We’ve all heard about the dreaded “freshman fifteen”. But I can guarantee you, it is no myth! When I first started college, I thought my days of running track and cross-country would easily carry over into my four years. What I found was that squeezing in that daily run (or better yet, being obliged to run) in between classes, studying and, of course, socializing, was a lot harder than I thought it would be. By the time I got home in May, I had gained a literal fifteen pounds!
As with any lifestyle or period in your life, you have many available ways to easily modify your routine to make sure you maintain or lose weight. Eat sensibly, exercise and limit alcohol intake, among others. Easier said than done, of course, so here are a few tips to help you make the transition from high school to college easier when it comes to staying fit in college – and keeping it that way.
First, and probably most important, is diet. I know how hard it is to eat a healthy meal when you don’t have a kitchen handy or access to healthy food you can prepare or buy every day. But whenever you do have a meal, you can make a small, healthy step with just the choices you make. When you’re in the cafeteria, for example, are you going to select that salad with grilled meat or the uber-greasy burger with cheese? And if you do go for that burger, will you hold the mayo, hold the chees and add lettuce and tomato on a toasted, non-buttered whole-wheat bun? See where I’m going here? By simply giving yourself what you want but not compromising on the healthy stuff, you will find a healthy balance.
Don’t forget dorm food! What you purchase at the school’s local grocery store or down the street can make a huge difference. Try to buy as much fresh items that you can easily eat as possible. Fresh veggies like carrots, broccoli and mushrooms that you can eat raw and simply slice up, munch on or dip in a little sour cream with ranch flavoring make a great snack or dinner side. Fresh fruits like apples or bananas are easy to eat on the way to class. See if you can find some almond butter or freshly ground peanut butter to make it more appetizing. Check the ingredients on any bagged or boxed food. A rule of thumb is to make sure the ingredients list isn’t so long it puts you to sleep or that sugar or salt are not in the first five or six ingredients. And don’t forget to limit your alcohol (not that, as freshman, you should have any anyway!). When you hit twenty-one, make sure you limit what you drink or abstain from alcohol altogether, as alcohol has enough carbs to add more calories than you might be able to burn.
Exercising is a major component of limiting extra poundage while you’re in school. Simple steps: Take the stairs instead of elevator, walk to class when you can and alternate carrying your books for the day from one arm to the other. Look at every small opportunity as a chance to exercise. Bigger steps include joining a gym, taking up an intramural sport or just getting a group of friends together to jog, play tennis or bike with. Make it more enjoyable by exploring areas outside of school.