When Roger, the director of Health and Wellness, asked me to write a post for their blog, I enthusiastically said yes. Seven years ago, if I had the knowledge I have now, I would have been much more successful during my time at university. Not many of my friends and family are aware of the extent of my struggles during my university years; I was so often anxious and down. I hope sharing my story with you will help you recognize the importance of exercise and nutritious eating as a part of your self-care routine.
It was September of 2009 when I stepped off the plane into British Columbia, ready to take on the next challenge: university. I remember walking down the hallway of Nicola Residence Building, running into my roommate, who is now a lifelong friend, and introducing myself. At this point I was approximately 185lbs, and excited for life after high school: partying, having fun, going to class and living off the meal plan!
Living in residence, I would walk down to a campus food service when hungry, buy breakfast, lunch and dinner. Whenever someone else on my floor felt hungry, it seemed like normal practice for everyone to walk down together. Too often, it turned out that I would have a second dinner, which was also often pizza from the late night menu at The Well.
Over the next three years, academic pressures increased and I got more involved on campus, which meant more meetings and constant deadlines. I began to find excuses not to exercise and, very soon after, exercise altogether became an afterthought. When third year of university came around, I was 248lbs, my grades dropped, and I frequently visited the doctor and nurse on campus.
I continued through my third year without thinking twice about my decisions on a day to day basis. I regularly ate in the cafeteria, ordered takeout or delivery, and quickly scarfed down food while I was either studying or working. One of my friends even took me aside to tell me sternly that they were concerned about my habits and health. Yet, it was not until the end of my third year in the management program that I decided to make a drastic change. To be honest, I didn’t think that I would make it far, but I thought: “let’s see where I get this time.”
I committed to an exercise regimen and started to adopt healthier eating habits; it was two of the most difficult things that I have done in my life! Yet, with hard work and dedication to these decisions, at the beginning of my fourth year , I noticed some of the unhealthy weight start to shed. Now, two years later, I am back to a healthy weight for my body again. While the numbers on the scale are markers I am proud of, what I am happiest about is the realization that I can be so much more productive and positive in my daily life when I eat nutritious foods and exercise regularly.
What I realized from this experience was that while parents, professors, and peers can tell me what they believe is good for me, I had to make the decision and commitment to prioritize my own health first; for me, this was through committing to eating a balanced diet while being active and exercising regularly. Doing so allowed me to accomplish my other priorities as a student a lot easier, too. My grades drastically improved, I woke up energized and ready to tackle the day, I showed up to class on time, and most importantly, I became a happy and positive individual. So this is what I want to emphasize: make your health a priority, take care of yourself.
– Curtis Tse
UBC Okanagan Alumni