An unexpected benefit of going back to college

Just relax and rethink (wader via Flickr)

Need to trim the ole’ middle-age waistline — perhaps take off a few dozen pounds?

Go to college.

That did the trick for MinnPost media-writer-on-hiatus David Brauer. When I interviewed him recently about how he’d just finished his degree at the the University of Minnesota, he told me the U helped him drop 30 pounds  — from 211 to 181 — at age 54.

He now weighs less than he did during his first spin through college more than 30 years ago.

Brauer credits the U and some assigned reading that he got there — a section or two from “The Brain That Changes Itself” — which he says prompted him to change his eating habits:

“It rearranged my thinking on something, and then I was able to integrate my knowledge of myself to change my behavior. … I can tell you that would not have happened if I had not been at the U.”

Brauer

I recalled losing about 10 pounds my freshman year — Take that, Freshman 15 — and another 15 or so when I studied in Germany. Both times I was relaxed but energized. Intellectual pursuits distracted me from compulsive eating, and I had the time to choose the right food and eat wisely.

Brauer acknowledges that he, too, was in a more relaxed state of mind during his part-time studies:

“I tell people: ‘My weight loss program won’t work for you if you have a job.'”

And in a way that drives home a lamentation he made in my first piece — that higher ed forces students to race through college and miss out on much of what it has to offer:

“Are we doing it wrong? Why are we putting people’s heads in a vice to learn? Why do we associate a certain kind of stress with learning? Why isn’t it the sort of thing where it’s supposed to be — at least on some level — a pleasurable thing — an experience where you have enough time to reflect? Practically, I don’t know if [slowing the pace] would work, but it was great for me.”

Update: Brauer has since lost another 10.