Going into college as a freshman is the start to the journey of becoming an independent and responsible individual. The process of college is stressful, exciting, scary, fun, and it really tests limits on how much a single person can handle. The dreadful “Freshmen 15” weight gain is a big topic of conversation nowadays.
Here are 11 simple yet crucial ways to steer clear from those dreadful pounds.
1. Sleep is more important than you think.
Lack of sleep puts a huge strain on the body. It can cause an immense increase in blood pressure that leads to high levels of a hormone known as cortisol, which increases your appetite. Every night you go to bed, the body gets restored and reenergized. Losing sleep will affect your physical activities throughout the next day and can also lead to a slower metabolism that also plays a huge role in weight gain! So get some sleep in your schedule!
2. Take advantage of your school’s free gym.
Every college has a gym that goes along with that college tuition. Use it to your advantage and set goals and times where you make the gym top priority. Not only does the gym help you stay in shape, but it does wonders to your mood and energy levels. It is important to get the oxygen circling in your body in order to deal with the stress and pressure from school work and exams. If you can’t bring yourself to get to the gym, most colleges have free cardio classes you can take, or you can even choose pilates and yoga as an elective and get some credit for it on top of the workout!
3. Lay off the beer and sugary chasers.
You do not have to drink a ton every single time you go out, I promise you. Drinking causes you to eat more than you would, and on late nights it’s never chicken cutlets and veggies but usually pizza and fries. Beer is very high in gluten, which is why you feel so fatigued and bloated after a night of beer Olympics. If you are going to drink, it is best to stick to low carb vodkas or tequilas (which is the only type of alcohol that is not a depressant). As for chasers, try to not go for the whole liter of Coca-Cola or the big jug of Mountain Dew. Club soda, or naturally flavored carbonated drink is the trick to drinking and not gaining those pounds!
4. Do not skip breakfast.
People are not kidding when they say that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” so do not take those wise words for granted! Starting the day with a healthy breakfast kicks off the metabolism and is a great way to begin your day.
5. Walk everywhere you go.
You’d be surprised to see how much walking you get just by walking to class, dining hall, gym, club meetings, and back to your dorm. Every little form of physical activity helps, plus getting a little fresh air always re-energizes the body and helps you stay active throughout the day!
6. Drink lots of water.
Water is honestly the greatest wonder of the world. Your body needs H2O more than anything, and drinking tons of water every day will help shed off the water weight and curb cravings, and speed up that metabolism! Water is also known to be one of the top puzzle pieces in the process of burning those pesky extra calories!
7. Try to wake up early 3-5 times a week to stay productive.
Waking up early jumpstarts your body and helps you get more done in a day. Make a list of things to do and set up your day so you can be as productive as possible, and then you can binge on some popcorn and Netflix at night because everything is going to be finished!
8. If it has a longer shelf-life than you, stay away from it!
Let’s be real – if there is any type of food that can last longer than you, you most likely do not want to be putting that in your body as a source of energy. Your body is a machine, and in order for you to work properly and stay on top of projects, assignments, quizzes and exams, you need to be careful about what you put inside of yourself for energy! Try to stay away from processed foods and stick to fruits, veggies and nuts for snacks instead!
9. Avoid take-out, and have pre-made snacks ready to go!
If you are ordering out, you have to admit – it isn’t going to be a salad with grilled chicken on the top of your list. Order outs as a college student usually means fast foods that contain high sodium. Restaurants and food services tend to put a little more sodium and ingredients in their foods than you would like or put were you to cook them on your own at your house. Try pre-making food to have in your fridge if you are on the run, or having wraps, sandwiches or salads ready to throw in your backpack for the day! Not only are you saving yourself from the pounds but saving your bank account too!
10. The dining hall has healthy food too.
You do not have to go in the pasta line every night or the fried chicken buffet selection; there are several things to cook up in the dining hall that is healthy. Salads, wraps, paninis, chicken and rice you name it. Get creative and whip up something fun Mediterranean wraps, or grilled chicken and couscous salads!
11. Stay organized and motivated.
Keeping a planner and writing down your schedule for the day will help you prepare for times to eat and workout. Completing little tasks at a time will help you stay motivated towards the goal of staying healthy and eating clean, even under stress. Having an organized, clean environment can also help you get focused with school work so you have time to finish your work and get a good workout in your day! Keep a Pinterest board of motivation and healthy recipes. Keep tabs on all your favorite recipes, mini workouts and motivational quotes to stay on track throughout the week!
Christina is currently a student at Rutgers University pursuing a degree in Nutritional Sciences with a focus in food service administration and minor in public relations. She loves traveling around Europe and spending time with her family in Greece every summer. She hopes to have her own business in the near future dealing with nutritious foods and beverages.