ease the pain. You wouldn’t feel very motivated to go for a 5K run in jeans and a leather jacket, but if you have all the proper running attire you could at least fake it for a couple of blocks.

Whatever gets my over-stuffed body back into that uncomfortable lecture hall seat is good enough for me. Even if I’m faking it for the first few days…if you pretend for long enough, it becomes your reality.

I wish you all a painless first week back!

-Lori