The Barbell Prescription: The What, Why and How of Weight Training

So much cool stuff happens on campus all day every day. It breaks my heart that I literally don’t have the time to go do and see and hear everything.

On Tuesday, I went to a free seminar that was held at Hart House called, “The Barbell Prescription”.

You know it’s going to be a good one when you’re already taking notes and salivating over the guest’s credentials.

Dr. J Sullivan joined us from Michigan. A former US marine, 3rd degree black belt in Karate, 3rd level Krav Maga practitioner, doctor, researcher… The guy received a $2 million research grant from the NIH… that’s the National Institutes of Health. It’s a big deal. On top of all that, he owns, manages and trains clients at a gym called Grey Steel, for aging adults.

Dr. Jonathon Sullivan

Dr. Jonathon Sullivan Source:

We started off talking about what we considered an “athlete”, how we’d define the word. I learned a little bit about Greek athletes (the word athlete comes from the Greek “athlos” which means contest or feat). Apparently there was an athletic event in the Greek games, “Hoplitodromos”, which was a race in full battle armour. Competitors in the games had to swear an oath to Zeus that they trained for a minimum of 10 months. Awfully specific for so many years ago! Continue reading

Feature: UC Yoga Club & Upcoming MoveU Events

For this week’s post I interviewed David London, the founder of the University College (UC) Yoga Club. David is a 3rd year undergraduate student studying computer science. He says he founded the club because he had a lot of friends who were interested in doing yoga but couldn’t afford to take a class. Knowing it was something David practised, it was his friends who brought up the idea of starting a club. David says he loved the idea because he wanted to teach but couldn’t do it full time.

Continue reading

MoveU Scary Skate & Varsity Centre Fun

Halloween is over, so we’re officially allowed to countdown to Christmas right?


I LOVE holidays, especially Christmas. I can’t wait to see the city all dressed up and to go gift shopping and skating in Nathan Phillips square.

Continue reading

A Newbie’s Guide to Being New: The Athletic Centre

If you’re like me, a big barrier to trying something new is being that person that’s standing in the middle of the hallway with no idea where they’re going or what they’re supposed to be doing. If you’re like me, you’ll pull out your cellphone and pretend to be super-engaged in text messaging. I’m operating under the assumption that I’m not the only one who feels like this and responds to new situations and environments this way. Please don’t let me be wrong!

Forever alone meme.

Forever alone?

I’ve often been held back by an aversion to those awkward situations. I’m hoping to prevent such “fish-out-of-water” feelings from stopping you from exploring our campus athletic centres (that you’re paying part of your tuition towards) by presenting to you: The Newbie’s Guide to Being New Part 1: The Athletic Centre

Also known as the AC, this is the rather aesthetically unappealing building on the corner of Huron and Harbord. It’s a lot more interesting inside. You may have had an exam here in the past and probably didn’t enjoy that experience, so why not replace it with a more positive one?

The Athletic Centre viewed from the corner of Harbord and Huron.

Don’t judge a book by its cover, right?


When you enter the Athletic Centre from Harbord St. you’re going to walk past the pool gallery (did you know we have the only Olympic-size pool in the city?!) and the swag-shop and make your way to the turnstiles. This is a great opportunity to be anti-social since all you need to do is swipe your TCard and walk on through. No human interaction necessary.

Ok, you’ve made it. You are INSIDE the Athletic Centre and even PAST the turnstiles. What now? From here, your basic options are the Strength and Conditioning Centre (SCC) which you’ll find straight ahead, or the field house which is up the stairs.

Drawing depicting view of Athletic Centre past the turnstiles. SCC straight ahead, stairs on the right with field house upstairs and change rooms downstairs.

This is probably a poor representation… but it’s enough to get you where you need to go!

The SCC is the room full of medieval-looking contraptions and is usually also full of people. Look out for a follow-up post on surviving the SCC in the near future. Anyhow, that’s where you’re going to go if you want to lift heavy things and “make gains” (read as: build muscle).

