Freshman 15: Gaining or losing

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We have all heard of the scary but real freshman 15, that unwanted extra weight college students gain during their first year and sometimes keep after.

“I thought it wouldn’t happen to me, I’ve always pretty much maintained the same weight, but everything changed once I got here,” said MSU nursing junior Cyrelle Wheeler.

Over the last year, Wheeler has decided to become more active after a visit with her primary care physician.

“I went to the doctor last year, and he basically told me you’re fat and that puts strain on your knees,” said Wheeler. “I already knew I had bad knees due to me tearing my ACL, but that’s when I knew it was really time to change something.”

According to her doctor, added weight would put pressure on Wheeler’s knees and make them worse than they already were. If she continues to gain weight she will risk being able to walk as well as she does now.

Wheeler admitted that she had “definitely gotten huskier” during her time in school, and for the sake of her knees alone things had to change beginning with what she chose to eat.

“I lived on campus my first year, and while it was nice having many options in the café, it didn’t help with my weight gain,” said Wheeler. “The food was decent, but what made it even better was me having the convenience of grabbing whatever on the go.”

Wheeler compared the cafeteria food to fast food and stated that it was nothing like her mom’s home-cooked meals which often included all the nutrients she needed and no choice of anything else.

“In college, I made my own plate filled with everything but vegetables, I loaded up on the carbs and every cafe had dessert for every meal including breakfast,” she said. “I had to give all of that up and start making better choices.”

Wheeler started by eating more protein and veggies while also decreasing her intake of heavy carbs like bread and pasta dishes.

According to an unofficial survey conducted via twitter by the Spartan News room, about three in four voters said they gained weight while in college.

Chemere Matthis is also a student at Michigan State who says she was a victim of the freshman 15.

“I am used to my weight going up and down, but this time it stayed up and never really went down,” said Mathis.

In January of this year Matthis started searching the East Lansing area for places where she could go to exercise.

“My dorm had a gym, which was convenien,t and so did my apartment complex when I moved,” said Matthis. “But that just never seemed to work out for me.”

Matthis liked the idea of her apartment having those added amenities, however she didn’t find it very motivating.

“I needed more guidance on how to work out, like what to do and stuff,” said Matthis. “I can have access to a gym all day, but this college weight gain isn’t going anywhere without some extra help.”

During her search, Matthis found several group workout places, but her main challenge was finding one in a college students budget.

With her research came free passes where she could try out the workout facilities before committing. She decided on Red Effect Fitness, which is located near campus in the Frandor Shopping Center in Lansing.

“If I was going to actually work out, I needed to have fun while doing it,” said Matthis. “After day two of my seven-day trial, I was ready to sign up and lose this freshman 20.”

The Red Effect offered group classes that included a trainer which was just what Matthis was looking for.

So far Matthis has been working out for a few months now. Her goal is to shed of all of her college weight by her graduation in May 2019.

Andre Morgan is also a student with a weight goal for his graduation day. His goal is to gain freshman 15.

“I’ve been skinny and short all my life. If I could gain at least 15 pounds that would be great,” said Morgan. “Freshman 15 would be my dream.”

Morgan is on a mission to gain weight by the time he graduates and is working out at the campus gym every day to accomplish his goal.

“It’s not often you see people looking to gain weight, but I am,” said Morgan. “It seems like nothing I eat sticks, so I’ve been going hard in the gym to gain muscle and maintain a healthy weight.”

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, maintaining a healthy eating plan, watching portion size, being active, and reducing sedentary time all contribute to maintain a healthy weight.

Dejanay Jones is a recent physical therapy graduate from Western Michigan University. While she did not gain any weight throughout her college career, she can relate to those that have.

“I was fortunate enough to not gain any extra weight, however if it wasn’t for me being so active before college I would’ve,” said Jones. “I also stayed active in college as well and kept myself on a strict diet.”

After Jones graduated, she became a personal trainer at Powerhouse in her free time.

“It’s a great way for me to stay fit and motivate others to do so too,” said Jones. “I personally like working with college students because I think getting them fit helps reduce stress.”

Jones also said that in her experience she’s noticed that after age 25 it becomes a lot harder to lose weight than it did as a teen. During her workouts with college students, she emphasizes goals and realistic ways to achieve them.

“It’s more than just the body, the mind is important,” said Jones. “If you stay dedicated, freshman 15 can go away and you can begin your plans to stay healthy and fit for 15 years later.”

Raven Bradford

Matthis tries group fitness at Go Workout.


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