The “Freshman 15.” We’ve all heard the horror stories and warnings about it. It happens to a lot of people, and we all vow that it will never happen to us because we’ll be careful, right? We’ll go to the gym, eat our fruits and vegetables, and everything will be perfectly fine.
And while those plans seem great in theory, they aren’t realistic in practice. Because life gets in the way; college gets in the way. It happens without us even noticing. We suddenly become occupied with our new friends, classes, parties, and catching up on lost sleep. Maintaining a healthy diet and going to the gym three times a week become harder and harder.
1. Forgive yourself for gaining a few pounds.
Forgive yourself for eating that ice cream cone, for not going to the gym at all while you’ve been at school. It happens to the best of us, and that’s okay! Sure, it’s frustrating and discouraging, but in order to move forward and start losing weight, you need to forgive yourself for falling “off the wagon.” Start anew with a clean slate.
2. Drink 1-2 glasses of water before and after every meal.
I cannot stress enough how much this helps prevent overeating. Water is so important, and drinking it before and after every meal will help satisfy any leftover emptiness you may be feeling in your stomach.
3. Eat foods that are going to keep you feeling full and satisfied.
Any carb that has more than 5g of fiber and fruit that has a skin are great choices to eat because they will keep you from feeling hungry between meals. In addition to these high-fiber carbs, it is essential that you eat lean protein, such as nitrate-free turkey and chicken. The protein will also contribute to being less hungry after a meal. Be careful to watch your portions when you’re eating as well (I always stick to around 3 slices of turkey for lunch, and 2 for a snack between meals). Vegetables, especially green ones, are great to fill up on as well.
4. Eat 3 meals a day, with 2 snacks in between. Do NOT skip meals.
Everyone knows to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s also a good idea to have a light snack in between these meals so that you aren’t starving by the time you eat. Though many wouldn’t believe it, skipping meals will slow down your metabolism. It is extremely necessary to eat 3 meals a day and not go without eating a substantial meal.
5. Find some type of exercise you enjoy, and do it as much as you can.
It can be hard to get to the gym, which is why I recommend finding a different type of exercise you enjoy. I love walking, and it’s so easy to get up and go for a long walk at my school. Whether it’s dancing, jump rope, running, or swimming, any cardio activity you can get is great for speeding up your metabolism and maintaining a healthy weight.
6. Stock up with healthy snacks in your dorm.
This will keep you from going to the dining hall or ordering out when you feel like a snack. I always keep some lite cheese, mini cucumbers, and deli-sliced turkey in my mini-fridge. Whenever I feel a little hungry, my mini-fridge is the first place I will look.
7. If you’re going to have dessert, try to find something that is less than 150 calories.
It’s okay to treat yourself to a dessert once a day! With all the studying you’re doing and the hard work you’re putting into your classes, you deserve a treat. If you have access to a freezer, frozen bars under 150 calories are great to buy. If not, there are many other desserts that will satiate your sweet tooth without the guilt that comes afterward.
8. Keep a food journal.
Whether it’s in the notes section of your iPhone or in a physical notebook, keeping a food journal makes losing weight a lot easier. Being aware of exactly what you’re eating can help you figure out what your strengths are and where you can improve. It takes motivation to keep track of everything you’re eating, but it is completely worth it.
In the end, it’s all the little things that make a big difference. The Freshman 15 is easier to gain than to keep off, but with motivation and determination, anything is possible.