Combatting the Freshman 15

Make healthy choices to avoid the Freshman 15

Make healthy choices to avoid the Freshman 15

Welcome to college! The next 4 years will be the best years of your life. There’s nothing like leaving home for the first time, jumping into the bliss of independence and making bad decisions. You’ll be able to stay up as late as you want, over sleep your alarm, and consume way too many empty calories while tailgating the football games. College seems amazing! You have access to all the food you want and no parental supervision….I mean come on who wouldn’t want to have a late night slice of pizza, three servings of ice cream at traditions or even a warm chocolate chip cookie when you’re finished with lunch. But if you’re not careful the dreaded freshman 15 can catch up to you real quick and those brand new jeans you just bought, to look good at the game next weekend, will no longer button. So here is some advice on how to avoid gaining those extra 15 pounds no one wants to admit to gaining.

  1. Hire someone to smack that cookie out of your hand you pick up at the dining hall after every meal.  Since most students have no self control over the delicious sweets that are put in front of them, you can put someone else in charge of keeping your diet more healthy.
  2. Set an alarm for 5 minutes before a huge exam. This way when you wake up late and freak out that you’re not going to make it to your exam on time it forces you to run to class. You’ll realize how out of shape you are and get yourself back into the gym.
  3. Speaking of the gym, you may join a club sport to play recreationally since you use to play in high school. After practice you’re going to want to sit down and eat with your friends. Remember starting left bench is not the same as actually playing in high school. You can’t expect to eat the same and lose weight.
  4. In high school you were probably use to your parents cooking you dinner every night, making sure it was somewhat healthy…well in college they’re not here to cook your meals. So if you live close enough, go home to have them feed you. That way you won’t have to worry about consuming 1,000 calories from a loaded potato pizza from the PAD.
  5. If you don’t live close enough, it’s time to start paying attention to what you are eating. Everything has calories. Maybe you should rethink your order of an asiago cheese bagel with cream cheese, a cookie and a large buckeye mocha latte. If you eat that every morning I can promise that you will not be able to button your pants in a couple of weeks.
  6. Dining halls have so much delicious carb heavy food. Who wouldn’t want to eat pasta, with broccoli cheese soup and churro cupcake every single day? I can tell you it feels really good walking around feeling extremely full and bloated…But maybe try adding some plants into your diet. A good fresh salad (not smothered in ranch, bacon and cheese) or a side of vegetables instead of french fries can taste delicious and help combat that disgusting bloat you’ve been feeling for the last 4 days.
  7. Remember that water is your best friend. The first sign of thirst is hunger. You may have no insight as to whether you’re hungry or thirsty. Next time your stomach is growling after you consumed gross take out Chinese, try drinking a full glass of water. You maybe more thirsty than hungry (since we all know Chinese food is filled with salt and MSG).
  8. Water is also essential for keeping our body healthy. Granted a nice refreshing pop or juice can taste delicious at times but depriving your body of water can do more harm than good. Water has this magical power to make you feel full, especially when bored. Try increasing your water intake to 8 glasses a day. Rule of thumb is you want your urine be light yellow to clear. So when you go to the bathroom next and your urine is bright to dark yellow, you know you’re not drinking enough water.
  9. It is inevitable to not feel stressed while taking 12 credits and going out every night. I mean why would you start studying for a test now when you can put it off until the night before and cram. Try to eliminate getting too stressed out. An increase in stress can lead to stress eating as well as increased hormones. This can ultimately lead to weight gain and acne you haven’t seen since you hit puberty.
  10. Make sure you are getting enough sleep to be productive. It may not be a good idea to go see “IT” if you know you’re not going to sleep for the next 10 days. Many times when you’re over exhausted you start grabbing for sugary substances to keep you awake. This does not help with trying to avoid gaining weight.
  11. But when you don’t sleep enough, energy drinks always sound like a great idea. Next time you grab one why don’t you flip the can around and look at the calories. With over 200 calories in a Monster energy drink, you may want to rethink grabbing those empty calories. Opt for some black coffee or tea. But if you have to have that energy drink maybe try grabbing for one of the sugar free or low calorie ones.
  12. When all else fails just go out and buy bigger clothes. Your student loans will really appreciate being spent on new clothing that one day you’ll have to payback at 5% interest.

