Heading Out On Your Own

When students head off to college the freshman 15 can often hit. What is the freshman 15? It is the notion that incoming college freshman gain 15 pounds in their first year due to poor eating habits and a lifestyle change, and it is a very real occurrence.

The real weight gain of 15 pounds is, of course, just a term. Some students may find that they gain no weight while others will pack on 20 pounds or more over the course of their first year.

The freshman 15 is also not only restricted to freshman. Sophomores and beyond must also watch out for weight gain as their routines change throughout the college years, especially when moving to different living arrangements like dorms, fraternities or sororities, or apartments.

For those who don’t attend college, the freshman 15 is waiting for you too, so don’t be fooled. When you change from your family’s home cooking to making your own meals or eating out the same weight gain can happen to you, so be aware of what you are eating.

Diet Considerations

One of the main reasons new students gain weight is due to a poor diet. What used to be a home cooked meal around the dinner table that included vegetables is now a pizza delivery late at night. That’s a huge difference in calories and nutrition.

Students are also looking for fast food cheap which leads them to poor choices from fast food restaurants offering little in the way of nutrition but packed full of calories. Also contributing to the problem is simple portion control. Many students find themselves in a dorm cafeteria with an all you can eat arrangement, leading to overeating at every meal.

The best way to avoid weight gain from a poor diet is to be mindful of these simple things.

Healthy Eating to Avoid The Freshman 15First, eat a good breakfast. This is a key opportunity for you to eat fruit and whole grains to keep your fiber intake at an proper level. Opt for a light but filling breakfast including things like whole grain cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt, and juice. Think vitamins. Eggs, sausage, and pancakes with syrup every morning is going to add up. Don’t skip breakfast either or you will pay for it later when you make poor mid morning choices.

Second, have a sensible lunch. If one thing is true about college students it is that nighttime meals and snacking will happen, so don’t eat all of your calories at lunch. Go for lean protein like a turkey sandwich and include a salad if you can. You want to get full without eating heavy foods that will make you lethargic in your afternoon classes and keep your body ticking.

Third, beware the nighttime foods. When it comes to classic college foods like pizza you should expect it to be wherever you are. Don’t worry about denying yourself these foods. The key here is portion control and the hour of the day. When the pizza comes, commit to only having a couple of slices. Avoid a meal so late in the night that it serves no purpose. It would be better to wait for breakfast.

Exercise Considerations

Many new students don’t exercise. What is forgotten is how active high school was, whether it was high school sports, physical education, or just running around at various events. Many students get to college and focus entirely on classes, studying, or social gatherings. They don’t allow extra time for real exercise.

Consider this. If you had got a few hours of exercise each week and suddenly stop, you will be avoiding the calorie burn that you used to have. Your body will react to this by putting on weight. Also, if your calorie intake increases in college as is almost always the case, your body will put on weight. Now it is more important than ever to get in a workout.

It’s hard for young adults to get used to the idea of going to the gym when most have had no weight issues up to that point, but with this lifestyle change and increase in age the body will eventually demand it to stay fit and healthy.

Find a time that is just for you, put it on your calendar, and exercise. It doesn’t matter if you ride a bike around town, life weights, run indoors or out, or play racquetball with a friend. The important thing is that you are doing something active, on a schedule, every week.

Treat working out like you would treat studying. It is important. Not only will staying in shape and exercising give you more energy and keep you alert through the day, it will help you to sleep better at night so you can tackle tomorrow as well.

Stress Considerations

Heading out on your own is stressful. Whether you are a new college freshman or living on your own for the first time, the new responsibilities that you have added to the demands of your class work or job will be stressful, and increased stress is a trigger for gaining weight.

There are some things that you can do to cut your stress level which will help you to maintain a healthy weight.

First, get some sleep. Just because your parents aren’t around to tell you to go to bed doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. A typical person needs around 8 hours of sleep to function well. If you are going to bed at 2 in the morning and your first class is at 8:30 you are not doing well. Get your sleep so your body doesn’t pay the price. If you have nights where you fell short, find a little time for an afternoon nap. It will make a world of difference.

Plan Homework, Avoid Stress, and Avoid the Freshman 15Second, follow the recommendation in the earlier section and get your exercise. Including an exercise routine into your week is one of the best stress reducer you can find. Don’t’ skip it.

Third, don’t procrastinate. If you have an assignment due in 4 weeks, start now. Get a good planner and keep a schedule. Set goals along the way so that you can avoid cramming sessions. For a student, there is nothing more stressful than having and exam or assignment due tomorrow that you are unprepared for. Avoid that and you avoid a lot of stress.

Bar And Alcohol Considerations

Let’s face it. College students go to bars. Instead of pretending that they don’t, let’s find a way to keep this from adding up to increased pounds.

Alcohol Consumption Leads the the Freshman 15First, alcohol has calories. Know that. A simple light beer has around 70 calories or more. That means if you have 6 you’re over 400 already. Since a normal diet is around 2.000 calories, that’s a lot of calories to end every day with, so watch out for the drinks. By the way, that pint glass is even bigger. Other types of drinks are much, much worse. Sweet drinks with mixers (lots of sugar) can easily double or triple this. Mixed drinks with regular soda instead of diet will also add to the count.

The best way to avoid these calories from alcohol is not to drink them. When that doesn’t happen, just be aware of what impact you are having on your body. Take it easy. Drink socially and responsibly. I have never seen a person who really needed their last drink.

While we’re discussing the bar, it is also true that there is very little on the menu at any bar that is good for you. Bar food is really good but really high in calories and fat, both of which are going to add weight to your body if you repeat this practice often. A good strategy is to eat a healthy meal before you go out and avoid the late night order before you leave.

Avoid The Freshman 15

When you become aware of your diet, get on an exercise routine, sleep adequately, reduce stress, and avoid over consumption at the bar, you will be able to avoid the freshman 15.

Doing this will give you more self-esteem, more energy, make studying and sleeping easier, and allow you to leave college in the same shape you entered it. You’ll be glad you did.