Moving away from your parents will come with many changes, including changes to your diet. It’s important that you pay attention to your food and fitness routine as you live on your own for the first time. Here are just a few tips for avoiding the dreaded “freshmen fifteen.”
Understand How Your Body Works
The first step is figuring out your body mass index (BMI). If your number is too high or too low, your goal should be bringing it into the “acceptable” range. The next step is calculating your basal metabolic rate (BMR) or the number of calories that you burn simply by breathing and beating your heart. This is a critical figure to have at your disposal when you’re calculating things like a healthy caloric intake. Finally, figure out your recommended daily values (DVs) for things like protein, sodium, sugar and carbs. Use them to create a personalized meal plan that addresses all of your body’s needs.
Monitor Your Diet
It can be difficult to eat right when you’re at college. Between cafeteria food, late-night binges and all of the cafes and coffeeshops scattered around campus, the system can feel almost designed to make you gain weight. The good news is that you can fight back with a little research and a lot of determination. Before you indulge in the cafeteria’s chicken dish, look up its nutritional information online. Before you grab a triple chocolate latte to get through world history class, think about substituting it with a low-fat coffee beverage instead. These may seem like simple changes, but they’ll really add up over the course of a semester or academic year.
Maintain a Fitness Routine
You don’t need a gym membership to stay fit. Any kind of regular, mid-intensity exercise will strengthen your body and help you maintain your weight, and this includes fun stuff like sports and club activities. Take up soccer. Join the parasailing team. Ask if you can join that yoga group that always stretches on the quad in the morning. You can even stream exercise videos to your dorm room if you want to sneak in a workout before or after class. Just make sure that you’re staying hydrated during all of this physical activity, especially if you’re doing something outside and under the sun. If you’re not a fan of plain, untreated water, look into fortified sports water or recovery drinks, like ASEA. It will keep you refreshed, replenished and ready to take on the next round of aerobics.
Build a Support Group
It’ll be hard to maintain your figure when your roommate is constantly munching on junk food. The ideal solution is to get them involved in your wellness routine by going on jogs together or helping them clean out their mini-fridge, but even if your roomie is unconcerned about their expanding waistline, you can find support from other people and places on campus. For example, there’s probably a cycling club somewhere or a student weight loss support group that you can join. You can also enroll in health and nutrition classes where you’ll equip yourself with the knowledge that you need to stay fit. You’re much more likely to reach your goals with positive reinforcement, so don’t underestimate the value of having like-minded people around you.
These are just a few ways to keep off the pounds as you start your new life at college. There are many more, of course, but these are the basic building blocks that you’ll need to succeed. As long as you keep the fundamentals in mind, you should be able to beat back the freshmen fifteen not only for your freshman year but for your entire college career.
Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. Hannah recommends getting a masters in public administration online through the University of San Francisco.