Remember as a student it is really easy to fall into a bad routine since it’s a lot of people’s first time away from home. While many people joke about gaining the freshman 15, it happens to the best of us. Just be conscious about what you consume. You are probably not working out as vigorously as you did in high school, so you can’t eat the same way. College can be a stressful at times. Find ways to cope with stress whether it’s meditation, exercise or a hobby. It is best if you don’t turn to food during the stressful times. And if all else fails, go talk to someone about getting healthier. Take advantage of the registered dietitian at Student Health Services. They are here to help discuss your diet and encourage you to make the lifestyle changes you want to make. And if scheduling an appointment with the registered dietitian doesn’t fit into your schedule there are other options available on campus at the wellness center in the RPAC. You do not have to gain the freshman 15…it is up to you.

Dayna Gewolb, PharmD Candidate Class 2018


Are you really prepared to an Ohio State Student?

Next week you’ll be moving into the dorm or perhaps off-campus housing.  Let’s see if you prepared?

  • Schedule of classes – check!
  • Books purchased – check!
  • Map of campus – check!
  • Coordinated dorm furniture with roommate – check!
  • Purchased bedding, etc. – check!
  • Internet connection – check!
  • Plan for what to do when you get sick ???  Huh??

My guess is you ( or your parents) have been making lists of all that needs to be done, purchased, packed, etc. before you move onto campus.  That is a good thing – but have you considered what you will do if – mostly likely – when you get sick. I know, I know.  You never get sick.  But up till now you’ve been living in a fairly controlled environment.  But,  you are about to move into a living situation where the front door itself is shared with several thousand other people.  People who may or may not be quite as diligent as you at washing their hands.  And then there’s the classrooms, cafeterias, and RPAC.  That is a serious amount of door handle touching and a serious amount of germ sharing.  The odds that you will remain the person “who never gets sick” is, well pretty slim.

So, what can you to do to prepare just in case you do get sick?

  • Make sure you have the necessary information.  Any medical facility you visit will require the following items so make sure you have them with you when you come to campus AND make sure you know where you put them so you can easily access them should you get sick.
    • Medical history of both yourself and your family, here’s a link to the form we use here at Student Life Student Health Services
    • Insurance card, if it’s a copy make sure it includes both the front and back
  • Know the locations of medical facilities within easy reach of your dorm/housing
    • Student Life Student Health Services is located in the middle of campus, between the Thompson Library and the RPAC.  We are here just for students so this is a great location to know, but we are only open 8am – 6pm weekdays (Fridays 8am – 5pm).  What if you get sick outside of our business hours?  You can find a list of after hour care facilities on our website




Sex in the Sciences

I was invited to participate on a panel in a session called “Sex in the Sciences” at the 8th Annual Midwest/Great Lakes Undergraduate Research Symposium in Neuroscience hosted by The Ohio State University on October 22. There were 31 colleges and universities that participated this year from Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Each year a different college or university would host the annual meeting and it allows students in Neurosciences to present their research projects. The goal of the panel was to have an informal discussion with 190 student participants to discuss professions that were considered “nontraditional” for that gender.

Our panel consisted of three other people which included Dr. Georgia Bishop, vice-chairman of the Department of Neuroscience, Dr. Kathryn Lenz, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Nicholas Baggett, nurse practitioner (NP) with M.A. in mental health. We each gave an introduction to our educational background and our career trajectory to promote awareness of the issues we faced in our education and careers as well as expose the participants to role models in science.            Dr. Bishop had shared that when she started out in neuroscience she was told by a professor that “women have not succeeded in this field”.  She proved him wrong by succeeding and she had gained the respect of her fellow male graduate students by spending the same amount of time and effort as they did.            Nicholas Baggett stated that patients often assume that he is a doctor because he is male.  He said that being a white male he has experienced what it was like to be a “minority” in nursing.

What qualities are needed to succeed in undergraduate or graduate education? We had excellent audience participation and questions from them. Nicholas Baggett recommended critical thinking along with mastery of writing. He noted that people may think that writing is not an important skill set in the sciences or health care field, but it is used daily in his work. I shared that developing effective communication skills is very important in any areas of study and career choice along with perseverance.  I recommended that they keep a goal in sight and not to give up on that goal even if there is a roadblock and to look for another way to achieve the goal.  Dr. Lenz had shared that she has had days when she has felt like quitting the work that she does, but with resilience she had been able continue to work in her field and find fulfillment in it.

