Fighting the Freshman Fifteen
Going to college for the first time does not have to inevitably lead to gaining to the Freshmen Fifteen. Certain factors do make weight a bit harder to manage, such as college food, late night parties, and the new sedentary lifestyle that comes with hours of classes and homework. However, with conscious decisions and actions, maintaining your current weigh and a healthy lifestyle is completely possible, even after arriving at college.
1. Make up your mind that you are not going to let college be an excuse to gain weight.
Our thoughts dictate our feelings and actions. Keep healthy weight and lifestyle goals and thoughts in your mind and the actions — and even habits — will become automatic.
2. Drink plenty of water on a daily basis. Sometimes, what feels like hunger is actually thirst. Instead of reaching for that sugar-laden, high-calorie beverage, reach for water instead. Water not only helps your stomach feel full, it also aids the body in eliminating toxins and waste.
How much water is the right amount? Although different sources cite different rules of thumb, my doctor has always told me to take my body weight and divide it in half. Whatever the result is, that is what should be consumed in water in fluid ounces in a 24-hour period.
3. Purposefully choose the healthy options in your college cafeteria instead of the deep fried and fatty foods. Colleges across the states are actively seeking to provide healthy alternatives for their students, such as whole grain pastas and breads and salad bars. Put those choices to good use at each meal.
4. If you must go for seconds at lunch or supper, make your seconds low-calorie, non-fat, nutrient-laden fruits and vegetables instead of the main course and processed foods.
5. Don’t completely deprive yourself of enjoyable foods. We have more of a tendency to binge on fattening foods when we don’t allow ourselves to ever eat them. If that brownie looks good, take it. Instead of scarfing it down however, savor it. Slowly bite off and chew each piece, enjoying the texture and taste. Chances are, if you take the time to enjoy it instead of inhaling it, you won’t feel the need to have another — or to grab a third on complete autopilot.
6. Practice eating your food slowly and being aware of it. Just like the brownie, if you can eat your meals at a leisurely pace and actually enjoy them you won’t go into automatic mode of just eating without thinking.
7. Eat when hungry, stop when full. Implementing number six, above, can really help with this. When we eat our food slowly and deliberately we become much more aware of when we hit full, which ends up coming a lot sooner than we realize if we eat quickly and without thought.
Head hunger, especially late at night during a study session while talking to a roommate or going to Denny’s at 1:00 a.m. after finishing a group project, is one of the biggest enemies in college weight gain.
Eating when hungry provides fuel that our bodies need to run. When it’s used up, we get hungry, we eat again, and the calories and fat get used up again. When we eat to just appease our head hunger however, we are giving our bodies fuel they don’t need. When we do that, the excess fuel has nowhere to go except into fat cells.
8. Can’t help but give in to that munchie craving? Keep low-fat and healthy foods readily available in your dorm room, such as popcorn, pretzels, dried fruit, and trail mix. It’s much easier to eat healthy when you snack if you already have the healthy choices available.
9. Make exercise a daily part of your college schedule. Most colleges have fitness centers. If they don’t, the town or city they are located in does. These fitness centers, more often than not, provide discounts and even free memberships to local college students. Use this resource!
Exercise is much easier if you have an exercise companion. Finding a friend, or a group of friends even, makes working out go more quickly and can be much more enjoyable. Not to mention it provides an accountability that helps motivate you on the days when you just don’t feel like you can work out.
10. All the walking you have to do to your classes, make it purposeful. Walk at a brisk pace, with your head held high, shoulders back and straight, and tummy held in. A walk across campus in this manner can help burn a few extra calories.
11. Do you have a boring class you just can not stay awake in? Subtly exercise during it! Concentrate on certain areas of your body, such as your front thighs or your bum, and tighten and release for a series of ten or fifteen. While it’s doubtful this will actually get you in shape, again, it’s another calorie burner in an unexpected place.
12. When ordering specialty coffee, choose skim milk and skip the whipped cream. Just skipping the whipped cream can save you up to 100 calories per drink.
13. Get plenty of sleep. There are numerous studies citing the role that lack of sleep plays in weight gain. While the hows and whys will not be discussed here, the bottom line is that research is showing that the more tired people are during the day, the more they tend to eat. This of course, packs on the weight.
14. Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. Alcoholic beverages tend to carry a lot of calories with them.
15. When visiting home on the weekends, and especially during the holidays, practice your healthy eating habits and keep up with exercise. It’s easy to have a quick weight gain of five to even ten pounds during Christmas break, but this only makes keeping the weight off, once returning to college, more difficult. Holiday weight gain also makes you feel defeated in the whole weight loss battle as a whole, which makes you more prone to give in to temptations like not exercising and binge eating once you’re back at school. Maintain your weight during college breaks and you’ll go back to school with the motivation to keep doing so.
If you can take on these fifteen tips, chances are you won’t take on the freshmen fifteen.