Don't Be a Fat Freshman

We’ve all heard of the “freshman 15.” All too often, people in their first year of college don’t know how to handle the responsibilities of taking classes, working long hours on homework, and the chance to create their own schedule. They end up gorging themselves at dining halls or at cheap fast-food restaurants that often set up near campuses to prey on hungry college students. But with just a few slight adjustments, new students can avoid gaining weight and adding inches to their waistline. Here are six simple tips:

Developing Good Habits

Use down-time to do something healthy. Your roommate has class, your girlfriend’s out shopping, your friend has to study… inevitably there will be “nothing” time during your stay at school. It’ll be easy to just sit around and surf the web, but even just half an hour of physical activity can help keep the pounds of in a big way.

Use study breaks to be healthy. Going for a mile jog or doing sit-ups may not sound fun right now, but after a few hour of studying, just about anything will be a welcome change of pace. Instead of playing video games, use that break to your advantage: do a few minutes of calisthenics or jump rope. Your brain will thank you for the break, and your body will thank you for the exercise.

Participate in team activities. If you have the willpower to go to the gym alone every day, great. You don’t need this tip. But for many of us, having a group of people relying on you can be a major way to keep yourself active . Even if it’s just a once- or twice-a-week intramural sport, it can provide a major boost.

Eating Well

Eat fruit or salad before each meal. Even if you plan on eating healthy, a plate of tater-tots and pizza eaten before that salad you promised yourself can drain your desire for leafy greens or other healthy snacks. If you open your meal with something healthy, you’ll not only have eaten at least a partially healthy meal, you’ll be less apt to munch on those greasy foods later on.

Bonus Tip: When choosing salad dressings, be sure to choose low-fat vinaigrettes rather than calorie-rich creamier dressings, which can make that salad worthless.

Instead of keeping cookies in your room, keep carrots. Snacking is a huge enemy of the healthy lifestyle—unless you do it right. Dining halls usually keep healthy fruits and vegetables available. Bring some of them back to your dorm room so that when you get a hankering for a snack, you grab a banana instead of candy.

Don’t eat right before bed. It’s 1 a.m. and you haven’t eaten in seven hours, and you can get a burger and fries just down the road… but wait. Those are calories you aren’t going to use, and they’ll be stored as fat in your system. Especially in college, the temptation to do this comes every night. It’s not worth it.

Overall, you need to want to be healthy in college in order to actually be healthy—and occasionally that takes a little effort. With the right mindset, though, it’s probably less than you think.

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