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Susan's Musings: Freshman 15? Try senior 45

Susan Bonicillo
By Susan Bonicillo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, January 26, 2006
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It's a well-documented fact that the body mass of a college student increases at a rate proportional to the number of years in school. Compare, for instance, the figures of the nubile freshman class with those of your average graduate student.

The freshman 15 is a common warning given to new students about the debaucheries of college life. It ranks right up there with avoiding O-chem or not realizing that a massage, really, is never just a massage.

However, what about the oft-forgot but clearly visible condition of the senior 15? Or 20. Or 45.

Sure, the slow increase from the weight you came in between when you first got to campus freshman year and the wake-up call that is winter break was enough to snap you back from the clutches of vending-machine food fare.

And there's that recovery period sophomore year where you ditch the junk and do little things like walking up stairs rather than taking the elevator up two flights. You start integrating vegetables into your diet that are neither fried, greased nor potato.

Then the increase in weight shows up again in this phenomenon I refer to as the senior 15.

Here's the mentality that contributes to this sad little condition.

It's your last year of college. Maybe you've spent four years, five years or the better part of this decade working toward a degree. You have to celebrate, right? One last hurrah before the working world firmly entrenches you in suits and power lunches with the boss.

You've probably reached legal drinking age as well. You're no longer content to sit at home sipping milk and watching "The Lion King," and when the Tucson bar scene calls, you listen.

So now you're boozing and not spending quite as much time tweaking the physique. Add to the mix a slowing body and you're in serious trouble of giving up on life and spending the rest of your life shrouded under the forgiving and amorphous blob of sweatpants.

Frankly, you're not as young as you used to be. The old reliable metabolism is slowing, and while all these 18-year-old whippersnappers can devour almost an entire medium pizza all by their lonesome, you've got to stare at a bowl full of roughage and convince yourself it's oh-so-delicious.

It's spring break that's causing me to re-evaluate and call back all the bad habits of my scale-tipping fall semester. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'm going to the Student Recreation Center out of personal vanity, plain and simple. And I know I'm not alone out there when I say this. Sure, maybe I'm doing this for all the wrong reasons. Maybe my intentions aren't as pure when I hop on a bike and hope that magic will happen between now and March 11. Maybe I'm not as virtuous as you gym rats who go because of "health reasons" and because "I'm doing this for myself and not for anyone else."

Kudos to you. I really do admire that drive. But the rest of us normal people are weak, vain and really aren't thinking about resting heart rates and cholesterol levels, just as long as we're acceptable to look at.

For whatever reason we're running on a treadmill or lifting heavy stacks of metal, it all contributes to an overall feeling of well-being and better health. In other words, let's not be sanctimonious and just pass the dumbbell.

I'm already getting a jumpstart on living the yuppie lifestyle. I just signed up to take yoga.

I'm starting to look at food labels with the veracity of prepubescent boys looking for a glimpse of tit from Ariel in "The Little Mermaid."

So if we ever cross paths at the gym and we're struggling to sweat off a layer of winter insulation, just remember to wave in between sets. We're all in it together.

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