15 Ways Not to Gain the Freshman 15

We've all heard of the dreaded "Freshman 15." But it doesn't have to be that way! Follow these easy steps and keep your health under control:

1. Don’t Skip Breakfast

After a long night’s rest you need food in your system to kick start your metabolism. Skipping breakfast could slow down your metabolism, leading to weight gain in the long run. So make sure before you head out to class or start your day, you get a meal in there. If you're like me and don't get too hungry in the morning, opt for a granola bar or piece of fruit with some coffee or orange juice. Something is better than nothing!  

2. Walk Till You Drop 

Take the scenic route and walk instead of using Uber or the T. You could walk a mile to get to class and back, which might not seem like much, but in a week you've gotten to 5 miles! It's a way to get toned for free. So don't forget, just a couple steps could go a long way.  

3. Control stress before you stress eat 

This time of year, when midterms are coming up, there isn't much time to fit in working out. Add this to anxious eating and you've got the perfect combination for weight gain. Find a way to relieve stress -- take a break and draw a bath, paint your nails, watch a comedy show, or read a good book. Find something that calms you and let it devour you before you devour the food.  

4. Carry a Water Bottle 

If you don't have one, invest. Water is essential for great skin, weight loss, digestion, and overall well being. Having a water bottle will be a constant reminder to stay hydrated! If you think you're drinking enough water, you're not! Studies at our neighbor school, Boston College have shown two-thirds of Americans are not drinking enough water. So make sure you’re part of the one-third who is!  

5. Shop Smart

First things first: don't go on an empty stomach because you’ll buy more than you need. Buy food that is both tasty and healthy such as fruits, certain vegetables, yogurt, protein-filled snacks, and granola bars. If you shop smart, you will end up eating smart.  

6. Snacks Around the Clock 

Every 2-6 hours you should eat a snack. Not eating for long periods of time will slow down your metabolism. Also, if you snack you’ll be less hungry for meals, keeping you from eating too much. Plus who wants to hang around a hangry (so hungry you’re angry) person.  

7. Alternatives 

Have you ever heard it's the little things that count? It's true in dieting too! Instead of the elevator take the stairs, instead of fried chicken have grilled chicken, instead of standing in the shower do squats, instead of drinking juice, drink water and oh… that last one brings me to my next point.  

8. Beer is NOT Your Friend 

At some point in every college student's life you will be asked if you want a drink. For you wild animals who say yes, make sure to answer with a low-caloric option. So, no to beer and yes to vodka without sugary mixers. If a mixer is desired, go for healthier mixers like orange or cranberry juice instead of soda or energy drinks.  

9. Protein Power

Fish, chicken, beans, and eggs are great sources of lean protein. Eating foods high in protein can increase fat burning. This is because the body uses more energy to digest protein-rich foods. For you science lovers, the amount of energy your body exerts above the resting metabolic rate due to processing food is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). Protein, therefore, has quite a high TEF compared to carbohydrates and candies.  

10. Don’t Eat with Your Eyes

College is a time where you make your own choices. No longer do your parents dictate what you can and cannot do. Therefore if you want to eat dessert first you can. However, with choices come consequences. Make sure you portion-control when at the cafeterias. The array of options can be overwhelming and all too exciting at the same time, leading you to eat with your eyes instead of your mind. Be mindful about how hungry you are before grabbing all that food.  

11. Social Appetite

Just because your friends are hungry doesn’t mean you are! Don’t feel compelled to eat just because everyone else is. Listen to your body instead of your friends and calculate if you really are before you indulge! Especially when they’re ordering Dominoes… 

12. Late Night Snacking

Beware with late night cravings! It takes your body a couple hours to digest food and sleeping impedes this process. Alternatives to self-destructive snacking include: brushing your teeth, self-care (baths, masks, manicures, etc), and calling friends. If you simply can’t resist or have a late night hunger pang, opt for low calorie options like Halo ice-cream (240-380 calories per pint!) or unprocessed popcorn.  

13. Move It

College gets busy. We’ve got three tests one day and three social events the next. Finding the time to balance your social and academic life while still getting in enough sleep and exercise gets hard. Find enjoyable ways to workout so you’ll be more inclined to go. For you maybe that means joining a Zumba class, running by Charles river on a sunny day, or dancing like a maniac in Fraternity basements. No matter what you do, just make sure you do it. And the best way to make sure it gets done is by doing it with a friend. That way both of you are committed and responsible for dragging the other when they decide they don’t feel like it anymore.  

14. Get your Beauty Rest

Micheal Breus, PhD, a sleep specialist and author, proved “The more sleep-deprived you are, the higher your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite.” So beauty rest isn't just about getting rid of those baggy eye sockets but those baggy tummies too.  

15. Treat Yourself

At the end of the day, a little treat won’t kill you. Just remember – everything in moderation. As long as you get your veggies, carbs, and protein in, a sweet treat is more than okay. 

With just a little mindfulness and moderation, you can beat the Freshman 15!