Category Archives: Wellness

“I am in charge of how I feel and today I am choosing happiness.”

Happy song du jour: Love Love Love by Avalanche City

This is it: the home stretch. Deadlines are coming up. Finals are approaching. Sleep is starting to dwindle. Libraries are getting crowded. Everyone is stressed out. But exams are going to come whether you like it or not. So instead of letting this time of the year send you into an emotional tailspin, you might as well just put on a smile, do the best you can, and decide to be happy instead.

Besides, it’s sunny today.

Early mornings are hard…

…but early morning dance parties make them easier.

Pro tip for keeping yourself from sleeping in on Sunday mornings: make your current favourite song your alarm clock. It’s nicer to listen to than a bunch of blaring beeps, and you might avoid the snooze button in favour of waiting for the best part to come on. Having a coffeemaker next to your bed helps, too. Not to mention gaining an extra hour thanks to Daylight Savings Time.

Now I’m off for brunch at the University Golf Club, crafting for Kwak’s one-week vegetarian challenge, and studying my tush off for ochem and genetics in the Law Library. Productivity, here I come. Hope you do something great with your extra hour, too!

Overstuffed with thanks and pumpkin pie

October is here again, and despite the return of my mystery October illness and the stressful onslaught of midterms, I am finding so many things to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my friends and family all across the country and the many places that I call home. I am thankful for free trips to Toronto courtesy of UBC Student Recruitment that will let me meet prospective students and see my best-friend-slash-sister very soon. I am thankful for Totem Park, my wonderful Kwak residents (especially those who attended the Kwak/Shu Thanksgiving yesterday!), and my inspiring and perpetually smiling coworkers, who confirm my belief that I have the best job in the world.

I am thankful for interesting courses and better-than-expected organic chemistry marks, for discovering my passions and pursuing my academic goals. I am thankful for the Student Leadership Conference, the Centre for Student Involvement, and the quickly-approaching promise of snow at Whistler.  I am thankful for the ocean, the mountains, and the tectonic plates that make them both possible (EOSC 114 must be rubbing off on me).

I am thankful for my newfound self-confidence and signature curly hair, for Blenz hot chocolate, sweater weather, and West coast sunsets. I am thankful for October sunshine, Blue Chip cookies, fall foliage, and most of all, I am thankful for the person that I am becoming.

Happy Thanksgiving, UBC. Thank you for all the happiness you’ve brought me.

Midterm Prep: The Campbell Method

Last night I had the dreaded CHEM 233 midterm. If you’re in science at UBC, you have probably hears the rumours about this evil course. So what did I do to prepare? Here’s a rundown of my week leading up to the midterm:

5 days before: Did some textbook problems at Blenz in between Longboat races. Blenz Belgian milk hot chocolate helps soothe the pain.

4 days before: Initiated hardcore study mode. Killed a small forest with the amount of paper I used for practice problems. Completed online acid/base assignment. Aced it.

3 days before: Switched my Monday workout to the morning so I could use my midday break for work. Studied in the Harry Potter room while the presidents of UBC looked down on me in approval. Had a zombie apocalypse social with the rest of the Totem RAs in the evening.

48 hours before: Took a study break to watch talented Totem residents rock the Totem Coffee House. Highlights included QLXN’s Liam playing the hits of the 90s on the bassoon.

36 hours before: Visited my chem prof’s office hours. Spent so much time in the Law Library that people are beginning to wonder if I live there. Bernouilli’s Bagels and coffee are my only forms of sustenance.

24 hours before: Study session in Swing with fellow science student and generally awesome dude, Aaron. Spent most of the time jamming to Kanye and speaking to each other in German accents.

12 hours before: Crammed for a forgotten biology unit test while shoveling eggs into my mouth at breakfast.

8 hours before: Did some practice midterms. Reassured myself that I do, in fact, kind of know what I’m doing.

5 hours before: Chemistry class time. Tried to ignore the looks of intense panic on my classmates’ faces.

3 hours before: Realized that I am incapable of cramming any more knowledge into my brain. Went running up and down the Wreck Beach stairs instead.

90 minutes before: Headed to the Totem caf with fellow RAs and CHEM 233 students. Ate a grilled cheese sandwich and sweet potato soup (comfort food is a must). Made science puns to lighten the mood.

30 minutes before: Began the trek to the Chemistry building. Listened to pre-exam pump up music (“Til I Collapse” by Eminem always gets me in the zone).

10 minutes before: Descended into the toasty warm dungeon of CHEM B150. Found a spot in the middle of the room right next to Melinda for moral support.

