By Miranda Massie on January 8, 2019
Set yourself up for success this year by rethinking the way you approach your fitness goals. Discover great tips and tricks for staying on track, feeling confident and building lasting habits.
Week 1: Assess your goals
We often look to the end results when determining the progress and achievements of our fitness goals. Instead, try asking yourself why you want to achieve your goals. How will the end result impact your life or benefit your overall wellbeing? This article from Greatist.com describes how to assess and re-set your goals. Level up for success!
Week 2: Mix it up
It can be difficult to stay motivated if we’re not enjoying the activities we take part in. The best way to resuscitate a fitness plan is to make it fun! If you don’t enjoy running, then don’t make this a resolution. Try UBC Recreation’s Free Week to discover what gets you excited to work out.
Week 3: Go social
Consider gathering a group of colleagues to join the annual UBC Walkabout. This nine-week step challenge is a great way to stay active, motivated and accountable. Attend the Jan.16 Kick-off Event or register now.
Week 4: Try low or no cost
It can be easy to pass on a fitness activity, especially if it comes with a price tag. But with the number of free apps, YouTube videos and open-sourced fitness classes available, there are countless low and no cost ways to stay active. Try exploring this list of 18 YouTube Channels to Get in Shape (Goodful by Buzzfeed). Or, read up on the best free fitness apps out there:
- 7 workout and fitness apps for tracking and planning (TheSportsEdit)
- 8 fitness apps that can help you get in shape — and what they’re best for (Business Insider)
By Miranda Massie on October 23, 2018
How do you like to Thrive?
It’s nearly Thrive Week at UBC and I’m excited! An award-winning and nationally-recognized initiative, Thrive invites the UBC community to explore diverse and unique paths to mental health.
While there are many relevant ways to foster and maintain good mental health, research consistently points to five actions that can help.
We call these the Thrive 5:
1. Thrive by moving regularly: Moving regularly can help you manage stress and feel more positive.
2. Thrive by resting up: Spending time without screens before bed can help you sleep better and feel more rested.
3. Thrive by eating to feel nourished: Adding more veggies to your diet boosts the health of your mind and body.
4. Thrive by giving back: Helping others and giving back can give you a sense of purpose and connection.
5. Thrive by saying hi: Checking in regularly with family, friends and colleagues builds supportive relationships.
These five actions seem intuitive and simple enough, but in practice, they can seem like daunting tasks. I know that exercise, fruits and veggies, a full night’s sleep and social time are good for my health. But sometimes, all I have energy for is takeout and the couch, which leaves me feeling guilty or disappointed about my inaction.
What I’ve realised is that another critical part of my mental health is understanding my limitations and being self-compassionate. If we learn how to cut ourselves some slack, perhaps it will create the space needed to use the Thrive 5 more effectively.
This month, while I encourage you to use the Thrive 5 as ways to explore mental health, I also encourage you to listen to your needs. If all you feel like doing is going home and zoning out in front of the TV or going to sleep, do it. Enjoy the mental rest, forgive yourself and move on. There is always tomorrow.
And if tomorrow you’re looking for ideas to help you explore your own path to mental health, check out the Thrive Calendar for a range of engaging and diverse events, activities and experiences. Happy Thrive Week!
All my best,
Photo credit: Student Communications and UBC Thrive
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie | Tagged connection, eating, giving back, healthy diet, helping others, movement, physical activity, resilience, rest, sleep, social connection, thrive, Thrive 5, Thrive week | 1 Response
By Melissa Lafrance on August 7, 2018
This month, we share the results of our popular Stair Challenge, an annual health and wellbeing initiative that encourages UBC staff and faculty to use stair climbing to boost their cardiovascular health and build strength.
The 2018 Pick Your Peak Stair Challenge achieved a high water mark this year with a record turnout of participants. For four weeks (May 28 to June 22), over 490 staff, faculty and postdoctoral fellows took steps to climb their way to better health. The annual initiative is organized by UBC Human Resources’ Health Promotions team and offers a fun, easy, inclusive and accessible way for UBC employees to take an active role in enhancing their overall health and wellbeing. As individuals or in teams, participants can take the stairs, gain elevation by hiking, or stay active on stair climbers. For non-stair climbers, there is the option of walking or tracking wheelchair distances. Weekly and top performing prizes are awarded during and at the end of the challenge.
This year’s Stair Challenge had UBC employees stepping up from across the university, from Point Grey, the Okanagan and Robson Square to the hospital sites at VGH/DHCC, St. Paul’s, BC Women’s and Children’s. Collectively, they climbed 547,748 metres – the equivalent of scaling Mt. Everest 65 times!
