SA Professionals- Are we practicing what we preach? by Megan Dobmeier




Megan Dobmeier currently works at the University of Nebraska Lincoln as the Assistant Director of Residence Life for Recruitment, Selection, and Personnel.

She received her Bachelor’s in Business Administration-Management 2009 and Master’s in Counseling- Student Affairs emphasis 2012 from the University of Nebraska Kearney.

The picture above is with her coach who with her help she has lost 108lbs and counting. She now has a passion for health and fitness. Together they have completed two 5k’s and will be doing a 10k in March!




I believe there is some correlation with SA professionals and being overweight. Do we really follow a healthy lifestyle? Or are we all too exhausted by the time we get home? We tell our students to make themselves a priority but are we doing the same? We tell our staffs to be healthy yet we approve all sorts of junk food for programs. During student training sessions we gorge them with unhealthy food and then wonder why they can’t pay attention. Are we educating them on how to be healthy? Are we talking about the food they are putting into their bodies? Although our cafeterias putout nutrition facts, who really pays attention to them?  What about using food as a coping mechanism? We talk about alcohol/drugs with our students but food is just as dangerous. I am not sure we are doing our part on being good role models for our students, but who is holding us accountable? I don’t really have the answers but this is my journey of becoming healthy while working in Student Affairs……

I began my journey in housing as an RA, working my way up through the ranks.  I have always heard in our profession to “take care of yourself”, “put yourself first”, “have a work/life balance” and to “be healthy,” but how many of us actually practice that? Those late night duty calls to respond to, programs to attend, meetings, traveling, opening/closing buildings are typically the excuses we use as to why we can’t achieve the work/life balance.. Oh and don’t forget the sweet free meal plan you receive. If you were like me you always said you would eat healthy in the cafeteria and then suddenly the pizza was in front of you. Typically any training or programs in our profession will include tons of food and very seldom does that include healthy options.

I have been overweight my entire life and have tried every diet out there. I just accepted that I was going to be the “big” girl or the girl with the “pretty face.” Anyone who decides to change their life, especially when losing weight, can speak about their “aha moment.” Mine was at my graduation for my master’s degree. I saw a picture of my mom, my brother, and me and thought to myself, “when did I become obese? How did I let this happen?” I have overcome a lot of challenges over the years, but for some reason I was never able to figure out how to lose weight. Now I know I just didn’t want it bad enough back then.  I decided that if, as a first generation student, I could get through not only undergrad but also graduate school then clearly I could do anything. That was my life changing moment.

I accepted a HD job at the University of Nebraska Omaha which, luckily for me, DID NOT come with a meal plan… weight loss plan out there because I was forced to learn how to cook. I also decided to try a 10 week challenge called Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping that one of my friends had some success with. I was at the end of my rope. Extreme? Yep I needed something extreme.  The owner recommended my coach, Julie, as I told him I wanted to lose not just a little weight, but a lot. They take before/after pictures and do testing just like in high school: the pushups, situps, stretch, and mile run. I was pretty disappointed in myself with everything but my coach told me it was a starting point and I wouldn’t ever be like that again. The workouts consisted of 3 days of kickboxing and 3 days of resistance training. I followed their nutrition plan as well.

I completed the 10 week challenge and only lost 9lbs. I went to the doctor and was told if I didn’t get my weight off in a year or so I should consider weight loss surgery. After that appointment I thought maybe I couldn’t do it on my own with just exercise and watching my nutrition. My coach said “you’re too young for that. You can do this. Give me a year.” And that agreement with her changed my life. We looked at the meal plan I was following and tweaked things. I started losing 2-5lbs a week.  Even during RA training I lost 4lbs! (If you have ever worked in housing you can understand the difficulty of that) I figured out that I needed to want it more than I was afraid of it. I put myself and my workouts first. I planned my days around them. I would typically workout at 6am. If I had a late night with work I would take the evening classes but no excuses; I had to show up. I would take pictures of food at the late night programs and send them to my coach so she had an idea of the temptation I was dealing with. I swear there was pizza at every program. She would reply “Don’t you dare touch that”. So I didn’t.

I started looking around and questioning why we feed our staffs and students such horrible food. For example, during RA training we feed them all this unhealthy food then expect them to be alert, focused, engaged, and participate when they are in a food coma and are lethargic. My friendships also started to change. After a long day at work, when duty finally ends, or opening of the halls is done, who doesn’t like to go out and have a few drinks or eat out with some friends? That was probably one of the hardest things for me. I found out that drinking will make your workouts 75% less effective for two days after. Well that was a wake up call. Why would I do all this work just to mess it up for some booze? I stopped going out as often or I was in bed at 9pm so I wasn’t as “fun” anymore. Those friendships have changed. If those people were truly my friends they understood, supported me, and stuck around. I had to find other coping mechanisms for my emotional eating. One of my favorites is painting my nails, reading, going for a walk, or looking at the health and fitness pins on Pintrest.

The part that helped me the most was having my coach hold me accountable. To this day I give her a lot of credit. Although I worked out and ate correctly, without her support/accountability I wouldn’t be where I am.  I started my program in August 2012 and I am now down 108lbs. I have weekly weigh ins with my coach, turn in food logs as needed, and workout 5-6 times a week. I started incorporating extra cardio sessions including running! I have never been much of a runner but now love it! I have completed three 5Ks and am training for a 10K in March with my coach. I also took on a new job where I luckily don’t have as much temptation as those late night pizza parties. I have had a wonderful support system of friends and family along the way and now have a fantastic boyfriend who has started his own journey with Farrell’s. Let me tell you, having your boyfriend look at you while you’re working out has been a whole new motivation and a lot of fun to have a workout partner!

I’m not perfect and I mess up here and there but get right back on track. I’m honest with myself and my coach. She knows what works with me and scolds me as necessary. She reminds me that if I’m willing to sacrifice anything and everything then I will accomplish my goals in anything I do. The most important part is to show up because that’s half the battle………how can we as SA professionals do a better job of showing up for health with our coworkers and students?

Let’s practice what we preach



One comment to SA Professionals- Are we practicing what we preach? by Megan Dobmeier

  • Chris Hein  says:

    I am SO PROUD of you for sharing your story!

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