Weightlifting training plan printout.

Speaking of making gains… my Olympic weightlifting class is ramping up! LOVE IT. This is the program my coach created for us. Well, it’s one of a few pages.

The field house, on the other hand, is a big open space with a track, multi-function courts and fitness equipment that is scattered throughout the room (it’s a really big room). The openness of the space makes this a great place to start if the congestion in the gym makes you anxious. You’ll find cardio machines, mats, a pull-up bar and other fun surprises.

NOTE: Rules in both these spaces are NO photography (which is why you’re forced to endure my memes and stick figures) and NO bags or personal belongings.

Need a change room? Take the stairs to the bottom. You’ll find these and lockers. Don’t forget a lock!

Devastated girl meme with text overlay: "Brought valuables. Forgot lock."

Don’t be this girl.

Still not eager to give it a try? Bring a friend! I love to get in some extra training with friends in the field house. Or, another great way to get acquainted with any athletic centre is taking a class –like me! You’d be surprised how many different classes are offered, they have everything from circus silks to synchronized swimming. You can find the full list here:

Girls, if you want to take advantage of the SCC while it’s less populated, why not visit during women-only hours? You can find those here:

Why do you want to go to the Athletic Centre?

  1. To take advantage of a membership non-U of T folks pay a lot of money for! To explore one of the many facilities and services U of T has to offer
  2. To do something active
  3. To meet new people!
  4. Because it’s a great, dynamic space
  5. …There’s a Starbucks if worst comes to worst?

I hope that makes the whole experience of exploring the AC a little less daunting and encourages some of you to go check out the facility. J

In the meantime…

On October 30th, I encourage you to pay the Varsity Centre a visit! MoveU is hosting a “Scary Skate” from 7:30-9PM and it’s FREE. Having said that, if you bring a non-perishable food item, you get a surprise gift! Costumes are encouraged and some skates are available for rent. Hope to see you there!


“And that’ll be….$0”

As students, I’m sure we’re all too familiar with the dreaded term…’budget

I’m still acquainting myself with it.

me when summer sales are on via

me when summer sales are on

A trip to Eaton Centre, as well-intentioned as it may be (“I just need to visit Fido and sort out my phone plan!”) usually ends up with my wallet feeling lighter and tiny pools of regret curdling up in my stomach.



(Becky Bloomwood from the Shopaholic series is basically my spirit animal)

Which, when on a student budget, is probably not the wisest thing to be.

Anyway, the point is- with all the $$$ we spend on fees, textbooks, metro passes and/or bus passes (#commuterprobs), FOOD, it can all start to pile up and not leave room for much else.

WHICH IS WHY I decided to put together this list, to help all of us budgeting students make life a little more fun. I hope it’ll be of some comfort to you during this particularly stress-prone month.

So, without further ado, here’s what I hope is a comprehensive list of free stuff for us students that won’t break the bank, or even cause a dent:


Muffin Madness

Where: Multi-Faith Center, 569 Spadina Avenue

When: Wednesdays at 4pm

Tea Social

Where: Hart House Reading Room

When: Tuesdays, 11-1

UC Tea and Cookies

Where: Commuter Student Centre

When: Monday-Thursday, 2:30-3:30

Pancake Brunch i

Where: UC Commuter Student Centre

When: Thursday, October 22nd, 11-1

Pancake Brunch ii

Where: Cat’s Eye Student Pub and Lounge, Victoria College

When: Wednesdays, 10-2

Pancake Brunch iii

When: Woodsworth College

Where: Wednesdays, Kruger Hall, 12-2



Get Crafty:

Where: Hart House Reading Room

When: Thursdays, 11-1

Free Films:

Where: Innis Town Hall

When: Fridays at 7pm

Free Concerts: Jazz at Oscar’s

Where: Arbor Room, Hart House

When: Fridays at 9 pm

Musical Performances

Where: Walter Hall, Faculty of Music

When: Thursdays at noon

Musical Performances

Where: Canadian Opera Company

When: Check website for dates!

