Health Life + Arts

Seven easy steps to avoid the Freshman 15

College is a fantastic time to make new connections, try new things and exercise independence, but without a well-developed plan, it can be challenging to maintain a healthy weight.

A recent study conducted at Auburn University tracked college students’ weight gain from their freshman to their senior year. The study found that 70 percent of participants saw a difference in weight. Within the four-year time frame, males packed on an average of 15 pounds, and females gained an average of 9.3 pounds.

The Freshman 15, commonly used to describe the abrupt weight gain that occurs for many students transitioning from high school to college, can be avoided with proper planning.

While regular exercise and balanced meals can help maintain a healthy weight, it can also help students in the classroom. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, learning and retaining information can be positively affected by regular physical activity.

If staying on track and dodging the weight gain is a challenge, here are some tips to help you stay healthy throughout the semester:

  1. Preparation is key: Preparing several meals at a time can ensure that you have healthy options on hand at all times (your wallet will thank you for this one, too).
  2. If you’re a planner, plan it: Lay out gym clothes the night before and schedule gym trips in a planner (like a class or job for which you must be present).
  3. Drink up, Buttercup: Throughout the day, drink plenty of water. Many times we think we are hungry, but in fact, we just need a good thirst-quenching.
  4. Don’t drink your calories: When you’re thirsty, it’s easy to run to the nearest Starbucks or Smoothie King for a Frappuccino or smoothie. But when it comes to beverages, it is wise to steer clear of drinks high in sugar. Skip out on sweet teas, lemonades or sodas. Grab a glass of unsweetened tea or water.
  5. Take inventory: If you happen to find yourself in a situation where you must purchase a meal, take a quick look over all of the options available. On campus, there are almost always healthy alternatives (you just have to look for ‘em).
  6. Your stomach is not a bank: Don’t starve yourself. It’s important to eat well-balanced, small meals throughout the entire day, so you don’t send your metabolism dropping and soaring. Going a long period of time without eating can cause you to indulge later in the day.
  7. When in doubt, walk it out: Use your time wisely. A short 15-minute workout can help resist those extra pounds. If you find some down time, walk around our beautiful campus. Walk alone or with company between classes. This is not vigorous enough to make you sweat, but it’s good quality time spent to yourself, or with friends.

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