Fighting the Freshman 15
Ways to stay in shape during your first year away at school.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: August 13th, 2012
With a little planning, dedication to healthy eating, and good choices regarding staying active and drinking, gaining the Freshman 15 is easy to avoid.
acking your bags and moving to a dorm can be really exciting, and making new friends and staying up late is pretty awesome, too. No parents, no curfew, no rules, amirite? But one of the downfalls of the first year of college is the nearly-inevitable weight gain that comes from all that cafeteria food, late night pizza, and yes, sorry parents, drinking. But if you're concerned about gaining weight, thankfully, colleges are also one of the easiest places to stay in shape. Here are a few tips to keep yourself in the best shape you can while still being surrounded by all of your vices.
This sounds really vague, and it also seems like a no-brainer, but when you're going to class at odd hours and staying out late, it can be difficult to maintain some semblance of a good diet. Breakfast is at noon and you're eating fried chicken strips, dinner is after the bars close and you're eating greasy pizza, and there's no such thing as lunch because you're taking a nap. Try as best you can to eat on some semblance of a normal schedule, even if that means eating small snacks throughout the day. Have an apple between your two morning classes, grab a granola bar for your afternoon break, and when you get home from class before dinner, have some carrot sticks or crackers and cheese.
In the cafeterias, let's face it, the food isn't going to always be the tastiest. And while a quinoa salad might sound kind of gross when you compare it to a cheeseburger, it will keep you from looking like you ate nothing but cheeseburgers all year—not to mention, eating cheeseburgers all the time, while delicious, doesn't really offer you much nutrition or energy, and you'll be doing more sleeping in class than learning (save that for senior year, mmk?).
Another "duh" idea, but a lot of people forget that despite busy schedules, colleges are some of the most convenient places to stay in shape. You have the option to walk to class, your gym membership is usually included in your tuition (and usually much better than the gym you paid for back home, to boot), and there are plenty of clubs you can join, like intramural softball, skateboarding, and running clubs. And sometimes it's just nice to get out of your dorm for a bit and walk around campus to de-stress. If you're going to a large school with transportation systems, take a bus to one edge of campus and walk back—but, we have to say, do this during the day or with friends, not at night or alone. Check out the gyms and join classes you wouldn't normally join if you feel like stepping out of your comfort zone. Go swimming, take up basketball, try rock climbing. When you're hanging out with thousands of people your demographic, you're bound to find someone with shared interests, so you don't have to go it alone if you don't want to.
Curb Your Drinking
Okay. We know that your mom and dad don't want to believe that you're out at a rager. And you probably won't be all the time, unless you're hell-bent on making your body shut down, because drinking four nights a week is kind of brutal. But you probably will drink. And drinking, especially binge-drinking, is the fastest way to age yourself by 10 years and 30 pounds. We're not here to be the proverbial wet blanket, but try to limit your beer and liquor intake. And, don't tell your parents we told you this, but there are also some low-cal cocktails out there—when we were in college, the sorority girls gravitated to things like rum and diet Coke, but some of us were also partial to whiskey or vodka and soda (that is, soda water, club soda, not Sprite).
In addition to adding pounds, drinking will also leave you with plenty of "I'm never drinking again" hangovers, and it will age the living hell out of you, so it's best to keep things in check so as to not hate your life every morning and look like you're 35 when you're 18 (errr, 21. Right.). Sometimes it's nice to be awake for the weekends, not hiding under your blankets, praying for sweet relief.