The effort, enthusiasm and level of engagement was high throughout the challenge. Participants not only achieved astounding altitudes, but they also reported being more active at work and outside of work through social connections. In a post-challenge survey, the majority of participants reported that their top motivations were to improve their physical fitness and increase the incentive to take active breaks during their work day. 96% of participants agreed that the challenge contributed to their overall wellbeing.
“It’s one of many fantastic motivators to be more active,” said one challenge participant in their survey response. “It inspired me to finally try going up Grouse Mountain…it was something to keep in mind when I stood waiting for an elevator…I really value this incentive to keep moving.”
Participants found creative ways to motivate themselves and others, including organizing active breaks, sending daily email encouragement and posting funny posters to liven up stairwells. For UBC Vancouver’s Brock Warriors, one of this year’s top performing teams (averaging 1,172 flights per person), they stayed motivated by participating as a group and accomplishing shorter bursts of activities. In particular, team members Ritu Dabla, Laurie Dawson and Janice McGill enjoyed the social aspect of the challenge and felt it enhanced their friendships:
“The most interesting part was how [we] felt engaged and connected to the larger UBC community…It led to better physical fitness, social connections and enhanced [our] mental health and wellbeing.”
UBC Okanagan’s Heather Bradshaw (Centre for Teaching & Learning) was the top performing individual this year, achieving a total of 2,966 flights. She challenged herself by setting her eyes on the highest virtual peak – Mt. Everest. Heather did not have teammates to stay accountable to, but that did not stop her:
“I was motivated by trying different methods of reaching daily and weekly goals. I climbed the stairs to the 9th floor of my condo building five times as a morning routine and took breaks during my work day by going up and down the building stairs.”
The Next Challenge
For the UBC HR Health Promotions team of Miranda Massie and Melissa Lafrance, they are already looking ahead to the future:
“We appreciate all the valuable comments, feedback and suggestions we’ve received,” said Lafrance. “They will help us make the annual Stair Challenge even better next year.”
Massie added, “Thanks to our generous corporate discount partners for donating prizes, but most of all, thank you to each and every participant. You embody the spirit of what the Stair Challenge is all about – inspiring and supporting your personal, physical and social health and wellbeing. Melissa and I hope to see you all back next year, and we hope you’ll encourage new colleagues to join the fun!”
For More Information
Visit the Pick Your Peak Stair Challenge page for photos submitted by 2018 participants. For upcoming health and wellbeing events and initiatives, visit our Events & Workshops page and stay tuned through Healthy UBC.
Photo Credit: UBC Communications & Marketing
Posted in Information Update, Physical Health, Thriving Campus | Tagged 2018, challenge, Peak performance, physical activity, Pick your Peak, Pick Your Peak Stair Challenge, stair challenge, stair climbing, UBC, winners | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on August 7, 2018
Spending time outdoors is a great way to make the most of the sunny weather. It’s also a perfect opportunity to sneak in a little extra fitness. This month, give your fitness a boost and maximize your time outside.
Week 1: Get Strong Without a Gym
Discover nine sneaky ways to strength train outside of the gym (Greatist.com). No equipment required!
Week 2: Immerse in Nature
Have you heard of forest bathing? Soak in the benefits of this Japanese practice from simply being in nature and letting nature guide your walk. Learn the simple steps here. (Time Magazine)
Week 3: Give Your Legs a Low Impact Workout
Looking for something quick and easy? These seated leg exercises (Livestrong.com) can be done indoors or outdoors in less than five minutes.
Week 4: Take a Mindful Moment in a Beautiful location
Feeling good is about more than just our physical health; mental fitness is just as important. Make the most of a few quiet moments outside: pause, think and reflect. Need inspiration? Check out these hidden gems of UBC.
Photo Credit: UBC Communications & Marketing
By Miranda Massie on July 4, 2018
It’s often the best way to beat the heat in the summer, but pools can also be great places to fit in low impact exercise and activity. Swimming has been shown to have positive impacts on physical, psychological and social health. Take a look at this month’s tips for wading gently into water workouts.
Week 1: Find a Nearby Outdoor Pool or Water Park
Week 2: Take Your Workout to the Water
Water fitness is so much more than aquacise these days. UBC’s Aquatic Centre offers 10 different water fitness classes, including River Walking, Parent and Baby Aquafit and Aqua Yoga.
Alternatively, check out this instructional video which provides a how-to guide for water aerobics.
Week 3: Stay on Top of It (the water that is)
If being in the water is not your thing, there are plenty of ways to stay active on the water. Kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and sailing are all great ways to stay fit and learn new skills. Check out Tourism Vancouver’s full list of potential watersports.
