Avoiding the Freshman Fifteen

It’s that time of year again. Students from all over the country are starting one of the most exciting, transformative and memorable times of their lives — college!

To drink? Or not, to drink? With so many delectable options- the decision is a tough one.

To drink? Or not to drink? With so many delectable options, the decision is a tough one.

By the end of their high school senior year, most people are ready for the dramatic change that awaits them in the fall. But are they really, truly prepared for it?

The truth is, most people aren’t. Most people underestimate how much of a lifestyle adjustment they have to make to successfully get used to college life.

So what are these changes that are so vital to consider when starting college? While academic and social changes are important to consider, health needs just as much attention, if not more.

What sort of image is painted in your mind when you hear the dreaded words “freshman fifteen”?

Do you see the prom queen slowly descending from her glory days after each subsequent shot taken at a party, the mixture of tequila, salt and lime slowly contributing to the muffin top she’ll have in December?

Do you see the valedictorian chugging coffee and scarfing down a lemon loaf while feverishly studying for that first chemistry exam, food calories being of the least importance when compared to memorizing how many calories are required to raise the temperature of 25 grams of water from zero degrees Celsius to 100?

The point is, we picture different things when it comes to the freshman fifteen, and we should, because there are an infinite amount of scenarios that can result in the freshman fifteen.

So booze? A major source of the freshman fifteen is alcohol abuse, and rightfully so, because most people are so enamored by the elusive “college party” experience. If you are going to drink, do yourself a favor and drink with moderation! You and your midsection will thank me later.

Free and unlimited food! There is free food everywhere. With the enticing free food at college events and a meal plan that satisfies your every need (unless you’re at Taylor Place … shhh), you’re bound to pack on few pounds if you don’t control yourself.

Sleep? Huh? If one thing is guaranteed to change in college, it’s your sleeping habits. College is literally a year-long slumber party with academics conveniently built in. While this may seem amazing (and it is), it’s a huge detriment to your metabolism. With less sleep, the metabolic breakdown processes in your body are affected and could sharply increase the number you read on the scale.

Shoot, I can’t eat like I used to! There comes a point somewhere in our late adolescence that marks the horrid change in our metabolisms. As we mature, metabolisms slow, even if food intake doesn’t change. So, essentially, if you don’t monitor the changes in your metabolism and adjust eating habits accordingly, the freshman fifteen could be heading your way.

With all the changes you will encounter your freshman year, it’s vital to remember this key piece of information: if you don’t work out and/or eat moderately healthily, you will gain weight. It might not be 15 pounds, but some weight gain will happen.

So, make good choices! But really — work out, control your drinking habits and eat a salad rather than a burger when you use your next meal plan.

15 ways to avoid the Freshman 15

There’s an ancient myth, told and re-told, passed down from generation to generation: THE FRESHMAN 15. Dun-dun-dunnnn. Is it true? Does the Freshman 15 exist? Are you at risk of falling prey to the mysterious weight gain? Is there anything you can do to save yourself?

Avoid the Freshman 15

The Freshman 15 is easily one of the most frightening things in college, aside from finals week and group projects. And surprisingly, it’s something that can be easily avoided! Here are 15 ways to avoid the dreaded Freshman 15.

  1. Get an adequate amount of sleep. I’m talking about 7-8 hours a night. It’s so easy to fall into the pattern of staying up late cramming for that early morning exam or talking with friends.
  2. Eat some breakfast. Waking up in time for breakfast before classes takes some serious skill. Try your best to master it and you’ll have a more balanced diet throughout the day.
  3. Remember that fruits and veggies are your friends. Now that a microwave is your main source of everything, you’ll soon realize that Hot Pockets will only be appetizing for so long. Try incorporating fruits and veggies into every meal and snack to balance out your diet and get necessary vitamins that aren’t found in Ramen.
  4. Limit the late night fast food run. Heading out with your friends for a late night snack is a college staple. When you’re in the habit of going out every night at midnight, you’ve run into a problem. Put a limit on the times you go out and your waistline and wallet will thank you.
  5. De-stress. College is stressful. You’re going to need to find what works best for you to help you relax. Adjusting to your new schedule and your new classes and your new environment is enough to send your body into a crazy state of stress overload. When you take time to de-stress, your body and mind will thank you.
  6. Drinking in moderation. This is for all you 21-year-old freshman out there. Drinking equates to calories. Excess calories equate to weight gain. No one actually intended to get a beer gut, so it’s a good idea to stick to a limit when you go out.
  7. Know what it is that you’re eating. Now that you’re on your own, everything you eat is up to you. Do your best to make informed choices when you’re in the cafeteria and shy away from the same foods all the time. Your body need variety.
  8. Stick to the rules. The new and improved food pyramid is your new best friend. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, you need fruits, grains, dairy, vegetables and protein to have a balanced diet. Focus on meeting all the goals for the day and it’ll soon become a habit.
  9. Get physical. Start hitting the gym, take to the great outdoors, do whatever you can to stay active. Take an hour each day to engage in physical activity.
  10. Join an intramural sport! You’ll make some amazing memories and new friends all while saving yourself from some extra weight gain. You can join a team on any campus, as long as you’re an ASU student you’re good to go!
  11. Make some friends. You are surrounded by new people (most of them friendly I hope) who are all looking for a great college experience. When you have friends, you spend less time alone. When you spend less time alone, you don’t eat alone. When you don’t eat alone, you are less likely to over eat.
  12. Don’t stock your dorm room with unhealthy food. It’s easy to start hoarding snacks in your small space, so when you do, make sure they have some nutritional value and aren’t loaded with empty calories.
  13. If you played sports in high school, be aware of the changes your body is undergoing to adjust to your less active lifestyle. If you ate six meals a day to keep up your weight in wrestling or to compensate for calories lost while swimming, realize the need to adjust and make some changes.
  14. Emotional eating. Do you ever eat something just because you’re bored? Has anyone ever suggested that ice cream can cure a break-up? When you watch TV, do you aimlessly snack out of habit? Eating can comfort us in almost any situation. Don’t fall into the trap of emotional eating. Learn what triggers emotional eating for you and change your behavior.
  15. Water is your new best friend. Drinking water is one of the best things you can do for your body. Energy drinks, coffees and sodas are loaded with extra sugar your body doesn’t need, so eliminate them from your diet as much as possible.
It’s possible to survive freshman year without gaining 15 pounds or more. Follow these simple rules and you’ll never have to worry about the Freshman 15.