Avoiding the Freshman 15 Starts Now

By Megan O'Connell, Student University of Wisconsin-Platteville

For some of you, September means your freshman year of college. Going off to college is a huge milestone in any girl’s life. It’s a time in your life that you dream about until it happens, and it’s also a time in your life you’ll never forget.

Freshman year of college can also be intimidating because of the dreaded Freshman 15.

Your freshman year of college will be a huge transition period. New town, new living arrangements, new school, new friends, new classes; it’s a new way of life. Along with the transitions from one life to another, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and completely disregard your health.

Avoiding the Freshman 15 starts now.

You probably still have a week or two left before classes. Use this time to introduce a healthy lifestyle to your daily habits. The smallest changes can make a world of difference. Take it from girls who have been there: The answer to avoiding the Freshman 15 is simply a healthy lifestyle.

Exercising is not as awful as it’s made out to be. The hardest part is finding the motivation. Once you get active, though, your body loves it!

Exercising doesn’t have to be a daily, hour-long gym visit. Rachael Shaff, junior at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, suggests using campus involvement to get active.

“I would suggest getting involved with the campus. It really helps you get out there and stay active. The one behavior that will help you gain weight and lose confidence is staying in your dorm. I was more active my freshman year of college. I was outside whether it was to do my homework or take a walk. I also cut my portions down from what I used to consume in high school,” Shaff said.

Katelyn Wilhelm, a senior at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, advises freshmen to limit their alcohol intake and to avoid the drunken munchies.

“I stopped drinking all the time, and if I drank, I wouldn’t go get fast food, and when at the commons, I started portion controlling instead of eating all I could eat at the buffet,” Wilhelm said.

Alyssa Bloechl, senior at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, suggests making time for gym visits and posting inspirational photographs in areas you frequently view.

The most important thing about the Freshman 15 to keep in your mind comes to you from a very smart and feisty sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Kaleigh Dunn is a 19-year-old student who, along with working for the school newspaper and radio station, also runs cross-country and is on the track team.

“I actually lost about 10 pounds before coming to college and gained about 3 pounds of muscle from track season. But my discovery on maintaining weight? There's no tricks, gimmicks, magic potions or crash diets about weight loss. It breaks down into two simple concepts. Eating right and exercise are keys to keeping the extra pounds off. Burn off what you put in, and you won't gain," she said.

But here's the one thing that people tend to overlook when eating, mostly because it’s a "mom and/or dad" rule: timing. Your metabolism keeps going if you time meals evenly. There is a reason why the 7 a.m.-Noon-5 p.m. rule your mother instilled is so hyped: It's because it works. Eating at odd hours of the night throws your metabolic clock off and should be avoided at all costs because the calories won't be broken down properly.

There is also a lot of talk that says not snacking is good for you. This is so wrong! Snacks around two to three hours after a meal perpetuate your metabolic rate. Eating a meal three times a day in five-hour increments helps maintain it.

Breakfast is the most important part of the day. There's a reason it's called "breakfast" … it "breaks" the "fast" you experience when you sleep, which kicks up your metabolism in the morning. Might I mention that sleeping seven to eight hours creates that fast to break.

These all might be things that your mother or father advocate to do, and it's easy at 18 years old to just roll your eyes and nod when they tell you. These are not easy habits but helpful ones. Timing is really everything, and mom and dad really do know best.

You're not a number — you're a person. However, if you're concerned, invest in a tape measure to track extra belly and body fat. Track your height as well; without notice, I grew 2 inches in three months of college.

2. Make your own meals.
If you read U Chic, you probably are on Pinterest. There are so many healthy recipes online!

3. Every once in a while, invest in yourself.
Do girly things. Listen to that old album, paint your nails, take a long hot bath, read a book. Relax. It has been proven that stress can and will cause weight gain and overeating. Also, investing in your health also motivates you to exercise because you will care about yourself, too.

4. Health over weight loss, always.
Starving and skipping meals accomplishes nothing. Crash diets will lead you to crash and burn. Use your head.

Above all though? Love thyself. Have positivity when approaching college and when approaching exercise, eating right and timing. You'll feel better, perform better and be better.

Remember, the better you eat, the better you feel, and the better you feel, the more happy you are.

Take some advice from us girls and introduce yourself to a healthier and a more happy you as you approach your freshman year of college!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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