Freshman 15: Cutting the fat
Starting college is a lot of fun: there are new opportunities, new people, and new independence. One part that’s not so great is the dreaded “Freshman Fifteen.” Essentially, because of a variety of reasons (eating out, lack of money, stress) many new students experience moderate weight gain. It’s not horrible, but it can add to body image problems and general anxiety. Luckily, there are a couple of things that you can do to not just prevent it, but also set yourself up for a lifetime of healthy habits.
No Soda Don’t drink soda. Like, at all. Seriously, while it doesn’t have anything terrible, such as transfat, it does have a lot of processed sugars. This makes it easily the least necessary consumable out there. Even things like ice cream or cinnamon rolls will at least have trace amounts of calcium, or even a mental “reward” factor. However, soda has no nutrients, is loaded with chemicals, and is too common to be considered a “treat.” If you need caffeine, try coffee or tea, or even organic juice for sweetness. The former two carry stressreducing benefits (just don’t overdo it) and can have their sugar content reduced over time (as your tastes become accustomed), will the latter will at least have some vitamins (most often B and C).
Get your protein Which is more filling, eight ounces of chicken, or eight ounces of cereal? Protein satisfies hunger, is useful for building muscle, and doesn’t react in your body like fats or carbohydrates (although those two have their place in diet). You don’t have to go full-on paleo to reap the benefits, either. Getting the recommended 50-65 grams daily from nuts, meat, dairy, and even certain grains is surprisingly easy, once you make the conscious effort, and the habit forms quickly. The CDC suggests lean meats like fish or poultry to get all essential amino acids (the building blocks of cells, but vegetarians can mix and match multiple sources to get the same effect.
Stay active You don’t have to join the cult of Crossfit to stay in shape. Running, calisthenics, or even just walking for 30 minutes a day can fight a sedentary lifestyle. Walking to class is an easy one that’s practical (if you don’t mind the heat at this time of year). FCCU also contains a gym, aquatics center, and basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts. Plus, with free personal training sessions, intramural sports, and group fitness classes (like yoga, Zumba, and even self defense), it’s as easy as it ever will be to stay or get lean.
Stick with your friends One of the best ways to maintain a healthy life is by getting your acquaintaces in on it, too. When everyone you associate with is doing things a certain way, you tend to follow suit. It’s a sort of intrinsic group mentality. Although not EVERYONE you know is probably going to be doing the same thing, just a single other person can keep you motivated to stick with your program, be it diet, or especially exercise (the so-called “gym buddy”).
Vegetarianism No, this isn’t an attempt to indoctrinate anyone, but college is a place to try new things. One of those things could easily be a different diet. Vegetarianism isn’t as difficult as you’d think (vegan can be much harder) and is an effective way to cut calories, while ensuring you get some awesome nutrients. It’s not really recommended for those who are anemic or have strict requirements for their food, but it can help manage diabetes. Regardless of benefits, it can be thought of as a self-imposed challenge. Try it for a week or two, the worst that happens is that a couple animals get a few more days touring the farm before they buy it.