A weighty crusade


I’m fat. And not with a “ph-.” I’m chunky, dumpy, elephantine, gargantuan, gross and pudgy, just to name a few of the synonyms for my condition. Actually, I’m probably suffering from body dysmorphic disorder if anything – yeah, I could stand to lose a few pounds, but I’m not obese by any standards. The problem is that somewhere along the line, I started defining a good time as hanging out with a bag of cookies instead of with a cute boy.

Somehow, I have become the victim of the dreaded “Freshman 15” – those requisite 15 pounds that most college students gain during their first year in college. The problem, though, is that I’m not a freshman. Actually, I’m a junior, for the third year in a row. This is my first year back in college after taking several years off from school to live in the real world and gain real-life experience. One thing that I learned while out of school is that people have to set goals for themselves. So, while going over my mental list of goals for the summer, one in particular stood out – to lose the 20 pounds that I have gained in the past 12 months.

This past year has been rough. The love of my life, with whom I lived for several years, finally dumped me for good. I lived in five cities – all briefly, of course. I experienced a death in the family. My grandmother’s cancer returned. My credit sucks. I have been in four car accidents. And to make matters worse, someone is trying to sue me. However, I did manage to return to college, which is the best choice I have made since deciding to drop out a couple of years ago. I am proud that I have managed to keep my sanity in the midst of all these things – I just wish I had kept my figure as well. In no way am I saying that only thin women are beautiful. I am simply saying that I felt and looked much better before I gained weight.

Instead of falling victim to the newest celebrity-endorsed fad diet, I want to lose weight the right way, which means eating healthier, exercising and drinking plenty of water. In other words, the short walks that I take from my car to the door of Starbucks everyday – as well as those multiple daily frappuccinos – just aren’t cutting it.

Fighting fat at Campus Rec

So, to do things right, I decided to visit Campus Recreation. My first stop was to meet with Anne Friesel, the Fitness Coordinator, to discuss my goals and intentions. To my surprise, she informed me of a program started by USF last year called “Team Wellness” – a partnership between Campus Recreation, Student Health Services and the Counseling Center. The program promotes the idea of “wellness,” which is defined as an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices towards, a more successful existence. It’s a way of life that integrates the body, mind and spirit. In fact, there are six parts of wellness: physical, intellectual, occupational, emotional, spiritual and social. The goal for each individual is to create a balance between these various facets.

Friesel then gave me a tour of Campus Recreation and informed me of all the programs and services that it offers. For example, there are group fitness classes ranging from bellydancing to kickboxing; tons of weight equipment and cardiovascular machines, a rock-climbing wall, indoor racquetball courts, a swimming pool and even a Smoothie King juice center. Further, there is an incentive program called “Fit-4-You” that rewards students who work out on a regular basis with gifts such as water bottles and USF T-shirts and sweatshirts. I was then introduced to Jayrod Buchanan, who is part of the fitness staff, and Greg Serota, fitness staff supervisor, who gave me my fitness orientation. To begin with, I had to fill out a questionnaire regarding my overall health. For those who have any known health problems, visiting a doctor for an evaluation is necessary before being able to begin a workout regimen. After signing a release of liability, I was taught the proper way to warm-up and stretch. Apparently, reaching for the remote control all those years didn’t do much for my flexibility. Buchanan and Serota then demonstrated the proper way to use the equipment – both the cardiovascular machines, like the treadmill and elliptical, and the selectorized machines, which are designed for beginners like me. I was advised to avoid the free weights and weight-plated machines, probably because I had to strain to even adjust the seats on the beginner machines.

Old vices die hard

After leaving the gym, I was so hyped up that I actually drank a bottle of water! But then I went to Starbucks – just for old-times sake. While delighting in my debauchery, I completed the lifestyle questionnaire that was included in my fitness orientation packet. It includes questions on categories such as alcohol and tobacco use, physical fitness, stress, anxiety and life satisfaction. After adding up my score, the results indicated a “below-average lifestyle and need for overall improvement.” Great. I was so upset that I considered buying yet another Frappuccino.

There is still hope for me, though. As previously mentioned, Student Health Services is part of Team Wellness. As such, I have the opportunity to meet with a nutritionist who will develop a meal plan for me, which is great because I often have problems gaining the proper nutrients due to my vegetarian diet. However, it takes about a week to get an appointment with the nutritionist, so I’m binge eating until then.

I’m also putting off exercising until next week when I meet with the personal trainer I hired through Campus Recreation. Students receive discount prices for these services, and having a personal trainer is a great way to determine an appropriate workout routine.

The last part of Team Wellness is a visit to the Counseling Center, which offers comprehensive psychological services designed to enhance the personal, social, educational and career development of University students. Currently, there is about a two-week wait to be able to see a counselor, so I guess my deep-seated issues will have to wait until then.Losing weight isn’t easy. I’ll let you know how it goes.