We’ve all heard of the dreaded “Freshman 15.” Perhaps you’ve even seen it happen to some of your friends who went to college before you. I know I have. But not everyone gains this extra weight and you don’t have to either. I even lost some weight my freshman year of college. It’s just a matter of balancing your diet with exercise, and making sure not to ingest too many extra calories on the weekends/during stress times like midterms and finals. Here are some tips to help you make sure that you don’t fall victim to this weight gain and avoid “The Freshman 15!”
1. Always make time for exercise.
Not only is exercise good for your body, but it’s good for your brain. You can read here how people who exercise more tend to do better at school. When you need a study break, go for a run! You’ll be keeping yourself in shape and giving yourself more energy to devote to studying after your done. Exercising helps to reduce stress too, which is another reason why it should always fit in to your schedule. Besides sleeping and eating, I think exercising is the most important thing you need to do. It keeps your mind and body in shape and will only help you.
2. Have a workout buddy.
Believe me, I know how hard is to motivate yourself to workout some days. It’s raining or there’s a marathon on of your favorite TV show, and your bed looks so inviting. But when your workout buddy stops by your door ready to go, you’ll go. So find that person who will make good on their promise to motivate you to go to the gym, and make sure you promise to do the same. Don’t just make it your best friend. My sister and I used to go to the gym all the time together, but we’d never actually do anything because neither of us would motivate each other and we’d end up just leaving and going out to eat. You have to find someone who will motivate you to do it. Plus it’s more fun to work out with someone than by yourself.
3. If you miss a day, don’t worry.
Everyone has bad days. You eat really badly or you can’t find the energy or time to go to the gym because you pulled an all-nighter the night before and still have another test to study for and a paper and whatever else. It happens. Just don’t let it worry you or stress out about it. Tomorrow is another day to get on that grind. Call or text your gym buddy and tell them to make sure they get you to the gym tomorrow. If you start to feel bad about yourself it will be a downward spiral and suddenly you’re lying in bed eating a giant bag of chocolate with no hope whatsoever of ever going to the gym again. So positive thoughts.
4. Be wary of the cafeteria.
The cafeteria doesn’t only have food that is bad for you, you just have to find it amidst all the desserts and fried food. There will always be a salad bar that you can use to make healthy options. My cafeteria had a Make Your Own Sandwich line, which was perfect for when I wanted more than a salad, but still didn’t want to eat what was being served in the main line. My advice is to stay away from the main line, because that will generally have the unhealthiest foods. The best places to eat are when you can make your own things because you can decide what you want on it.
5. Avoid late night food binges.
It’s going to happen sometime, we all do it. But do your best to avoid it. I find it’s easiest to just not buy yourself a bunch of snacks because if you have it, you’re going to eat it. Don’t have the local pizza delivery place saved to your contacts. That place that has half-off wings after midnight? Don’t fall for it. If you think you’re hungry, try to go to bed instead. Or keep healthy snacks in your room that you can snack on instead of ordering a pizza. I know, when you’re drunk apples aren’t what you’re craving, but you’ll thank yourself in the morning. And like I said earlier, if it happens, don’t stress out about it. Just run for an extra few minutes the next day or eat a little healthier than you would.
6. Make sure you eat enough.
If you think starving yourself is the answer, it isn’t. Your body actually starts to store fat more when you don’t eat as much because it wants to make sure that it has enough food. Plus you’ll have less energy to exercise and do other things, which is bad for your health. It is never a good idea to not eat, and definitely don’t skip meals.
7. Join an intramural or club sport.
If you’re not big into sports, join a club or intramural team because they’ll be less serious and you can probably find some physical activity that interests you. Plus intramural teams you can usually make yourself so it can just be your and your friends, which always makes it more fun. Or if you like sports, try out for the varsity team. I knew that I wasn’t good at motivating myself, so I kept with soccer and track and field to make sure that I had a reason to be physically active all year round. When you’re teammates are expecting you to be in shape, it’s a lot easier to motivate yourself than if you’re just running for yourself. Or even a class like Zumba or yoga. Just make being active fun for you, and you’ll want to do it more.
8. Be careful of what you’re drinking.
I know we all want to go out and have fun on the weekends, but be careful of what you’re putting in your stomach and how many calories it has. Try not to mix drinks with soda or juice because that is a lot of added sugar. If you don’t need to drink a lot, then don’t. Don’t think you have to keep up with your friends. Drinking is not a contest, and I find that I have more fun when I can remember what I did, so you don’t need to black out or throw up every time you go out. By saving yourself a few calories on drinks, it can go a long way. And the same goes for meal times and any time else. Try to stay away from the sodas and juices and drink water as much as you can. People tend to ingest a lot more calories than they think through drinks.
If you don’t get enough sleep, it wreaks havoc on your body. This includes your metabolism. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll have more of the hormone Grehlin, which tells you that you’re hungry, and less of the hormone Leptin, which tells you when you’re full, according to WebMD. So you’ll eat way more than you need to with a slower metabolism. Plus, I know that when I’m tired I’m reaching for the easiest thing to eat to give me some energy, and that’s often chips or some other unhealthy snack. You eat to keep yourself up, and then at night you can’t fall asleep. Getting enough sleep is the best thing you can do for your body to keep it looking and feeling good.
As long as you are active and are careful of what you eat and drink, it’s easy to keep off that extra weight. Don’t be afraid of gaining “the freshman 15” weight. You’re in charge of your health, so don’t let yourself become a victim!