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March 14, 2011

College of Arts & Sciences dean to share personal weight loss story

How did one person transform himself from having consistently high blood pressure readings and corresponding weight gain to becoming a fit and trim triathlete?

ULM's College of Arts & Sciences Dean Jeffrey Cass will share intimate details about exactly what motivated him to finally address his health issues during a Brown Bag Lunch at 12:30 p.m., March 17, in Student Union Ballroom A at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

The talk is part of the semester-long "Exercise is Medicine on Campus" initiative, which was started last year by the American College of Sports Medicine to promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles on college campuses.

"When my blood pressure soared to 210/105, I got scared," reports Cass.

"My dad was once diagnosed with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke issues, gout, and kidney problems—all of which were directly or indirectly weight related. I was almost the same weight at the time (245 lbs), as my dad was when he died. I wanted to avoid these issues and live a longer, happier, healthier life," he said.

Cass said he slowly implemented changes in his exercise and eating habits, and gradually the weight came off.

"I've now become a triathlete because triathlon gives me athletic goals and a balanced training plan," he said.

"I am overwhelmingly grateful to Dr. Lisa Colvin for pushing me to do triathlon and for being my principal trainer."

Cass also expressed appreciation to Mark Bucat for teaching him how to swim properly, the Monroe Athletic Club for their group exercise classes (notably Jeananne McGregor, who hired him to teach spinning classes), as well as many others, such as ULM Kinesiology Instructor and Director of the Human Performance Lab Brian Coyne and Will Rogers.

"Not to mention my fellow masters swimmers in LA Gold who are real role models for me, especially Mark Johnson and Cam Douglas," said Cass.

ULM Kinesiology Graduate Student Talya Williams, who is co-coordinating the "Exercise is Medicine" initiative, added that credentialed exercise and fitness professionals are a growing trend in the new year.

"Students and faculty, along with the entire community, should take part in this motivational lecture to learn ways to incorporate a healthy lifestyle, and more importantly, enjoy physical activity," she said.

Jordan Guillot of the Wellness Center in West Monroe is co-coordinating the initiative with Williams this semester.

"The March 17th event will be a lecture of sorts that almost cannot be called a lecture, but a story of inspiration and motivation," he said.

"Going even further, it could be a story of confidence and truth. Dr. Cass, through his personal story of weight loss, reminds us that it is not always about what you look like in the mirror, but quality of life issues that may motivate you."

Guillot said Cass is now is hoping to complete a half-ironman triathlon in New Orleans in April. "His story is one I recommend to any and all that have the opportunity," Guillot said.

ULM is the first campus in the state to be involved in the "Exercise is Medicine" initiative, according to Coyne, who adds that regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits than almost anything else a person can do to maintain weight loss and improve overall health.

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