As a college student who started WW Freestyle over the summer, I found it was hard to stick to that new, healthy lifestyle once I was back on campus for a new semester. Since I live on campus, my meal plan does not include many yummy, healthy options that I can incorporate into my diet, and trekking to the gym isn’t always easy! If you’re on the plan that includes meetings, the meeting isn’t always during your free time, like it might have been when you were at home. But I’m here to reassure you that change of setting doesn’t mean doom! Here are some ways you can stay accountable, even with lackluster food options, as a college student on WW Freestyle.
NOTE: I’m not a health expert, I’m just a college student! Ask your doctor before starting any weight loss program.
1. Find Your 0 Point Foods
Even newer WW members know the most basic of 0 point foods: eggs, grilled chicken, fresh fruit, and non-starch veggies, to name a few. When in the dining hall, go for those foods first, keeping in mind your portion sizes as you move from station to station. Remember which of these foods are a constant at each dining hall, such as eggs and grilled chicken, and which meals they’re offered at. This can help you plan out your meals, as well as give yourself a back up plan if there aren’t other healthy options that day!
Author Tip: I like to get eggs at breakfast and grilled chicken at lunch and dinner and eat those FIRST, that way I become more full on a zero point food than on the other foods on my plate!
2. Go to the Gym
I know this is a hard one for a lot of people, myself included. Going to the gym and getting all sweaty isn’t exactly tempting when you’re snuggled up in bed beneath your string lights and watching Netflix. But exercise is your eating habits’ best buddy! Over the summer, I lost 10 pounds just by tracking my food points; I didn’t exercise at all. While that seemed fine at the time (losing weight without exercise?! Sweet!), I began to plateau, meaning I stopped losing weight after a while. Though your diet is the main factor in your weight loss journey, you need to exercise to make losing weight happen more healthily and effectively. To make gym time more fun, try to get a routine going, or find a friend who will go with you if you’re intimidated!
Author Tip: I like to go on the elliptical when I’m by myself, but get nervous to use the weight machines in fear of embarrassment, or even hurting myself if I don’t know how to use them. That’s when I like to bring along a friend, so we can switch off between sets and I feel more confident that I’m not using the machine wrong!
3. Realize It’s Okay to Treat Yourself
This one is hard. When using the points-based system, it’s easy to feel guilty if you eat something higher in points. The voice in your head might shout, “What about my 0 point foods? I should’ve gone for those instead!” What’s important to realize is that no one on this planet only eats 0 point foods. People DO have pizza. People DO treat themselves to ice cream. Yes, those foods have more points. But that’s why you have points: to eat them. Of course, be reasonable about giving in to cravings; one cookie won’t hurt, and it’ll be a super yummy and rewarding part of your day! But one cookie EVERY day will not only feel less rewarding, it’ll start to interfere with that weight loss. Be conscious of how much of these higher point foods you’re eating, and how often, but don’t eliminate them entirely.
Author Tip: Keep serving sizes in mind when putting non-zero point foods on your plate. A big scoop of mashed potatoes might seem harmless, but a serving size is usually 4oz; that’s about half a cup, and that’s pretty tiny compared to what we instinctively grab! At UConn, there are cards above each food with the nutritional information, which includes serving size! Keeping track of how much you’re putting on your plate = keeping track of points!
4. Track Your Points, Even on Lazy Days
Oh boy, a toughie. It’s mid afternoon on a Sunday, you’re lounging around, and all you’ve eaten is a granola bar, a few grapes, and some eggs. Should be fine to leave your WW app closed, right? WRONG! Pick up that phone, missy! One day of forgetting to track or unintentionally tracking won’t hurt in the long run, but it could set you up to avoid tracking later on. We track our points so we know what we should be eating later, to balance out our earlier-in-the-day foods. If you don’t track, you won’t know what kind of foods you should be eating later on in the day, and you may go over your points without realizing it! Save yourself the worry of not knowing your point totals for the day, and track that granola bar. You’ll thank yourself later.
Author Tip: 0 point foods should be tracked just like any other food, however, I personally don’t track them when I know I’m having the right serving size (some 0 point foods can add up and become 1 point foods if you have a huge portion). I like to use the WW app just to tell me how many points I have left, and for me, 0 point foods don’t factor into my day. However, this is just my personal preference; if you’re just starting out, especially, I would keep track of everything, including those 0 point foods!
5. Use Your Calculator on School Foods
One of the hardest parts of going back to school while on a weight loss program is not being able to track your foods as easily due to lack of side-of-the-box nutrition info, barcodes, and other resources. If you have some of that dining hall chicken pot pie, how do you know how many points it’s worth? Luckily, that’s why we have the calculator on the WW app. Your school should have nutrition information for each day’s menu available somewhere online, which you can plug into your calculator to assign points to different foods. This may also help you put into perspective just how bad or good some school foods are for you! Putting school made foods into perspective in terms of their points value can help you eat healthier while limited to the dining hall and other food spots, while still keeping track of your eating habits and not losing sight of your goals!
Author Tip: At UConn, the Student Union sells some delicious mac n cheese. I used to get it all the time! However, a quick look at the calculator let me know that a large mac n cheese was 23 points, the same amount of points I’m given to eat per day! Of course, I don’t need to cut it out of my life entirely; that would honestly be devastating to me. But having it as a treat every once in a while, and giving myself time to plan a day of 0 point eating beforehand to accommodate for the high points value, is totally doable!
While I’m personally only in the beginning stages of my journey on WW Freestyle, I know any habits I make at any stage will impact how successful I am in the long run. No matter the setting, you too can hold yourself accountable and stay on track to a healthier life, even at college!