How Can I Avoid the “Freshman Fifteen”?

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If you’re starting college in the fall and are planning on staying in the dorms, you may be thinking about possible strategies to avoid weight gain. Signing up for a meal plan can be a great way to save time and money, but you should make sure to eat right, exercise and avoid stress to avoid gaining 15 or more pounds during your freshman year.

Eating Right

Watching what you eat is probably the most obvious way to avoid gaining weight. Different people have different nutritional needs, so don’t just assume that you need the same amount of calories as your friends or family members. If you want to find out how much you should be consuming each day, you can visit the SuperTracker website and fill out a short, six-question profile. Since you’ll most likely be eating foods that have been previously prepared, it can be hard to make good choices; however, it’s definitely not impossible. If your school has more than one dining location, try looking at menus ahead of time to pick the best dining establishment for each meal. Many schools also have nutritional information for each recipe available online. If you’re in a rush and can’t check menus or nutritional information, just try to include whole grains, fruits and vegetables into your meal.

Exercising

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more commonly known as the CDC, recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, and aiming for 300 minutes is even better. Make use of your school’s resources to get the exercise that you need. Depending on the size and location of your college, it may have resources like:

  • a gym with workout equipment and space to practice sports
  • a swimming pool
  • fitness classes
  • intramural sports
  • an outdoor recreation center
  • tennis courts
  • hiking, biking and skiing trails
  • competitive club sports

Some larger colleges even have ice skating rinks and indoor rock climbing walls, some schools cater better to outdoor enthusiasts. If you can find a physical activity or two that you enjoy, it will be a lot easier to avoid weight gain.

Avoiding Stress

If you’re stressed out, you’ll be more likely to binge and less likely to exercise, so stop the stress before it starts. The more that you plan ahead, the less stressed you’ll be – especially when it comes to schoolwork. Do your homework right when you get it instead of waiting until the last minute, and study all semester so that you don’t have to sweat your finals. Don’t forget to take time for yourself, though. To have a nice balance, try giving yourself at least one hour each day and one whole day each week to do whatever you want. To make sure that you can afford this leisure time, don’t stretch yourself too thin. For instance, keeping your work hours low if you have a job and only joining one or two clubs is a great way to become involved in college life without overdoing it.

Many college freshmen end up gaining weight, but that doesn’t mean that you have to. By eating right, exercising and avoiding stress, you should be able to avoid weight gain.

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