6 Steps To Avoid The 'Freshman 15'

Even though the dreaded term “freshman 15” exists doesn’t mean you have to become a victim when you go off to college. A number of steps can be taken to eating healthy and keeping your weight under control. Just because you’re adjusting into college, doesn’t mean your pants size has to as well.

1. Inactivity

Many college students come from an active lifestyle with high school sports and extracurricular activities. Then they go to college and focus on their studies (as they should!). They lose focus and don’t make it a priority to stay active. “It almost becomes a burden for most people and if they put some type of workout into their schedule and treat it like a class, they would be able to dedicate some time…As we age, our metabolism starts to slow down, which in turn adds weight,” says Fred Attard, a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor at Lifetime Fitness in Troy.

2. Diet

 Many freshman students are living on campus and are away from home. Mom isn’t around for most of them to prepare a good quality home-cooked meal. So they eat whatever, whenever. “If they’re in a dorm, they resort to cafeteria food, usually in large portions. Some that live off campus eat processed food usually from a box or can because the food is easy to prepare, or they resort to fast food, and we all know there is no “healthy” fast food, “ said Attard. Alcohol could also become a part of students diets, which is a huge contributor toward weight gain.

3. Good Food vs. Bad Food

“Good foods are always foods that will go bad over time: fresh fruits and vegetables, chicken, steak, fish,” said Attard. Those are ideal, but college students may not have access to keeping fresh food around. Foods to stay away from include: boxed foods (on shelves or frozen), pastas, canned foods, and junk food (i.e. chips and candy).  All the bad foods are easy to keep around, but are not the healthiest choices.” Attard said. According to Natalie Stroster, a junior at Oakland University studying Advertising and Communications said, “When you’re living on a college campus, food choices are limited and it’s hard to consume the efficient nutrients our body needs.”

3. Drinking Water

 Drinking on average 6-8 cups of water a day is ideal when it comes to weight loss. “Drinking half of your body weight in water is one of the best things you can do for your body.” Attard said. Water helps flush out toxins in your body and keeps you hydrated. For those who are trying to lose weight, drinking a tall glass of water before every meal will make your body feel more full so that you don’t over eat.

4. Making Use Of What’s Available

Investing time in your college or university’s workout center is highly recommended. Basic exercise equipment is always available for you to use, along with group exercise classes, such as Zumba or strength classes. If you don’t have access, walking is always a good option. Grab a friend to be accountable and find time to go to the gym together and just be active. Intramural sports is another form of activity that will get you up and moving; getting a group of friends together to participate is also a great way to blow off steam.

5. Set Goals

Getting on board with a weekly exercise and a diet plan is crucial when trying to shed a few pounds. Setting aside 30-40 minutes two or three days a week to exercise is recommended. A good tactic to staying motivated is setting goals that you wish to obtain in an allotted time. However, do not get discouraged if you don’t see results right away. It takes time and dedication, but it will be well worth it in the end.

6. Best Exercises

Cardiovascular exercise is always prevalent when it comes to keeping weight off because it’s working the entire body,” Attard said. Cardio exercise gets your heart rate up and helps increase blood circulation. Interval training and tempo training are better than spending hours upon hours on a machine and the results will be more beneficial.