Ah the ominous “freshman 15”.. Everyone knows about it and many of us have experienced it first hand. I was in the best shape of my life when I got to college and within like 2 months BOOM I had gained 10 lbs and I was feeling so defeated. How could I let myself go like this?! I knew that I hadn’t completely changed my life and body just to let myself begin to slip back to my starting point and I needed to TURN these bad habits around immediately. I did it, and I am going to tell you exactly want to do to maintain your weight in college.
Look it is not easy staying fit in college. When your sorority is feeding you free ice cream, pizza, cookies, etc., you are surrounded by late night study snacks and late night pizza calls, and you are stuck on a meal plan that includes everything fast and fried… Gaining weight can be a terrifyingly simple thing to do. But as I always say, fitness and health is a lifestyle, it relies on every choice that you make in your day. The choice to wake up earlier and hit the gym, the choice to take the stairs instead of the elevator (I lived on the 12th floor of the dorm so I only did this sometimes), the choice to say no to ice cream that looks so good, but you know you have already eaten your daily needs. Everyday you make CHOICES. I am going to show you how to make the RIGHT ones so that maybe I can save you from what happened to me which is coming home from college to my little sister saying my face looked “swollen”… The truth is it was just fat.
BUT WHAT DO I EAT??
Ok so the idea of a meal plan is great and you get there and you’re like “Chik-fil-A, froyo, taco bell, burger place, YES!!” Until your body starts to feel like crap and you begin to put on weight relentlessly. I struggled with this myself, but I found a solution. Well, there are a few solutions really. Here are different ways that you can approach changing your eating habits:
- Pick out the healthy foods. You know that there is a salad bar, always a solid option if you get a vinaigrette dressing (anything heavy or ranch related is a big mac in a bottle so just don’t do it.) Try to fill your plate with a lean protein, VEGGIES, and a small portion of a carb like brown rice or half a baked potato. Some dairy is ok too. Now I understand that food choices can be limited, but you have to work with what you’re given If the only decent option that day is a hamburger and french fries, get the burger and ditch the bun, then make a nice big salad on your side. If worse comes to worse.. I lie to the cooks. I say “I have [some food allergy] and I cant have [insert part of food you are avoiding here], is there any way that you could make me one without that?!” But that’s a hassle and I’m an awkward liar so I try to avoid that route. And finally, if you are a dessert lover like me the fruit bar is always a solid option.
- Cooking in your room! Ok now this one kind of makes me laugh because Madalyn, Katie, and Julie I am SORRY for y’all having to live with me freshman year. I had a panic attack about my weight gain and that’s when the George Foreman entered the picture. I would cook out chicken, turkey burgers, or fish like almost every night and then make microwaveable veggies and a cup of cottage cheese as the sides. Our windows didn’t open in the dorm so sometimes the smell in their was less than lovely. So again, love yall and thankyou for putting up with my health nut self. But technically, this is an option for you, especially if your windows open. Easier routes are available though I promise. For breakfast, I would recommend microwaveable oatmeal, greek yogurt, or nutritious protein shakes for an easy, on the go, healthy meal! My daily shake of choice is Shakeology, this stuff is just makes me happy. My go to lunch options included veggie burgers or sandwich supplies, and a side of fruit! For dinner, as I said I grilled out a lot but you can also get HEALTHY, ORGANIC frozen meals. Check out the nutrition information on the back and aim for meals that are:
- in the 250-400 calorie range per MEAL, not serving
- have less than 700 mg of sodium
- have less than 4 grams of saturated fat
- have at least 3-5 grams of fiber
- Snack smart– be PREPARED for the late night study snacking and the late night munchies because they HAPPEN. Some of my favorite go to snacks are: greek yogurt, frozen grapes, carrots & hummus, organic light string cheese, avocado, almonds, any fruit, and my most favorite.. popcorn. Skinny pop is great, you can get the little 100 calorie bags of microwaveable popcorn (but those bags have some bad chemicals), so what I did was bought an air popper. It didn’t cost much and you just put in kernels and it pops away!! Then you can add a little spray butter and light seasoning! This thing became a hit in our dorm room! Still use it today actually.
This is non-negotiable. When you leave your long habitual life of high school sports and constant action behind, and enter the independent world in college, you rely on yourself to get your exercise in. Nobody is going to do it for you and nobody is going to require you to be at practice exercising for an hour plus a day. If you want to lay in bed all day eating and watching Netflix, technically you can, but DON’T. You have a campus rec, so USE IT! Hit the weights, hit the treadmill, hit the track, heck hit the pool if you want, just go get your fat burners working! If you’re like me and you don’t always feel like going to the gym, then find a great at home workout! (sidenote: I have been doing the 21 day fix and looooving it! If you need any recommendations in this, message me and I’d be happy to help you out) I LOVE at home work outs. I mean what could be easier? Plug it into your laptop/tv , scorch some calories for 30-60 minutes and you’re done! Without even leaving your room. HOWEVER, I am not telling you to hermit all the time. Spending some time outdoors is crucial to your well-being so go outside, find some trails, and run! Always make time in your day for a workout. Make good grades yes, but NEVER let school dominate your life completely.
PARTY MODERATELY & WISELY
I am all about having fun and socializing in college, seriously live it up!! But like sitting at your house alone you don’t need to be drinking a beer.. I also try to stick to the only going out 2-3 nights a week rule. When you drink, those empty calories can really be brutal on you. I personally feel that the best choice when going out is a vodka water with lime.. Other good choices are vodka & soda, gin & soda, and light beers (I think Michelob Ultra is the best pick). Red wine can also be good for you (in moderation), so don’t go crazy with this and think you will live forever after drinking a bottle– just 5 oz of red wine has 125 calories so watch it. If you want a serious reality check, check out this weekly alcohol calorie counter. It’s gonna blow your mind!! And then beyond the calories you’re drinking comes the terrible late night decisions. You wake up the next morning with an empty box of pizza on the floor, a bag of Whataburger, the ransacked food drawer, you know the drill.. you are filled with immediate ragretz. But don’t fear, just prepare (or work with what you have to offer for example me giving some friends cheese cubes on the left.. better choice than pizza!) Aim to take yourself to your room and hit the bed, because chances are you will pass out and avoid the late night pizza that your friends just ordered. If you want to stay up and hang out or are really just starving, go for something healthier like fruit, popcorn, anything that is not a fat pill. So party on my friends! Just party smarter.