Listen Up, Incoming Freshmen!
Congrats, Class of 2019! Leading up to this month you’ve heard plenty of tales of college glory, and plenty of horror stories. From encountering terrible roommates to tough professors, and everything in between. The biggest horror story of them all is the dreaded “Freshman 15”.
When you hear friends’ stories about the Freshman 15, it’s very easy to just blow it off, right? All throughout high school you played sports, stayed physically active, and as a result could eat whatever you wanted. If weight gain is basically a foreign concept to you at this point in your life, you don’t think college can change that. The reality is, for many it does change. But it doesn’t have to.
The physical activities that you were involved in during high school likely still take place at your college or university. And if you weren’t as active in high school, don’t worry! College is the best place to drop old habits and learn new ones.
The Freshman 15, regardless of what some may think, is not a right-of-passage, nor is it unavoidable. Here are a few tips to beat the weight gain your first year in college.
- Walk! Walk! Walk!
Walk everywhere! Most schools require that you live on campus your freshman year. And while it might seem like a drag when you first get that news, believe me, you will love being able to walk wherever you need to go. This was my favorite thing about living on campus. If I needed to go the library, store, or even to the football game, being on foot was always the best way to get there. And if you don’t necessarily work out, walking is the best way to inadvertently get a workout in. It took me about ten minutes to walk from one side of campus to the other when I was in school. If you’re like me and have classes four times a week, you can spend at least an hour and a half walking every week. Riding a bike around campus is also a great way to get a quick workout in, plus you can get to class a lot faster if you slept through your alarm…
- You are paying for the recreation center, so utilize it!
Have you ever looked at your tuition bill? Probably not, because it can be a scary sight to see, but it’s filled with hidden fees. Spoiler alert: you’re paying for everything from tuition (obviously), to the computer lab that you’ve never heard of, and even the construction that won’t be finished until two years after you graduate. You’re also paying fees to use the on-campus recreation center. How many times did you tell yourself that you were going to sign up for that gym membership, but things just kept coming up? Well, now you have no excuse because you have a membership and it’s just a few steps away. Most college or university rec centers have tons of workout equipment. They have volleyball and basketball courts, group workout schedules, and sometimes a pool! There’s something for everyone. If you’re not very comfortable working out in front of people, ask the information desk if they offer personal training sessions. Most colleges will give you a free consultation, and set you up with a trainer for an extra fee. If you want a workout buddy, ask your roommate or someone from one of your classes if they want to go exercise with you! Most of the time what holds people back from going to the rec center is being alone. Everyone loves a workout partner, and it’s a great way to make new friends.
Most schools (and cities) also have a bunch of intramural sports leagues that are a blast to join. Kickball, anyone? And if you’re in the Austin area, there are thousands of free fitness classes offered all over town that you can filter by day, time, distance, activity level, and more in our Choose Healthier App.
- Surround yourself with the right foods, and walk right by the rest.
McDonalds, Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Chick-fil-a are within walking distance 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. Not to mention the dining hall that’s open until 2 am. How dare I ask you to try and eat healthy when all of that unhealthy goodness is just calling your name? Fact of the matter is, in college sometimes it feels like junk is all we can afford. So by all means, eat that burger. Enjoy that burger. But also think about mixing up what you eat. Remember how I mentioned all of the additional fees you’re paying? Dining halls. Many campuses have vegan and/or vegetarian halls that you can eat at, or at least a station with healthier options. Pick a few days a week where you leave the fast-food alone and try something vegan or vegetarian. You just might like it, and it could soon become a part of your everyday diet. Instead of stuffing your mini fridge with soda, pack it with water. Let soda be a weekend treat. If it’s late at night and you get hungry, go buy some fruit from the corner store! It is all about setting good habits early, and finding friends who are all about healthy dining hall dates!
Freshman year is already so overwhelming: there’s a new town to learn, new friends to make, professors you have to figure out, and of course, keeping your grades up. The one thing you can always control is whether (and how frequently) you’re physically active, and what types of food you put in your body. If you make the right choices when you’re checking into your dorm this fall, I promise you’ll appreciate the results when you’re checking out in the spring.
Written by Jhanae Kelley, Choose Healthier Intern