Five Ways to Avoid the Freshmen Fifteen

By Stephanie Brady
Distinguished Young Woman of New Hampshire for 2012

Entering college comes with a lot of big lifestyle changes.  One of the things that worried me most was gaining the dreaded “freshmen fifteen”.  I heard from so many people that between munching during late night study sessions, no longer participating in high school varsity sports and having free range in a dining hall make it very easy to gain a few unwanted pounds.  However, in my first semester, I’ve found a few ways to help gain control over this potential issue. 

1.    Use the gym!

Take advantage of the huge gym facilities that most schools offer students.  I know it can sometimes be a little overwhelming to walk into the weight room, filled with jacked-beyond-belief men, but trust me-they’re not that scary!  Actually, I’ve found that if you just act like you belong, they accept and respect you.  If weight machines aren’t really your thing, opt for the many different cardio machines, the lap pool, or try a group fitness class.  Yoga’s a great stress reliever, Pilates helps to build a strong core and Zumba is basically a big dance party!

2.    Just because you CAN eat unhealthy meals doesn’t mean you HAVE to

There’s no doubt that when you have the option to eat pizza, French fries and cake for every meal, it’s difficult to avoid doing so.  However, even though it seems like there are many unhealthy options, there are just as many healthy ones.  At most schools, a full salad bar or fruit bar are available during most times of the day.  On top of this, many schools having recently been implementing programs that point out menu options that are more nutritious, so making better decisions is becoming easier for students.

3.    Walk to class whenever possible

If your school has a campus transportation system, I understand that sometimes if you’re tired and not in the mood to walk, using it can seem very appealing-that’s fine!  The transportation system is in place for a reason and there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of it.  However, try not to get into the habit of taking the bus everywhere and making it a daily thing.  Walking is not only a great form of exercise, but it allows you to really get to know the different areas and aspects of campus that you might not be able to see from a bus window.  

4.    Try to avoid unhealthy late night munchies

Let’s be honest-college students stay up late.  It’s not uncommon, when you’re up late studying for that big exam, to suddenly feel that familiar rumble in your belly.  Late night snacks are not necessarily a bad thing because when you’re system is “running on low”, your brain isn’t nearly as productive.  However, do yourself a favor and keep healthy snacks, like fruits or nuts in your room, and avoid ordering in late-night wings or cookies.

5.    Learn a new sport or hobby!

Most universities offer so many different types of clubs and sports.  You don’t have to be a varsity athlete to participate in sports and have a good time.  Join an intramural mural team that plays your favorite sport from high school, or try something totally new.  Some of the activities that are offered might surprise you.  Don’t be afraid to venture outside of your comfort zone!

Stephanie Brady is a college freshman at the University of Connecticut in Storrs-Mansfield, Connecticut majoring in pre-pharmacy. Originally from New Market, New Hampshire, Stephanie was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New Hampshire for 2012. Learn more about Stephanie here!

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