For many people, their first time living away from their parents is when they leave for college. The first few months of college can be a stressful time. People are missing their family members and all their friends who went to different colleges or otherwise live somewhere else. Unless they are lucky enough to room with friends they knew before college, they are probably living with people they don’t know. Even if they knew the people before college, they might be learning that rooming with their best friend wasn’t as good of an idea as it sounded. Add the stress of a harder, busier schedule, and many freshmen find themselves gaining weight simply because the stress of school. There are many ways to avoid gaining the dreaded Freshman 15, though.
One of the best ways to avoid gaining weight is to get active. Even if you weren’t into exercising in high school, getting physically active in college can help you to avoid gaining weight. First of all, exercise burns calories a lot faster than just sitting around all day. Second, for many people, exercise helps to relieve stress which will help you to avoid stress eating. Third, exercise can help you to get involved with others around you and will help you to not feel lonely or sad.
Exercise can come in many different forms. Many colleges have good intramural teams. If you enjoy sports, join one or more of them. A lot of colleges also offer exercise facilities on-campus. Don’t be afraid to use them. Even if your school does not offer an exercise facility, chances are that there is some sort of gym nearby. You can join it. Going for a jog with friends can also be a good form of exercise. Even something as simple as playing Dance, Dance Revolution with friends can help you to get more physically active. There are opportunities all around for exercise. Using the stairs rather than the elevator or walking instead of driving to campus (if you live close enough) can help you to avoid the Freshman 15.
TAKE THE TIME TO RELAX
For different people, this is going to mean different things. Do something you enjoy doing whether it’s going to the movies with friends or reading a book that isn’t a required text. Maybe your way to relax is going to get a massage. Do something to take your mind off the stresses of school. A relief from life’s stresses will help you to avoid the Freshman 15 as well as other health issues.
Many freshman live on-campus and get a meal plan that allows their meals to be all-you-can-eat in a nearby cafeteria. For those with lower self-control, this is a formula for disaster. If you know that the all-you-can-eat meal plan is going to be too hard to resist, consider other housing options. Move to an apartment where you can cook for yourself, and plan meals ahead of time so that you will know exactly how much you are going to eat. Even with an all-you-can-eat plan, though, you can plan portions. Decide exactly how much you should eat, and don’t eat more than that. Yes, that might be easier said than done, but get roommates and other friends involved if you need the positive peer pressure to avoid overeating. Decide that you are all going to limit yourselves to only a certain amount of food and that you are going to avoid (or at least seriously limit) certain foods no matter how tempting they may appear.
DON’T BE AN EMOTIONAL EATER
College can be an emotional roller coaster. You’re excited to be out on your own, so you pig out on ice cream to celebrate. One week later, you miss your parents, so you down three candy bars. A few days later, you’re nervous about your first college test, so you find yourself eating a whole bag of potato chips. The cute guy in your English class asks you out, and again it’s time to celebrate with your roommates and that gallon of ice cream. Unfortunately, three weeks later, Mr. English class dumps you for another girl, and that pan of brownies ends up being eaten by only you. Emotional eating can be a real issue in college. Avoid it, and you can help to avoid the Freshman 15.
For some people, emotional eating will not be an issue. For others, it will be the real cause of their Freshman 15. Avoid eating just to cover your feelings. For some people, this is going to mean not storing food in their bedrooms. Make sure that all your food is in the kitchen. That way, it becomes more of a conscious decision to eat the food. Again, you might have to enlist the help of friends and roommates so you can remind each other to not be emotional eaters.
EAT THE RIGHT FOODS
Having a balanced diet can help you to avoid the Freshman 15. Despite what others around you may believe, sugar is not one of the food groups. Unfortunately, ice cream sundaes are not a food group either. Make sugary treats just that, a treat, instead of a constant thing. Eat fruits and vegetables along with protein and grains.
If you find that the Freshman15 are sneaking up on you despite thinking that you are eating right and getting exercise, make a log of what you are eating, how you are getting exercise, and figure out where you are lacking and/or where you are going a little overboard. Many schools also have counselors and dieticians there to help you for free or for a small cost. They can help you to establish an exercise and eating routine that will help you to avoid the dreaded extra pounds that so many of your peers are going to gain.