The freshman 15 is real. When you think about the absence of nagging parents, snacks to accompany late night study sessions, and the many hours college kids spend sitting down writing papers, weight gain seems unavoidable. I fully expected to gain some extra pounds when I started college, and I was dreading it. My school also has an “unlimited” meal plan which all students pretty much need (the alternative is no meal plan, it’s all or nothing) unless they live off campus. Under the meal plan, you can eat as much as you want, whenever you want. Ice cream in every dining hall, mac and cheese for lunch and dinner, and chocolate oreo donuts for breakfast only intensify everybody’s struggle to eat healthily at school! My freshman dorm was in the same building as the “comfort food” dining hall, too. The cards were stacked against me. But, when I came home from school and weighed myself, I learned that I never gained the freshman 15. Instead, I lost weight, 5 pounds! The freshman 15 may be real, but it can be thwarted, I’ve learned. If I can do it, you can, too. Here’s how I avoided gaining a single pound my first year of college:
- Eat 3 meals a day: I never skipped a meal at school. I knew that if I skipped a meal, I’d feel extra hungry later and I’d want to fill up on unhealthy snack food or binge during my next meal. I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner at more or less the same times everyday.
- Don’t stick up your nose at the vegetarian options: The vegetarian dining hall at my school is known to the student body as “the worst dining hall.” One day, I decided to try it. I had some veggie pizza and I thought it was delicious! I started going there more often. The dining halls at my school rarely serve red meat (my favorite kind of meat LOL), so I was only eating meat about three times a week.
- Drink green tea: I drank a cup of green tea every morning with breakfast. Green tea boosts your metabolism. Studies show that people who drink green tea burn up to 100 extra calories per day.
- Don’t eat too late: The dining hall in my building closed at 10 PM, but I never ate dinner after 8. Most nights, I actually ate dinner between 5 and 6 PM. I like to go to sleep fair early, so I never felt too hungry going to bed. I ate breakfast at 7:30 every morning, so many nights there was at least a 12 hour gap between my dinner and breakfast. Eating dinner too late wouldn’t have given my body enough time to digest before bed.
- Limit snacking: If I was really hungry between meals, I’d have a light and healthy snack. I would only snack in the afternoon, and I’d limit myself to one snack per day. My go-to snack was a piece of fruit and some crackers.
- Don’t binge drink: Drinks are packed with calories. A lot of girls gravitate toward fruity or tropical drinks, and those are packed with sugar and calories. I truly believe that the reason why so many people gain weight when they get to college is because they drink way too much beer!
- Take advantage of your school’s fitness facilities: I tried to use the treadmills in a nearby res hall as often as I could. I usually used the treadmills in the late afternoon or early evening, when there weren’t a lot of people using them. On the weekends, I used the treadmills in the morning.
- Don’t only study in your room: Don’t fall into the I-only-study-in-my-dorm habit because it’s lethal! I’m guilty of this one. I studied in my room way too much first semester, and second semester I studied in the various campus libraries a lot more often. It was good for me to get off my bum and walk around!
- Take a PE class: I took a PE class both semesters of my freshman year. My school has a PE requirement, and I wanted to fulfill it as soon as possible. First semester, I took ballet, which made me work up quite a sweat! Second semester, I took step dancing, which was a good workout and also a blast! Each class met twice a week and only for an hour at a time, so it wasn’t too time-consuming. Now that I’m all done with the requirement, I’m considering auditing a PE class.
- Take the stairs: Luckily for me, I lived on the ground floor freshman year! The only printer in the building was up a floor, and so was the common room where I occasionally went to hang out with a friend or play piano (yes, there was a piano in the room). I always took the stairs. When I wasn’t carrying too much in my backpack, I usually took the stairs to the fourth floor of the student center to eat at my favorite dining hall, too.
Even if you’re past freshman year, you can still use these tips to avoid gaining weight in school. Next year, I’m going to continue my freshman year habits so I can stay healthy on campus!