Here are 16 ways to proactively beat the freshmen 15 and create healthy habits:
1. Stay Active. This can mean anything from taking the stairs instead of the elevator, to walking to a local park to do homework, to parking at the far end of a parking lot. All of these little steps add up. The more active you are on a regular basis, the easier it will be for you to keep your metabolism and motivation up!
2. Snack Smart. Study snacks are inevitable, so make sure your grabbing for fruit, veggies, nuts, or other whole foods and not processed snacks like granola bars, chips, crackers, cookies, ramen, etc.
3. Walk to class. Okay, this one might sound silly, but the best way to make sure you’re staying active is to strap on a heavy backpack and walk around campus. You might even get to enjoy parts of campus you wouldn’t normally see if you drive.
4. Grab A Friend. Working out alone can be intimidating; it can also be easy slack off and cheat your workout. Bringing a friend not only makes it more fun and helps pass the time, but it keeps you accountable, too! Start a workout program with your bestie and help each other take progress pics, keep up with your good eating habits, and get you to the gym on those days when you just don’t want to go.
5. Get a Membership/ Join a Gym. if you’re ballin’ on a budget- use the gym on campus or go to a park near you. *Bonus points if you run or jog to the gym instead of driving. Double bonus points if you sign up with your BFF.*
6. Workout in the Mornings! I live by this one. When your day gets busy later in the day and homework/appointment pile up that you forgot you had. It’s nice to not have to stress about getting a workout in for the day and starting a whole cycle of stressing about not working out and then working out and feeling better until you stress about all of the other things you should have been doing. Avoid all that and set your alarm early! You’ll feel so wide away and confident all day long!
7. Have a Little Fun. Don’t be too strict with your self. Saying “I’m on a diet” or “I can’t eat pizza” is far more difficult to stick with than “I’m changing my lifestyle” or “I don’t eat pizza”. The (major) key to success here is not to be so hard on yourself. If a teacher brings doughnuts to class, you don’t have to hesitate to take one! It’s important to remember that portions matter, so as long as you’re indulging in small doses no drastic change of health is going to happen. One cookie won’t ruin your entire week’s worth of exercise!
8. Keep the *Drinks* to a Minimum. Okay okay, so telling you to not party and have a little fun would be crazy, so instead I offer you this: think about your drink. Stay away from mixed drinks and those super yummy batches of Jungle Juice- pro tip: if you think the drink is great because you “can’t even taste the alcohol” chances are it’s packed with sugar. Stick to shots or straight drinks with occasional mix-ins like tonic water. Try to avoid using sodas and juices as chaser and instead stick to Vitamin Water, Powerade Zero, etc.
9. Stay Hydrated. Drink 1 gallon of water a day. Do it.
10. Hack the HC. At first glance, the HC looks like a lot of greasy pizza, unidentifiable meats, and cereal. But if you really get creative, you can create super yummy Panini’s, omelets, breakfast sandwiches, salads and so much more! Use your imagination and always go for something that you make yourself so that you can control your portions. Finish one plate and if you’re still hungry go back and get something else, but don’t crowd your table with 9 bowls of Lucky Charms because mom never let you eat them at home. Go for fruit and whipped cream as dessert instead of soft serve and cookies.
11. Take a Nutrition Class for a Gen Ed Requirement. You’re paying for these classes already, you might as well take a class that teaches you how to live a healthy lifestyle and be more conscious of what you’re putting in your body. Nutrition classes are really interesting and usually offered at base levels, so don’t worry about getting into the biology of it all.
12. Take a Cooking Class/ Find a Free Community Info Session Near You! Several local stores offer a cooking class that makes for a very fun date night or even GNO. Organic grocers, like Natural Grocers, even offer free seminars in-store to teach you about healthy shopping habits and products that are at their peak season. Check out this website for more info on cooking classes, this one for info sessions, and this one for healthy recipes from Sprouts!
13. Set Goals! SMART goals are so beneficial and proven to work! Here’s an example:
S specific/significant: I want to live a healthier lifestyle and start making healthy habits to avoid the freshmen
M measurable/meaningful: I want to avoid gaining the freshmen 15 and maintain my weight of ___ +/- ___ lbs.
A achievable/action-oriented: I want to join a gym/ get a yoga membership.
R realistic/rewarding: I want to start working out 3 times a week.
T timely/tangible: By the end of 1st semester I want to be running __ miles every day.
14. Stick to Your List. When at the grocery store, it’s hard to avoid all of the sugary traps that are left out on display. Try to only shop around the outside edge of the store, that’s where the freshest food is kept. Make a list of the things you need, and stick to it! *This is a great opportunity to walk so that you don’t buy as much AND a great opportunity to grab a friend and keep each other on track!*
15. START TODAY! It’s way easier to prevent weight gain than it is to loose weight that you’ve already gained. don’t do what I did and wait until your jeans don’t fit and you have a mental breakdown in your dorm room all alone on a Wednesday morning before class. START NOW! Your bod will thank you!!
16. Stay Positive! Body’s are stubborn and feeling like you’ve made a fitness plateau is common. Push through it! Push through your 6 am alarm going off on Monday morning, telling you to go run 5 miles. The hardest part is getting to the gym, once you’re there it doesn’t feel like such a hassle anymore and your body will thank you, I promise. Learning to love your new lifestyle is so important. Your life is only as good as your mindset.