Entering college for the first time is exciting. Life is suddenly filled with an array of new freedoms, and without Mom and Dad’s supervision you can do whatever you want! But if you’re not careful, your new-found freedom can have some disastrous effects. I’m not talking about missing the no-shorts-or-sandals-memo in Chemistry Lab and getting a little too much exposure to the experiment, I’m talking about over-indulging in the freedom to eat and drink whatever you want. The product of this reaction is all too often the dreaded freshman fifteen.
A recent study found that 23% of college freshmen gained at least 5% of their body weight while none lost that amount. There are so many contributing factors it’s easy to see why students fall into poor eating habits. Factors such as late-night studying and snacking, increased alcohol consumption, and an all-you-can-eat buffet dining hall all contribute to weight gain. But it doesn’t have to happen to you! We’re at college to learn, so why not learn a few simple ways to keep those pounds off? Here are my top 3 tips on how to avoid the freshman 15:
1. Early to bed, and early to rise
•It’s tempting to hit the snooze for an extra 5 min before class, but waking up in time for a healthy breakfast gets your metabolism revved up and steady for the rest of the day.
•Go to bed early enough to wake up for breakfast! Sleep-deprivation actually causes your body to crave food (for the energy) and it’s the worst kinds – Foods high in carbs, sugars, and fat. Log at least 7 hours a night to keep your mind sharp and your waistline in check.
2. Find time to stay active
•Offset some of those extra trips to the buffet by keeping up a regular fitness routine. Take a fitness class, make a gym date with friends, go hiking on the weekends, or just play a game of Frisbee, whatever you do get moving!
•College is stressful, which often leads to increased consumption of comfort foods such as ice-cream, pizza, and baked goods. A smarter way to relieve stress is to sweat it out! Exercise releases tension and floods your bloodstream with ‘feel good’ endorphins.
3. Make smart drink choices
•Drink lots of water – Drink a glass of water before every meal and keep a water bottle with you. An added bonus? You’ll be saving $ by not buying sodas and sports drinks.
•The best way to avoid added calories is to not drink alcoholic beverages. Not an option? Choose your drinks wisely, stick with light beer and mixers made with seltzer water and just say no to shots and sugary cocktails!
•My best tip on social drinking is to fake it! Order water with a splash or cranberry, or pour out a beer and fill it with water. Your friends will never know the difference, but you’ll avoid the calories and the hangover. Cheers to that!