Your Guide to Being Kind of Healthy

Posted by Sam on August 25, 2015

Archive | The Vari Reel

Jacked, yolked, shredded, buff, built, swole, ripped, cut . . . Whichever way you choose to describe those soon-to-be-bulging biceps protruding from your one-size-too-small v-neck T-shirt, or your en route beach body guaranteed to literally drop seagulls out of the sky mid-flight, York is here to help.

What “fitness” even really means is, to me at least, a complete mystery. Looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator or Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games? Being able to do pushups using just your fingertips? Eating only completely organic, grass-fed, cold-pressed (still don’t understand completely what that is), locally sourced food? Maintaining mental serenity? Whatever your answer, York offers services for just about any kind of “fit” you can imagine.


Let’s start with one of the more true and tried paths to fitness — exercise!

Tate w Exercise

If there’s one proven method to maintaining general overall health in just about anyone, it’s exercise. To begin, I’d like to address three of the more common concerns I’ve heard people use as a their reason to not go to the gym:

  1. “It’s too intimidating”
    • I’ve had a lot of friends tell me that the reason they don’t go to the gym is because it’s too intimidating, particularly the areas that are often the busiest, like the dumbbell and free weight areas.
  2. “I don’t know what to do”
    • The second most common reason I hear is that people simply don’t know what to do when they get there. You can only do bicep curls for so long.
  3. “I don’t have the time”
    • People are just busy. They always have been, they always will be. You come home from a long day at work or school, and the idea of purposefully making yourself more tired and sweaty is about as attractive as gluing your ear to an active fire alarm.

Fortunately, with every problem there is a solution.


Problem: It’s too intimidating.

Solution: Understand that people are very self involved.

  • Understand that people do not go to the gym to judge other people. The only reason they go is to work and focus on themselves. When someone asks their friend, “Hey, bro, what are you workin’ on today?” you rarely hear “I’m actually just judging this guy’s squat form today” as a response.
  • Grab a gym partner. When you have someone who is counting on you, that “Gym tonight?” text is much more likely to get you to stick to your routine than having only your inner motivation to rely on.


Problem: I don’t know what to do.

Solution: The Internet.

  • If you can find a solar-powered waffle maker on the Internet, you better believe you can find an exercise routine that suits your needs. If you do need a little more guidance, however, you can head on over to the York Lions website or visit the fine people at Tate Mackenzie for personalized programs and small group training sessions.


Problem: I don’t have the time.

Solution: Compromise.

  • One thing my Dad always told was that if something is truly important to you, you’ll make the time for it no matter what. So maybe you can’t find the time to lug yourself to and from gym three times a week, but you could try doing some exercises in your room (check the link below for ideas), go for a run. If you lack time, you can also stick to compound exercise movements that utilize more than one muscle group. This is a good way to hit everything that needs to be hit in a short amount of time.
Some motivation.

Some good websites to check out for beginner workout routines, or if you’re simply interested in quality fitness/lifestyle information:

Some YouTube fitness channels worth following:

  • PhysiquesOfGreatness (Weightlifting advice, diet tips)
  • Nikki Blackketter (diet tips, women-centred gym routines, show preparation advice)
  • Rich Roll (Endurance athlete motivation, bicycling/running/swimming/diet advice)
    • He also has a great podcast, which be found here (Soundcloud) and/or here (iTunes)
  • Maxx Chewning (Power lifting advice, lifestyle vlogs)
  • Frank Medrano (Calisthenics motivation, body weight exercise routines, vegan diet advice)

How do you then fuel your newly sculpted temple? Nutrition.


As hard and as often as you lug yourself to the gym and throw yourself through the reins, you can only progress as much as your nutrition allows you to. As frustrating as it is, what you eat is MUCH more important than how often you work out. Even if you don’t exercise, stepping up your food game is beneficial for pretty much all aspects of life.