What is success? We discussed the question of success in our fields and we agreed that success is based on what each individual feels is important in his/her life. The commonality shared by the panel is that our education and career goals may not have always followed a straight path and we had all encountered challenges along the way, but we found mentors in our fields that help us achieve our goals.  We did not allow our gender to dictate what we should be doing, but used it to help us to pave the path to our goals.  We now serve as mentors to students and others to help them achieve their goals.

by Edith Chang, M.D.

Brain Gain – Gate not Weight

brain-grows-with-knowledgeSpencer Turner MD, received the above question from a student in the 70s about the brain.  He had been told, by a high school teacher, that the more a person learns the heavier the brain becomes. He wondered if, after a couple of semesters, his brain was becoming heavier and if this would impact him medically.  I’m assuming he was wondering about supporting his soon to be enormous brain on his neck and back.  Ok – so just to debunk this myth, his high school teach was WRONG.

According to WebMD the human adult brain weighs approximately 3 pounds which is about 2% of body weight.  At age 2 the brain has reached 80% or so of its adult size.  Maximum size is reached between 19 and 21. Although growth in size has stopped, development of the brain continues for several more years. The neural connections (gateways) continue to form, change, and redirect when confronted with new experiences and ideas.

Conclusion –  the brain will not increase in weight while you are studying those calculus equations, but it will increase in gate, forming, changing, and redirecting those neural connections.

Oh – and about Einstein’s brain.  A study was conducted of his brain in 1999 based upon images taken at the time of his death.  Despite what a high school geometry teacher might say, Einstein did not have a larger than normal brain.  In fact it was a bit smaller than most.  His parietal lobes, linked to math ability, however, were 15% wider than most.

Here are some other tidbits WebMD has to offer on the brain:

  • There are 100 billion brain cells, most of which are present from birth to death.
  • A good night’s sleep allows your brain to store memories – good to know as finals approach.
  • Multitasking is not really multitasking after all, instead the brain switches quickly from 1 task to another.
  • The best way to keep the brain fit is with exercise. Learn new skills or do mental tasks.

Original Lantern article can be viewed in the Lantern Archives.

Manage Your Stress

Classes, roommates, friends, family, work – all great things.  Sometimes, however, they can become overwhelming and stress you out.

Counseling and Consultation Services has put together this video to highlight how you might manage your stress.  Check it out.

Study Smarter – Not Longer


Finals are quickly approaching and there are just not enough hours in the day to finish all of your papers and study for exams.  What can you do to get that top grade?  WebMD reports the following:

  • Log off Facebook: A recent study at The Ohio State University found that students who use Facebook spend less time studying and as a result have a lower GPA than those who do not frequent the social media site.
  • Change Locations: Studies show that you retain more information if you very your studying locations. Part of what your brain does when processing your notes and readings is to connect it to the environment you are in. By changing locations you associate the material with a lot of different cues which gives you more triggers for retrieving the information. Just make sure the locations you choose are free of distractions so you can concentrate.
  • Take Naps: A study in Israel found that sleeping for 90 minutes after learning new information helps to cement this knowledge into your long term memory.
  • Space Out: Retention rates are better when you allow yourself time to forget information and relearn rather than pulling an all-nighter or trying to cram it all in the day before. Instead read through your notes say 4 days ahead of time, then again 3 days ahead of time, then 2 days, etc.
  • Exercise: Short bursts of exercise, such as jumping jacks or push-ups improves the ability to remember information you just learned. Nothing big, as little as 6 minutes will do the trick.

If you want to read this article, it can be found in the Fall 2013 WebMD Campus magazine.

Wash those germs right off of your hands!

Have you ever considered the door knobs/handles in your dorm?  Think about it for a minute.  How many people live in your dorm?  All of those people are going in and out of the dorm, perhaps multiple times each day and every time they do they are touching those knobs/handles.  And then you come along and you touch that knob/handle.  You have just exposed yourself to the germs that were on the hands of everyone else who used that knob/handle – YUCK!

Now consider the door knobs/handles of your classrooms and buildings.  How many people are taking classes in those buildings?  Again, every time you touch that knob/handle you are exposing yourself to the germs that were on the hands of everyone else who used that knob/handle – again YUCK!

