Health: Ways to Avoid the Dreaded Freshman 15

By Megan O'Connell, Student at UW – Platteville

It’s something that every freshman girl dreads from the start of college. All your friends who have experienced it have shared all their horror stories. You look at yourself in the mirror every morning and plead, please not me, please not me, anything but the Freshman 15!

It’s really not as scary as it sounds, I swear. Before anything, you should first accept the fact that your body will undergo changes. You’re moving away from home. Your diet is changing and your stress levels are probably going crazy dealing with all the changes happening in your life. Accept it and make the most out of it! It’s all about balance. Balance your meals, balance your time and balance your social life. Of course, finding the right balances can be quite the task, especially your freshman year.

Below I’ve listed some tips to get you on track to avoid the oh-so-awful Freshman 15.

Avoid Sweets
This simple idea is one that gets everyone. Instead of indulging in those cupcakes your mom just sent you, give them to your friends as a nice gesture. You, on the other hand, can enjoy a healthier snack — there are plenty of sweet AND healthy snacks out there. Munch on some chocolate rice cakes or make your own chocolate-covered strawberries instead.

Go to the Gym
Most universities have a fitness center available to you for little or no cost. Take advantage of this and fit a 20-minute workout in every couple of days.

Take a PE Class
If you don’t have time for a work out, add a physical education class into your class schedule. Most universities offer a variety of classes from weight training to yoga; find one that suits you and sign up.

Join a Intramural Team
If it’s too late to add a class, see if your campus offers intramurals or club sports. These sports are set up to students who want to have fun and get a good workout. Generally, you get to make your own teams. Such events normally take place several weeks out of the semester. Contact your athletic center to see if your campus offers such events.

Walk/Bike to Class
If you have a car, do not drive to your classes. Walking and biking are both good for you and are fun to do! Bring your iPod and get a little workout in before classes. Plus the benefits of walking are beyond what you would believe. Along with reducing your risk of strokes, breast cancer and many other things, walking just makes you feel good. Also, walking and biking will help you reduce your carbon footprint.

Drink Responsibly
Since eliminating alcohol completely is out of the question for most of us, simply watch your how much you consume and what you’re consuming. If you like to drink beer, stick to light beers. If you’re a wine drinker, stick to white wines, they are lower in calories than reds. Cocktails your thing? Most liquor contains around 60 to 80 calories per ounce. The mixers are what will hike up the calorie content, so do some research on the mixers you enjoy! Try using diet sodas or tonic waters. Also, it’s always a good idea to drink water in between drinks to slow you down and keep you hydrated.

Get Your Beauty Sleep
You have four assignments due this week and two exams. You might instantly think to yourself: "It's time to pull an all-nighter." Don’t do it! A healthy sleep schedule is a must for a healthy lifestyle. Plus, sleeping is said to improve your memory. Studies also show that a good sleeping schedule can lead to better grades. Make time to study during the day and before you go to bed. Just make sure you don’t skip the going-to-bed part!

Get Your H20 Fix
Drinking water has been proven to come hand-in-hand with helping you lose weight, staying healthier and boosting your endorphins, which puts you in a good mood. Get in as much water as you can.

Keep these tips in the back of your mind throughout your everyday schedule. Also, work on finding that balance in your life. The better you eat, the better you feel and the happier you’ll be!

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn /

Head on over to 1,000 Dreams Fund to learn how to get funding for your dreams!