We’ve all heard about it…the “freshman 15”. For those of you who may not know, the freshman 15 is a term that refers to the amount of weight that people put on once they go to college and let me tell you, it is a very real thing. Living a healthy lifestyle in college is really hard, but not impossible. If you are worried about the freshman 15, let me explain how to stay healthy in college!
Okay so let me start off this post with some quick personal back story. All throughout high school I worked my butt of to live a healthy lifestyle, eat right, and work out. I had lost a bunch of weight coming into my freshman year of high school, that I knew I wanted to continue living that type of life in college. Then college happened and BOOM, it became way harder to continue the healthy lifestyle I once had in high school. Not having control over the food I was eating and struggling to continue to workout on a day to day basis lead to some very quick weight gain. I don’t think it was truly 15 pounds, but it was almost 10. And for someone like me who had worked so hard to lose 20 pounds coming into high school, this was devastating for me. I remember realizing how much weight I had gained very clearly in my brain. I was at home for Christmas break going through pictures from the semester and then I came to one where I just did not like what I saw. I was sad, disappointed in myself, and really ashamed of where I had let myself get to.
Now, let me just say right now, I think all body types are beautiful. I do not think we all need to be one shape and size and I do not think there is one image of beauty. I have my own image of what I want to look like and what I saw in the mirror wasn’t it. I don’t want people to think that I don’t support women of differing shapes because I do and I think all women are beautiful no matter what size they are. With that said, I knew I waned to get my butt in gear and start living a more healthy life while on campus. It was going to be a lot of work and a lot of change and I knew that going into it. With enough effort and thought, I managed to get back to where I was before school started in the fall! Here’s how I did it and how you can too!
The biggest gut buster in college is what you are sticking into your mouth (don’t take your mind there girl, COME ON!). Dining hall food is not always the best food in terms of substance, quality, and health scale but you have to take what you can get. On my campus as a freshman, we had to have a full service meal plan which was crazy expensive and made it stupid for you to buy food from other places. So of course, I ate at the dining hall because that’s what I had available to me, we all do it. What we don’t do it limit the amount we eat while there. Most dining halls are set up as a buffet style meal so you can eat, eat, eat until you can’t eat no more. Don’t fall into that trap! Instead, fill your plate with leafy greens and vegetables to fill yourself up. If your dining hall has a soft serve machine, avoid it. As soon as you eat it once you will want to eat it at every meal. Try and be aware of what you are filling your plate with and try and pick healthier options rather than chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes every time.
Another big thing that packs on the pounds that you have access too in college but probably not in high school is this lovely thing called alcohol. Drinking alcohol in large amounts is not only not very safe, but it’s not going to help you keep the weight off if that’s what you’re trying to do. Beer and hard liquor are full of sugars and empty calories which just pack on the weight. Ever heard of the term a “beer gut”? Yeah, that’s a real thing. If you are going to drink, make sure to be safe about it and do it in small amounts. Personally, if I know I am going to be drinking or going out with friends, I force myself to workout in the morning. I know that’s a little crazy, but I need to earn the alcohol before I go and consume it. Plus, I find at the end of the day alcohol isn’t worth the calories OR the money, so I try and avoid it when possible.
Almost all campuses have a recreation center or campus gym, so use it! They are free for students to get in because they work your gym fee into your tuition costs. You are already paying for the membership so it’s wasted money if you don’t go at all. If you aren’t a gym rat, a lot of rec. centers offer fitness classes! I know my university offers yoga, Zumba, boxing, cardio blast, you name it, they probably offer it. So if you want to get in a good workout but don’t know how to use a gym, try and hit up a fitness class with some friends.
“Staying healthy” doesn’t only mean eating smart and working out, it also means keeping your body healthy. Again, on campus health centers are a thing so use it. If you have a cold you just can’t seem to kick, go to the on campus doctor! If you have a prescription you need filled, see if your health center can fill it for you so you don’t have to go off campus. And I don’t mean to get personal here but if you need to get tested for anything, go to your health center. I know on my campus we have “Get Yourself Tested Tuesday” where you can go in and get tested for anything for free and its anonymous. Keep yourself healthy in all parts of life!
Getting off campus is good for you so go out and explore! There are TONS of options off campus to help you stay fit and healthy. If you like to run, search for a local runners club so you always have someone to run with! Looking for a fun new way to get in shape? Search local places that offer fitness classes. If you follow me on Instagram, I’m sure you have seen that my roommates and I have recently been obsessed with taking boxing classes. Disclaimer, off campus options can be expensive BUT I have found that if you ask about discounts for students, most people can come up with something for you.
Finally, practicing good self talk and self care will help you stay mentally healthy. Like I said before, staying healthy in college goes way past just eating smart and working out. It includes keeping your mind healthy too. Be nice to yourself. If you don’t hit the gym every day, it’s okay. If you eat french fries instead of green beans at dinner, it’s okay. Something I have stopped letting myself do it poking and prodding at my body. I no longer let myself grab at my stomach and think negative thoughts towards my body because it’s just not good for my brain and self image. Take the time to recharge after a big test and get some sleep. Find some good self care practices and do them. Try your best to not over stress and keep things in perspective.
Staying healthy in college takes work and effort. It is hard but not impossible. You just need to dedicate yourself to maintaining a balanced life while at school and you can totally do it. If you have questions, let me know! I would love to help and hear from you! What is your favorite way to live a healthy life?
[The photos from this post were captured and used from the free online photo sharing website unsplash.com]