This is my final post of the semester and so I think it’s fitting for me to dedicate this one to the life-force, the stronghold, the foundation of my health.
Extra firm futon mattress, this one is for you.
My bed is the location where I recuperate, where my body has a chance to regenerate, and where my mind rejuvenates. I spend 7-9 hours sleeping in my bed each night, and I am not ashamed of it.
That’s right, folks. I sleep enough! Often, it seems like in this rigorous academic environment, there is an unspoken competition among classmates to be the most sleep-deprived student. “I slept 4 hours last night.” “Lucky you, I slept 2.” “You think that’s bad? I pulled an all-nighter at Robarts.” So, in this bizarre game, who wins?
Sleep-deprivation turns into a weird and unwelcome badge of honour. I think we should work to change that culture as students. I think it’s natural to be well-rested, and its commendable to carve time out of our days to give our bodies and brains rest.
If only there was a prompt on LinkedIn that could recommend you for sleeping enough….
If you’ve even seen me standing outside a classroom looking frantic, its almost definitely not because I have an impending test or other duty to perform in class. Most certainly, it’s the look on my face when I realize I have a two-hour lecture to sit through, my water bottle is empty, and I don’t know where the nearest water bottle fill-up station is.
Fortunately, nearing the end of my second year of university this is happening less and less often as I become more familiar with the campus and where the water fountains are located.
I have intuitively been able to find many of the filler-stations on campus. The gyms all have (at least) one, the large cafeteria spaces all have one, and many lobbies and libraries have one. But there are dozens on campus with more being added all the time (check out the new Bora Laskin Law library!).
What that should mean is that no one should have moments of “where can I hydrate?!” anywhere on campus. I’ve dedicated this entire post to where to find water on campus, and (if you’re not already doing so) why you want to carry a water bottle with you all the time.
This is my good friend Conor. We met at Trinity College Orientation Week 2014 and have been buddies since. Among other things, Conor and I share a passion for physical activity and education, and we share teaching responsibilities for a Bootcamp class at UofT.
This week I sat down with Conor to discuss the four pillars of the HealthyU mandate (MoveU, SafeU, HappyU and FuelU). I am always eager to hear Conor’s perspective on important issues, because his life experiences include being a full-time student, a fitness instructor, and Military Maritime Surface Officer with the Royal Canadian Navy.
Mostly, I was interested to know how Conor applies some of the techniques and teachings he has received from the military in his life as a student. I learned a bunch of new military jargon; concepts that have considerable applicability to student life too. Here I’ve pieced together our conversation:
On Monday evening I attended a workshop focused around my favourite topic of all time: food.
(I have Italian origins and I can quite happily discuss food forever).
The workshop was hosted by a UofT Dietician on behalf of the Dieticians of Canada, to celebrate March as Nutrition Month. The title,100 Meal Journey, represents the average number of meals that one person will eat in a month. The workshop focused on goal setting and planning to create small changes in eating habits that make a big difference over 100 meals.
Inspired by Annette’s post about the MoveU Crew, I’d like to share some of the fabulous features of the HealthyU Crew that I’ve been fortunate to be a part of in a communications role. I love being able to share our successes and achievements around campus— especially because an awesome team of students and volunteers are responsible for planning and executing the campaigns and events! Perhaps you’ve seen them at Clubs Day, Street Festival, in libraries and common spaces, and at walkabouts around campus… Here’s a snapshot of each of the four themed-teams that make up the Crew!
Last week I wrote about being ill, and I speculated that (in addition to cold weather and a nasty cough virus circulating in the air) my sickness was due to being out of touch with my body. It happens every once in a while when we get so busy that it can be a challenge to keep tabs on how we are (really) feeling and what our body (really) needs.
I mentioned to a friend in passing this week that I sometimes attend Mindful Moments sessions on campus to get better connected with my body. He giggled, and said that he imagines me sitting cross-legged with my eyes closed, deeply concentrating on foretelling the future. I think at some point my friend was misinformed—mindfulness, meditation, tai chi, or yoga are not activities done to prophesize about the future. Quite oppositely, the goal is to bring more awareness to the present moment, to the body, and the breath.
Here’s a transcript of a conversation I recently had with my body:
Me: Hey body! Have you heard? It’s Reading Week! We can catch up on sleep and dramatically reduce caffeine intake to get through the day!
My body: Its been very cold outside. I feel my defences are low. I notice that last week you slept less than usual. I’m thinking of expelling some of the mucus that’s trickling down your throat by developing a cough.
Me: No please! Body be strong! I’m stressed. I have so much to get done this week. I don’t have time to get sick.
My body: On the contrary! I’ve been strong, and I’ve been waiting patiently for this very occasion. It’ll be least disruptive now: you’ll be in contact with fewer people, and you will be able to nap all the time.
“Happiness is not for the faint of heart”. These are words I remember from a life-altering lecture I attended this past August.
Over the summer I had the opportunity to attend the Canadian Fitness Professionals conference, a multi-day event with the biggest names and faces in the fitness and health industries. With hundreds of educational sessions, workshops, and classes to attend, it was a wonderful opportunity to be immersed in new ways of thinking, moving, and being healthy.
My favourite speaker of the day, Petra Kolber, spoke at a panel discussion titled “Mind Before Muscle” and again in her own lecture called “The Happiness Epidemic: Catch It If You Can.” As a fitness professional and positive psychology guru, Petra introduced me to a concept called FLOW. This term describes the moment in time when time disappears, when we are challenged in a way that matches our skills – when we are in what we often call “the zone”.
She explained that being in a state of FLOW is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves to contribute to being happy. Happiness, she said, is not a steady state, but something that we have to train ourselves to achieve. She recommends a minimum of two hours of FLOW a week as our basic training exercise.
Finding FLOW, or recognizing the activities that bring me peace and joy, is something I have been trying to identify ever since. Whether or not I appreciate them as FLOW-inducing exercises, there are tasks that I complete in my daily life that make me feel whole.
In my last post, I wrote about all the super resources we have on campus that can help you lead a healthy student life. This week, I decided to investigate another great resource on campus – the Sexual Education Centre (SEC)! The SEC is located at the Sussex Clubhouse and if you didn’t already know, is famous for its nearly infinite supply of free condoms.
This was essentially the sole fact I knew about SEC before I visited. What I found was that while the office did indeed boast of an incredible quantity and variety of condoms (see the “menu”), it also contained a wide array of resources and supports for all things related to sex, sexuality, and relationships.
My welcome to the centre was quite positive. I was greeted by a number of smiling faces when I walked in, supplied with a wealth of information during my visit, and seen off with a “grab bag” filled with safer-sex products. The centre is open Monday – Friday, 10 am – 7pm, during the Fall/Winter semesters, and everyone is welcome.
Sometimes, it can feel as if being a student is a barrier to living a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to get caught up in a mindset that eating instant ramen daily, experiencing irregular sleep patterns, and becoming caffeine-dependent are inevitable consequences of being a proper university student (sometimes I think these things myself). But, really, with all the resources we have at the St. George campus to better our health, is it possible that this mentality is simply an illusion? I have a sneaking suspicion that the student gig does not necessarily need to include attending random clubs’ AGMs for the free pizza.
In preparation for this week’s Design For Change conference, I decided to brainstorm a list of ways that UofT is a Healthy Campus in line with some of the themes of the roundtable discussions at the event. On Thursday, student and staff will get together at Hart House to discuss designing a shared vision for a healthier University at the first annual Design for Change conference, and we (students) are all invited! That sounds pretty super to me.