Getting physically active, where to start?


By:  Reed Phinisey, Coordinator, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center

You start where you are!  There is no sense setting a goal that is not realistic.  It takes time to develop fitness and weeks of training is needed to “run a mile” if you are currently sedentary.  One way to break it up is to build a SMART goal.  No, I don’t mean intellectually, well kind of; not the word ‘smart’ but rather the acronym.






Using such a tool is helpful in developing goals that are individually tailored, and therefore more likely to be achieved. Furthermore, figure on short-term and long-term goals. Here’s an example of a short-term goal:

“I will go for a 30-minute brisk walk twice next week”.

Short term goals are a great tool for building towards a more long-term goal. They relate well and even build off one another.  If you are successful going for two 30-minute walks, you’ll build on that to look something like “I will go for two 30-minute walks each week for the next month”.  Eventually you may increase to three walks per week as you work up to the 150 minutes per week that is the current physical activity recommendation for maintaining health.   If you were not successful meeting your goal to take two 30-minute walks, that’s o.k.  Your next step is figuring out why it didn’t work, and adjusting the goal.  Perhaps you needed to have specified a time that you’ll go for those walks?  The days just got away from you and it didn’t happen.  So now you try “I will get up 30 minutes early to go for a brisk walk twice next week”.  Give that a try.  If it doesn’t work, tweek it again – “I’ll use my lunch break for a brisk walk twice next week”.  Keep trying until you find something that works!  Maybe walking isn’t for you and you decide “I will ride my bike around campus for 30 extra minutes twice next week”.  Eventually you’ll run into what works for you!

Using short-term goals allows us to build adherence towards a program and work progressively towards a larger goal. This progression also allows us to adapt along the way when we potentially do encounter hiccups.

And at the end of the day it’s for you and not for anyone else. We don’t need to compare ourselves with portrayals of what is “fit” or healthy or with our peers but rather find victory in the little things. This doesn’t need to be quantitative (ex: lbs. lost) but it should rather be qualitative (ex: I’m feeling better).

Come As You Are.


The Truth about carbs



By:  Michelle Sweeney, Nutrition Peer Counselor,  Fit-well Center, UC Davis

Carbohydrates, and whether or how much to consume, fill our social media feeds, but many people don’t know what carbohydrate is and what function is serves in our bodies.

Why do we need carbs in the first place? Carbohydrates are our body’s first choice in energy. We need carbohydrates to fuel our everyday activities, as well as any exercise.  Carbohydrates are long chains of starch molecules that break down easily to the simple sugar, glucose, our brain depends on. We need carbohydrates in our diet for fuel so that other macronutrients such as protein and fat can work to build muscle, repair your body, and regulate systems.

Carbs, or carbohydrates, can be classified into two categories: simple and complex. The simple ones are what most people think of first. These are usually made from refined grains, with added sugar and can raise blood sugar quickly. Complex carbs, on the other hand are high in fiber and starch. They are usually less processed and are digested more slowly. They are more-filling than simple carbs due to the fiber content.

While most people thinks carbs are only things like pasta and bread, carbohydrates are found in many different foods, including, but not limited to: fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains. These foods offer important vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber, which are essential to both short-term and long-term health.

Choosing important and healthy carbohydrates everyday does not have to be a difficult process. You can switch out refined grains (white bread, French bread, white pasta etc.) for whole wheat or whole grain versions. You should try to have about a quarter of each meal be carbohydrate-rich grains, and shoot for at least half of your grains in a day as whole grains. Carbohydrate-rich foods work as a great base for meals. Whole wheat pasta with grilled chicken and vegetables and a bit of olive oil provides whole grains in the pasta, complex carbohydrates and nutrients in the vegetables, protein in the chicken, and healthy fat in the olive oil – great example of a balanced meal!

Many people try to avoid carbs because they believe it will help them lose weight or avoid various health problems, like inflammation. The reason cutting out carbs can give the appearance of weight loss is because carbohydrates bind to water in your body. Then, when you stop eating them, you lose water weight, not fat tissue. In the long run, the fiber provided by complex carbohydrates can give you a trimmer, less bloated appearance. Whole grains and other complex carbs play an important role in reducing inflammation and inflammatory markers indicating better overall health.

Overall, carbohydrate-rich foods provide many additional, non-carbohydrate nutrients and they can help improve your health in the long-term. They also provide your body with the energy it needs to thrive. So feel free to “carb-up”, just opt for complex carb sources like whole grains and fruits and vegetables, instead of refined simple carbs like white bread and sugary sweets.

