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Walking Before Running

I had never heard about the concept of the "Freshman Fifteen" until about a week before I arrived to C of I as an actual freshman. All you ever really hear about before you get to school are the positive things, like how many new friends you're going to make, or how awesome that degree will look framed on your wall. I can't think of any promotional material I read before entering college that explained this phenomenon of how most freshmen will gain at least 15 pounds of weight their first year at school.

I didn't heed any warning about it my first year, or even my second year, believing my high metabolism would see me through to a lower weight gain, but of course I was quite wrong. Now I'm a junior, about 30 pounds heavier than when I first stepped foot on campus. Yikes.

In any event, I mentioned that one of the three things I was looking forward to this fall was getting back into my high school shape, no matter what. I started right away as soon as school started back up, and I've taken to hitting the gym for at least an hour every day, doing as much cardio as my legs and my lungs can take. We're heading toward the third week of classes, and I've only skipped two sessions since the start, which I'm quite pleased about. The thing is, reality hasn't lived up to my expectations quite yet.

You know how television shows like The Biggest Loser make weight loss look easy, and that you should be losing like 5 pounds a week? Yeah, this isn't so. For one thing, the contestants on that show are working out pretty much all day, every day, along with closely regulated diets and no pressing responsibilities, save for voting one another off. I don't have the luxury of spending my days in a gym on a ranch; I have homework and social obligations to attend to. Plus, I'm faced with a lot more food temptations as a college student, especially during this first few weeks where free food seems to be hawked everywhere. On The Biggest Loser, cameras will catch you if you take that extra cookie, but in real life, no one will notice those chocolate crumbs on your shirt.

The exercise is about what I would expect, though, given that I haven't actually had a workout regimen since high school. I am not ashamed to say that I'm woefully out of shape. I was pretty winded after my first major workout of the school year, and I only went just over three miles on a treadmill. I'm happy to say that my mile time has, in fact, improved a little bit over these first couple of weeks. Although I've been generally keeping to the exercise bikes in our weight room, I try and step onto a treadmill for at least a mile or two during my workout. Yes, it's still around 12 minutes, but I can't run it all quite yet. The adage is true--you have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run.

Tennis has also been helpful as well. My beginning tennis course I'm taking through the school has been as much fun as I hoped it would be, and it's quickly become my favorite part of my Tuesday/Thursday schedule. Granted, all we've gone over so far are the basics and we haven't quite graduated to actual tennis balls yet (we've been using foam onces since the start of term), but I feel myself getting way better each day. One of my Delt brothers has offered to hit a few balls with me a couple of times a week, which is good both for my fitness and my game.

I was right about this all being much easier being on campus. I made a call to my Facebook friends about needing workout partners, and I haven't been disappointed yet. One has offered some extremely helpful diet tips, another has totally ripped my muscles apart through calisthenic workouts, and a couple more have invited me to join them on their own running schedules. It's a great feeling to be doing all of this with their support.

I haven't really lost much weight yet--I'm only down a couple of pounds. But according to all that I've read on fitness, I'm losing weight the healthy, natural way, and building up a new lifestyle along the way. And that's all I can ask for.

-Clayton Gefre

Clayton is a junior creative writing major from Meridian, Idaho.