From stress eating on the go to cramped schedules that leave little time for working out, the freshman 15 can feel unavoidable. But it is – if you keep these healthy tips in mind. With a little planning, and a lot of dedication, you can keep the extra pounds off. Check out what our friends from Textbooks.com recommend doing.
1. Prep & plan.
From snack prep on Sundays to laying out your workout clothes for the week, getting your “healthy” house in order will keep you on track. Not only will you save time, you’ll be less likely to reach for potato chips if your carrot sticks and hummus are all ready and waiting for you.
2. Break for breakfast.
We know, we know. It’s hard enough to get yourself dressed and grabbing your backpack before jetting off to class, but take 30 seconds to make a pit stop at the fridge before you head out. If you did your Sunday prep (have we lost you already? See #1 above!), you’ll have overnight oats, hard-boiled eggs, or yogurt and berries – and no excuses.
3. Work in workouts
Not only does cardio help keep the Freshman 15 pounds in check, it helps you de-stress. Work in at least three 30-minute workouts a week into your schedule, and we mean literally schedule them. Add them to your Google calendar or your planner, so you see them as part of your day — just like a study group or coffee date.
4. Log more Z’s
Between all-nighters and early classes, when can you sleep? But really – proper rest is an important factor in a healthy mindset and in healthful eating. You won’t want to load up on a carb-y breakfast if you’ve gotten your 7 or 8 hours of proper shut-eye.
5. Hello, hydration.
In real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. For keeping healthy, it’s water, water, water. Not only will 8-10 glasses of water a day help you feel fuller and snack less, it helps flush toxins and get all that smoothie nutrient goodness to your cells.
6. Snack well.
All the dash and grabs between classes can take a toll. Opt for fruit, nuts, string cheese, and other feel-good snacks that will keep the hangry at bay and your blood sugar from dropping between meals.
7. Step to it.
The more you move, the more you lose. Walk an extra block out of the way to get to class, take the stairs when going back to your room, and meet friends at the furthest dining hall to get in 10,000 to 15,000 steps a day.
8. Track yourself to keep on track.
If you’re doing your part, and still gaining weight, log your calories in app like My Fitness Pal. Also, consider investing in a fitness tracker like the FitBit or download a free health app on your phone so you can see exactly how much activity you are doing in a day.
In the morning, during study breaks, before bed – stretch all major muscle groups to keep limber, release stress, and prevent injuries. Neck stretches, shoulder rolls, and lower back exercises are especially important for those who sit (and read 50 pages of Beowulf) for long periods of time.
10. Buddy up.
Enlist your roommate or a like-minded pal to move and motivate with. You’ll keep each other honest, while having someone to trade tips, recipes, and soreness complaints with.
11. Avoid dining hall landmines.
Mom and dad (or your future loan-addled self) pay good money for that unlimited meal plan, but “be mindful” as you make your way through that buffet free-for-all at the dining hall. Swap in lower calorie salad dressings, go for flavored seltzer vs. soda, and choose baked items over oily fried ones.
12. Be mindful.
Meal planning, logging workouts, 5-minute meditation sessions, calorie research, fitness pinboards, slowing down mealtime – being “aware” will keep you focused on fitness.
13. Take mini study breaks.
When you hunker down for a 6-hour library session, set your phone (or fitness tracker if you have one) for a once-an-hour alarm to remind you to get up and move around. Walk up and down the stairs a couple of times, or take a loop around the building (bonus points: call mom and dad while you walk).
14. Limit energy drinks.
Sure, those three Red Bulls sound like they might help get you through a long day, but are they doing more harm than good? Overdoing certain energy beverages can lead to increased jitteriness and agitation, not to mention more sugar-packed calories. Opt for the proven benefits in a cup or two of coffee or green tea, and perhaps a protein-rich smoothie before working out.
15. Less takeout, more eat in.
General Gau’s Chicken, pepperoni pizza, and el burritos grande – it’s the stuff Friday nights are made of. But try limiting your takeout fest to one Friday a month if you’re trying to avoid the Freshman 15. Saving yourself 1,000 calories a week can equate to staving off a 15-pound weight gain over the course of a year. Boom – no Freshman 15 for you.
Do you have any more tips? Share them in the comments below!