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Fighting the Freshman Fifteen

The Freshman Fifteen. We’ve all heard of it, some even dread it. But what you don’t know is that it’s easily preventable and not even as bad as it sounds. An Ohio State University study found that the average college student only gained two or three pounds during their first year away from home. See? Not that bad. Common causes of the weight gain include the increased consumption of alcohol, carbohydrate-rich cafeteria-style food, stress eating, and a decreased level of exercise. If you have gained the weight (which is fine), there are easy ways to drop the baggage.

1. Take the stairs.

It may seem like a small thing but simply taking the stairs instead of the elevator is an easy way to get some exercise during your day. Many of the buildings here on campus have multiple floors and instead of taking the elevator two or three floors, it’s much healthier to walk them. Now if you’re going to the eighth floor or higher, the elevator is there for a reason.

2. Look for healthier options.

I know dining halls aren’t known for the healthiest of food but if you look you can find some healthier options. Sam’s Place for one has a salad bar and shows the calories on almost all the options. Just keep a mental (or physical) note of your caloric intake for the day so you don’t overdo it.

3. Check your eating habits.

  • Don’t eat while watching TV, studying or stressed. You’re more likely to eat more than you intended if you’re distracted while eating.
  • Eat slowly to give your stomach time to digest and realize when you’re full. Eating fast can sometimes trick your stomach into thinking you’re hungrier than you actually are. Eating at a slow pace with allow your stomach to realize when you’ve had enough.
  • Watch your portion sizes. Your parents aren’t watching over what you eat anymore. It’s your responsibility now. Eat three even meals a day to ensure maximum health.
  • Resist going back for additional servings, I know it’s tempting but your body won’t thank you in the long run.
  • Steer clear of vending machines and fast food. Go to the dining halls to get a real meal instead of grabbing a PopTart as a substitute.

4. Replace sodas and energy drinks with water.

It’s amazing how many of your daily caloric intake can be taken up by soda alone. Water is much better for you in the long run not to mention it can have great benefits for your hair, skin and nails.  

5. Take some Group X classes.

The Recreation Center here on campus offers at least one class a day even on the weekends. Some of the available classes include yoga, Zumba, cardio kickboxing and more. It doesn’t hurt to try a class, its free for MSU students with an ID.

6. Get help from an expert. ​

The Recreation Center has personal trainers whose main goal is to help you reach your fitness goal. The MSU trainers come from varied backgrounds with accredited certifications through fitness organizations including: ACE, NSCA, ACSM, NASM, and AFAA. In addition they have passed campus recreation’s own strenuous development program.

7. Sleep is important.

Try to get a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Recent studies have linked a healthy weight to getting enough sleep not to mention sleep can help relieve stressful feelings that can lead to overeating.

8. Keep healthy snacks around.

Keeping healthy snacks in your dorm room can help you fight the urge to binge unhealthy, fatty junk food. If you feel hungry, snack on some fruit or vegetables.

9. Find a workout buddy.

Exercising is always more fun with a friend as well as having another person is a great incentive to keep at it. Also try a fun playlist or working out at set time, whatever will get you moving.

10. Remember, moderation is key.

To avoid binging eating, eat three even healthy meals a day so you don’t get overly hungry and binge unhealthy junk food. You can snack occasionally but make sure your snacks help not hurt your overall health. Go for trail mix over chips or fruit over candy. Also if you know you’re going to eat pizza at an event later in the day, compensate earlier in the day so you can enjoy that pizza later.

Journalism major at Montclair State
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