I don’t have time…



you always have time

By:  Jackie Ahern, Nutrition Peer Counselor, Fitness and Wellness, UC Davis

“I don’t have time to…” fill in the blank with whatever old New Year’s resolution or healthy habit you’ve been wanting to implement in your life. Think: exercise, meal prep, take baths, or catch up with a friend. I find myself saying this a lot, meanwhile I somehow always find the time to binge watch Friends until 1 am, when really I should have taken the extra minute to floss. We’ve all been there.

So what does it mean to not have time? Is it that there really isn’t enough hours in the day to take a 30 minute walk, or cut up some extra vegetables for the week? When you do the math, there’s 1440 minutes in a day and 30 minutes is only 2% of that. This calls for a change in perspective.

Let’s talk about priorities. I’d like to challenge you to shift your way of thinking from, “I don’t have the time” to, “It’s not a priority for me right now.”

“I don’t have the time” is an absolute negative, where there is no possible way you could achieve this task and it is out of your control. It also removes yourself from the issue, ridding yourself from the responsibility of your own choices. It seems like an innocent enough mindset, but it is not a good strategy to live with intention.

Meanwhile, “It’s not a priority for me right now” is an acknowledgement of your own decision, that whatever you’re not doing (me personally: flossing) is a result of your own choices. This isn’t a negative thing, it’s an opportunity for self-reflection. You are in control of your priorities. Shifting your mindset in regards to your choices gives you the power to question if your current habits are your true priority. Ask yourself, is watching Netflix a priority over exercise? Is scrolling through social media a priority over cooking a balanced meal? If it is, great! If it isn’t, reflect on that and make a change.

With finals around the corner, studying will definitely be a high priority item for myself and other students; however don’t forget to make self-care a high priority as well. Take study breaks, fuel your body with good foods, and practice deep breathing if you feel stressed out. Good luck Healthy Aggies!

A Supervisor Guides You Through the CoHo at UC Davis



coho_ca_Padar (1)

By:  Jackie Ahern, Nutrition Peer Counselor, Fitness and Wellness Center, UC Davis

Every visit to the Coffee House seems to feel like an obstacle course. Do you wait in a 20 minute line just to wait another 15 for a latte? Should you get a salad? But the pizza line is pretty short… Where did she get that poke bowl?

Fear not. Let me guide you through saving money, time and options for plant eaters.

Saving Pennies        

As a college student, I’ll take any opportunity to save a few cents. Bring your own coffee cup to get 25 cents off any espresso drink and coffee refills for only $1.50. On top of that, bring your own clean plate or bowl for food purchased at the Coho and get 25 cents off your purchase. Saving pennies and the planet! And more: Skip the tortilla on your taco salad and save another 50 cents.

Skipping the Line

This year, the Coho rolled out a fancy new system: Tapingo. Through an app on your smartphone, you can now pre order and pay for your meal through the Tapingo app. No more waiting in line, nifty!

Avoiding Peak Hours

            If you’re able to, try to avoid the peak times. These include 9-10 am and 12-1 pm. Additionally 10 minutes before and after the hour are generally pretty busy any time of the day. Plan ahead to avoid the rush.

Vegetarian & Vegan Options

            I’ve spent my entire college career scouting out vegetarian and vegan options. It’s been a long process but here’s the wisdom I’ve gathered at each food area:

Swirlz: You can get almost any espresso drink made with soy for a few more cents. The only drink that can’t be made with soy are blasts, which are made with ice cream. Shucks.

  • Vegan note: The caramel, pumpkin spice and white chocolate sauces all have milk in them, but the chocolate sauce is vegan!

Ciao: Check out the hot sandwich line to the left and load up a delicious garden patty or black bean burger!

  • Vegan note: All the breads are vegan except for the whole wheat bun; it has yogurt in it.

Cooks: Stop by on Meatless Monday for delicious meat-free options every week at Cooks. They also distinguish vegan and vegetarian options on the menu.

TxMx: Ask for ½ beans ½ rice on your burrito or taco salad for an inexpensive and complete protein option! Also try out the Tofu Rojas made with delicious seasonings.

  • Vegan note: Make sure to ask for “no cheese” on your tortilla, as their default has cheese

Croutons: Load up a build your own baked potato or build your own salad for a nutritious and filling meal. Once it’s made, sprinkle on some nutritional yeast (those yellow flakes) for a nutty, cheesy and vitamin packed topping.

Chopstixx: Get your soup on with vegetarian pho (made with vegetable broth) and try out the quick and easy vegetarian sushi roll made with avocado, cucumber and carrots.

