Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Freshman 15

Some new university students turn to food to cope with the stress of the new environment, and some of these students develop eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.

All universities will have student counselling services that can either refer for proper treatment or have the staff to address help students struggling with eating disorders. 

Not all overeating is considered disordered eating, but all chronic or periodic overeating leads to weight gain.  Sometimes referred to as the "freshman 15",  most students (up to 77%) will overeat in their freshman year and gain between 4 and 15 pounds of body fat, with a weight gain of near 4 pounds being more prevalent. 

Strategies to ovoid the freshman weight gains are the usual.. eat less, stay active, and be mindful of what and when you eat.

I found an interesting study that included blood pressure measurements of first year division one football players in the US.  23.5% had high blood pressure, 54% were prehypertensive, and only 22.4% were considered having normal blood pressure.  Although very muscular and strong, many football players are also clinically obese or overweight with serious health conditions like high blood pressure starting at a very young age.

In my personal observation, and I'm sure I'm not alone here, it's common practice for male athletes to boast about how much they can eat, often using how much one can eat as a display of manly superiority.  I get the socialization of overeating and machismo.. used to do it myself.  I grew tired of battling the annual fat gain, fat loss cycle though and stopped overeating.

I still get cajoled by my peers from time to time for eating healthy, but I'm closing in fast on age 50 and it's more obvious to me now that if I'm going to age well I've got to keep up with taking care of myself.

I didn't think this way when I was in my teens and early 20's, those were the years where nutrition and healthy living advice was overbearing pressure from tee totalling killjoys.  In retrospect though it was never enjoyable to realize I had put on 10-15 pounds of fat from pigging out and that I had to stop it from becoming 20+ pounds.

The trouble with developing overeating habits is that the longer you do it the harder it is to stop, and with population statistics still trending towards increasing obesity amongst the young and previously young, it would appear that the idea of socially celebrating nearly everything we do with overeating is winning out over the message to eat and live healthy.

Staying at a healthy weight has eliminated that stress I used to feel when I overrate my way to weight gain one or two or three chocolate fudge brownies at a time, throwing in a few 2000 - 3000 calorie big plate restaurant meals for good measure.  I have to admit, I feel far more rewarded now eating healthy. Instead of seeming all doom and gloom with the perceived message of needing to stop enjoying food to be healthy I want to pass this along..

It feels better to eat healthy.  No weight gain, better energy, food tastes great.  Never feels like you've got that dark cloud over you, "I'm going to regret I ate this later".

Performance and blood pressure character... [J Strength Cond Res. 2008] - PubMed - NCBI

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