Moving backward on the elliptical machine burns more calories than moving forward.

Celery actually has a negative calorie count – it requires more energy to digest the vegetable than is ingested when you eat a stalk.

And in case you’re looking to shed a few pounds pre-spring break, the calcium found in dairy products will help your body burn fat.

I’d like to say I learned these fun facts in a health or nutrition course. Instead, I’ve picked up most of my fitness facts of the day at Leo’s. And Yates. And Lauinger. And well, come to think of it, just about anywhere a group of two or more female Georgetown students can be found.

This is a call to arms to young women all over this campus.

Stop talking about South Beach.

Our studies at this university serve as a constant reminder: we are the future leaders of America. We will forge new paths in business, science and government, but you’d never know it from the conversations Jane Hoyas are engaged in all over campus. Judging by these, the future female leaders of our world have nothing more interesting to talk about than what they ate today – or, more pointedly, what they didn’t eat today.

Did you hear that Iraq had free elections last week? No. It wasn’t in Shape this month.

What do you think about Social Security Reform? Umm, not sure. But Cosmo has a 30-day-total-body makeover this month.

I for one, think we’re smarter than that.

And there’s the problem. Somewhere in between the papers and the tons of reading, many of us have forgotten to bring our intelligence with us from Lauinger to Leo’s. We’ve all written one or two brilliant papers explicating the complicated argument of a respected philosopher, but for some reason, young women all over this campus jump at the “scientific evidence” of any crackpot – ahem, Dr. Phil – who purports that a size 8 is just not slim enough.

Take a look at the situation at Yates. At just about any given time during the gym’s almost-18-hour day, the cardio section is filled to capacity – with a waiting line. It’s a bit like wandering into Stepford: lines of young women whose faces reveal a fierce desire for sameness. Neighbors sneak peeks at one another’s display screens, upping their own incline in a competitive rush. There is no laughter, only the quiet sound of elliptical machines moving at 200 rotations per minute and sighs at half-way mark – only twenty-five more minutes to go.

And here I always thought that exercise reduces stress.

Not every health concern is an unhealthy obsession. I whole-heartedly apologize to anyone whose health consciousness is free of neuroses and who might be insulted by this gross generalization.

But it’s impossible to ignore that there has been a definite shift from disordered eating to full-blown disordered living. When everyone counts calories and every calorie counts, shouldn’t we admit that there’s something amiss here?

We can’t let the American obsession with image take up all our time. And we can’t let it take up all of our fun.

We’re all at Georgetown because we’re smart. And most of us are funny. And if you look around, we’re pretty damn good looking as is.

I suggest we all spend a little less time trying to decrease the size of our hips and a little more time trying to increase the size of our hearts.

We could all spend less time calculating the numbers of calories we’ve ingested, subtracting those we’ve burned and dividing by the power of the fat burner supplement and spend more time thinking of a formula for a better world.

Because really, this is as good as it gets. And if my time at Georgetown is going to be marked by a number, it had better be the number of great friends I’ve made, not the number on the scale at Yates.

Chrissy Balz is a sophomore in the College.

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