University of Toronto Art Centre

Where: 15 King’s College Circle

When: Monday-Friday, 12-5


Free Museum Visits:

Royal Ontario Museum, free on Tuesdays with TCard

AGO: Free on Wednesdays from 6-8:30 pm

Aga Khan Museum: Free on Wednesdays, 4-8 pm

Toronto Police Museum: free Monday-Friday, 8:30-4 (PWYC – pay what you can donations appreciated)

CBC Museum: Free, Weekdays, 9-5

Bata Shoe Museum: Thursdays after 5 (PWYC)

Textile Museum: Wednesdays, 5-8 (PWYC)

The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery

Where: 231 Queens Quay West

When: Free admission, all-year round. Check website for hours.

Harbourfront Centre Visual Art Exhibitinons

Where: 235 Queens Quay W

When: September 26-December 24

Ryerson Image Centre, free admission

Where: 33 Gould Street

When: Varied hours

Free City Walking Tours (ROM)

Where: Check website for meeting spots

When: Check website for tour dates


Drop-In Yoga Classes

Where: Goldring Centre/Athletic Centre/Hart House

When: Check schedule for details

Free Massages

Where: Hart House Chapel

When: Mondays, 12-3

Dance Lessons

Where: CIE

When: Tuesday and Friday, 6-8:30


Free Tutoring:

Where: UofT Peer Tutoring Club

When: Register to select timings

Free Online Courses:

Where: Online, University of Toronto

Past Tests and Exams

Where: ASSU Past Test Library



Where: New College Library and two other locations


Where: UTSU Building

photo of colourful UTSU agenda resting on obnoxiously bright patterned bedsheet

these new agendas are oh-so-Instagrammable


Where: Media Commons, Robarts Library, Online

(Accessible with UTORid)


Where: Sid Smith entrance, UC building, pretty much every major building on campus!

Planetarium Shows/ Telescope Viewings/UofT Astronomy Public Tour

Where: UofT Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 80 St George Street

When: Date varies but the next one is November 5th! See here for details.

Microsoft Office Suite, available for free for U of T students

Where: Online, here’s the how-to

Bonus: If your birthday is coming up, you might just be able to score a free coffee and ice-cream in stores around the city!

What a time to be alive, eh?



I hope I haven’t missed anything out! If I have, let me know in the comments below or on Twitter at Life @ UofT!

Commuter Appreciation Week

Over the last few months, I have been helping to plan a Commuter Appreciation Week. This is the first time all the commuter Heads from all 7 colleges have come together to make a university-wide event. We united to become the Off-Campus Students’ Association. So, yeah, we’re pretty much trailblazers. Where’s our Nobel Prize?
Our poster for Commuter Appreciation Week.  It starts this week! It's a very pretty yellow poster with some impact lettering!

Nah, I’m just playing.

Nevertheless, it’s been a lot of work. Although, we had an awesome team, so, it was easy to joke about Jersey Shore  and be productive at the same time.

A screenshot of a our Facebook group name. "The popular commuter kids." Very funny.

I promise I didn’t name the group.

I’ve literally had more meetings scheduled than class hours last week! I take that as a good sign that I’m properly easing my way into my 20s.

But it was all worth it because Commuter Appreciation Week starts this week! We have lots of events planned, and more importantly, each event will have food and refreshments. A commuter’s second occupation is pretty much being a professional free food scavenger. Or is that just me? Who knows?

Anyway, here’s a brief breakdown of our events!

MONDAY: Pancake Brunch at Victoria College! 

TUESDAY: Off-Campus Workshops at Trinity College
AND a Ginga Fitness class at Trinity College!

WEDNESDAY: Food galore at New College!
AND an Open Mic Night at St. Michael’s College!

THURSDAY: Salsa and Waltz tutorial with the UCLit at University College!

FRIDAY: Movie Day at Innis College!

