Avoiding the Freshman 15

There’s nothing quite like the freshman year of college. Suddenly you find yourself with absolute freedom. Freedom to come and go, do as you wish and, you guessed it, eat whatever you want. Colleges are notorious for fattening, cheap, convenient food. Pizza, doughnuts, subs, pop, ice cream, and anything else you can think of. Most student unions are equipped with at least one major fast food franchise, such as Star Bucks or Taco Bell, and the smell can be detected from most anywhere on campus.

Now take the total freedom of college and add it with boredom, loneliness, stress, exhaustion, and convenience; the result is the dreaded ‘Freshman 15.’ Putting on fifteen pounds in one year can be a rude awakening for most students; it is horrible to take your final exams, release your stress, and realize that your pants no longer zip up, or your shirt constricts your breathing.

So how do you prevent this sudden weight-gaining ‘disease’ before it affects you? It’s not as hard as you may think.

Exercise

You see that student ID card the admissions office gave you at the beginning of the year? That can be used for more than purchasing books. Go to your college’s gym. It will be free, and usually the gym will be new and better equipped than your local one. No longer shall you use money as an excuse for not exercising.

Eating Habits

As hard as it may be to believe, college cafeterias do offer some healthy food. There’s always a salad bar, and almost always a fruit bar. There’s always water or tea instead of pop. If you cafeteria doesn’t offer anything healthy you can stomach, then look off campus. Usually there are local restaurants within a walks distance of campus that offer more tolerable food.

Avoid stress-eating. This is perhaps one of the hardest things to do, but it is also the biggest factor in the freshman 15. College dumps a load of work on students like they have never before experienced, and as they assimilate during their freshman year, they become stressed, which leads to stress-eating. Thirteen cups of coffee to stay up all night and finish your homework is not good for your body. Neither is eating to ward off loneliness or boredom.

A good way to prevent boredom and stress eating is to occupy your time and make it relaxing. Do homework almost immediately after class so that there’s no distraction. Do it while eating; this will slow down your eating time and actually lead to less eating while getting your homework done. Spend your remaining time doing something you like: join a kickboxing club, a writing club, go drive go-carts. Whatever de-stress’s and relaxes will likely eliminate a great deal of stress-eating.

Another major obstacle you will have to hurdle is overeating. When you have money to burn, time to burn it in, and total freedom to burn it with, the results are rarely good. Being college students, you probably don’t have enough money for that iPod in the computer store, so you settle for a candy bar instead. Do you really need that candy bar? No. But you have time on your hands and it’s all you can afford. This proved to be my biggest problem during my freshman year. I overcame this by no longer carrying cash on my person. You can’t buy something if you don’t have the money, no matter how bad you want it. This is the school of hard knocks version of weaning, and it works quite well.

That’s it! Easier said than done, I know, but that really is all you have to do to avoid the freshman 15. Exercise, eat healthier, and eat less. This is an education in its own right, and one you best master before its too late.

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