College is a time of growth, exploration, and most importantly, fun! Going to college means getting used to a whole new schedule, which includes a lot more freedom than most high-school students are used to. While college is great, many freshmen fall victim to the notorious ‘Freshman Fifteen,’ or the rumored fifteen pounds that first-year college students sometimes gain. This can happen for a number of reasons: no longer playing high-school sports, saying goodbye to Mom’s cooking, or even just stress. The Freshman Fifteen is a real thing, but it does not have to be your future. Here are 7 steps to avoiding the Freshman Fifteen:
1.Find an accountability partner.
Getting into a workout schedule can be tough, especially when learning to juggle classes and your newfound freedom. Finding someone to exercise with is a must. Auburn student Megan McKinstry says, “I love working out with my roommate because we hold each other accountable.” Plus, working out with friends is fun! I mean, who doesn’t want to get sweaty while jamming to Taylor Swift’s new album with your closest buds? Grab your new roomies and get moving!
2.Avoid those tempting late-night eats.
After being in the library from dinner time ‘til the crack of dawn, the first thing you’re going to want to do is swing through McDonald’s for some crispy nuggets and salty fries. Well, don’t. Eating right before bedtime is detrimental because you lay straight down before giving your body a chance to process those calories. Greasy or heavy foods are particularly bad because all the sodium and fat is just sitting in your stomach, likely to be stored as fat. If you must quench your hunger past midnight, go for something light and easy to digest, like an apple or plain, whole-wheat toast.
3. The Recreation Center is your friend.
Never again in your life will you have state-of-the art workout facilities available at your fingertips and free of cost. Take advantage of them while you can! Colleges and universities spend tens of millions of dollars on their workout facilities so that students like you can use them. Grab your accountability partner and head to the recreation center (often nick-named “the rec” by students), and flirt it up with the cute boy bench-pressing next to you.
4. Always choose the stairs.
Though seemingly cliché, this one can really make a difference. Climbing the stairs can relieve stress, improve circulation and the stairs can be faster than waiting for the elevator. So if you fail that Biology 1010 midterm, work off the stress by walking a few flights of stairs instead of binge-eating ice cream.
5. Going out may be fun, but it isn’t fun for your waistline.
It is always fun to hit up the frats with your girls, but moderation is key here. Alcohol is chock-full of calories and sugar that can cause you to pack on the pounds. When drinking, it’s key to alternate every alcoholic beverage with a water to stay hydrated and helps you drink less. Drinking alcohol is a fun part of college, but make sure to be careful when you drink so that you don’t over-indulge.
6. Hydrate, hydrate, HYDRATE!
One of the best things you can invest in in college is a good, reusable water bottle. Get into competitions with your roommates to see who can chug the most H2O in one day! Drinking a full glass of water with every meal while taking sips often is a great way to listen to your body and ensure that you don’t overeat. Also, the more water you drink, the less sodium you’re likely to retain, which can cause those favorite skinny jeans not to zip.
7. Make fast food a treat, not a habit.
My roommate and I used to swing through Chick-Fil-A and McDonald’s at least 3 or 4 times a week freshman year because hey, it’s college and Mom isn’t cooking our meals anymore. Unfortunately, we noticed that eating all of this greasy food was causing us to feel bad and making us gain weight. We made a deal to only eat fast-food once a week, on Fridays, to celebrate the weekend. Not only did we feel better from eating less junk, but eating junk food only on occasion instead of regularly makes it taste that much better, knowing you earned it.
So there you have it, incoming freshmen. The freshman fifteen is a real thing, but it does not have to be your fate. Eating healthy, working out with friends and trying to maintain healthy habits is a great start to staying fit and happy your freshman year, but make sure to still enjoy yourself! College is a wonderful time of freedom and exploration, so make sure to treat yourself to the occasional burger, because sometimes you just need it.