The Sorority Forty: What Is It and How Do You Combat It?

Even if you haven’t been in a college environment, you have probably heard of the freshman fifteen. The horror stories of gaining weight the second you step on campus as a new student has carried on throughout generations. A new study performed by researchers at Auburn University in Alabama found that about 70% of college students gained weight by their graduation date. This weight gain has been attributed to the lack of eating structure most have at home, late night dining, constant food availability, and fewer options for healthier, cheap foods.

As someone who tends to gain weight easily and loses it only with a consistently healthy diet and hardcore exercise, this statistic terrified me as I began college. I came to school prepared to gain the freshman fifteen, but no one had told me of the sorority forty. The sorority forty is less spoken about but feels even more realistic if you are in the Greek system. Since most Greek houses come with a chef, there is a consistent food supply being provided to everyone at specific meal times. These strict times determine the amount you are eating because if you know there will not be food available after 1:40 until dinner at 6, you may choose to eat more than necessary for your body. While there are healthier options provided in most Greek houses, the late night eating combats it. After a night out, nothing sounds better than a greasy pizza and you may splurge, which is not a bad thing for you body if it is in moderation, but when it comes a regular three times a week event, weight gain can occur easily. Now, gaining 40 pounds just because you are in Greek life is a pretty unusual occurrence, just like actually gaining 15 pounds your freshman year is. In reality, the average student gains about 2.5 to 3.5 pounds in their freshman year, according to a study from Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. However, while you will most likely not gain 15 or 40 pounds in your freshman year, or even all of college, it is still important to understand how to keep your body healthy throughout college.

 

 

One trick I have picked up so far in school is keeping long lasting and healthier snacks around. Snacks like unsalted nuts, banana chips, and low sugar protein bars are non-perishable and help keep your energy high. For the fridge (if available to you), watermelon, string cheese, Greek yogurt, and mini bell peppers are easy to grab and are light on the calories. While all of these snacks are great options, for me I tend to reach for sweets for a late night snack. After my first few nights coming home, I went straight for the ice cream, but a quick switch to Halo Top® allowed for me to continue getting my sweets fix, while also getting some protein and staying pretty low on calories after my meals of the day.  

 

 

Another way to help combat the college weight gain is exercise, one of the hardest things for me to be consistent with. For me, it wasn’t actually finding the time in my schedule to work out, it was getting motivated to do it. Luckily, I have some amazing friends to work out with, but when we can’t find the time to workout together, I try and go to a workout class. I’m not the type of person to go to the gym and force myself to work hard, so going to a workout class and actually have an instructor adjust and watch me truly helps me. Plenty of different workout places offer a free trial week and student discounts, so hopping around to a new workout class in between exercising with friends has been a lifesaver for me and I recommend giving it a try.

 

 

Additionally, staying relaxed and drinking water are two of the most important ways you can stay healthy and keep your body weight regulated. As I’ve begun school, I have noticed I drink a lot less water than I did at home and now I have to make that extra mental effort to remind myself to keep drinking throughout the day. As I have done this, I have noticed drinking lots of water is getting more normal again and not only is it helping my weight, but its helping me feel more energized in class. Staying relaxed and keeping stress low is incredibly hard when you are a full-time student but taking the time to give yourself a much needed break from everything that is causing stress in your life is necessary. At UW, I choose to go to meditative yoga to relax and regroup, which is offered at the IMA, but most universities across the country offer these types of classes. Giving your body that hour of breathing and serenity can help you stay on your mental game and sleep better.

Lastly, let yourself live! It is normal for your body to change during this transition period and as long as you are keeping your body fueled the best way you can, you will stay mentally and physically healthy. Don’t obsess or overthink, just treat yourself well!