By Jaclyn Mack
Trying to lose weight is a hard to begin with, but trying to lose the freshman 15 seems to be even harder.
“Gaining the freshman 15 was easy; it’s trying to take it off that makes it so dreaded,” said Angela Menzel, a 20-year-old junior at Binghamton University.
Menzel is talking about the weight gain many students experience during college. It is known as the freshman 15 because most students gain 15 pounds in their first year alone.
Weight problems are constantly on the minds of many students.
“What did you eat last night?” asks Menzel during dinner.
“I was so bad I ate an entire meal at 1 a.m.,” says Duwed Richard, an 18-year-old freshman at BU. “I can’t believe how much weight I gained, and it is impossible to lose it.”
Alexa Schmidt the BU nutritionist attributes the weight gain, to the high-fat, high-calorie foods in the dinning hall, stress from schoolwork and partying.
Max Rosenberg is living proof.
“With less healthy choices to choose from and being so stressed from school, all I want is a greasy burger,” says Rosenberg, an 18-year-old freshman in BU. “Maybe that’s why my clothes don’t fit the way they used to.”
Many students say that when they come to college their eating patterns change and they are no longer eating the healthy meals their parents used to make.
Fortunately, students looking to lose weight have options. Joining Fitspace or the gym on campus is one. The gym offers classes, weight training, a pool and cardio machines to work off calories.
“I love Fitspace; I go swimming three times a week and try to run on the treadmill whenever I can,” states Sabrina Schneider, a 19-year-old sophomore at BU. “The Fitspace has helped me maintain my weight all through college so far.”
Fitspace isn’t free; depending on the plan it costs $95 to $290. This may seem a bit pricy, but it is cheaper than other local gyms.
Schneider says eating six small meals made in her room is the most helpful part of keeping the weight off. “I would make cereal, peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches or eat a cup of fruit,” she says.
If exercise doesn’t seem to be working by itself, a student can always go to http://www.budining.com/eating.html to see the healthier choices when eating in the dining hall. There is even a meal plan people can follow to ensure that they are eating around 1,200 calories a day, the recommended amount according to the national nutritional pyramid.
For students who have tried going to the gym and eating healthy on their own but find it is not working, Mission Meltdown is another way to go. Schmidt runs this free weight-loss program, which goes on all semester long and includes meal guides, exercise programs and weekly weigh-ins.
Schmidt’s motto for Mission Meltdown and for anyone trying to lose weight is to eat anything you want, but eat in moderation and in small portions. She believes that if you want ice cream you should get only around four ounces, not a 16-ounce cup.
Mission Meltdown is set up so you can choose the foods you want to eat and have an exercise program, while still having fun doing it. The weekly weigh-ins take place at health services.
This program is doable, with all the support from other students and a plan based on your personal likes and dislikes. And it is easy to get to, since it takes place on campus.
There is also a local Weight Watchers meeting students can attend Saturday mornings either at 8 or 9:45 at 201 Main St. Weight Watchers is a for-profit program that allows people to eat as much as they want as long as they stay within their “flex points.” There are also weekly weigh-ins and meetings for support.
The program is set up so that every food has a certain number of points. Members eat any foods they like as long as they stay within that number.
Members must also drink six cups of water and two cups of milk daily, eat at least five cups of fruits and vegetables, and have two tablespoons of vegetable oil. The program also encourages daily exercise.
“We get a lot of college students that come to our meetings; they seem to enjoy the fact that they get so much support and that there are weekly weigh-ins,” said Genie Puccie, the local Weight Watchers leader who has lost a total of 70 pounds. “The students seem to be the people who are the most successful in our program.”
Weight Watchers costs $11 a week, which may be too costly for some college students.
But Menzel said the benefits make up for the cost.
“It seems to be the only program that worked for me,” Menzel said. “I have lost 10 pounds in four weeks, and I haven’t felt this good about myself in awhile.”
Anyway you choose to lose the weight, the most important thing to remember, according to Schmidt, is that you stay within 1,200 – 1,400 calories and follow a weekly exercise routine. If you do, she said, the weight will come off.
And you will be healthier and happier as a result.
© Jaclyn Mack