How to Create your own Healthy Environment

by Katelyn Massarelli

Let’s make this clear —I’m the last person who should be educating others on how to create a healthy environment. Even though I’ve struggled with my health on top of everything else in college, recognizing that is the first step to correcting the behavior.

From work to school to managing an organization there were many times my health took the back burner. It’s not an uncommon sight to see me hoovering a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich, or devouring my usual Chipotle order before class.

Above all else, my reliance on coffee doctored with an asinine amount of half-and-half is going to be the death of me.

My best piece of advice would be to embrace the fact that some days — or weeks — your eating habits are going to take a nosedive.

There is one organization on campus that I wish I’d found sooner than a month before graduation. For those students looking to become truly conscious about their health, LiveWell UT offers FHIT.

The organization is designed to encourage students who may normally struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle a way to get a grip on their habits.

Shannon Irwin, president of FHIT and allied health major, organized an event this semester for students to create their own workout with the group. Irwin, while she may not be formally certified in planning workouts, believes that all you need to know is someone’s experience with fitness.

“It’s about explaining to students that fitness is not just about going to the gym seven days a week and working out left and right and lifting weights,” Irwin said. “It’s about finding what works for your body and also doing what you enjoy, so if you don’t like running you don’t have to run. If you love yoga, go do yoga.”

FHIT also holds events relating to eating disorder awareness and proper meal planning. The club also posts workouts regularly for students to try on their Instagram page at ut_fhit.

I attended my own “Create-a-Workout” session with Irwin to see what it was all about.

We started by discussing my basic workout history. Up until my junior year of high school, I was a competitive swimmer. When I came to UT, I picked up yoga starting my freshman year, and began attending courses at Punch Boxing my junior year.

I truly enjoy working out, but my motivation and dedication has always ebbed and flowed. I walked away from the meeting with the understanding that the best thing I could do for myself was what I loved. It was time to pick up boxing and yoga again.

To accompany these activities, Irwin helped me plan a full-body workout consisting of squats, shoulder presses, push-ups and more. These would be done in increments that fall under guidelines for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).   

The first week on my new workout regiment proved to be more intense than I thought, so much so I decided to do it in the comfort of my own home.  Before each workout, I’d make sure to loosen myself up with a quick 15 minute walk along the Hillsborough River.

It was nice to get outside on nice days. What I noticed about my workouts was that it was becoming a routine and more a chore than anything else, so I used Irwin’s advice and got back to doing what workouts I love and the workout we planned.

To try and make this feel like less of an inconvenience on my day, I recruited my roommate Katie to get involved in the day-to-day activities with me. It was now a joint effort, and we were able to keep each other accountable.

We meal prepped together and downloaded the app MyPlate to track our calories and maintain our goals.

It’s important to note that Katie and I are imperfect people when it comes to healthy lifestyles. Don’t get me wrong, we dropped the ball multiple times, and there are times where we’d rather watch Ant-Man than worry about actually getting off the couch.

But the days we did we never regretted. It was easier not to be lazy when I had someone with the same health goals as myself.

FHIT also holds events relating to eating disorder awareness and also other events like DIY Salad Bar nights and meetings related to healthy eating. The club also posts workouts regularly for students to try on their Instagram page at ut_fhit. 

Katelyn Massarelli can be reached at

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