Come out guys! If not for the free food, come to see my beautiful (just go with it) face!

Like our page for updates, and check out the event page for more details!

Getting Crafty at Hart House!

On Thursday Api and I dropped by Hart House Get Crafty to take a little break from essay writing and make some bath bombs and lip balms! Get Crafty runs every Thursday from 11-1 in the Hart House Reading Room and although it’s over for the semester I’m pretty sure they’ll be doing it again next semester! The event is totally free and provides all the materials plus tea and coffee.

It was the first time either me or Api went to Get Crafty and we had a lot of fun decorating our lip balms and attempting to wrap and decorate the bath bombs. Check out some pictures from the event below!

Hart House foyer looking into the Reading Room. A large blue banner is beside the doorway and says "Get Crafty" on it in large white and orange letters. Api with our bath bombs! Api holding two bath bombs wrapped in cellophane and tied up with purple and gold ribbons.   Some lip balms cool before they can be decorated. a purple container holds 3 lip blam tubes that have just had a lip balm mixture poured into them, they are cooling before they can be decorated. in the background are three little bottles that probably have scents or flavours in them. hands wrapping multi-coloured striped washi take around a grey lip balm tube api holds her decorated tube of lip balm up beside her face.Our finished lip balms, they smelt really really good. a hand holding a tube of lip balm in the palm. The tube has a geometric pattern on it from washi tape that has been applied to it. two tubes of lipbalm lie on a piece of paper that has instructions on how to make them. tubes of coloured cellophane (red and blue), two bags of scented herbs (rose and lavender) and two bath bombs wrapped in clear cellophane sit beside them.

All in all it was a really fun event and I’ll definitely be going to more next semester! Anyone else up to Get Crafty? 

It’s all about the free stuff: some resources to keep you going

If you’ve been tuning in this week, you’ll know that UofT has dedicated October to Mental Wellness Month, and we here at the Life@UofT blog are taking part by talking about our own experiences with stress and mental health. The hope being, that you can learn from our experiences and mistakes.

In my first few years, I thought I had to deal with things all on my own; and to a degree, I still feel that way—even though I know better. It’s not easy to ask for help, and sometimes you have to engage in some self-care. For some, that might just be sitting down with some soothing tea and watching television, get a massage, listen to some calming music, or even pop some balloons or some bubble wrap. For me, it’s always been a combination of these, but also a matter of learning to use the resources available to me.

It’s easy to think that resources are meant for other people: people who need them more. It’s just as easy to forget that sometimes we are the ones who need them. So here: let me lend a hand, and even if you think you don’t need it, please read on. Here are seven of the free resources that I use to keep on top of things during the school year:

Vintage photo of people looking at books, with an added speech bubble that says "Wowee, check out these awesome free resources, Mildred!"

1. Free Past Tests & Past Exams
I often have problems with my memory, so when it comes to midterms and exams, I can stress out a lot. Papers I can handle, but tests… tests are something else. Fortunately, the Arts and Sciences Students Union (ASSU) has filing cabinets full of past tests: literally. Just walk in with a T-Card and you can take a free peek at one of their many past tests, donated by students (find them in SS1068). (They also sell test packages around midterms). And, when it comes time for exams, you can always look at the past exam repository, to help you get a clue.

Photo of some of the files and past tests that ASSU has available.

From A(CT240) to Z(OO362), ASSU has you covered.

2. Free Essay Clinics
Essay clinics are run by professions, free of cost to you: professionals will look at drafts of your paper, and tell you how to make it better, and generally how to improve your writing, for free. And why not? You can only get better. Each college has a writing centre, and so do some departments. Find one to book a free appointment here.

3. Free Massages
Free massages, every Monday at Hart House. Enough said: click here for more details.

4. The Free Seed Library
It’s nice to take a break from studying every now and then, and I find planting relaxing (and science does say plants make you more creative). DG Ivey Library at New College has a seed library, part of the Toronto Seed Library. The idea is simple: you “check out” seeds, plant them, and when your produce is ready to harvest, you take some seeds from your yield and return them to the library for the next person to use. A nice, free way to relax and go green.

