SoWell Committee

What is the SoWell Committee?

The wellness committee was created over concern for student health and as a means to promote activities and initiatives in the Geograd society focused on keeping everyone living and thinking healthy.

First and foremost, Western has a wonderful Student Health Services; for any distress, mental or physical, this is always a great place to visit Student Health Services or Mental Health at Western. The committee will aim to provide more awareness of resources in the campus/London area for a variety of issues.

To the new Geograds, welcome! If any of you are curious about an initial trip to the gym and figuring out locker, towel, machines, busy times, classes, etiquette, gym fright, etc… let me or someone else from the committee know and we can help you take care of that (

The Wellness committee is peer led, and relies on peer experiences (perhaps even amateur expertise) to really drive events and initiatives.

The committee is absolutely committed to inclusive conceptions of health and well being for every single Geograd; the committee takes the stance that identifying as an active and healthy person does not relate to your physical appearance, background, disabilities or gender. Everyone can do everything.

Who is the SoWell Committee?

Great question, thanks for asking. Well for now I’m the head, but despite my best efforts, all those courses on anarchism I took in my undergrad have made me somewhat weary of wielding coercive power, so really anyone can throw in their two cents. Most of my interest, experience, and reading is in the exercise and mental aspects of health, other aspects, such as diet, pathology, and social well-being, I don’t know that much about, and thus don’t have anything to really offer others (and have much to learn). That’s where others will come in.

The wellness committee consists of anyone who wants to share some aspect of health, or feels they have something to offer their peers; please let me know if you are one of these people and would like to lead an event or initiative based around your hobby or specialty.

Initiative 1 – Resources

From time to time the Wellness committee will post resources on the Geograd website for those interested in diet, exercise, mental health and social well-being. The goal is to keep these mostly from professional, and preferably, academic, sources. But if you know a good Yoga studio or instructor, or found some great recipes for healthy vegetarian/omnivore meals, send them our way and we’ll post for everyone to share.

For an example of good fitness information there is the American College of Sports Medicine, I know from experience that students in health and exercise sciences, as well as physiotherapists and even trainers at the professional sports level use this organization’s website often in order to keep up with developments in various fields.

Also, as we speak NHL teams around Canada and the United States are gearing up for a new season. If you are interested how you might stack up to pros (though it really doesn’t matter), here are just a few of the fitness testing evaluations I know of (remember these are hockey and male physiology specific and do not therefore represent any sort of ‘ideal’ fitness, they are also very high level):

  1. Treadmill; Incline of 10 & speed 10 for as long as you can, less than 1 min = Fail
  2. Deadlift 1.5 times your body weight, less than 10 = Fail
  3. Barbell Benchpress 225 lbs as many times as possible, less than 1 = fail

Initiative 2 – Sports and Fitness Partners/Sign Up/ Interest Gauging

Over my three years in the Department I have heard all kinds of viewpoints on exercise and diet, and often there is a genuine interest in personal health but a lack of motivation, social support or knowledge. These are all things a partner may be able to provide. Further you can’t, or may not want to, play squash, badminton or basketball, spar, do yoga, or partake in many other sports alone, the goal here is to connect people’s sport and fitness interests.

In terms of finding workout partners, it is a personal preference thing. But for many the idea of having someone, either close or an acquaintance, to exercise with and share goals and results with is key to a happy and healthy life style.

Let me know what you want to do and what kind of partner you’re looking for and I’ll look around the department. If you are willing to share the information publically then I have cleared space on the cork board in the Warrntz Lounge. Anything along the lines of running, biking, yoga or hiking partners, squash opponents etc…

As with all initiatives, feel free to send me feedback on the idea if you want to help or think it sucks. Send an email to Suzanne (

Initiative 3 – Mental Health Awareness ALWAYS

As a former sufferer of severe depression and anxiety I loved the idea of Mental Health Awareness week, it gave me the impression that for at least one week everyone would understand my (and many others’) crippling and agonizing mental state.

Of course Mental Health Week (first week of May) is a wonderful thing, but mental illness is a constant when you have it. Part of the goal of the committee will be to promote and talk about this whenever it’s relevant. The hope is to foster an understanding and accepting of mental illness in everyday life (i.e. avoid terms like ‘psycho’, ‘mental’ and ‘schizo’ as negative adjectives).

The same way it is generally (and should be) acceptable for people to mention having a cold, being diabetic, having gluten intolerance, or being allergic to cats, there is nothing wrong with being depressed, prone to panic attacks, bi-polar, anxious etc… It should also be perfectly normal, if one is so inclined, to share these feelings publically without stigma or backlash.

As the committee moves forward we will think of more stuff to do with this, group discussions, fundraising, etc…

Well that’s it for now, see you next time.

– Wellness Committee


Ever Feel like an Imposter?

Whether you are new to grad school or years into your program, imposter syndrome or the imposter phenomenon (IP) is something you have most likely dealt with. Its symptoms often include a lack of confidence, or feeling that you do not deserve success. As the links point out, it is probably irrational to think that you do not possess any weaknesses- indeed these should be addresses and or monitored to be as successful as possible. But I would argue there is more irrationality when we think less of ourselves and shrug off past successes as ‘lucky’ or undeserved. As difficult as the job market is at the moment, why should employers be confident in our abilities and skills if we are not?

Introduction to IP:


Rock on,


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