The best option is obviously to make your own food, but for people who perhaps live in residence, or for people who are simply too busy to cook, this can sometimes prove a challenge. Here’s a quick list of go-to restaurants for those on-the-go Yorkies:

  • Falafel Hut (great for people on a budget, value selections under $4 each day of the week)
  • Berries & Blooms (fruits and salads galore, buffet style + affordable smoothies)
  • College Cafeterias (the college cafeterias often have meat and vegetarian specials throughout the week)
  • Mac’s Sushi (great selection, and discounted sushi near the end of the day)

For those with the time and resources to hunt down and gather your own food, or go grocery shopping, as it is perhaps more commonly known, a few close-by options will come to your rescue:

  • Your Community Grocers (45 Four Winds Drive, North York)
    • How to get there: Walking down Sentinel, away from York toward Finch, it’s just outside The Village, across from the hydro lines, easily accessible by foot.
  • The Great Canadian Superstore
    • How to get there: 1) From the York Bus Loop, take the 60 bus to Gerry Fitzgerald Drive. 2) Take the free shuttle bus on Tuesdays from Calumet College.
    • Students can also enjoy a 10 percent discount on Tuesdays with a quick flash of their student card.
  • YUM – York University Farmers’ Market
    • How to get there: It’s located right here in York’s TEL Building, every Thursday.
    • Produce, meats, crafts, desserts, aircraft parts (not really) and so much more.
  • Other options:
    • No Frills (1 York Gate Boulevard)
    • Walmart (1305 Lawrence Ave W)
    • Fresh Co (Jane and Finch)
    • Snap Delivery (grocery/food delivery)


The Bulk:

What a wonderful day at work this was.

As to what to eat, well, that depends. If you’re trying to bulk up/put on muscle, you’re going to want to eat more calorically dense foods (oats, pasta, eggs, whole milk, meats such as beef, chicken, tuna or salmon, rice, quinoa, peanut butter, avocados, etc.). How much you should eat depends on the person/ Thanks to a very knowledgeable YouTuber/fitness personality by the name of Omarisuf, however, a handy dandy little calorie calculator can be found below for those interested in obtaining a well-educated idea of how much they should be eating with respect to their body type.

Calculator (click to download)

Some quick, cheap sample meals:

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with whole milk. Can’t go wrong.
  • Chicken thighs/breasts (seasoned with just olive oil and salt) with brown, white orbasmati rice, stir-fried with vegetables (steamed broccoli is a safe bet, or you can buy those mixed vegetable packs and simply pour one in).
    • How to cook the meat: either cook it in a pan on the stove top at medium-high heat, flipping it once or twice, or cook it in the oven at 425F for 20 minutes. Either way, just cook it until there is no longer any pink in the middle of the meat.
  • Rice cakes and Greek yogurt. Don’t ask why, it just works.
  • Pasta with beef tomato sauce.
    • Start making the pasta (usually takes around 10-11 minutes in boiling water), then as that’s cooking, start preparing your ground beef. Just cook it in a pan on the stove top (medium-high heat) until all the meat is brown. Combine the beef with store-bought tomato sauce, and boom . . . you’re done.
  • Egg, oat and raspberry cake.
    • It sounds really weird, but I assure you it’s good. Combine a cup of uncooked oatmeal, two eggs, and a handful of raspberries (or frozen raspberries) in a bowl. Cook it in the microwave for 2:30-2:45 minutes. Sprinkle some brown sugar on top. Done. The whole process takes less than five minutes.

The Cut:

Now the other side of the spectrum. Interestingly, fewer calories does not necessarily mean eating less. It just means the types of food you’re eating may have to change a little. A good trick is to just make yourself feel full. This can be achieved through such means as drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables (ever noticed how full you feel after scarfing down a vegetable-heavy salad?), eating more fibrous foods (oats, brown rice, beans, lentils, etc.), and drinking shakes (good for those people who just enjoy the actual act of eating; you can sip on a shake for as long as you please).

