Avoiding the Freshman Fifteen

The “freshman fifteen” is dreaded by most incoming college students. However, I foolishly thought I would be immune to such a cliché thing. I mean, how hard could it be to stay semi-healthy at college? I found out the hard way that it is beyond difficult. I am going to avoid mentioning, just as any girl would, exactly how much weight I gained in my first two years of college, but just know extra pounds definitely appeared. Almost all of my weight gain happened within my freshman and sophomore years.

For my first two years of college, I lived in the dorms on campus. Unfortunately, living on campus severely diminishes your ability to stay healthy. It surprisingly doesn’t even have to do with the communal living.

The main problem when you live on campus is food. Dining halls are not and never will be your friend. About 90 percent of the food you find is packed with calories and lacks real nutrients. If you are really looking to keep the weight away, stay away from the carb-lines, specifically. You know, the pizza line, the pasta line, the roll and biscuit sections, all of that.

I am speaking from the side of personal experience as – what my family likes to call – a “bread-aholic” when I say all forms of bread are addicting. The addicting aspect of bread becomes particularly dangerous when put in an all-you-can-eat buffet line the dining halls tend to provide.

There are some easy ways to avoid consuming too much bad food, though. When in a dorm, try to keep a few healthy things stashed in your room. Many dorms allow students to have mini-fridges, so keeping fruit or deli meats and crackers on standby is not as difficult as you would think.

My advice to anyone worried about their eating habits is to live off campus as soon as you can. Also, when living off campus, avoid meal plans with dining halls. Learn to cook for yourself. Not only does this allow you to eat more healthy food, you can better control your portion sizes without being tempted to get back in line for more food.

Another issue you are faced with while living in the dorms is the tendency to be lazy. Having your room so close to all your classes is beneficial in many ways, but it also can hurt. Living on campus, you get into thinking, “yeah, I could go to the gym and work out during my break, but my dorm is just right there. I could also just grab a quick nap instead.”

I always opted for the easy decision of just going back to my room for a snack, to watch TV, or take a nap instead of making the effort to go running or to the gym whenever I had some free time. I found living off campus helped in this area. Often, I don’t have time to go back to the apartment during my breaks, so it is much easier to stay on campus and visit the recreation center.

If you can’t live off campus, like most first-year students, my advice is to be mindful of the laziness monster. Make a schedule for your week and know when you are going to go work out or be active. If it is written down, you are less likely to back out.

Overall, living off campus makes being healthy easier but that doesn’t mean being healthy while living in a dorm can’t be done. It just requires a lot more effort. You need to be a lot more conscious of your daily routine and of what you’re about to eat.

-Elisabeth

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