By: Peter Angelis, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Housing & Hospitality Services, UCLA
It may already be the month of February, but it’s never too late to start thinking about personal health and wellness goals for 2014. When I look around our own work environment at UCLA, I see tremendous opportunities for making healthy choices in the foods we eat and in our daily physical activity habits.
On the nutrition front, in Fall Quarter 2013, we opened “Bruin Plate” our newest dining hall on Campus and the FIRST health-themed dining hall in the United States. If you haven’t tried it, please join us for breakfast, lunch, or dinner to taste a variety of unique dishes using unprocessed and sustainable “superfoods” like: kale, farro, quinoa, legumes, acai berries, lentils, and more. The beauty of Bruin Plate is that making healthy food choices is not only easy, but extremely enjoyable because the flavor combinations are thoughtfully conceived and executed. The feedback from our students, the main consumers of Bruin Plate’s fare, has been overwhelmingly positive and the number of people dining at this new venue has exceeded our estimates. Perhaps it begs the question to ask why students are choosing “mindful eating” over the traditional dining hall “comfort foods” such as hamburgers, pizza, and fries. Whatever the personal factors are for making this nutritional switch, we are excited to offer these new culinary choices and we are delighted that they are becoming so popular.
Another positive health trend that is developing in my own office is the example of fellow team members who are making physical activity a priority in their daily lives. Many of us have become “Fitbit” friends and we share in a collegial competition to obtain our minimum of 10,000 footsteps per day. We are both walkers and runners and, with the LA Marathon coming up in March, we enjoy the convenience of training opportunities at our doorstep – whether it’s Drake Stadium for a noon stair climbing session or a fast walk along the perimeter of Campus. Then, there are our BHIP aficionados who work-out at 6:15am before they even start their day in the office! I encourage you to find your physical activity niche at UCLA with so many opportunities for improving your daily health through fitness.
I started running at the ripe old age of 50, and wish I had started decades ago. My first mile was a very unpleasant experience. Amazingly by my 10th try, I was up to the magical 3 mile mark and never looked back. I really enjoy it and find it meditative and fulfilling. It gives me an aerobic buzz that lasts many hours into the evening while clearing my mind in a way that separates work from life outside of work. Running also gives me a perspective of LA that I had never realized before. We really live in a city that can be navigated without a car, bike or bus. By taking differing tracks across town, you see new neighborhoods and stumble across places that you would never find just driving by.
My usual midweek run is the campus perimeter at 4.2 miles, preferring to handle it in the counter clockwise direction- although the Hilgard Hill is always a challenge even when warmed up by that point. I’m curious when I run, why others go the clockwise route. I sometimes wonder if they know something I don’t and I begin to second guess my strategy. This sort of thinking helps me clear my mind and takes my thoughts away from the rigors of running. Pandora is also an inseparable part of my running experience, where I rely on EDM to guide my pace and rhythm to match the incline or decline that confronts me (I’m an opera lover too but find that it really does not suffice for running).
On weekends, I often run from the Wooden Center to the Santa Monica Pier, which is roughly a 10K (6.2 miles) depending on whether you head down San Vincente or Montana after the VA. After a cup of coffee and lunch, I can take the bus back to Westwood. I think my running has greatly enhanced my understanding of the importance of eating right and getting exercise. It has also allowed me to see the incredibly special places that are UCLA and LA.
If you don’t know where to get started or if you are looking for an opportunity to meet fellow UCLA community members who are making their New Year’s health resolutions into a reality, sign-up for the “True Bruin Move and Groove 5K Run/Walk” on March 30, 2014. It’s being sponsored by UCLA’s staff assembly and the Healthy Campus Initiative, and this inaugural event is going to be a lot of fun. Plus, it’s an opportunity to show-off our beautiful Campus to your loved ones as registration is open to everyone. Start planning those healthy New Year’s resolutions today – you deserve it.
Enjoy a healthy and happy 2014!
Resources: To learn more about Bruin Plate and see photos of healthy menu items, you can visit: http://bruinplate.hhsmarketing.org/index.php