Photo of the Seed Library at New College, showing packets of seeds.

The New College Seed Library at Ivey Library

5. Free Math, Chemistry, Stats, & Eco help
Just like the writing centres: why not get free help from professionals? Get free tutoring in math, chemistry, stats, or economics. The resources are there for you!

6. Pop some Free Virtual Bubble Wrap
Okay, so this one isn’t provided by the university, but who can resist? Start popping here. (Also, you can get bubble wrap super cheap at Dollarama: just so you know).

7. Free Professor Office Hours
Nobody knows how to help you succeed in a class like the people running that class. Talk to your profs and your teaching assistants! They get pretty lonely when nobody comes by, and they’d love to chat and help you get through assignments and material. It’s also a great way to make friends (profs are people too!).

8. What about you?
I could go on and on with the other resources on campus I use, but I only get so many words per post, so why not help me out? So what resources do you use: do you have any tips or tricks to help you get through your year? Help me out and let me know in the comments!


Food for Thought

Food can be the best part of the day. I’m easily distracted by good eats. If you’re like me an ugly pile of tasty stuff can brighten up life instantly. But fancy meals are also fun, especially with friends.

A cookie sheet with nine golden pastry pockets with the letter Z cut into each one

These are a ton of work but definitely worth it: home-made turnover pastries with beef and sautéed vegetable filling. They also have my signature right on them (Photo by Zachary Biech)

First Nations House holds all kinds of fun feasts in addition to hosting lunches every Friday in the kitchen. The first major one is the Fall Feast on October 10th. Friends, food and fun all in one? I think that kitchen and I are going to get along very well indeed…

Looking outwards from the back of the First Nations House, with a large coffee machine on the right and a countertop and sink to the left

The coffee alone is enough to draw me in to the FNH kitchen (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I’ve lost a lot of weight since the summer of 2012, and I now know eating well is vital. It starts with treating food like fuel. What goes into your body can give you power, but can also gunk things up. You wouldn’t use diesel in a gasoline engine right? If it ain’t good for my system, I ain’t interested.

A Pink Lady apple, with two halfs of a turkey and cheese sandwich on Italian bread with all the veggie fixings, plus some chunks of a blueberry granola bar

Very typical lunch at my apartment (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Also, how much is on your plate is just as important as what is on your plate. I follow a simple rule: half the plate should always be vegetables or fruit. Always. Add in some daily exercise and poof, just like that, I lost over eighty pounds. No fancy program, just good habits.

A plate with one quarter filled with beef roast, one quater with golden scalloped potatoes, one quater with roasted carrots, and one quater with baked green beans

Mmmm looks tasy; but notice the proportioning as well (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I’ve noticed university students have a hard time eating well. I think it’s the huge workload combined with cafeterias filled with sugar and fat. It’s very easy to say to yourself, “I’ve got no time. I’ll just grab some convenient comfort food and chow down real quick.” To avoid the freshman fifteen, I always found the tastiest, healthiest things in the cafeteria and proved to myself that it’s actually very easy to eat properly in university. What works for me: recognizing that greasy or sugary stuff will not fuel you properly and actually make things harder. Brains need the good stuff!

I’ve also found home cooking to be a source of salvation. In my apartment, I exercise complete control over the foods that surround me. Thus, I have a kitchen stocked full of my favourite grub, and there are no bad fuels in my cupboards or refrigerator. It’s a win-win.

A pile of potato pancakes, sliced banana coins, and two rings of red pepper with fried eggs in the middle

This is an easy, fun breakfast: Russian-style potato pancakes with egg-in-a-hole red peppers (Photo by Zachary Biech)

A picture looking over a bar counter into my little kitchen, with me standing in front of some baking ingredients

Me, doing some culinary hocus-pocus (Photo by Claudia Dessanti)

I’ve spent a lot of time exploring new recipes. Cooking is one of my favourite hobbies. I’ve got a repertoire of healthy, funky recipes, and no longer need the fatty, sugary junk. These recipes are super easy and provide a lot of leftovers. My favourites are the simplest ones, like rye biscuits or stroganoff.

