Ah, the fatal freshman 15: we’ve all been warned about this dreadful pitfall before we embarked on our college careers. Don’t think that just because every day is a party, you can eat like it’s one, too. This is when all your bad health habits will catch up to you, so you need to be extra careful. The days where you could eat a bagel for breakfast, pizza for lunch and a cheeseburger for dinner are long gone.
Remaining active and consuming healthy meals are crucial components to maintaining your goal weight throughout your freshman year. As difficult as this may seem, it really is not too hard if you remain conscious of what you are consuming. The patterns you develop freshman year are what will follow you until graduation. The sooner you start eating right and exercising, the better off you will be.
As college is quickly approaching, we’ve decided to come up with a list to help you avoid this awful trap:
1. Don’t Drunk Eat
Everyone knows the best thing to do at the end of any given night is to stuff your face with endless munchies. You and your roommate stumble back from whatever party you decided to attend that night and automatically hit up Domino's. As enticing as this may seem, don’t order two personal pizzas per night, one for you and one for your roomie. At least try and share the drunk snacks you are about to order. This reduces caloric intake while saving you some regret and money, too.
2. Get A Gym Membership
You may have to pay a little extra each semester, but getting a gym membership is totally worth it. College gyms offer a variety of different aerobic classes as well as spinning class that can make exercising…fun. Go with a friend to make the experience more bearable. Once you start these habits freshman year, it will be much easier to keep them up throughout your college career.
3. Don’t Fall Into The Fast Food Trap
When you get to college, you typically will be busy with friends, coursework and adjusting to life on your own. You are finally independent from your parents and all your choices are actually up to you. Make sure you allocate enough time to properly ingest your meals. Don’t grab McDonald's as you rush to class or eat a pop tart because you’re running late to your 8 a.m.; wait until you have ample amount of time to prepare or to pick up a well-balanced meal.
4. Rush A Sorority/Frat
When you set out to join an organization, you want your appearance to reflect your best self. You want to give the impression that you care about the image you give off and your overall health. Once the rush process is over, chances are you are getting hazed to the extremes, which will force you to lose weight whether you like it or not. Guys are essentially starved during their hell week, while girls are discouraged to eat virtually anything during the pledging process. As superficial as this seems, it does help to prevent the dreaded freshman 15.
5. Walk To Class
I probably shouldn’t be one to speak since I either drove to every single class I ever took in college or took the bus. Walking to class allows you to burn calories without much of an extra effort. It also gives you an excuse to possibly skip cardio at the gym.
6. Don’t Get The Highest Meal Plan
If you are getting the highest available meal plan, then you will be tempted to take advantage of it every chance you get. The food your meal plans allows you to purchase is typically void of any nutritional value; it's fast food that can be produced in mass quantities. The chefs aren’t concerned with the dietary qualities of the food, only that it can be prepared as fast as the demand calls for.
7. Bring Home A Person, Not A Pizza
If you are going home with someone, chances are you aren’t going to be stuffing your face before you lose the clothes. No one wants to get down and dirty on a full stomach. Plus, whatever physical activity you’re about to engage in is sure to burn ample amounts of calories. Who said exercising couldn’t be fun?!
8. Join A Club Sports Team
This is a fun way to stay active and to prevent the freshman fifteen. There are tons of different sports teams that anyone can join, regardless of experience. Get a group of friends together to join an Intramural league. If you don’t want to make that large of a commitment, you can always just get a group to play pick-up games on local campus tennis courts, soccer fields and basketball courts.
9. Learn To Substitute
Small changes garner huge results. Think of all of the things you typical consume and then think of a healthy alternative. You eat regular yogurt for breakfast? Try switching that out for plain Greek yogurt. Soda as a chaser? Try switching to crystal light (#TSM). Whole wheat bread can be substituted for white bread and a wrap can be substituted for a sandwich. This isn’t actually dieting, an idea many people are turned off by, but just healthy, more nutritious alternatives.
10. Better Sleep Patterns
A regulated sleep cycle is crucial to avoiding weight gain. It’s important to try to get AT LEAST six hours of sleep, if not more. We get it -- it’s your first time living on your own and you don’t have a curfew, but a steady sleeping pattern is vital for your mental health, as well as preventing the extra pounds from adding up.
Try and avoid late night snacking and snacking when you are studying. If you are snacking right before you go to bed, the calories you just consumed are going to sit there. You aren’t moving around like you are during the day, so you aren’t effectively burning any of the calories. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of stress eating, which people do all the time. If you are going to study, try and pack a healthy snack ahead of time to bring with you.
12. Health Requirement
The majority of colleges have some sort of general education requirement that can be filled with a gym class. This is a great way to get the most out of your college schedule. If you think about it, this is a great way to make exercise part of your day because you don’t need to devote out of class time to physical activity. Go ahead and kill two birds with one stone.
13. Monitor Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol will most likely be your best friend in college, but it can also serve as your worst enemy. One shot is an estimated 100 calories, and let’s be real, who takes fewer than 5 shots before going out at night? Beer is even worse for you and should be avoided. Obviously everyone is well aware of the role of beer in college, so try and opt for a lighter version of your favorite brand. Also: the more you drink, the more likely you are to engage in bad eating habits.
14. Minimize Stress
High stress levels are associated with weight gain, as many people are more than aware of. Try to reduce your stress by engaging in some sort of physical activity daily and managing your time/work load. Don’t make the mistake of procrastinating, as this will more than guarantee high stress levels.
15. Avoid Liquid Calories
Try to drink as much water as you can throughout the day. Don’t waste your calories on fruity and sugary drinks. Replace these empty calories with unsweetened tea or water. Water will also keep you full and help to trick your body into thinking it's not hungry.
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