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New Beginnings, A Chance to Make a Change

Ole Miss’ free new health program focuses on students and faculty wanting and needing a healthier life

Getting healthy and staying in shape is something that seems to be constantly in the minds of college students across the nation, especially here at Ole Miss.
The freshman fifteen. Everyone has heard of it, and some people are having a difficult time overcoming dreaded college weight gain.
Changing your diet and mentality can be hard on your own. If you are looking for some guidance in becoming healthier, look into Ole Miss’ new program, New Beginnings.
With the health center constantly busy controlling student illness, this program began in order to better serve students who needed more one on one time to focus specifically on their weight.
“My idea was that we would have a weight loss or a normalization program, every year, every semester, every summer.” said Dr. Barbara Collier, director of Student Health at Ole Miss. “So if you are a freshman and you come and you want to lose weight and after a few months you stop, you can plug yourself back in whenever you want.” 
New Beginnings is a free program available to students and employees at The University of Mississippi.
With the help of Mary Amanda Haskins, a doctoral candidate here at Ole Miss, losing weight and changing your lifestyle may be easier than you think.
“My undergraduate degree has nothing to do with health, but I found that it was something that I was really passionate about,” Haskins said. “I wanted to go back and make a difference in my home state, the most unhealthy state and the state in the most need.”
In order to become involved with New Beginnings, students need to be referred by the health center on campus. For some students, this is possible through visiting the health center once they are ill and for others this is possible by going to the health center and asking to be referred to the program.
The health center will do some basic lab work in order to find out if you are healthy enough to join the program. They check blood pressure, BMI, good and bad cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar.
Students and employees with a BMI over 30 are considered in the overweight range and receive a card that lists helpful resources, including New Beginnings, to aid them on campus.
Haskins contacts each person who is referred to her from the health center, whether or not the individual is interested in joining the program.
“We meet on a weekly basis, every week for about 30 minutes, but as time goes on they need less and less time with me,” Haskins said.
New Beginnings is very individualized in order to adjust to the specific needs of the person.
“Whether it is an 18 year old who is here for the first time, or someone who is in her mid life and taking care of both of her children, what’s the same is we start from the beginning,” Haskins said. “Most people want to use the d word, diet or want to start an exercise program right away. For some people all they need to do is focus on getting enough sleep or just planning their meals.” 
When an individual first begins meeting with Haskins, she goes over the basics and teaches what the person needs to change in order to be successful. Haskins recommends that individuals really focus on the quality of the food rather than the quantity.
“It’s taking the food and learning some principles, and we’re your cheerleaders,” Collier said. “And that’s the countability part. People who do that lose weight. It didn’t take you 3 months to put this weight on. It’s not going to come off. Look at long terms of 6 months to 1 year and see where you want to be.” 
Haskins also goes by the Guidelines for American College and Sports nutrition and she recommends 30 minutes of physical activity per day on most days.
“You can make a difference by just making one change a week,” Haskins said. “Start small without radically changing your philosophy on food, or your lifestyle, or your budget.” 
Through just four or five meetings, students can learn valuable skills that they otherwise would not have know.
“She makes little changes,” Collier said. “It may be adding water or walking. It is like a weight watcher idea in that you’ve got the cheerleader. It’s our effort to try and impact students and employees.”
For students in the average weight range who would like advice on ways to improve their health and lifestyles, Haskins is still available to sit down and go over healthy changes that can be made.
“This sounds like a really interesting program and getting healthy is something that students here always need and are interested in,” said general studies senior Jessica Martin.