For some high school graduates, gaining the freshman-fifteen is one of the scariest things about going to college.
I can honestly say that I knew very little about gaining weight that fast in the first 2-3 months of college, but when it happened, I was 20 pounds heavier and so unhappy with my new freshman body.
I spent so much time hanging out with friends on campus in the Student Union, that I didn’t realize that everything I did revolved around food and dining.
So to avoid gaining the freshman fifteen yourself, here are 5 tips you should follow.
1. Don’t Hang Out in Food Spots
Don’t just sit in the café and the food court every day talking to your friends between classes. More than likely, you will overeat, because there is so much food around.
During my first year of college, I spent most of my time in the Student Union on campus eating in the food court or the cafeteria. I met my friends in the dorms and walked to the café for an all-you-can-eat buffet style breakfast.
Then, for lunch we would meet for subs and salads in the food court (of course the salads were covered in ranch dressing!). And for dinner we would hit the café buffet style again, and then every night at 10:00 PM, the campus opened the food court to serve pizza and hoagies.
It is easy to repeat the same unhealthy meals, because they are fast and easy. Foods to avoid in heavy consumption include pizza, hoagies/subs, chicken fingers, and French fries…
Eating like this day-after-day is the fastest way to gain the freshman fifteen.
2. Take the Stairs
Instead of using escalators and elevators, use your feet. Walk, run, skip if you have to. It’s so important to stay active, and one of the easiest ways to slack off on your health is to always use escalators and elevators just because they are available to you.
According to Harvard Health Publications, as stated by The LIVESTRONG foundation, “The average 155-lb. person can burn an estimated 223 calories per 30 minutes of walking up and down stairs.”
According to fitness app, Step Jockey, the benefits of using the stairs include:
- Burns more calories per minute than jogging
- Reduces cardio risk by more than 30%
- Helps control weight and builds muscle tone
- Saves up to 15 minutes a day and cuts carbon
- Easy to make a habit of
3. Drink More Water
Fountain drinks and vending machines are in abundance on college campuses. Grabbing coffee before class or a bottle of soda or juice is completely normal, but there are so many calories in just one bottle of any soft drink.
Drink water instead. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adding more water to your diet can produce the following benefits:
- Help with weight management
- Keep your temperature normal
- Lubricate and cushion joints
- Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
- Get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements
Drinking water is essential, however, it’s important to also know the risks of taking in too much water.
According to the Harvard Health Publications, “The daily four-to-six cup rule is for generally healthy people. It’s possible to take in too much water if you have certain health conditions…”
To learn more about your water intake needs and how to stay hydrated visit, Harvard Health Publications.
4. Stay Active
College life is filled with adventures, even if you go to a rural university, like I did. There is always something to do. Go to the gym on campus, play beach volleyball, shoot the basketball around, take yoga classes, go swimming, join a sports and recreation club, take up ballroom dancing, or go dancing at the local bars and house parties.
Eating a big meal at lunch and then sitting in your dorm room will pack on the pounds, fast. For this reason, the American Heart Association (AHA) advises adults to work out for 30 minutes daily 5 times a week or for 2-3 segments of 10-15 minutes daily.
Working out doesn’t have to mean going to the gym, lifting weights, or running on the treadmill. Other alternatives include:
- Mowing the lawn
- Climbing stairs
- Washing your car (by hand)
- Aerobic dancing
- Jumping rope
5. Go to Sleep!
Getting a good night’s sleep helps reduce stress, and helps you maintain a healthy weight. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation suggests that young adults, ages 18-25 should have an average of 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
According to National Institutes of Health- (NIH):
Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you’re well-rested.
If you’re unable to get a full 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night, then taking a nap later on in the day can help you catch up. To learn more about how to take a good nap, visit Harvard Health Publications on Napping and the National Sleep Foundation for information on the different type of naps you can take.
There are a lot of things we hope to gain from college, but the freshman fifteen isn’t one of them. With these five tips you can keep the pounds at bay, and stay healthy and focused for what will probably be the best years of your young adult life.
About the Author
Ta’lor Pinkston has a BA and MSW from California University of Pennsylvania, she is a Professional Blogger, Feminist, Counselor, and Equality Advocate. As the co-founder of LADYHOOD journey, LLC, she believes in empowering all women. Her blog focuses on relationships, beauty standards, self-love, equality, motherhood, college life, and health and wellness. You can find her at LADYHOOD journey, where she writes as Pinkspen.
This post is the first June submission for the Monthly College Mate Writing Contest.