Up Hill Both Ways: the UA Guide to Combatting the Freshman 15
As the child looks down at their plate filled with luke-warm vegetables they groan as they realize that they must be eaten before having dessert. This common adolescent memory of being forced to eat those green vegetables is no longer an issue in college life. The independence of being able to eat a plate filled with pizza and fries without limitations can be exciting, but the freedom to choose unhealthy food can be negative.
Research has found that about 10 percent of college freshman gain the dreaded 15 pounds in their first semester, according to a study found on the CBS news website.
The study also shows that 25 percent of students actually lost weight instead, revealing that the fearful “freshman 15” is preventable.
While all of those mopeds zooming around campus may seem like the perfect way to get to those classes across campus, taking the effort to walk is a simple way to hinder weight gain.
“To avoid the ‘freshman 15’, I would recommend walking everywhere,” said Brett Adamie, freshman chemical engineering major. “Save the bus for emergencies or trips all the way across campus.”
Walking to class may mean getting up a few extra minutes for time sake, but riding a bike can cut the travel to class time in half and allow exercise simultaneously.
The extra pounds are mainly consequences of the new freedom that freshman experience as they break away from home.
“I’d say the freshman 15 is all about the freedom,” Adamie said. “When I first got here, I ate ice cream every day just because I could.”
The new atmosphere of college can affect normal health habits factoring into the causes of the “freshman 15”.
“The Freshman 15 sometimes results from coping with stress by eating more times a day—like ordering out for pizza in the evening. Sometimes students make choices just because the food is available rather than thinking about eating a balanced diet and keeping quantities at a reasonable level,” said Mary Alice Serafini, director of Pat Walker Health Center. “Other factors include sleep deprivation, not adjusting to a schedule that includes three meals a day, and not including exercise as a way to keep balanced.”
UA students can prevent the “freshman 15” in fun ways too. The HPER and new union recreation center offer a gym and group exercise classes so keeping in shape can be more of a hobby instead of a task.
“The HPER is always open, and the indoor track there is great,” Adamie said. “You can just run a few laps to blow off steam. The group work out classes are nice too. No one there judges you if you can’t do everything or if you sit a few exercises out (or even if you fall). I go to two classes a week, and I love it.”
The obvious factor of diet is something that every student can control. Brough and the NW Quads dining halls offer healthy choices every day including a salad bar and fresh fruits and vegetables.
“Just like any time in their lives, eating a balanced diet three times a day and sticking to healthy snacks can make a big difference,” Serafini said. “Not choosing fast foods on or off campus will make a big difference as well.”
Sometimes just being around the temptation of unhealthy choices can strongly influence the prospect of participating in them.
“I try to avoid hanging out in the dining halls for too long,” Adamie said. “It’s far too easy to go back for seconds or thirds that you don’t really need.”
Students can even become involved in choosing the entrees that the dinning halls prepare by going to UA dinning website at www.dineoncampus.com/razorbacks, and becoming a part of the Food Committee. Students can also email Lisa at Brough—firstname.lastname@example.org , Mike at the NW Quad—email@example.com, or Rachel at Pomfret—firstname.lastname@example.org and make suggestions at their favorite dinning hall.
There is no doubt that razorback athletes are in top shape, but UA students do not have to be NCAA athletes to play sports, there are over 30 intramural sports offered allowing fitness, fun and teamwork in one activity. Students can register by going to uark.athleague.com.
The stories of “freshman 15” should not cause worry, but awareness that college is a place for new beginnings and liberties, nevertheless staying healthy should always be considered.
“Make good choices- check out the information available from Chartwells about a healthy diet. Quite frankly, making sure that a person eats three meals a day is more of a concern for many students who will go without eating for hours and then splurge,” Serafini said. “Keeping the balance, setting up and sticking to a lifestyle that includes exercise and stress management will help a lot.”