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How to avoid the ‘Freshman 15′

Alexandra Davies | posted Tuesday, Sep 2nd, 2014

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The rumours are true—the dreaded “Freshman 15” really does exist. For those unaware, the Freshman 15 is a nickname for the extra weight students typically gain in their first year — and we won’t lie, it is difficult to avoid. Myself? Well, I managed to gain my Freshman 15 thanks to copious amounts of Mini Eggs and the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies served all day every day. Who would pass that up!?

As you take your first steps into residence, your home-cooked hearty meals turn into mere memories. Your new life is composed of ready-made crispy homefries, a make-your-own sandwich bar conveniently open ’til the wee hours of the morning, and all the bulk candy your stomach can hold. Why would anyone choose a boring ol’ salad when Thursday is Pizza Day? To make things worse, students are typically set up with a meal plan that is pre-paid — so it really looks like you are getting all this glorious food for no money at all. Why hello, heaven!

I clearly fell into this trap and I know how hard it is to work off. To help out all the soon-to-be university students looking to dodge their own Freshman 15, I have composed a list of a few helpful hints to keep you on track, focused, and ready to enjoy a happy and healthy year.

Take Advantage of the Campus Gym
Odds are your campus will have a recreation centre of some kind. If you have the option for a membership, seriously consider getting one. Not only will you have full access to their fitness equipment, the price of the membership will motivate you to get your money’s worth. If your tuition covers a full membership, that is even better. Don’t let your money go to waste — take advantage of all the cardio classes and weight machines that you can get your hands on! Busy schedule? Excuses, excuses! In between your classes swing by the gym for a 30-minute cardio boost. You’ll be in and out well before Psychology starts.

Buddy Up
Committing to hit the gym yourself is hard, especially if you’re like me and “promise” to break a sweat after a couple episodes of Orange Is the New Black. But let’s get real — that never ends up happening. If you make plans with a friend to tackle a group fitness class, you’ll feel obligated to go. Bonus points: Take this same friend to the cafeteria where you can influence each other to choose healthier meals. You will be surprised at what can come from making your health a team effort.

Plan Your Meals Ahead
I know this sounds like a bore and very time consuming, but it will be worth it. Studies show that if you record what you eat in a journal, your odds of losing weight will increase. Planning out your meals ahead of time forces you to think about your calorie intake and can influence healthier choices while you scope out your dinner. Big lunch? Instead of selecting the chicken parmesan for dinner, opt for a salad with chickpeas, a little feta cheese, and your favourite veggies! There is always a healthy alternative that tastes good and is good for you.

Educate Yourself
What is the proper amount of calories for my age and height? I had no idea when I first stepped into my residence cafeteria. Without help from my parents, who usually took care of my nutrition, all I saw were the juicy hamburgers and omelettes bigger than my head. Educating yourself on healthy options and how much protein, carbohydrates, etc, you should be having per day is crucial for keeping control of your meals. Becoming aware of your body and what is good for it can significantly help to keep off the pounds. Most cafeterias will post Canada’s Food Guide on their walls, but if they don’t, you can find it here.

Final Thoughts
The most important note to take from this is to use common sense and make smart food choices as often as possible. A proper combination of exercise and healthy eating can save you from that first-year weight gain worry.

Do you have any anti-’Freshman 15′ tips and tricks of your own? Let us know in the comments below!

For more back-to-school content from Cityline, click here.

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