The Freshman 15 (and How To Avoid It)

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We’ve all heard of the dreaded Freshman 15. Most of us have seen first-hand the effects that college can have on the slim physique of recently graduated high schoolers. Suddenly, fit boys and girls who have never had to worry about their weight go off to college and come home for Thanksgiving with more than just their horizons expanded.

I have always been mindful of my weight, so the thought of the Freshman 15 was particularly concerning to me. Fortunately, I can say that I was able to successfully avoid gaining excessive weight during college, and you can too! Follow these tips and put your concerns of becoming that guy (or girl) who comes home from college twice their former self… literally.

1. Limit yourself in the cafeteria.

Most college cafeterias have a wide variety of options for their students to choose from. The bad news for your waistline? Many dining halls serve their food buffet style, so, not only do you have the options of stir-fry, a sandwich, pasta and more, you can choose all the above.  To combat this, restraint is the name of the game! Resist the urge to get seconds (or thirds) and limit yourself to one plate of food and one dessert. Trust me, your self-image will thank you.

2. Mind your mixed drinks

We all know that alcohol isn’t good for us. It has tons of empty calories and offers practically no nutritional benefit. You don’t have to give up drinking entirely, but there are some drinking habits that are worse than others. Mixed drinks, for example, can be terrible because not only do you get the calories from the alcohol, you also get the calories from the soda or juice that you are mixing with. To help keep your calories in check, you have to be smart when mixing your drinks.

To dilute the taste of the alcohol without adding the unnecessary calories, try mixing your liquor with soda water. Skip the Sprite and use soda water and lime instead. Or, try using half juice and half soda water in place of pure juice.

3. Ditch the drunk munchies

Not only are the calories in alcohol bad for your waistline, drinking often leads to even more additional food consumption. When you’re at the bar, try to refrain from snacking on the complimentary popcorn or peanuts. They may taste good, but it’s hard to eat just a few and the calories from salty snacks add up quickly. And, although it might seem like a good idea at the time, stay away from pizza or other late night food on your way home from the bar! Not only is food that is open late usually high in calories and fat, but when you eat late, your body doesn’t have time to use the energy and it is quickly converted to fat.

4. Make a work out schedule (and stick with it!)

The myriad of options in the dining room, the fast food, and the alcohol are all going to lead to consuming more calories then your body is used to. To stay balanced, it is important to consistently get to the gym. To make it easier for yourself, set a weekly schedule and stick to it. Maybe on certain days you have a few hours in between class that you can fit in a quick gym session. Or, you can set a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule before or after class. The important thing here is to not just set the schedule, but to stick to it. There will always be other things to do, and you might not always feel up to it, but that doesn’t matter. Go anyway! You will feel better once you get there, and more importantly, once you finish your work out! I promise.

can’t promise you that you will avoid gaining any weight if you follow these guidelines; there are simply too many other factors to account for. But, if you moderate your eating, work out consistently, are careful with what what you mix your drinks with, and watch the late night eating, you are setting yourself and your waistline up for success!