Week 4: Go to the Beach for the View
Not interested in swimming laps? You can still reap cardio and strength benefits from going to the beach by taking the stairs and enjoying the beautiful view. Check out these two 30-minute walking maps of UBC’s renowned beach trails: Tower Beach Trail and Wreck Beach Trail.
Have fun exploring what the water has to offer your overall health this summer. Want more fitness tips and inspiration? Visit our Fitting in Fitness page.
Photo: UBC Communications & Marketing
By Miranda Massie on May 3, 2018
Week 1: Premium partner workouts
Try FitnessBlender’s Total Body Partner Workout, which comes with information on calories burned and a printable workout sheet.
Week 2: Tandem relaxation
Stretch, tone and relax with this set of partnered yoga stretches.
Week 3: Have a party in the park
Grab a partner and go play outside with this full-body playground workout from the Greatist.com.
Week 4: Working out with a baby bump?
Follow along with this 30-minute low-impact, pre-natal cardio workout video:
By Miranda Massie on April 3, 2018
Spring has sprung, and with it comes a renewed desire to spend more time outside. Take advantage of the fresh air and budding trees by using them as motivation to move more during your breaks on campus. These handy, printable walking maps offer a variety of 30-minute walks around campus. They even include information about distances, steps, terrain and level of difficulty. Bonus: They’re free!
Week 1: Main Mall Trail (Central)
Week 2: Thunderbird Trail (South)
Week 3: Tower Beach Trail (North)
Week 4: Wreck Beach Trail (East)
Bonus: Sword Fern Trail (West)
Photo Credit: UBC Communications and Marketing
By Melissa Lafrance on January 11, 2018
This month, we’re focusing on recipes and nutrition tips to fuel your physical activity.
Food provides energy for body function and physical activity. Your energy and food intake needs can change in relation to your activity levels. Balance and variety of protein, carbohydrates, fat and water will provide you with the nutrients required for optimal performance and nutrient replenishment.
Weeks 1 and 2: Hydration
To keep your body hydrated, aim for a daily fluid intake of about 2-3 litres (9-12 cups); your intake will vary depending on your body size and activity level. When you are more active or if the weather is hot, you will need to increase your intake. Water is one of the best fluid choices and you should also use your thirst as a guide to help you determine fluid requirements.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) as “any liquids that are sweetened with various forms of added sugars”. Some examples include fruit, sports and energy drinks, sweetened waters, and coffee and tea beverages with added sugars. SSBs provide no additional nutritional benefit and contain “hidden” calories . If you choose to have SSBs once in a while, that is okay. But water is a better choice of hydration.
Here are some tips and recipes to help you stay hydrated:
- Check out the Dietitians of Canada’s recommendations on sports hydration, including steps to stay hydrated during and after exercise.
- See Eating Well’s seven refreshing foods to help you stay hydrated.
- If you need to boost your water intake, here are 12 easy ways to drink more water from Self magazine.
- Find out what’s in your drink with this rethink your drink article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Read this news release from the Canadian Paediatric Society and Dietitians of Canada, which advises against kids and adolescents consuming sports and energy drinks.
Week 3: Snacks
Having a small meal or snack about one to two hours before you exercise can help stabilize blood glucose levels and keep you hydrated and energized. It can also help you perform for longer and with more intensity . You’ll likely focus less on a rumbling tummy and more on your activity or workout!
If you are exercising for more than a couple of hours, make sure to fuel up halfway with fluids, a carbohydrate and protein-rich snack or small meal.
Here are some tips and recipes to help you fuel up before exercising:
- The Dietitians of Canada encourage learning how to plan pre-exercise meals and snacks.
- Try these simple snack combinations and adjust the amount based on the length of your activity: whole fruit with nuts or nut butter, vegetables and hummus or other bean/veggie dip, cheese and crackers, or plain yogurt with berries and granola.
- Simple Banana Berry Smoothie from Cookspiration
- Breakfast Burrito from Cookspiration
- Colourful Quinoa Salad from Cookspiration
Week 4: Recovery
Post-exercise healthy eating is important because it replaces the energy, fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates that were used up during your workout. Protein is essential in building and maintaining muscle and supporting muscle recovery after exercise. It’s best to get these nutrients from foods rather than sports drinks, sports foods, and supplementation (i.e. protein supplements) — unless you are an athlete, in which case it’s best to seek advice from a registered dietitian.
Here are some tips and recipes to help you satisfy your hunger and nutritional needs after exercise:
- The Dietitians of Canada offer steps you can take to recover after exercise.
