Monthly Archives: July 2012

Dining Hall Nutrition 101: How to avoid rocking the first year muffin-top

The Vanier dining hall: a place so magical, it causes your clothes to shrink.

In case I haven’t made it quite clear by now, I’m crazy excited to go back to school. I’m excited to see my Vancouver friends again, to shop for school supplies and textbooks, to start my super interesting classes, and meet all my Kwak residents! One thing I’m not excited about, though, is going back to eating in the dining hall. It’s not that the food in residence is bad (although by the end of the year in Vanier, you’ll pray to never see a rice pilaf ever again). It’s really good, actually – maybe a little too good.

Nutrition was definitely not a top priority during my first year (I can recall one particularly bad day during finals where I ate nothing but lemon poppyseed muffins – it’s no wonder I ended up looking like a muffin myself). I went on too many runs to Hubbard’s and too few runs on the treadmill, and packed on a ton of pounds by the time April finals rolled around. Thankfully, I’ve been able to change my habits over the summer by eating healthy and becoming a regular at the gym. But now, I’m worried about going back to the dining hall and undoing all my hard work!

Determined not to let that happen, I’ve been brainstorming ways to avoid the Freshman Fifteen (or the even more horrifying Sophmore Seventeen), and, as always, I’m going to share my ideas with the people of the Internet. So, without further ado, here are some tips to keep you healthy, happy, and muffin-top-free throughout your Totem or Vanier dining experience:

1) Plan ahead. Did you know you’re able to access the Vanier and Totem dining hall menu online three days in advance? Check out what the dining hall is serving and plan out your meals. This will keep you from going to dinner hungry and buying the first thing you see when you walk in – which could very well be a hamburger and fries.

2) Snack healthy. If you’re a stress eater like I am, late nights of studying can wreak havoc on your waistline. Pick up a bunch of fruits, veggies, granola bars, etc. from Safeway or Save On Foods and keep them in your room for when you need a snack. Bring a handful of trail mix when you head off to study at Irving so you don’t buy yourself cookies instead. It’ll also be useful to learn the difference between eating because you’re hungry and eating because you’re bored/stressed/upset/etc. Mind over matter, y’all.

3) Bring your own condiments. Dressings and sauces can add a ton of hidden calories to your meals. Bring along your own fat-free salad dressings, all-natural peanut butter, etc. when you head to the dining hall. You might not be able to control every aspect of your meal, but at least you’ll know that your salad really is as healthy as you think.

4) Pack a lunch. The portions in the Vanier dining hall were absolutely huge. It’s great that they want you to get value for your money, but you really don’t need an entire plateful of macaroni and cheese. I’ve tried asking the dining hall staff to give me less food, but they would usually respond with, “You’re paying for it anyway!” and proceed to pile my plate higher than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. A quick fix: grab an Eco-to-go container before your meal and save half of your food for tomorrow’s lunch. Not only does it keep your dinner portions under control, but it can also save you some money on lunch the next day.

5) Scope out healthy lunch spots. They do exist! For a healthy lunch, head to Sprouts or the Delly in the SUB basement. Free hot meals from Sprouts and half-price Delly on Fridays! (See, eating healthy can even be easy on your wallet, too.) Another favourite lunch stop of mine was The Loop in the CIRS building, where they have really tasty and 100% sustainable salads, soups, and sandwiches. Bonus: it’s only a short walk away from Totem!

6) Everything in moderation. While you might not be able to make nightly Hubbard’s/Magda’s runs, I give you permission to indulge in a post-Physics 101 final Marbelous cookie. Go ahead, you’ve earned it.

UBC Commuter Tips (+ Final Commuter Tunes!)

After twelve weeks of making the trip from suburbia to downtown Toronto and back, I finally appreciate how difficult it is to be a commuter student at UBC.

For my first couple of weeks, I was so exhausted from the commute that by the time I got home I just curled up in my bed and dozed off halfway through an episode of Parks & Recreation. While I’m now able to go to work and back without transforming into a complete sloth, the commute is still long, draining, and more than a little boring at times. Luckily, I’ve found some ways to make it more bearable.

Here are some commuting tips that I’ve figured out over the summer, with a few UBC specific tips thrown in:

1. Get everything ready the night before. Commuter students don’t get to roll out of bed and walk across the street to class. When you’re living off campus, you sometimes need to wake up brutally early in order to make it to class on time—especially if it’s one of the dreaded 8 am sections. This can be super challenging if you’re not a morning person (like me). So how did I manage to catch my 7 am train every morning? Simple: I would prepare everything the night before. I would set out my clothes, make my lunch, pack my bag, and put my Starbucks French roast in the coffee maker so that when my alarm went off in the morning, I wouldn’t need to put any thought into getting ready.

