Even as a sophomore in college, I consistently hear freshman girls expressing their concern about the Freshman 15 and how they are horrified that they will gain weight over the course of their first year. While yes college opens up a whole new world of unhealthy dining hall food and cheap fast food right at your fingertips, it doesn’t automatically mean that you can’t find healthy alternatives or that eating a patty melt at the dining hall every once in a while will cause you major weight gain. In fact, as a freshman in college I noticed that I found a pretty good balance between getting an ice cream cone as a dessert and finding the time to go to the gym for a spin class. I thought that it would be fun to share my tips on staying healthy in college on the blog today.
- Know that in your late teens/early twenties it’s common to gain weight. I know that it’s the last thing that you want to hear, especially in a post about staying healthy in college, but it’s the truth. As a girl in your late teens or early twenties it is common to put on weight because you are gaining more curves. It’s part of being a girl. It’s not a time to freak out and go on a crash diet, it’s a time to know that you should be proud of your body and not be concerned about natural weight gain.
- Go to the gym or participate in group work outs. Personally, just walking into the gym to lift weights without an instructor freaks me out. It’s almost like the guys that are lifting weights make it a goal to intimidate girls when they walk in to work out. While I have gotten better about showing the boys that they don’t intimidate me, I personally strive when I am in a work out class and can feed off of the energy of the instructor and others taking the class. I find that my motivation, endurance, and simply the pace that I keep is 10x better when I’m in a class. While it’s up to you whether you hit the machines or find a class, do whatever you feel is the best fit for you.
- Plan your workouts ahead of time. Since I enjoy going to classes, I can’t just show up at the gym and expect for there to be a cycling or PiYo class at the time that I want. It takes a little bit of planning to get your workouts in, especially if you go to classes or work with a training. I personally enjoy doing homework for one to two hours and then head to a class so that I can have a mental break from school work, but still be productive.
- Keep healthy snacks in your dorm room. During late night study sessions it’s easy to reach for cookies, chocolate, and chips, which is why it’s important to keep healthy snacks around your dorm or apartment. Some of my favorite healthy snacks to keep around my dorm room/apartment are Greek yogurt, grapes, strawberries, and
- Remember that the hardest part about going to the gym is the walk/drive there. It’s a crazy mental barrier that you have to be able to overcome, but the hardest part about your work out is actually getting yourself there. Especially when you live off campus and start thinking to yourself that a work out would require driving to the gym, finding parking, and then walking to the gym, you can convince yourself that it is too much work when in reality it’s a ten minute, or less, task. If you are on campus, the hardest part is during the winter and trying to convince yourself to make the trek to gym. No matter how close you live to the gym, you will convince yourself that you will have to climb Everest to get there. Once you are able to overcome the mental barrier, you can overcome just about anything.
- Drink water. I always have my water bottle with me in my backpack while I’m on campus and I consistently find myself refilling it. I typically have had 2-3 water bottles by lunch time with the goal to have 5-6 bottles by the end of the day. Water is the best way to keep your energy levels up, stay healthy, and of course be hydrated.
- Find healthy alternatives. Personally, I don’t believe in the method of completely cutting particular types of food out of your diet. Instead, I think that everything should be eaten in moderation and that healthy alternatives are always a great thing to reach for. And as a busy college student it can present a challenge to find quick, healthy foods that you can prepare in the 15 minute timeslot you have to make and eat dinner. That’s why I love to reach for PJ’s Organics Frozen Burritos and Nate’s Mediterranean Bites. They allow me to have something on hand that is healthy when I either need to be out the door quickly or have a craving to pick up the regular unhealthy meatballs at the grocery store. They are also the perfect thing for students in the dorms to keep in their freezer when they are tired of dining hall food.
- Limit your alcohol. The calories and general effect on your overall health from consuming alcohol definitely begin to add up, especially in a college culture where overdrinking and blacking out is the trend. If you choose to drink, keep your consumption to a minimum. I promise it’s in your best interest.
- Utilize your walk to and from classes. I bought a Jawbone Up bracelet before coming to school freshman year and was shocked when I plugged it into my phone and saw that I had walked a little over five miles my first day of classes. Even now as a commuter student, I walk an average of 3-5 miles a day Monday-Friday. While this typically isn’t what I like to count as my work out for the day or even as an excuse to have ice cream for dessert, all of the walking does add up and counts for something.
If you are a college student, which of these tips do you put into practice? Is there anything that you would add to this list? If you are headed to college, which of these tips do you hope to utilize?
*I received PJ’s Organics Premium Frozen Burritos and Nate’s Mediterranean Bites to consider for a blog post. The thoughts on these products are my honest opinions.