- Ginger Granola & Pineapple Cottage Cheese from Cookspiration
- Greek-style Chicken Sandwiches from Cookspiration
- Green Lentil Power Smoothie from Cookspiration
- Check out the Dietitians of Canada’s facts on sport supplements.
By Miranda Massie on December 7, 2017
At this time of year, during the cold and dark winter months, many people typically hibernate and stay indoors. But there are still lots of ways to stay active and maintain a fitness routine. This month, we offer some winter-proof workouts for you to try.
Week 1: Workout at your desk
No time for the gym? No problem. Make the most of your time by doing this quick and easy routine from your desk, office, or anywhere with a spare chair.
Week 2: Think outside the box
Too busy or overwhelmed to find time to work out? Consider the Greatist.com’s list of stress-free ways to incorporate activity into your day, like delivering donations on foot, sledding and even singing.
Week 3: Embrace the snow (wherever you can find it)
Metro Vancouver offers a wealth of unique activities and adventures that can only be done in the winter. Don’t miss out on the fitness opportunities that snowy and chilly conditions can bring.
Week 4: Be prepared in cold weather
If you are heading out into the cold, make sure to review our Cold Weather Clues factsheet to ensure that you stay warm, dry and hydrated.
For more fitness tips and inspiration, visit our Fitting in Fitness page.
Photo credit: Miranda Massie
By Miranda Massie on October 25, 2017
It can be challenging to stay resilient in the face of life’s challenges, but the good news is that we all have the capacity to make small improvements to boost our mental health. These strategies and changes are individual, and what works to boost your positive mental health may not work for someone else.
It is nearly Thrive week at UBC and what is unique about Thrive are the variety of engaging and diverse events, activities and experiences to help each person thrive in their own way. Find a full list of the week’s events here.
For those unable to attend a Thrive event, participate online in the #LetsThriveUBC social media challenge. Each day of the challenge is centred around a theme based on UBC’s five wellbeing priorities.
Inspired by these themes – and because I get asked this a lot by folks across UBC – I created a list of suggestions to help you get started. Check out my tips for small actions you can take to thrive each day of the week.
Fifteen Ways to Thrive (in Five Days)
Day 1: Feel Good Foods
A well-balanced, nourishing diet helps us all to thrive, fueling important academic and professional work.
- Eating breakfast or adding protein to your breakfast (egg, peanut butter, cottage cheese)
- Trading your caffeine for flavoured (lemon, cucumber) or fizzy water
- Buying yourself a small, feel-good treat
Day 2: Active Movement
Moving more can improve both mental and physical health, and impact academic and professional success.
- Walking briskly for 10 minutes today
- Standing for five minutes at the top of every hour
- Dancing around your house for the length of one song (suggestions)
Day 3: Thriving Spaces
Environments, both built and natural, play an important role in facilitating physical, mental, social and ecological wellbeing.
- Breathing in fresh, outside air for five minutes
- Making your bed with fresh sheets
- Spending 30 minutes somewhere with exposure to natural light
Day 4: Resilience
Reducing stigma, a supportive campus culture, and access to resources are key to improving resiliency and coping skills.
- Writing a gratitude Post-It (list three things you are grateful for in two minutes or less)
- Taking five deep breaths, counting to five on each inhale and to five on each exhale
- Laughing at a funny movie, meme or video
Day 5: Key Connections
Diversity, equity, inclusion and respect are key values in building and sustaining environments where we can all thrive and be well.
- Putting away or turning off your phone (and other electronic devices) during all meals today
- Talking to a friend (or a pet if they are a better listener)
- Asking for or accepting help from someone else, even if it is for something small
You may not feel the results immediately, but over time all of these small actions can pave the way for improved resilience and help fine-tune our mental health.
We are well into the fall semester, and I know of many staff, faculty and students who are feeling the impact of work, academic and personal pressures. This month, I encourage you to take the time to care for yourselves so that you may be at your best to support those around you. Consider attending a special Staff & Faculty Pop-up Wellness Lounge (Nov. 2, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.).
All my best,
References and further reading:
Photo credit: UBC Thrive
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie | Tagged action, environmental health, gratitude, inclusion, mental health, Nutrition, physical activity, resilience, self-care, thrive, Thrive week, UBC, wellbeing | 1 Response
By Guest Contributor on October 25, 2017
Thriving Campus features testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff members. This month we feature the staff at ICORD, an interdisciplinary research centre focused on spinal cord injury at Vancouver General Hospital.