2. Charge your electronics. Along the same lines, make sure that you charge your phone/iPod/Kindle/iPad/whatever other pieces of technology you might have the night before your commute. There’s nothing worse than wanting to cozy up to Fifty Shades of Grey only to realize that your eReader’s battery is as dead as Julius Caesar (not that I read Fifty Shades or anything…).

3. Bring snacks. Warning: food on campus can be kind of expensive. Even if you only shell out a few dollars here and there, it can add up. My favourite commuter snacks were granola bars, grapes, homemade trail mix, and red pepper and hummus. Plus, you’re forced to eat healthy foods for lunch this way! (Although I recommend you indulge in a Blue Chip cookie every once in a while)

4. Get yo’ text on. You can find out when the next few busses are coming by texting the stop number to 33333. I wish the TTC offered this service. It would’ve saved me many minutes of wondering whether I have time for a Starbucks run before the next bus arrives.

5. Remember your U-Pass. I was notorious among my group of friends for misplacing my U-Pass on a regular basis. Keep it in a designated pocket in your wallet/backpack/satchel/whatever and leave it there. And don’t forget your student card, too!

6. Buy good headphones. The purpose of noise-cancelling headphones on your commute is twofold: a) to block out everyone around you and b) to keep your music in your ears and no one else’s. While I realize that not everyone can afford Beats by Dre, you can get a good quality pair for $20-$30, and they’re definitely worth it. I personally use SkullCandy Inkd ear buds, and love them! They come in lots of pretty colours and get the job done. And please don’t use the white Apple headphones. That is, unless you want everyone on the 99 B-Line knowing that you’re jamming out to One Direction (I’m revealing way too many of my guilty pleasures in this post).

7. Be courteous on the bus. Give up your seat for that Betty White look-a-like. Don’t reserve a spot for your gym bag. Text your friends (or mom!) instead of calling them. It’s just good manners, and you’ll earn karma points. Win-win.

8. Switch up your commute. Take a different route or method of transportation every once in a while. This can make the commute seem a little less monotonous and give you a nice change of scenery. And if you live close enough, why not try biking to school? You can fit in a little morning exercise as well.

9. Stay the night! There’s a commuter hostel in Gage where commuter students can stay for $30 a night. This means that if you’re studying late during exam time, you don’t necessarily have to bus all the way back to Surrey.

10. Get involved on campus! Don’t use the fact that you’re not on campus 24/7 as an excuse. I can 100% guarantee that you’ll have a better university experience if you get involved. Whether this is through a REC intramural league, peer tutoring, or a fraternity/sorority is completely up to you, but make sure you do something! If you only come to UBC campus for your classes and then hop back on the bus, you’re definitely missing out.

To celebrate the fact that I’m one step closer to Vancouver (and no more commutes!), here’s a song that reminds me of my favourite city in the world: The Only Place by Best Coast . Just replace “LA” with “Vancouver” and the Kings jersey with a Canucks jersey (and in case you were wondering, yes, the band’s name was the inspiration for my blog title). Enjoy!


It’s official: my multiple end-of-summer countdowns have begun. 8 days until I’m finished work. 15 days until Osheaga. 27 days until I go back to Vancouver (aka the ‘couv? A friend from work and I are trying to turn this into a thing. Make it happen). And just a little over a month until I move into TPark and head off to Kelowna for advisor training. Whoa.

All the amazing things happening in the last month of my summer make me want to have a dance party. Here’s a summery, smiley, sunshiney song to take care of that very desire. Enjoy the second half of your summer, folks. September will be here (in all its glory!) before you know it.

PS – Another thing that makes me want to dance is my class schedule for next year. Not only do I love all my classes, but I don’t have a single class before noon during first term. My memory foam mattress pad and I are about to spend some serious quality time together.

Officially stoked to live in Totem

So…which house is Vanier?

On Tuesday, I finally got the news I’ve been eagerly awaiting (and dreaming about–see last post) for the past couple of weeks: I’m going to be the 6th floor advisor in Totem Park’s Kwak house this year! “Crazy excited” does not even begin to cover how I’m feeling right now.

Since getting the news, I’ve been creeping all things Totem via the magic of the interwebz, and earlier today I stumbled upon the Totem Park Lipdup from this past year. I’ve posted it just in case some of the future Totem Park residents (like me!) need some reassurance that the place where they’re going to be spending eight months of theirs lives is, indeed, awesome. PS: Bret, you’re my favourite.

Also, since I didn’t post a song yesterday, here for your enjoyment are Matt & Kim and a dude dribbling a basketball.