Students battle temptations of life

Published 10:44 am Saturday, September 8, 2007

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Say “the freshman 15” and most college students — typically women — will know what you’re talking about.

While studies dispute whether college goers gain weight in their first year of college life, the facts of the life change — moving away from home and balanced home-cooked meals, not having the same training routines as during high school athletics, the stress of academic courses and the temptations of fast food fixes — wreak havoc on young adults’ metabolism.

University of Louisiana-Lafayette freshman Marion Viator is slender and in good shape. An athlete in high school, Viator said she wants to stay in shape.

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“I was starting to gain,” she said, listing the fast food menu items she’d had in recent weeks. “Walking to class is hard. To go to my classes, I’m practically walking in a circle across campus and have 10 minutes to get to each.”

She admitted not having her mom around daily to enforce good eating habits has been part of her downfall.

While college brings much newfound freedom and so many choices, now is the time for students to make decisions to commit to a healthy lifestyle, said Paul Blair, head of ULL’s kinesiology department.

“Obesity is a very serious problem,” Blair said. “Sixty-six percent of adults in this county are obese or overweight. The solution is simple: Don’t ingest more calories than you’re burning.”

That means watching how much you eat and the types of foods you eat. Plus, exercising.

Blair encourages students to find something they love to do — whether its tennis, golf, walking with a friend or lifting weights.

“Just do something,” he said. “We’re too busy to exercise or too tired at the end of the day, but you find that those who do exercise, even when they’re tired, have more vitality and vigor. The exercise is beneficial.”

While the university offers students academic credit courses in fitness and nutrition, there are opportunities to take daily exercise classes for free at ULL’s recreational center.

The facility has a weight room, indoor track, racquet ball courts, basketball courts and daily fitness classes. The facility also houses the aquatic center and tennis courts. Several intramural and club sports teams from cricket and rugby to flag football and volleyball offer students more opportunities to stay active on campus.

“I’d like to see every freshman take advantage of the facilities here,” Blair said.

In recent weeks, Viator and her friends have been taking exercise classes — abs and toning, yoga and most recently kickboxing. The fear of the freshman 15 have brought them to the recreation center at least three times a week.

“There’s no salad bar on campus. You’ve got the corner with McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King,” Whitney Petree, 18, said. “And then you have those student discounts.”

The young women made a pact to exercise together. That accountability can go a long way in sticking to an exercise plan, Blair said. So far, it’s worked for the freshmen.

Since the semester started, they’ve decided to commit to three classes. So far, yoga is the one that’s been challenging for Stacey Chamberlain.

“I was doing cheerleading in high school, and to go from that to doing nothing, it’s hard,” Chamberlain said.

“Give it a chance,” Petree told her two friends.