College Hacks: freshman 15
Welcome to “College Hacks,” where every week, I will provide tips and tricks to improve your college life academically and socially.
Let’s kick things off with a college classic: beating the dreaded, the horrible, the unspeakable “Freshman 15” (cue dramatic music here). For those of you unaware, the Freshman 15 is the extra weight that college students tend to put on during their first semester at college.
Normally, this sudden gain is caused by students settling into a more lethargic lifestyle surrounded by a plethora of food and comfortable seating. It’s much easier to grab a slice of pizza than hunt for a fresh apple and, likewise, it’s easier to crash in your dorm instead of going for a walk with friends. But, as someone who’s battling the Junior year equivalent of this collegiate malady, you can take it from me that it’s worth it.
The first part of the two-pronged attack on weight gain is to watch what you eat. The cafeteria is a wonderful place full delicious and available food. However, the temptation just to grab the easiest and hottest piece isn’t usually conducive to the whole “healthy lifestyle.”
Thanks to the radical changes to the cafeteria over the summer, we have more options than ever. There’s always fresh fruit throughout the cafeteria (try the melon – it’s spectacular); the Flying Mushroom ups the ante from last year’s salad bar by providing ready-made salads; the 360 Grill serves up fresh stir-fry and Asian-inspired dishes; and the rest of the stations always have a vegetarian or whole-grain version of whatever they’re serving.
The options are out there; it’s just a matter of trying them. Try having some juice instead of a Dew, or try an egg-white omelet instead of a regular one. Having a nice soup or salad at the start of the meal really fills you up and prevents gorging on fatty oils. Be adventurous – I’m sure you’ll find something you like.
One of the best tips I received was to ditch the chips and switch to parsnips. Actually, I changed to pear cups, but that doesn’t rhyme. However, it did help to cut out most of the snack food in my dorm and switch it for “good food.” I’m not talking about Brussels sprouts, but food I actually like.
Seriously, think about how much time you spend in your dorm room, alone and hungry. It’s actually more than you would think. Having something filling close by can really cut down on the late-night trips to the vending machines. Popcorn, apples and assorted nuts are some of the best.
One thing that can make this seemingly daunting task (it really isn’t) less painful is getting some people to help. I, being the egotist that I am, have told many of my friends about my plans for diet and exercise this semester. Why? So when I fail, I’ll have someone other than my conscience to yell at me.
Maybe that doesn’t quite work for you. If you need a level of animosity, there are plenty of online groups and forums a mere Google search away that can help you keep on track. It’s all up to you.
I hope I haven’t been too preachy in my suggestions. All I wish is to share what helps me, so that it may help you. Small steps – like trying some good foods, keeping the ones you like on-hand, and finding a buddy – can make a difference.