In 2010, ICORD received a Healthy Workplace Initiatives grant and implemented a program that is still going strong seven years later. Read on to learn how the program has impacted their workplace and their staff.
Guest contribution by Cheryl Niamath, Communications + Administrative Manager at ICORD.
How would you describe your program?
We offer twice-weekly, lunchtime fitness classes taught by professional instructors. The classes are open to anyone who wants to participate, including faculty, staff and students based in the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre (BSCC); people who work in nearby hospital buildings; or those who live or work in the neighbourhood or are coming to the BSCC for other reasons.
We started these classes in 2010 when ICORD won a UBC Healthy Workplace Initiative grant (now called Healthy Workplace Initiatives Program). We used the grant to fund a pilot program, hiring an instructor and purchasing some yoga mats and blocks. People loved the classes, so once the grant funding was used up, we continued — with the instructors’ fees being covered by class participants. We charge a very low, tiered-payment rate: enough to keep participant costs reasonable and cover the instructors’ fees, plus a bit extra for occasionally replacing equipment.
Originally, we called the classes “yogalates” because they were a combination of yoga and Pilates. Over time the classes have changed a little with the instructors, but have remained mat-based. We don’t jump around and get so sweaty that we need a shower afterwards, which is good for a lunchtime thing.
Participants come and go, but we still have a few people who’ve been in the program since the very beginning.
What do you see or hear is the greatest benefit for participants of the program?
Here are some comments from class participants:
“I’ve been taking these classes twice a week since they started. I love the positive peer pressure that makes me go, even if I don’t really feel like it. I feel stronger and more balanced, and always leave class feeling happy and energized.”
“The quality and regularity of classes has made an enormous difference to my overall health. I have no chronic issues or repetitive strain injuries that I think normally I should have by now (at 48 years old, working in a desk job) and I really do credit the bi-weekly yogalates classes!“
“There were numerous benefits to me as a participant over the two-and-a-half years that I attended. Getting out of the ward in the middle of the day helped clear my brain; it made me much better when I returned to work. Moving my body at lunch was very good from a therapeutic point of view. Learning about Pilates and how my body moves helped my physiotherapy practice when I was moving my patient’s bodies and teaching them how to move. I learned that I love Pilates. It makes so much sense to me. I became much fitter and have been able to continue Pilates in the community, as I am no longer near enough to continue at ICORD. Lastly, I had ongoing right sacroiliac joint issues, which totally disappeared once I started the Pilates sessions at ICORD. They never returned!”
What kind of work and support does it take to maintain the program’s sustainability?
The program is not cumbersome to sustain. We run quarterly sessions, 15-17 weeks long. About a month before the current quarter ends, I confirm the instructors for the next session. Then I send an email to all current participants, advertise on display screens in our building, put up posters, and keep track of people who’ve signed up. When the new session starts, I collect participant payments, and our finance assistant does a bank deposit. She also processes monthly invoices from our instructors. We probably spend less than two hours a month maintaining the program.
Here’s an example of how we advertise the classes in our building-wide weekly newsletter:
If you could provide advice to other individuals or departments/units interested in starting up a grassroots healthy initiative, what would it be?
Find out what types of programs people want to do (and are willing to commit to) before trying to organize anything. Then, start with pilot projects to see if there’s interest before committing a lot of resources. Apply for a Healthy Workplace Initiatives Program grant or ask your department for shared funding support for the pilot.
What are the main reasons your program has been successful and are there any lessons you have learned?
I think our program has been so successful for several reasons. We’ve had such great instructors who have tailored classes to suit participants. The classes are really convenient, the atmosphere is fun and supportive and not too serious, and the cost is quite low compared to similar classes elsewhere.
How do you personally thrive in your life?
I don’t know if I’m thriving or not, but I do try to keep balance in my life. Work takes up a lot of my time, but I do go to these classes at lunch twice a week, as well as playing drop-in soccer with my husband and a great group of people. I have fun with my husband cooking (relatively) healthy meals together. I love to knit, which I find quite meditative, and I try to get outside and enjoy nature as much as I can (unless it’s raining).
ICORD (International Collaboration On Repair Discoveries) is an interdisciplinary research centre focused on spinal cord injury. ICORD researchers are dedicated to the development and translation of more effective strategies to promote prevention, functional recovery, and improved quality of life after spinal cord injury. Located at Vancouver General Hospital in the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, ICORD is supported by UBC Faculty of Medicine and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.
Photo credit: ICORD
Posted in Guest Contributor, Thriving Campus | Tagged community, fitness, healthy workplace initiatives, HWIP, ICORD, physical activity, teamwork, thriving campus, VGH, workplace health | Leave a response