I hate to break the news to you, but yes, the freshman 15 is real. It’s not a myth or a legend told by upperclassmen to haunt you. It actually happens. I don’t care how fit you were in high school or how healthy you eat, because the freshman 15 will find you. The sooner you acknowledge it, the sooner you can fight it.
1. Believe that it’s real
It’s common to ignore all signs of the freshman 15 and then be shocked as you look in the mirror and notice that your body is drastically different. Instead of disregarding small changes in your body, notice them and try to act on them early. You can’t eat Chipotle every night and expect to look the same.
2. Stock your dorm with healthy snacks
9 times out of 10 you will be too lazy to walk all the way to the dining hall for a bite to eat, so naturally you’ll want to snack on whatever is in your room. Load up with healthy snacks such as nuts, fruit, granola bars, etc. to keep from snacking on junk. I know the Cheetos may look tempting at the grocery store, but fruits and veggies are the way to go.
3. Realize the reality of alcohol
Alcohol can be great for a variety of different things…except for your body. Not only can it lead to a lot of mistakes, but also a lot of calories. It’s best to drink in moderation and opt for low calorie drinks like a vodka soda (64 calories) over high-calorie drinks such as a rum and cola (248 calories).
4. Never skip breakfast
You may be tempted to roll out of your bed at the last possible second on Monday morning, but skipping breakfast has its consequences. Eating breakfast not only improves your concentration and boosts your energy, but it also helps your body burn calories throughout the day. And no, a Pop-Tart does not count as a healthy breakfast.
5. Find a gym buddy
If you’re like me then you know that going to the gym in college can be a struggle. The cardio room is always packed, and the weight room can be extremely intimidating. Finding a gym buddy, however, will help keep you motivated on days when all you want to do is lay in bed and watch Netflix. Because, let’s be honest, if there was no one there to push us, we would probably stay in bed all day.
6. Take advantage of the dining halls
Dining halls will either be your best friend or your worst enemy. While the dining halls offer a lot of unhealthy options (ice cream, mac n’ cheese, pizza…), they also have a ton of options that won’t hurt the waistline. Take advantage of the 24/7 salad bar while you have it.
7. Walk to your classes
It can be so tempting to take the bus everywhere on campus, but walking is the way to go. Although it is only a small lifestyle change, the miles, stairs, and steps all add up to make a huge difference. Even though the students with mopeds may look pretty cool as they speed by to class, know that you’re even cooler for being active. I promise.
8. Drink lots of water
You’ve probably heard this a billion times, but drinking water every day is so important. Bring a water bottle to all of your lectures, keep a Brita filter in your dorm, and choose water with your meals, as opposed to soda or juice. I know it might suck to have to walk all the way to the fountain when your dorm is at the end of the hall, but you’ll thank me later.
9. Join an intramural
Joining an intramural is one of the most fun ways to stay in shape throughout the school year. Whether it be sand volleyball, flag football, or slow-pitch softball, round up your most athletic friends and sign up! Plus, intramural sports are a great way to meet new people…or discover which one of your friends has the most pent-up anger.
10. Go to sleep
College students are notorious for staying up until the late hours of the night and running on barely any sleep. While it may be hard to catch all the zzz’s you need, sleeping helps repair your body and solidify your memory. I’m sure you’re already gorgeous, but make an effort to get all of the beauty sleep that you can.
11. Manage your stress
Many people may not know that stress can lead to weight gain, but a high level of the stress hormone, cortisol, is linked with an increase in appetite and junk food cravings. To avoid putting on the extra pounds, find a healthy outlet to manage your stress, such as exercising or journaling, instead of binge-eating chocolate.
12. Don’t multitask
You may be in a rush during mealtime, but try not to eat while studying or watching television. When you try to multitask and eat, you become less aware of the amount of food you are putting into your body, and are more likely to overeat. The season finale episode of Parks and Recreation can wait until after lunch.
13. Stick to a routine
Instead of thinking to yourself, “Maybe I’ll workout today,” you should be thinking, “I have to workout today.” Incorporating exercise into your daily schedule is one of the best ways to keep a good habit and avoid the freshman 15. Once you say that your daily workout is optional, chances are it’s probably not going to happen.
14. Accept the reality
Ultimately, your body is going to change. You’re still growing into an adult and you’re exposed to a new environment, so don’t feel upset if you see change happening. No matter what, love yourself and be confident in the skin you’re in.
The freshman 15 can be tricky to tackle, but beating it is possible. Stay positive and disciplined, but don’t feel bad indulging on pizza every once and awhile. Treat yo’ self…in moderation.