The Ultimate Guide to Preventing the Freshman 15

By Megan O’Connell, University of Wisconsin–Platteville

Diet, exercise, water, sleep; we hear these things in reference to avoiding the Freshman 15 all the time.

The problem is that the explanations given as to why each of these things is so important is always chock-full of scientific jargon that we quit reading after a few sentences.

Well, avoiding the oh-so-dread Freshman 15 doesn’t have to be that difficult. To help you stay on track, I’ve got advice that will help you stay healthy and happy.

You Get Out What You Put In

The foods we eat help shape our physical appearance and how we feel emotionally. A good diet is essential to healthy skin, healthy hair, a healthy body and a healthy mind. The better you eat, the better your body will look and feel.

Now, how do you determine what is good for you to eat? Try not to overthink it because you probably already know what is good for you and what is bad for you. Do you think a double cheeseburger every night is a healthy choice? I hope not! Do you think that a salad is a better option? Probably! See, it’s already easier than you think!

Hit the (Recipe) Books

Staying healthy is all about compromise. Luckily, you can find healthy substitutes to the greasy foods and sweet treats that you covet so much.

One of my favorite resources is “Kitchenability 101,” a book filled with recipes to specifically ward off against the Freshman 15.

Chef Nisa Burns, author and founder, says it’s best have healthy snacks throughout the day, such as homemade trail mix or humus with pita bread. She also suggests starting off your day with a healthy breakfast.

“Being in college, you constantly need energy, especially in the mornings. Starting your day with a healthy breakfast will help jumpstart your body and metabolism,” Burns said.

Burns also suggests limiting the amount of times you go out to eat.

“Eating in can be fun, creative and more budget friendly. It can also help you around your waistline because you know what you are putting in your mouth and what is going in your food,” Burns said.

Get Your Butt to the Gym (Literally)

Exercising is an essential part of avoiding the Freshman 15 because we need to burn off the fats from the foods we are eating. That being said, it is important to have a good diet so it is easier for your body to burn off the bad stuff.

You should try to get in a half-hour workout at least three times a week. I always try to squeeze in at least a 15-minute workout every day!

Even if you can’t make it to the gym, you can try looking up fitness videos online as a substitute.

Watch Your Lifestyle Choices

Watching your weight depends on the choices that you make. Unfortunately, college is filled with lots of unhealthy options, which all seem a lot more tempting than what you should be doing.

Founder of Mind Over Munch Alyssia Sheikh says the key is to: “limit the booze, beware of meal plans and avoid all-nighters.”

Sheikh says these three things are the biggest factors for weight gain, especially for your first year of college.

“Drinking is prevalent and often seems unavoidable, especially when trying to fit in and meet people. Booze is nothing but empty calories, though, and will certainly do nothing to keep weight off,” Sheikh said.

Stuck with a meal plan? It doesn’t mean you can’t still make healthier choices like avoiding the fried food and watching your portions.

“Your best bet to avoid the weight gain isn’t to hit the treadmill excessively, but rather to skip out on that extra beer or slice of pizza,” Sheikh said.

Don’t Forget the H20 and the ZZZ’s!

Drinking water and getting a good amount of sleep are key pieces to unlocking the benefits of eating well and exercising. When you are exercising, you sweat, therefore you need to replenish the liquid you are losing by staying hydrated and drinking lots of water.

Muscle is built while you sleep, so it is important to get an adequate amount of sleep at night. Seven to nine hours of sleep at night is an adequate amount for college-aged women.

Also, when we are sleep deprived, we crave foods packed with sugar or sodium, which doesn’t help our diets.

“Being sleep deprived and low on energy, we tend to reach for comfort foods,” Sheikh said. “Your best bet is to stay organized and get enough sleep to avoid packing on extra pounds without even realizing what you’re doing.”

Get Your BFFs to Support You

It’s a lot easier to accomplish your goal of keeping the weight off if you recruit some friends to help you power through.

Tricia Heidtke, a sophomore at the University of WisconsinWhitewater, says her friends helped her avoid the Freshman 15.

“I found friends who liked exercising and worked out with them,” Heidtke said.

It’s much easier to go to the gym when you know you’ve got partners to go with because it helps you stay motivated. You also can catch up on gossip while you get in a good workout!

Form good habits right away so you can really focus on the things that matter throughout your college career: making friends and memories, doing well in school and being involved.

RELATED: Check out UChic Founder Christie Garton on The Daily Buzz giving advice to help students stay away from the Freshman 15 curse

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