Some quick, cheap sample meals:

  • Flavoured rice cakes/chips. I can’t praise them enough.
  • Banana oatmeal with brown sugar
    • Just get a bag of minute oats, slice up a banana, top it off with some brown sugar, and there’s breakfast. Or lunch . . . or dinner.
  • Baked sweet potato
    • Filling, and it honestly tastes like candy.
  • Hard-boiled eggs withSriracha sauce
    • Boil some water, just enough so the eggs can be fully submerged. Once boiling, place the eggs in the water, turn the stove-top temperature down to it’s lowest possible setting, cover the pot, and let simmer for 12 minutes.
    • Once the shells are removed, add as much Sriracha as you please and munch away. Pro tip: cook a whole bunch of eggs, store them in your fridge. Easy on-the-go snack.

The “I just want to be kind of healthy” approach:

I’m still convinced this was a dream.

Just eat when you feel like it. I’ve personally found a good way to stick to an at least decent way of eating to be the weekend-off approach. Resist the urge to destroy that entire shelf of honey-glazed donuts throughout the week, but do whatever you want on the weekend. The week itself doesn’t have to be crazy regimented either. Just try to sneak in some fruit and vegetables, whether it be an orange or a banana in the morning, or a cup of steamed broccoli with dinner (one small cup of chopped broccoli has more than 160 percent of your required Vitamin C intake, not to mention more than 50 percent of your suggested Vitamin A).

Or, if you find yourself at the end of your day lacking in the vitamin department, you could just do what I do: grab a big handful of whatever leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, etc.) you have, crunch it into a ball and stuff it down. Not the tastiest approach, but it gets the job done. It’s over in 30 seconds.

For those people looking to receive a little more detailed guidance, York also offers nutritional counselling at Tait McKenzie. More details here.


  1. Mental Well-Being

Mind Photo


This one is more or less connected to the previous two. The greatest thing you’ll come to notice about being physically and nutritionally on point is not the way your shirt hugs your Greek-god sculpted aesthetic, or how many likes your vibrant plate of salmon and vegetables gets on Instagram, but rather the peace of mind that comes with it.

Although I do have a vested interest in the science behind nutrition and exercise, I am by no means an expert, and accordingly I will steer clear of trying to spew scientific data to back my claims. What I will say, however, is that physical exercise and nutrition have again and again been proven to both improve and maintain mental well-being. Because people like easy-to-read lists, here is one from the Huffington Post on the subject. Stand-out points include:

  • Boost Brainpower
    • School + more brain power = 🙂
  • Increase Self-Confidence
    • You discover that you can in fact run a 5k, or that you can swim 10 lengths of the pool without stopping, or that you can cleanly squat the weight of a baby black bear.
  • Boost Happy Chemicals
    • If you’ve ever drudged through a workout, really of any kind, you know the feeling I’m talking about. When you walk out of that change room chin held high, you feel like you can jump over buildings (except if it was leg day).
  • Reduce Stress
    • When you’re exercising, you don’t think about anything else. At least that’s how I feel. You don’t think about that assignment due the following day, or the exam you have coming up on Friday. You’re just trying to make it through whatever you’re doing in one piece.

York also offers a wide range of services for those issues reaching beyond the realm of exercise and nutrition. Whether you’re in need of personal counselling, want to learn to meditate, practice a variety of skills to keep you calm, focused and happy, or just would like someone to talk to, York’s Counseling & Disability Services (CDS) can point you in the right direction.

And to end this article on a cheery note, here’s one more list for you, courtesy of York’s own Mental Health and Awareness committee with a list of Top Ten Wellness Tips to keep you in tip-top shape during your stay here at York. Backgrounds are different, personal situations vary, but in the end everyone could use a little support once in a while. Absolutely no shame in reaching out.

Have any fitness or wellness tips or tricks you’d like to share? Feel free to drop us a line in the comment section below, or hit us up on Twitter at @YorkUStudents. Alright, go be somewhat fit.



Sam recently graduated with an Honours BA in Communications.

See other posts by Sam

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