Many students have heard the stories about gaining weight, or what some call theFreshman 15,during their first year in college.

The stress of juggling classes, a new social life and activities can send emotional eating into overdrive, especially with the convenience of fast foods and residence hall dining.

For West Virginia University students who are serious about managing their health, Mona Hemingway is there to help. Think of her as a nutrition expert and exercise guru rolled into one.

Hemingways own successful weight loss story involved losing 100 pounds in three years.

Now she motivates others to slim down and shape up through the Universitys Fitness and Weight Management Program, an eight-week, supervised program designed to help students, faculty and staff make positive lifestyle changes.

For only $50 ($90 for faculty and staff), Hemingwaya medical technologist, certified weight management counselor and personal trainermeets with students and develops a plan with the goal of helping them reach a healthy weight and increase their energy level.

Components of the program include counseling, fitness testing and diagnostic blood work. Hemingway measures the students height, weight, blood pressure and body fat composition. A realistic ideal body weight is then calculated using the clients percentage of lean muscle mass.

This removes the focus from the number on the scale and provides a measured guideline for achievable results,she said.

Basic fitness assessments are done to determine muscle strength, endurance and flexibility. Hemingway also checks thyroid activity. Other tests show cholesterol, triglyceride and blood sugar levels and whether clients have anemia.

Nutrition education also plays an important role. Hemingway teaches students how to choose foods wisely based on the recommended servings and food groups outlined by the U.S. Department of Agricultures food pyramid. She can also help determine proper portion sizes for a certain body type and calculate caloric requirements and expenditures.

As with any weight-maintenance program, staying active as well as eating right is essential. Hemingway incorporates regular physical activity into her clientsdaily routines. She works closely with students to develop an individualized exercise and strength-training plan based on their needs, interests and the time constraints dictated by their busy schedules.

Physical activity should be a part of your daily routine for life, regardless of your workload or commitments,she said.Therefore, the exercise plan should be something that will fit in naturally with the flow of your lives and not become another stressor.

To help students track their progress, they keep a food journal for at least two weeks. Taking stock of what they eat and when help clients pinpoint areas where they can improve. During weekly appointments, Hemingway discusses any issues positively or negatively affecting studentseating or exercise habits.

She stresses slow, long-term weight lossone or two pounds per week.

* WVU changing lives for the better*

Hemingway stresses that long-term weight loss cannot be accomplished through fad dieting and deprivation. By working one-on-one with students, she educates them on the benefits of small changes.

By providing motivation and positive reinforcement, I hope to help them develop habits that will become second nature by the end of the eight weeks,she said.

To be successful in the program, Hemingway noted students must be ready to take charge of their lives and be open to suggestions and alternatives to their current lifestyles.

The desire to change has to come from within the individual, and when they have reached that point, I am there to help,she said.

The most important reason for many students to seek help is because they need to reduce their cholesterol and triglyceride levels, thereby reducing their risk of heart disease later in life.

I had a client who lost 16 pounds and cut his triglyceride and cholesterol in half by the completion of the program,Hemingway said.This change kept him off medication to reduce his lipid levels and reduced his coronary risk factor.

Cutting cholesterol isnt the only positive outcome of the program; participants have also learned to use exercise to decrease stress and extreme fatigue.

One example is a student who was having trouble sleeping at night. After making moderate changes to her eating habits and increasing her daily activity, she was no longer sleeping poorly and napping during the day.

She was able to better organize her life, improve her work productivity and feel rested during the busy part of her day,Hemingway said.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 304-293-1351.

WVU s Fitness and Weight Management Program is part of the Universitys wellness initiative that includes a Fitness First Web site (, residence hall wellness coordinators, Dining Services wellness centers, Student Recreation Center activities, Student Health Service programs, andLiving Longer and Better: WVU Conference on Nutrition and Wellness.

The wellness conference is June 10-12 at Morgantowns Radisson Hotel and will feature talks by nationally recognized nutritionists, fitness activities, a showing ofSupersize Meand a trip to a local grocery store to learn how to shop for a healthy diet.

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