All right ladies, unfortunately this is a topic we need to address when coming to college. Our daily routines are changing, bodies are maturing, most of us are no longer part of the daily sports teams we were involved with in high school, and we are exposed to a lot more stress, alcohol, and fast food then when we were living at home. It all adds up to a lethal weight gain recipe, and for an unsuspecting freshman girl, those “freshman 15″ pounds can sneak up on us before winter break. Of course there are other influencing factors as well, such as if you are at a warm weather school (where everyone is active and can be outdoors year round) and your genetic makeup and pre-existing diet and exercise habits. That being said, here are some tips to help you avoid unwanted weight gain in college.
1. Have a Routine
Nothing will throw off your body’s rhythm and metabolism more than lacking consistent sleep, exercise, and dietary routines. You hear a lot about crash diets and miracle pills, but the truth is that none of them are healthy or effective for the long term. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. I am not advocating the life of a robot where you can’t enjoy spontaneous nights out with drinks and food, but your daily experience should not be a random process. Instead, you should have designated times for eating, sleeping, and studying so your life does not spiral into flux. This type of discipline will give you a sense of ownership over your life and body and help you avoid excess stress.
2. Don’t Binge
Weather it’s drinking or food, the binge lifestyle does not bode well for the health conscious. No matter how much you run, exercise, or diet after the fact, the effects of binge drinking or eating on your system can not be eliminated overnight. Avoid this excess as not only will it cause weight gain, it will throw off your body’s natural balance and metabolism, and can lead to more serious health issues if it becomes habitual.
3. Be Active
Of course exercise is a must for a healthy lifestyle. However, exercise need not only take place in the gym or at a your designated workout time. Instead, try to be as active as possible during the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to class instead of getting a ride. Any way you can think of to burn a few extra calories in the context of your normal day is just gravy. And if your school is in a warm place, you really have no excuse for not being active outdoors.
4. Avoid Unnecessary Junk Food
This is a tough one, no doubt, for any college student. You probably aren’t grocery shopping for the dorm, and its definitely a huge change from when living at home and having meals and your food choices prepared for you. The best advice I can give here is to eat the healthy dorm food and try to avoid the unnecessary greasy stuff. You will definitely be eating out a lot, so lean towards the wraps and salads over the burgers and pizza. There is almost no way to eat uber-healthy or organic if you live on campus your freshman year, but you can make efforts to minimize the consumption of empty calories.
5) Join a Team (Club or Intramural)
Exercise can be extremely boring. On the treadmill I often feel like a hamster on the wheel, just running in place trying to get my workout over. A good solution to this is to join a sports team, club or intramural. You don’t need to be good at the sport, just enjoy playing it. This is a great way to meet new people and have fun while exercising. Unlike running or hitting the weights, you won’t even notice that you are exercising, as you will be enjoying the activity, competition, and comradery. I play tennis and volleyball, but swimming, basketball, flag football and many other options exist at most universities.