5 minutes before: Started to bubble in my information on the Scantron. Watched the clock creep closer to 7 PM. Tried not to be freaked out by how thick the midterm felt.

1 minute before: Deep breath. Let’s do this.

After: Breathed a sigh of relief. Shook off the feelings that it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. Headed to a friend’s place in Dunbar for celebratory margaritas.

Could I have done more to prepare? Definitely. But while I may not have gotten a perfect score, I still had a pretty good week. I managed to exercise, fulfill my extracurricular responsibilities, spend time with friends, and paddle around Jericho Beach while still studying my butt off. Balance is the key to making the most out of university (although we’ll see if I am singing a different tune once I get my score back). Happy studying!

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.

Hey immune system, you suck

Guess who’s sick again? I swear, as soon as I get within arm’s reach of a sick person, my immune system shuts down like Translink on a snowy day. I’m currently missing physics and having a Planet Earth marathon, pretending that it counts as studying for my ecology class. This is mainly because I’m too lazy to get down from my bed and walk across the room to my backpack so I can get actual work done, and also because I enjoy squealing over cute little baby polar bears. Anyone who would like to bring me chicken soup and lemon Zhena’s tea from the commonsblock will be rewarded with my eternal gratitude and a lot of facts about the rainforest. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.

New month, new me

Fall colours and Koerner make me and my camera happy. 

November: a month of changing leaves, dropping temperatures, and guys sporting dirty ‘staches for charity left and right (hooray for Movember). For me, however, the new month marks a chance for me to turn over a new leaf (autumn pun fully intentional).

Goals for November:

1) Do well on all of my upcoming midterms

I just got a midterm mark back on Monday that was way, way below what I was expecting, especially since I spent the days leading up to the midterm studying non-stop. I’ve promised myself that this bad mark is going to be a one-time thing.

2) Go to Hubbard’s once a week at most

This is going to be a tough one. I’m a stress eater, and having a convenience store stocked with Ben & Jerry’s and Fuzzy Peaches is not helping with the whole freshman fifteen deal. I’m going to make a Save On trip next week to stock up on some healthier snacks instead.

3) Actually make use of my Bird Coop membership

I’ve had a gym membership since September, and have yet to actually make an appearance at the SRC. Probably because the buff varsity athletes are crazy intimidating.

4) Say “yes” more often

I’ve been using the phrase, “I can’t, I need to study” way too much recently. I’m all for staying on top of my academics, but I didn’t come all the way to Vancouver to sit in Irving 24/7.

What are your November goals?


Beautiful British Columbia, indeed.

Braving the rocks to get down to the ocean for a photo op.
Whenever there’s a sunny day in Vancouver, I feel so guilty when I stay indoors. So, this morning, I decided to take advantage of this amazing weather by going hiking at Lighthouse Park in West Van. I’m usually not very outdoorsy at all, but thanks to my seasoned hiker of an aunt, I managed to get through the 3 hour trek with only minor scrapes and a large bruise from when I fell off a particularly slippery log. I consider this to be a great accomplishment. Next stop, the Grouse Grind? (Maybe I’ll wait for my bruise to heal, first…)

More pictures from Lighthouse Park:

There was actually a lighthouse at Lighthouse Park. I was impressed.
What my aunt suspected to be Paul Allen of Microsoft’s boat, hanging out off the coast of one of Vancouver’s surrounding islands

Say hi to UBC, that tiny little peninsula of land poking out from across the water.

Bedridden in BC

After an amazing long Thanksgiving weekend filled with way too much food, I’m finally back in beautiful British Columbia! How did I celebrate my triumphant return? By going down to Wreck Beach and breathing in the salty ocean air? By jumping excitedly on the bouncy bushes? By buying myself a Blue Chip cookie? Nope. Sadly, the answer is: by writing a chem midterm while feeling violently ill.

The upside of living in rez: you spend all of your time around your friends. The downside: you spend all of your time around your friends. AKA, when one of them gets sick, you all get sick. Don’t worry though, everyone is super nice and shares their cold meds.

I’m currently lying in my way-too-high bed in my Snuggie and listening to Noah and the Whale. I swear this music is comfort food for my ears. Here’s hoping I’ll be better in time for tomorrow night, I need to seriously celebrate the completion of my midterms. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Renewing my love for Girl Talk

Girl Talk – Triple Double

[Warning: contains a fair bit of explicit language]

T-minus 2 days until my first-ever midterm. Instant panic cure: mini-dance party to Girl Talk in my tiny square of a dorm room. 6 out of 7 doctors recommend it, the seventh one was just too stressed out to participate in the survey.