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While Alan Aragon, a professional nutritionist, spoke to a crowd of approximately 50 UC Irvine students, he dispelled many popular myths surrounding weight loss, muscle gain and exercise.
‘I have my clients accept losing two to four pounds a month as realistic and fast,’ Aragon said to a group of health-conscious UCI students. How is losing two to four pounds a month considered to be rapid weight loss?
Tiffany Tse, a fourth-year literary journalism major, was wondering this same question. ‘I was surprised that he made his clients accept losing between two to four pounds a month,’ Tse said.
Aragon dispelled the myth of rapid weight loss during his ‘Building A Better Body’ presentation on Feb. 28, as part of The Health Education Center’s ‘Love Your Body Week.’
Most students were surprised at Aragon’s proclamation, particularly when considering the wide array of diet products that promise their users a loss of five to 10 pounds per week. Aragon justified his claim with a startling fact: Any time the body loses more than 1 percent of its total body fat, it is losing more than just fat, which is dangerously unhealthy.
If you skipped class last week or stayed away from Ring Road altogether, then you most likely missed the Lunch Box and various information tables on eating disorders—the focus of ‘Love Your Body Week.’ The Lunch Box is similar to the Sex Box (you know you’ve been in that one) and functions as a passive display featuring nutritional information on popular fast-food meals and suggestions for the most beneficial brain foods.
Melanie Tallakson, the manager of Nutrition and the New Student Program at the Health Education Center, was responsible for putting the week together. Tallakson, as well as everyone else involved with ‘Love Your Body Week,’ was primarily concerned with providing students with ‘a comprehensive spectrum to wellness,’ as Amy Buch, associate director of the Health Education Center, put it.
In other words, ‘Love Your Body Week’ functions not to only enlighten students on eating disorders, but also to provide them with a foundation of wellness that they can build upon throughout their college lives and future careers.
During his presentation, Aragon indicated that most people lose their college physique once they land desk jobs.
‘Use it or lose it,’ he said when referring to muscles. In order to ‘use it’ effectively, you must follow Aragon’s ‘3-4-5’ rule for exercise. For the genetic greyhounds, or those gifted with a highly efficient metabolism, Aragon recommends exercising three days a week. For the average folk, exercising four days a week is sufficient. And for the ‘metabolically challenged,’ a five-days-a-week exercise regiment is recommended. For all those active in the gym on a weekly basis, Aragon suggested taking a week off every 8 to 12 weeks because ‘your joints will thank you.’
Much of Aragon’s presentation focused on popular dieting techniques. The ever-popular and carbohydrate-crucifying Atkins and South Beach diets were the main topics of discussion. If you’re an Atkins dieter, you are benefiting from this program’s encouragement of exercise, allowance of vegetable consumption and focus on carbohydrate foods that are full of fiber. If you’re an advocate of the South Beach Diet, you can enjoy carbohydrate foods much more than the Atkins dieter, but you still must be carbohydrate conscious.
A word of caution to both dieters, however: Those who engage in either the Atkins or South Beach diets only do so for an average period of six months. According to Aragon, most people lose a significant amount of weight at the beginning of these diets, but then suddenly stop losing the weight because the body has reached a plateau. When the body has adapted to the program, most dieters become frustrated and abandon their diets.
So which dieter is the best kind? If you asked Aragon, he would tell you that the educated dieter is the best type.
According to Aragon, if you’re serious about weight loss, consult a nutritionist and follow the habits of successful dieters. These habits include eating breakfast daily, engaging in 60 to 90 minutes of exercise daily and realizing that slow and progressive weight loss is the best solution. Rapid weight loss essentially does not exist as most individuals who participate in rapid weight loss programs gain their weight back in a relatively short period of time.
Before Aragon concluded his presentation, he dispelled a few popular myths that you have probably heard before.
According to Aragon, if a close friend has ever told you to stop eating after dinner, reconsider your friendship. Well, don’t go that far, but consider this: A healthy eater spaces out his or her meals and will eat about every four hours. So if you have dinner at 6, have a light snack at 10 while studying or watching TV. If this same friend has also told you to never eat before exercising, make sure to inform this well-intentioned but idiotic friend of yours to properly refuel and replenish his or her body before exercising. The body needs calories of energy in order to perform a successful workout.
For more information on dieting, eating disorders, exercising, stress management, sleeping habits or substance abuse, consult the Health Education Center, located right behind Cornerstone Caf

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