Boot Camp fitness: Going beyond course requirements

By By Shaunda Wickham, COMMENTARY
On January 17, 2013

As I walked to REC 100 for the first time, my heart waspounding. Every step I took as I moved closer to my destination sent a wave of various emotions. With the first step there was a wave of excitement. With another step there was a wave of panic.

I continued walking, cycling through fear, doubt, relief and more panic.

What was I thinking?

It was my first day attending PEM 2930, Boot Camp Fitness I, and as my hand reached for the door, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

As I walked in, I opened my eyes to see if fear or excitement should win the emotional tug of war.

I was surrounded by young, fit bodies ready to work out. This was nothing like the boot camps I attended before, where the majority of the class had similar body shapes and weight loss goals as I did.

No, this class was ready to go. My partner looked like he wasa Marine fresh out of the front lines.

What was I thinking?

I was thinking that it was time to stop struggling with my weight that it was time to put down the delicious slices of pizza, to stop ordering the taco stacks from Moes, to stop makingmy amazing triple chocolate brownies that are little bites of heaven and time to stop drinking soda. It was time to get off the couch, to stop watching so much television and to finally beactive.

Nearly five years ago, I delivered the perfect little excuse for gaining 75 pounds. He was amazing. He had two eyes, one nose, one mouth, 10 fingers and 10 toes, but only weighed eight of those 75 pounds.

I didnt let the fact that I could only fit into sweats and baggy T-shirts stop me from ordering delicious sesame chicken with a side of egg rolls and crab rangoon, nor did it stop me from downing a liter of Pepsi every day. My little guy was the perfect excuse to sit around and watch the Wiggles and play on the floor as he learned to scoot and crawl.

Fast forward and my eating habits and sedentary lifestyle havent changed much. The only thing that has changed is my status as a full-time undergraduate student. Though obesity is increasingly becoming a problem with college students, Im facing a problem bigger than the Freshman 15.

I know Im not alone. According to the American College Health Association, by the fall of 2011, the percent of overweight and obese American college students had increased to 29.2 percent.

My personal goal is to lose 100 pounds which will put me exactly where I need to be on the body mass index chart. Right now my BMI is at 41.5. Thats right Im officially obese.

But even with the massive weight gain, Ive never considered myself obese. When I look down at myself or lookin the mirror, I see overweight, but the word obese brings such a new dimension to the problem that I am really facing.

Its no longer an issue with not fitting into clothes, or fitting comfortably into lecture hall chairs or roller coaster seats. I have reached a bigger problem a health risk. According to WebMD, people struggling with obesity have a high risk of dangerous health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, strokes and other serious conditions.

Since its January, Im sure that many students may have also joined boot camp in an effort to keep their New Years Resolutions. Weight loss has become more than just a resolution for me. I need to be healthy and set a good example for my son. Obesity is no longer just an issue for adults it is becoming a high risk for children as well.

My husband and I make sure our son is maintaining a healthy weight, is active and has healthy eating habits. I now need to shift that discipline from him to myself.

Ive also enlisted the help of a personal trainer. My intentions are clear to take full advantage of USFs gym and recreational facilities while creating a meal plan not a diet but a healthy, well-balanced meal plan.

So how was my first day of boot camp after sitting on my butt for nearly five years?

After the second time running to the bathroom due to a bout of nausea, I think I started to catch on. I decided not to push myself past my own personal limits, and my instructor understood. But that was the beginning of my journey.

That was my sign that progress has begun.

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