Two golden-brown biscuits next to two two crepe-like creations topped with fresh blueberries

Those are rye biscuits on the right, and Russian blinchiki on the left (Photo by Zachary Biech)

My hand with an over mitt on, the thumb of which is burnt to a crisp

This is what happens when you touch the element in an oven…your thumb lights on fire like a torch (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I love sharing what I cook with others, and I enjoy having meals with friends. It’s a great time for connecting. If you’re like me, then you’d enjoy Friday lunches (or even just stopping by for coffee) at First Nations House. It’s great for socializing, trying good foods and sharing your favourites. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and the dinner table can be the heart of friendships. Now enough talk, let’s eat!

What’s your staple go-to meal for busy times?

What’s your favourite food to share?

A bowl full of creamy beef and eggnoodles all mushed together (also you can see a sleepingbag in the background from the move-in process)

The first meal I ever cooked in my apartment: It’s an old family recipe and my staple go-to meal, which we lovingly call “eggnoodle concoction”
(Photo By Zachary Biech)

Science Literacy and WW1 at the Rare Books Library

If you’ve read any of my blog posts before, you may know that I really like books. I’ve blogged about Fisher Library in the past and just last week I blogged about used book sales on campus.  Although I rarely have time to read for pleasure during the school year I still like to surround myself with books as much as possible, SO I took another trip to the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library last week to check out a special mini exhibit of some of the most important scientific books from history that they were showing as part of Science Literacy Week. Even though I’m not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination, I still appreciate these works for the scientific advancements that they’ve resulted in, and the historian/bibliophile in me just can’t resist an old book of any subject.

If you missed the mini exhibit and still want to check out some of Einstien or Darwin’s work you can submit a request to look at individual books through the library website. 

a shot showing a book by Euclid that has been translated from Greek to Arabic. The book is from 1594 and was printed in Rome.  a close up of the title page of a book that reads "construction of the great Victoria Bridge in Canada". On the small portion of the page opposite that is visible is a painting of the Bridge. a picture showing a copy of De Magnete by William Gilbert open on a desk. The page shows a Compass showing declination. a copy of Isaac Netwon's Opticks from 1704 laying open. the book is very aged looking and has very uneven edges. six books lying open to random pages on a table with discription cards below each one.    a title page (or perhaps a short pamphlet) By Albert Einstein lying on a table. The title is in German: Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitäystheorie which is in english: Foundations of the General Theory of Relativity  two pages from "the expression of the emotions in man and animals" by Charles Darwin from 1872. The placard beneath this says they are corrected proof sheets.

While I was there I also took a look at the current exhibit: “Fierce imaginings: text and image in First World War literature” which was really cool (and runs until December 19 so there’s plenty of time to go back and check it out)

Three propeganda posters from world war one on a wall. The first says "A reminder" and has some smaller text that can't be read from this distance. the second shows a youth in what looks like a scout uniform resting one foot on a drum and leaning over so his elbow is on that knee and his head is propped on his hands. Behind him in the poster are other posters encouraging people to enlist. The text of this poster states "everyone should do his bit. Enlist now." The third poster shows a women standing on a rock in the sea with a blue bliiowing toga-like dress and a red hooded cape. She is holding a sheathed sword in one hand and both arms are flung wide, she looks very passionate. In the background is a redish orange sky (like a sunset) and a ship in the sea. The text says "take up the sword of justice"

several open books and front covers of books are shown in a display case. the books are all from the first world war. The ones in focus say "Frightful war pictures" another says "the Huns Handbook"

several books of the poems of Wilfrid Owen are displayed. One is open to show a picture of him while another shoes a strange line drawing that kind of looks like a lion and a person at the same time.