Fending Off the Freshman 15

With the all-access pass to the pizza buffet in the cafeteria and overwhelming class schedules, it seems like no one can escape the notorious nightmare of the Freshman 15. We were all warned those pesky pounds that creep up on us during first year in college.

So, what can you do?

Be proactive

According to Anthony Musto, PhD, director of fitness programs at the University of Miami Health System, it’s all about building healthy habits. “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of developing healthy nutrition and fitness habits during those early years of college. I see students far too often who are finding themselves getting sick, or gaining unwanted weight, simply because their health isn’t a priority until it’s too late.”

The truth is, even though most students only put on a few pounds, even gaining five to 10 pounds that first year could be a sign of poor habits that will lead to health problems later in your life.

Luckily, keeping those pounds away is as easy as making smart choices throughout the school year. Use these easy tips to build good habits, manage stress, and stay your trim, svelte self.

  1. Get Moving
    In the hustle and bustle of your first year, exercise is usually the first thing to be forgotten (along with basic nutrition).

Exercise at least 30 minutes every other day:

  • Go to the campus gym.
  • Ride your bike.
  • Go for a hike.
  • Pick up an intramural sport or an athletic hobby, like tennis.

2. Use the Buddy System
 Grab a friend (or two or three!) to keep you company. Making healthy choices is much easier with a pal in tow to keep you accountable.

  • Grab healthy snacks.
  • Work out.
  • Text each other to check in and make sure that you’re sticking to your healthy promises

3. Join a Group
Most campus fitness centers, like the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center, offer group exercise classes that are open to students at any skill level. Exchange cell phone numbers with someone in your group and make sure you both show up to work out each week!

4. Remember: just because you can eat pizza every day doesn’t mean that you should.
The dining hall provides easy and constant access to carbs, sweets, and treats. Your body and your brain need to get a healthy balance of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and low-fat dairies to stay at peak performance. It’s okay to grab a handful of fries and a dessert every now and then, but only in moderation.

Maintain good hunger habits:

  • Eat a good breakfast as often as possible. If you don’t have time to eat breakfast before class, take snacks like fruit, granola bars, and yogurt with you.
  • Eat something green at least once a day. Whether you swing by the salad bar, grab some grilled veggies as a side, or snack on some celery and peanut butter; good greens are full of vitamins and minerals that will fuel your brain and body and curb cravings for comfort foods.
  • Don’t overdo the energy drinks and frappuccinos. We all have our favorite latte, but we forget about the extra 1,000 calories that come along with them; try to make your own coffee and keep the sweet drinks to just a couple of days a week..
  • Host healthy dinner dates once a week with your buddy system friends. Each week, try out a new recipe and alternate who is responsible for the cooking!

Don’t let your health fall by the wayside this semester. Treating your body well keeps you happier, improves your memory, and lowers your stress.