Fickle Pickle: Tofu salad is a great vegan addition to your usual sandwich, or throw it on a bagel with hummus!


Best wishes for managing the CoHo maze. In the end the drinks are caffeinated, the food is warm and the company is good. And if you have questions, just ask an employee. They’re there to help!

Making healthier choices eating out


By: Debbie Dang, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center

As students trying to survive the brutality of the quarter system at UC Davis, we sometimes find ourselves having little time to cook during the week. This forces us to go out and buy foods that are fast and easily accessible. But how can we eat healthy AND optimize our time simultaneously, living this lifestyle? Here are 10 tips to achieve both!

  1. Check what is in the food you’re considering ordering

The first step to eating healthier is to scan the ingredients. Doing this will help you make a decision that supports your nutrition goals.  Keep choosemyplate in mind and look for entrees with a balance of grains, protein and fruits and veggies. If you can’t find one, order a side of veggies.

  1. Go with a plan

People tend to arrive at a restaurant or food joint without a plan. This increases the chance of buying impulsively. Looking at the menu ahead of time can help you decide on a healthier meal and decrease that risk of buying an extra order of fries! So, take a quick study break and peruse the online menu.

  1. Practice portion control

Restaurants will often serve two to three times more than what is considered a serving on their food label. Instead of eating that whole platter, ask the restaurant to box up half of the meal into a to-go box. Or if you’re eating with a friend, share a meal.

  1. Watch your fat intake

Many processed and restaurant foods contain saturated fat in order to increase storage life and enhance the taste and mouthfeel. Eating too many of these fats can increase your chances of coronary heart disease. Avoid eating more than 10% of your calories from saturated fats.  That would be about 22 gms per day maximum.  Sometimes this information is difficult to find at restaurants.  Beware of large quantities of fatty meats, cheese and butter.

  1. Minimize your sodium intake

Salt is used to reduce microbial growth and enhance the taste of foods, but eating too much can be detrimental to your health! A high salt intake can result in hypertension or high blood pressure. Limit your salt intake to less than 2,300 mg/day. When eating out, ask the restaurant to minimize the salt and use herbs and spices to add flavor instead!

  1. Skip the sweetened beverage

Sweetened beverages like boba milk tea or soda have a high sugar content, which can increase your risk for Type 2 Diabetes over time. Skip these sugar-laden drinks and drink water instead! If water is too bland for you, an alternative is to drink water that is infused with vegetables or fruit.  Most restaurants will provide a lemon wedge. 

  1. Substitute some items on your plate

Making simple changes by substituting foods with healthier choices can make a big difference in the long run. For example, when ordering a taco bowl at Chipotle, you can choose brown rice instead of white rice. Or instead of buying a side of fries, ask for a side of vegetables.

  1. Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets

It’s easy to fall into the temptation of all-you-can eat buffets. Eating at a buffet oftentimes invokes students to “eat their money’s worth.” But the foods at buffets are usually high in fat and salt. Overeating these foods may increase your risk for high cholesterol, hypertension, and heart disease! Take the opportunity to load up on veggies at the salad bar.

  1. Ask for sauces and dip on the side

Restaurants will often mix your salads or fries with the sauce for your convenience. Some of these sauces can make your healthy meal unhealthy! Asking for sauces on the side will help you monitor how much you use. 

  1. Practice mindful eating

It takes time for your body to send cues to your brain to tell you you’re full. Oftentimes distractions like your phone or favorite TV series may cause you to be less attentive to your body cues. This can lead to overeating. However, being mindful of your body cues will help you avoid this. To practice mindful eating, eat slowly and without distractions. Listening to how much your body actually wants will help you practice eating only until you’re full.

Try these tips the next time you go out to eat! Choosing healthier choices will be beneficial in the long run and help you take control of your life.


Oh crap.


By: Monika Ax, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center

Hey Healthy Aggies! I know you love reading about different health topics and learning new ways to improve your daily lifestyle, but today I’m here to talk about something a little more personal, and a little nastier…going number 2! It is something that EVERYBODY does (surprise), but for some reason, people are too shy to talk about. Doing your business is one of the most important things you can do in the day for your body. We need to poop every day to get rid of wastes and toxins! If you are continuously having trouble in the toilet, it might be your body’s way of telling you something is wrong in your diet or lifestyle. The average person goes to the bathroom 1-3 times a day (sometimes more if you’re lucky), and the health of your cycle can tell you how well your digestive track is working.

