Stand with victory in the battle of the bulge

by Beacon Staff • September 13, 2006

With the beginning of the new school year comes cafeteria food and late-night studying and snacking, precipitating the dreaded pattern of weight gain known as the "freshman 15.,Last week, Emerson's class of 2010 landed in Boston full of excitement and anxiety.

With the beginning of the new school year comes cafeteria food and late-night studying and snacking, precipitating the dreaded pattern of weight gain known as the "freshman 15." Unfortunately, many aspects of the average college student's lifestyle lead to pound packing.

Luckily, there are ways to stop the ominous fat cloud hanging over the heads of freshman.

Freshman marketing communications major Kimberley Hobart and her roommate, freshman writing for film and television major Julia Layton are fairly confident they will win the battle of the freshman 15, and why not?

According to the Dorm Room Diet, a book by Daphne Oz, only 6% of American college sophomores gain 15 pounds or more during their freshman year. In spite of this statistic every college student should take steps to staying healthy and happy, regardless of their weight, height or age.

Diana Keuilian, a nationally certified personal trainer and graduate of Biola University in Southern California, is the author of Avoid the Freshman 15, a Guide for College Students.

Keuilian became interested in physical fitness and nutrition as a young teenager, she said in an e-mail interview. The early interest lead to a healthy college career.

"The three most important steps in avoiding weight gain are setting a goal, practice nutritional eating, and creating an exercise program," she wrote. Keuilian knows that it is not easy for college students to fit exercise into their jam-packed schedules, but she encourages them to make it a priority.

"Make exercise a must-do activity and squeeze it into your schedule," Keuilian said.

She recommends 30 minutes of exercise at least three times per week in order to ward off weight gain.

"Weight gain is caused by increase in calorie intake, decrease in physical activity, and metabolism killing behaviors," she wrote.

Keuilian has also written many articles related to healthy weight loss. In one of them, she explains that college cafeterias may take part in weight gain: the abundance of desserts, the all-you-can-eat atmosphere and greasy main dishes, such as pizza and lasagna, take their caloric toll.

Instead of these foods, Keuilian suggest that students choose vegetables, fruits, whole meats, lean meats and whole food dairy.

And look out, ladies-- the freshman 15 is more likely to affect women than men.

According to Keuilian, men are blessed with higher metabolisms and are more physically active than women, decreasing their chance for weight gain.

Students should also keep their alcohol consumption in check, Keuilian said.

"Increased consumption of any nutrient-depreived food item will lead to weight gain," she wrote. "For some, this takes the form of alcohol...for others, brownies or blended coffee drinks."

A good way to enjoy a occasional cocktail is to cut the amount of calories in the beverage from the days of dessert, Keuilian said.

While body image is a huge factor in a college-aged woman desire to lose weight, there are other benefits to shedding a few pounds.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services website at CDC.gov, being overweight or obese increases the risk of hypertension, type two diabetes, heart disease, and many other health problems.

If you are experiencing trouble with weight gain in college, fear not.

"Weight gain does not have to be a mystery that plagues you and makes you hate your body. There is a proven system that explains why you are gaining weight and how to easily stop the weight gain and transform your body into one that you can be proud of," Keuilian said.

For more information Keuilian's book, visit avoidthefreshman15.com

Other useful websites to assist in weight lost are fitday.com, consumer.gov/weightloss and thedietchannel.com.