Is it any wonder that college students get sick?!!  The most effective thing you can do to avoid getting sick, according to the CDC, is to wash your hands.  Frequent washing will help to limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes. 

What is the right way to wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry.

Don’t underestimate the power of hand washing! The few seconds you spend at the sink could save you trips to Student Health Services.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Take it from Ben Franklin, Get Vaccinated!

wikimedia commons

Just came across an excellent and timely essay about immunization in the New York Times written by Dr. Howard Markel, a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan.

Even though Dr. Markel is from that school up north, he knows what he’s talking about.  There are a lot of ill-informed people out there today saying that vaccines do terrible things, cause terrible disease and are a conspiracy by the medical-industrial complex to invade our bodily fluids.  Now, apparently, they also violate the Founding Fathers’ principles upon which our great nation is built. 

But using little things like facts, research and evidence, Dr. Markel proves that once again these people know not of what they speak.  Vaccines save lives.  They prevent horrible disability.  They keep pandemic illness from speading like wild fire through communities.  When people don’t get vaccinated, they not only put themselves at risk, they put you and your loved ones at risk too.  

But don’t take it from me, or even Dr. Markel.  Take it from Ben Franklin, who also lived in a time when there was a lot of vitriol and controversy surrounding vaccination:

In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way.  I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation.  This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it, my example showing that the regret may be the same either way and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.

The above photo is of a young girl in Bangladesh who was infected with smallpox in 1973.  6 years later, the World Health Organization officially delared its eradication.  Thanks to immunizations, we’ll never have to see suffering this horrible again. 

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

What a patient’s death taught me, and what it can teach you

Cancer Vixen

One of the very first patients I cared for as a medical student here at Ohio State was a young man with end-stage AIDS.  Since there wasn’t much to do for him medically; and since AIDS still made lots of people – including doctors – pretty antsy at the time; and since a 3rd year medical student is about as useful on the wards as a screen door is on a submarine, he quickly became “my” patient.

He and I spent a lot of time together as he succumbed to the cruel attacks being waged against his weakened immune system.  He was scared; I was scared; he was pissed off at dying with only a clueless med student for company; I was pissed off at being so useless.

So we talked.  Or rather, he talked and I listened.  It was driving me nuts to not be “doing” anything, and as his condition detioriated the stories became less and less coherent, but I discovered something pretty amazing.  It helped.  It didn’t cure him, or even forestall his death, but it helped ease his suffering in a very real way.  It’s one of the most important lessons I learned in all of my years of medical training.

That is why I am very excited to announce that Professor Jim Phelan and I are offering a new course next quarter: English 361, Narrative and Medicine.  Not only will the class fulfill an arts & humanities GEC requirement, it will allow you to explore how telling and listening to stories of illness – yours or someone else’s – can often be more helpful than any medication or surgery.  The course will also offer some distinctive views of illness and treatment and how both patients and practitioners deal with their experiences.

It should be a great class.  Professor Phelan is a world-renowned expert in the field of Narrative Studies and a winner of the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award.  I will bring my perspective as someone who practices both the art of medicine and the art of narrative.  We’ll investigate a range of perspectives offered by classic writers such as Tolstoy and Chekhov as well as those offered by some contemporary writers employing new narrative forms such as Marissa Marchetto in her graphic memoir Cancer Vixen

BTW, if you’re interested in hearing more about my experience with that patient, I wrote an essay about it in the Los Angeles Times a few years ago.  Or better yet – enroll in English 361!

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

What cats can teach you about staying healthy

Are you stressed out?  Have you ever noticed that when things are the most hectic in your life, darn it if you don’t end up with the sniffles? 

Stress has been tied to a number of health conditions in humans, and now researchers at our very own College of Veterinary Medicine have shown that even cats respond to stress in their lives with an increased incidence of chronic illness.  The less stress the cats in the study had, the less sick they got.  So how do you de-stress a cat?  By providing a comfortable living environment, a consistent daily routine and attention from a caregiver. 

So take it from the kitties.  Try to find a healthy, consistent routine in your life (regular meals, regular sleep and regular exercise), share some TLC with a good friend or partner and always keep your litter box clean.  It’s the best way to stay away out of the vet’s… I mean doctor’s office.

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University