The freedom of college is one of the greatest feelings in the world. You truly don’t have the responsibility of an adult, you have escaped the confines of high school, and you get a fresh start.
The problem with a lot of freedom is students usually don’t consider the impact their new choices have, especially around the mid-line. The freshmen fifteen is starting to get bigger and bigger. With students having full access to a meal plan, no longer eating what their parents ate, and having unlimited amounts of food (and, let’s admit it – beer) gaining weight happens quickly.
Here are some tips to avoid the freshmen fifteen (plus):
- Walk to class: Avoid the “Hey, I’ll give you a ride.” temptation. Hoof it to class and you get some major calorie burning out of the way.
- Manage the food plan: If you have unlimited choices, from pizza to chicken, choose to hit the salad bar first. That’s right, before the pudding and sausage and gravy, hit the salad bar hard, and go sit down. Don’t stack up your tray with “options” because soon that becomes grazing.
- Carry proudly: Having an endless fountain of soda at school, there could be a temptation to fill up on empty, sugary calories. So, carry around a refillable water bottle with you at all times. You can fill up at the million water fountains on the campus. Feel free to decorate it some school spirit (and I’d put your name and number on it).
- Eat with other people: In college I had a regular group of people to eat with and we would make these pacts: “Don’t let me eat more than one piece of pizza,” “I only get half a dessert,” etc. Have people keep you accountable on what you are putting on the tray.
- Even better – create a contest: If you have a roommate or buddy on your floor who is dedicated to fitness ask them to be your partner. Come up with goals each week: workout 5 times, hit the stadium stairs, count how many steps from one college landmark to another.
- Get your Resident Advisor involved: If you live on a floor you most likely have an RA. Bug them about doing fitness programs on your floor, having floor competitions (Biggest Loser anyone?).
- Use your gym: I can’t tell you how many students have no idea where the gym is. Not only that, but most college gyms I know offer classes (note: free!) on nutrition, personal training, and weightlifting. Students don’t take advantage of it! Granted, classes are basic, but they are enough to motivate you.
- Intramurals: I can’t tell you how many times I hear a student whine about being bored. Just because you aren’t playing sports for the university, doesn’t mean you can’t get involved. Intramural sports are a fantastic way to get active, meet people, and have a lot of fun. Many teams I’ve been a part of come up with crazy names, too (Volley Llamas, Chronically Single, That 70’s Slow).
- CrossFit: At the CrossFit gyms I’ve known, they all offer deals for students. Why? Because students tell students and then tell more students.
- Eat before an event: One of the strategies of getting students to events is to heap pizza and junk food on the students. They gorge on it like jackals on a wounded gazelle. Make sure and eat a healthy meal before you go and stay away from the snack table (or bring your own, bag of nuts, some fruit and a big glass of water.)
So while the myth of the Freshman 15 is a strong one, it doesn’t have to come true for you!
Ryan McRae is a Resident Director at Cal State San Marcos, an avid geek, and last year joined CrossFit. He’s the guy who comes in last, but has a heart of a lion.