For those of you that struggle with a irregular cycle, do not fret! Ditch the coffee and laxatives, because I’m here to give you some tips and tricks that have been proven to get your digestive tract back on track.

Tip 1: Eat more fiber!

It is recommended that you get 25-30 grams of fiber a day from your foods. However, the average adult is only getting about 15 grams of fiber. Fiber is a weird nutrient because we don’t actually digest it, but it aids in getting your digestive tract flowing. Soluble fiber (oats, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans…) dissolves with water and helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Insoluble fiber (bran, lentils, vegetables) absorb water and bulk up your digestive tract, which helps to get things moving along. Try switching to whole grain products over refined grains, and consuming WHOLE fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils.

Tip 2: Drink more water!

Going off of tip one, it is important to make sure you are drinking enough water every day to actually get your GI tract moving. Otherwise, all the food/ toxins/ fiber will just get clogged up inside you. Water helps flush out toxins and push your stool right on out! Try drinking 8 oz. of water 30 minutes before a meal, and 30 minutes after. Avoid drinking water during meals because this can cause unwanted bloating!

Tip 3: Get more sleep, and keep a regular sleeping pattern!

Our bodies run on clockwork. For most people, certain times a day are associated with meal time. The same goes for our digestive tracts! If you are consistently getting enough sleep, and going to bed and waking up at the same time, your body and digestive tract will catch on to that. You will start to develop a regular bathroom schedule, as your body knows when it wants to go. If you throw off your sleeping pattern, your digestive tract will be thrown off as well. A well-rested body makes everything function better!

Tip 4: Get moving!

If you’re sedentary all day, it’s more likely that your tract will get backed up. If you get outside, jump around, run, or do any type of physical activity. It will help to get your engine running! Not to mention it will help you feel better all around. Try going on a walk first thing in the morning, or mid after-noon if you’re feeling a little bloated.

Give these tips and tricks a try! I can assure you that your body and gut will thank me later.


Grocery 101

Grocery BlogpostBy: Joely Zeng, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center

As college students, finding the motivation and time to cook everyday can be a nightmare. Meal prep as you may know is a great option to solve this dilemma but do you ever think, how do I start? Or do you have an idea of what you want to cook for the week but are unsure of how to maximize your grocery shopping? Here are some tips on how to get started and to get the best bang for your buck.

  1. Plan Beforehand

Arrive at the grocery store with a plan in mind of what your menu is going to be. I always like to think that I can make up a menu on the spot if I see ingredients like on an episode of Chopped. But it ends up being a task that is unrealistic, time consuming, and can make you spend more, so stick to at least having an idea of what you would like to meal prep. Another method to save money is to think of or pick recipes where ingredients can overlap with other recipes. This means that you can either meal prep more than recipe or you can reuse the ingredients for a future recipe. Using seasonal produce in your menu for the week can also help cut down on costs as those ingredients are sold at cheaper prices because of large abundance.

  1. Make a List and Eat a Snack

Make a list of all the ingredients you need to purchase. I’ve definitely been a victim of going back to the same grocery store to grab an ingredient I forgot. Lists are not only satisfying to either check off or scratch off, but they’ll help prevent you from forgetting anything. Before you head out the door with your list also try to eat a snack. This will help you avoid buying extra snacks or foods you thought looked super appealing at the store. What’s even more dangerous is that when you’re hungry, the snacks or foods that are so attractive tend to also not be the healthiest like pizza or chips.

  1. Location Location Location!

Location is also something you should be thinking about when buying the ingredients on your list. Unfortunately not all grocery stores have the same pricing for ingredients. So let’s breakdown the available major supermarkets that you could possibly shop at in Davis and you can decide which one is the right one for you.

From my experience..

Trader Joe’s  

  • Cheapest produce
  • Great selection of prewashed and precut fruits/vegetables
  • Raw meats & cheese are a bit pricier
  • Missing name brand products


  • Cheaper dairy products (i.e. cheese)
  • Good selection of cheap sliced bread
  • Cheap raw meats
  • Produce is relatively cheap


  • Expensive produce
  • Has the most coupons/sales
  • Convenience of being open 24/7

Grocery Outlet

  • Cheap produce, meats, snacks (basically everything)
  • Best-by/ Expiration dates very near on most products
  • Lack of variety

For the best results, mix and match to save the most money.


To be efficient and get the most bang for your buck, plan accordingly and go to the grocery that best fits the specific ingredients. In addition, show up at the grocery store not hungry with a prepared menu in mind and list in hand.