The freshman 15… we have all heard of it. But what is it? What leads up to it? How can you avoid it?
The freshmen 15 are those dreaded 15 pounds freshmen tend to gain during their first year of college. The most likely culprit? Eating too much ramen and not being nearly as active as you were last year in high school.
Now gaining 15 pounds during your freshman year may not be the worst thing in the world. Maybe you were way too skinny to begin with and needed meat on your bones anyway. But if you want to avoid gaining those 15 like I did, here are some tips.
Walk. Everywhere. I didn’t bring a car with me to college for several reasons. One of them, though not intentional, was to stay active. Not having a car at my disposal meant I had to walk nearly a mile to my classes at the top of campus. It meant walking back to the bottom of campus and up again every single time I had a class, all while carrying around at least one heavy textbook and my laptop in my backpack.
It also meant I had to walk half a mile to the grocery store, and then carry those groceries home another half mile. Basically what I am saying is, even if you have a car—choose to walk. It will help keep you active even if you don’t seem to have time for regular exercise.
Speaking of exercise, you should probably do some of that. Schedule time to go to the gym or some type of active class on campus at least two times a week. Find someone to go with you like a roommate or that special someone to keep you committed. It will keep you healthy and social.
I personally loved going dancing with my roommates and then eventually my boyfriend and now husband. I also went to the gym in my apartment complex with those same people at least once a week—even if it was 11pm at night already. If I felt like I was particularly tight on time, I would do a quick workout in my room just to make sure I wasn’t skipping out.
I am sure you know what is coming next. Please, for heaven’s sake, do NOT live off of ramen, cereal, and those greasy meals at your campus’ food court. I know money can be tight. But those pants are going to be even tighter if you aren’t feeding yourself right.
Try making some scrambled eggs and whole-wheat toast for breakfast—it takes only a few minutes and will keep you fuller than that bowl of cereal will. If you have some extra time, throw in some veggies to your eggs. I particularly enjoy bell peppers and onions in mine, topped with some salsa.
If you must eat packaged soup, at least pick a low-sodium canned soup that has some vegetables in it rather than that no-nutrient ramen. Either that or try your hand at cooking—make enough to have some leftovers so you don’t have to cook again for a week (if you have the fridge space for it).
And in lieu of eating on campus, try bringing a lunchbox with a whole-wheat bread sandwich, be it peanut butter, turkey, or tuna to get protein, and pack an apple and carrots or some other fresh fruits and veggies, along with cheese or yogurt. These foods will keep you fuller, give you more energy, and save you those extra pounds.
Last but not least is stress. Stress has a correlation with weight gain, so avoid it at all costs. It can be difficult when you are in college, considering you always have something that needs to be done. But find something that helps clear your mind. Exercise is a great way to release those happy-chemicals like dopamine that will help you de-stress. You can even try yoga or meditation for that same effect. Just make sure you are doing something that makes you happy, besides eating chocolate.
These are the main things I did that seemed to keep those freshman 15 at bay. It kept my energy levels much higher, and overall I felt healthier and happier. Try implementing these and other healthy habits that will stick with you after college!