New Year’s resolution: live a healthy student lifestyle

As students, each term we strive to have good grades, a good social life and a good time. Of course, between the cramped schedules of studying, working, hanging with friends and sharing nights at the Sticky Wicket, it can be hard to maintain the healthy lifestyle we desire. But fret not; here are the nutritional and health tips you need to have a successful 2013.

A good day starts long before sunrise with a good night’s sleep. This is arguably the hardest healthy task to achieve. The Internet, books, smartphones and that pesky thing called homework all take time away from what otherwise would be a rejuvenating sleep.

It’s not easy to get enough sleep (at least eight hours), but it can be done. Set a time when all vices and devices must be turned off. The prospect of a missed Facebook notification or text message may be frightening at first, but in time your body and mind will thank you for going to bed at a respectable hour.

Of course, as university students, we will fall behind at times. In those cases, seek out a nice area for a quick nap to catch up on sleep. Your bed, McPherson Library basement or any film class are all suitable locations for this pick-me-up.

So, you’ve gotten your eight hours and feel better than ever upon waking. Now it’s time to head down to your cafeteria or kitchen and grab the most important meal of the day: breakfast. Without a good breakfast, prepare to be hit with dull hunger pains and an ensuing crash in pizzazz well before morning classes are done. Canadian Health and Lifestyle reports that about 40 per cent of Canadians skip breakfast, with the most common explanation being time constraints surrounding the meal. Often the time needed to prepare a healthy start to the day is sacrificed for a few more precious minutes in bed or in a hot shower.

But breakfast doesn’t need to be difficult. In fact, some of the healthiest breakfasts can be prepared in a few minutes. Eggs are quick and easy, and are high in protein. Oatmeal is great for a hot, low-fat start to the day. It may not be the most exciting food, so go ahead and dress it up with some berries, which are excellent anti-inflammatories. Or try non-fat yogurt, a great source of calcium. Even if you are in a rush, you can spoon some into a Tupperware container for the road.

Healthy living lasts the full 24 hours. As far as eating goes, UVic boasts a wide range of dining locations suited to every type of appetite and palate. Centre Caf is one of the most popular spots, providing a wide variety of nutritious, filling foods.  Wraps and salads, as well as a wide range of fresh fruits are available. It also has the advantage of a central location and long hours (open until 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, but only until 3 p.m. on Fridays). Cadboro Commons offers a similar menu and is a great choice for those living in res.

For those looking for vegetarian or vegan options, the place to be is Village Greens. Despite its unusual hours of operation (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday), VGs provides delicious food in a hip, modern setting. Hot foods including stir-fries are on the menu. Then there is the famous smoothie bar. Even if you aren’t abiding by one of the “v” diets, you will surely feel healthier after eating here.

One place most students know is the BiblioCafé. If you want to sample a wide range of specialty coffees and teas, this is the place to be. Healthy and hearty sandwiches are also on the menu, as well as specialty items such as samosas or pita bread and dip. This is the perfect place to get you through those marathon study sessions.

My personal favourite for dining is Mac’s in the MacLaurin Building, where there are daily soups and chili. Design your own sandwich or wrap, choosing from healthy fillings such as chicken and a wide variety of vegetables. Feel free to avoid fatty spreads like mayonnaise, though; the wrap will be tasty enough without it. Lounge seating with a flat screen television enhances your dining experience. Do you need some good karma points? Mac’s is one of several campus spots that offers Doi Chaang’s “Beyond Fair Trade” coffee, which will have you feeling like a philanthropist in no time, all without having to leave Ring Road (50 per cent of Doi Chaang’s profits flow back to growers).

Calorie management is important in maintaining a healthy diet. According to Canada’s Food Guide, the average 19- to 30-year-old male leading an active lifestyle needs about 3 000 calories per day, and active females in the same age range need around 2 350. As this count can easily add up during the day, it’s important to choose foods wisely. Try to substitute some high-calorie meals for lower ones. For example, a pita and hummus meal from BiblioCafé contains around 200 calories, whereas a Centre Caf cheeseburger contains almost double that. Beef chili is a delicious and healthy meal, and contains under 150 calories.

If you want to find out the calorie count of other foods or plan out some meals, there are many helpful tools online that can guide you through the healthy eating process. Canada’s Food Guide is particularly informative.

There’s one other constant students share: schoolwork. The task of writing multiple eight- to 10-page papers, reading hundreds of pages a week or spending hours in the lab is daunting. The best advice here is to start early. Do you have three papers due in a two-week span in March? Do one in February when your workload is lighter and you have the advantage of a week-long break. Do you have lots of reading to do for a tutorial this week? Break it down into chunks and do some each day. Leaving dozens of pages for the night before is stressful, and your retention rate will not be very high.

Finally, exercise is important to any healthy lifestyle. UVic intramurals are fun and popular, with many sports being offered. Soccer, dodgeball and basketball are some of the most popular, with multiple leagues available. Sign up as a team with some friends, or join as an individual. It’s a great way to meet new people, have fun and stay active.

The Ian Stewart Complex boasts an impressive, fully equipped gym, along with dozens of recreation programs. Tennis and squash are great for staying active with a friend or in a club. The gym also provides a wide range of yoga and Pilates programs, including Hatha flow and power flow yoga. Other group programs include cycling and running, both great cardiovascular workouts. You can even work out with a personal trainer. The complex also has a pool, dance studio and physiotherapy studio.

Whether you’re on bike or foot, there are many paths and trails around UVic to explore, including those in Mystic Vale just outside of Ring Road. Spend a day on the beach down at Cadboro Bay, or head up Mount Tolmie for breathtaking views of the city. Even if you just take a walk around the Ring, getting outside and moving will result in lasting improvements to your health, so don’t wait — get out there today.

By managing your time to include healthy sleeping, eating, working and exercising habits, you will begin to see positive changes in all aspects of your life. Of course, don’t forget to include fun times in your daily schedule. Hang out with friends, throw on the Xbox or indulge in your favourite hobby. These are just as important as any healthy meal or workout session, and a great way to wind down and reward yourself for all the hard work you’re doing.

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