Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kick the Freshman Fifteen

Yep, it's that time of year again. School time, which also makes it easy for those healthy habits you worked on over the summer to drift away and for the pounds to start creeping back up. Stress, alcohol, and sleep deprivation are among the many factors that cause college students to gain weight, especially freshman who are trying to adjust to college life. However, this is NOT a one way road. You do not have to be a representative of one of those statistics that shows college kids gain weight, like the one recent study that showed 1 out of 4 college freshmen gain 5% of their body weight within the first semester. Prove to yourself (and those statisticians) that you can stay off the bandwagon and take your personal part in preventing American obesity. With a few simple preventative techniques, you can not only avoid the freshmen 15, but may even lose the Healthy Human 10 (hah). Check out the following tips, and whether you're a college student or not, put them to use!

Hit the Gym- With organized high school sports out the window, and long-nights of studying, friends, and goofing off filling in the space, it's easy for college students to lose the active lifestyle they once had. Although it may seem hard to fit the gym into your schedule, exercise is important and should be made a top priority. Cut off a little of the daily time spent on facebook, and get your booty to the gym. Most campuses have fully equiped, onsight gyms that are free for students' access. Exercise can be a great way to de-stress and take your mind off what may be a grueling workload. Also, instead of snacking during your study breaks, try doing some yoga which will help calm and clear the mind and will better your concentration for when you return to your work.

You Booze, You Won't Lose- Alcohol is loaded with empty calories and easily contributes to packing on the pounds. Allow yourself an occasional (key word) drink, but limit yourself to one or two. Don't be that crazy freshman kid drinking Wednesday night through Saturday, unless you want be "that" crazy, no-game beer-bellied freshman. Also, skip the fruity mixed drinks which tend to be higher in calories, and instead stick to something lighter such as a minty mojito. Drinks, such as a 10 oz. margarhita which contains around 550 calories, will have you guzzling down more calories than a McDonald's Big Mac. Have more than one, and you'll be on your way to over 2 jumbo hamburgers with cheese and everything. So avoid having to deal with your weight and your worrisome parents nagging when you come home by avoiding getting the beer-belly altogether.

Big Belly Buffets- Most colleges have at least one all-you-can-eat buffet style cafeteria. This doesn't mean you should eat all you can eat! Instead, be choosy and don't overload your tray. Skip the burgers and french fries which are probably half-ass anyways, and give your attention to the salad bar, the only area that offers food which isn't half dead. Aim for a colorful plate and try to get something from every food group. Choose lean proteins and foods that are baked or steamed, rather than fried. Avoid the ice cream bar and pick up a few pieces of fruit on your way out (one for dessert, and some for breakfast).

Eat Breakfast- Those who eat breakfast tend to be less overweight. Breakfast helps keep your metabolism speedy and your blood sugar steady, helping to avoid that feeling of wanting to binge later on. It will also keep your mind on track for when your sitting in those classes that may be a little hard to pay attention in. Simply set your alarm a mere ten minutes earlier and chomp down on an easy-to-make bowl of whole grain cereal. Grab a banana or apple and head out the door.

Keeping Track- You may want to keep a food journal so that you are aware of roughly how many calories are going into your body. You may be surprised at what you find after you write everything down. Also, weigh yourself at least once a week to make sure you're maintaining a steady weight. If you go above 5 pounds over your normal weight, make sure to work a little harder the following week. Don't let your weight gain get out of hand.

Stress Free- Try to limit your stress and have a good time. Enjoy college, socialize, and do things in which keep that smile on your face. A healthy person is a happy person. Keep yourself healthily busy and get the most out of your experience at college, which will help keep you from eating when your bored. Do some yoga or deep breathing when you feel hungry so that you can tune in with your body and make sure that hunger is what you truly feel. You may want to find a partner who is as dedicated as you in keeping fit and healthy. You both can help to movtivate eachother in warding off that frightful freshman 15. Most of all, enjoy the year and don't be too hard on yourself. Have an occasional indulgence and have fun! Good luck!

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