Many students come back from their first year of university with new friends, new acquaintances … and a few extra pounds. Here's how you can avoid gaining weight when you take the extra responsibility of living alone.
The "Freshman 15" is a catchy nickname that refers to the weight gain that many students experienced while staying away from home for the first time. It's a combination of easy access to junk food, meal planning and nutrition management by yourself, and more.
However, although the Freshman 15 may be common, it is not obvious. With a little awareness and attention to what you eat and how much you move, you can keep your body healthy during your first year away from home.
Sneak in these steps
The more you move, the easier you can fend off the dreaded Freshman 15. Whenever possible, head to your destination. If you take several steps throughout the day, you do the exercise without having to go to the gym.
Take the long way to your classes. Take a walk between lectures instead of taking a nap or having a snack. If your art history course is taking place on the top floor, take the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator.
At almost any time, you can walk instead of taking your car or campus bus, you should do it.
Learn to cook
Nothing beats the ease and convenience of coming into the dining room to enjoy your unlimited meal plan, but eating a pizza three times a day can have negative consequences.
If you learn to cook even a few basic meals, it can help balance your diet and ensure you bring at least some vegetables throughout the week.
You do not have to become a gourmet chef. You can concoct a tasty salad without cooking anything, or use pre-cooked ingredients such as grilled chicken. If you have access to a microwave oven, you can follow a dormitory cookbook to prepare hot meals.
Even if you eat a lot in the dining room, learning to cook will teach you what goes into the meal and help you make more nutritious and healthy choices from the menu.
Do not drink your calories
Sometimes it's not all-you-can-eat pizza that pushes first-year university students to rack up extra pounds; it's the weekend party.
Alcohol contains calories and, if you throw a series of beers every weekend, you can gain weight quickly, even if the rest of your diet is healthy. Consider the amount of alcohol you consume and incorporate it into your assessment of your diet in general. And do not fall into the trap of thinking that everything is fine if you drink alcohol instead of beer: a good shot of vodka contains 120 calories.
Alcoholic beverages and sugary drinks are very caloric and are an easy area where you can reduce your consumption.
Even if you are not part of the evening circuit, keep an eye on these liquid calories. If you take a big cup of soda with your lunch or dinner every day, it does not seem like a big deal. But by the end of the month, you will have drunk about 4,500 calories, more than the number needed to put in an extra pound. Continue like this all the first year and, between the alcohol and the soda, you will have your Freshman 15 only in the form of drink.
Do not forget that calories matter, regardless of their shape.
Going to the gym
Most colleges and universities have free sports facilities for students. These are generally very pleasant. Whether you have a gym, pool, track, or all three available, if you take advantage of these resources, you will not be burdened by your weight.
If you do not know how to start at the gym, take a class. Most universities offer free classes to students, which means you can try different types of exercises under the watchful eye of an experienced instructor.
If you prefer to go to the gym yourself while having some anxiety, ask a friend to accompany you. A workout companion can make your gym time more fun than stressful.
Go for a healthier dinner
Even if you're a microwave chef, you'll probably go to the dining room from time to time. And you should not feel guilty! Nothing better than the convenience and convenience of hundreds of food options available with a quick scan of your meal card.
It's good to indulge in pizzas or a cheeseburger from time to time, but also enjoy healthier options. Most places have a salad bar where you can prepare a healthier and lighter meal.
In and out of class, get out! Whether playing Frisbee on quad or climbing with your friends, outdoor activities make you move and have fun.
During the week-end, try to do some exercise between studying and social activities. If you live in a city, see if you can rent a city bike, this can be a fun way to explore. If you are in a more remote location, try hiking with friends.
You can also have fun while sweating!
Take care of yourself
College is such a stressful time that it's easy to forget to take care of yourself. You are busy studying for exams, meeting new people and learning a new place. If you also work part-time or full-time, it's even more difficult!
So, make an effort to treat yourself well! Have a good night, drink a lot of water and take breaks when you need it. Stress can lead to weight gain. Therefore, if you manage your mental health, it can also have a positive impact on your physical health.
The university is an opportunity to meet new people, try new things and explore new places. For many students, this is the first time you are alone. All of these changes make it easier to take on bad habits leading to weight gain.
However, with a little thought and dedication to the tips described in this article, you can spend good time in college, maintain your health and avoid the dreaded Freshman 15.