Avoiding the freshman fifteen

Jack Wiessenberger – Sports and Fitness Editor

Being a First-year in college comes with a variety of unique challenges. Getting through classes, finding a group of friends, and handling any number of extracurriculars often weigh heavy on the minds of First-year students. With all of these tasks to take care of, students often neglect their physical health. The ‘freshman fifteen’ is a common term for any unwanted weight gain that many new college students experience during their first year on campus. The good news is that this is avoidable. Simple things like staying active and eating right will keep you on track to be your happiest and healthiest self.

College students, undeniably, adopt habits that may not be the healthiest. Overeating and sedentary lifestyles can be commonly found on any college campus. All of these things and more contribute to the unwanted gain in weight many students see in their first semester of college. Many people might see the “freshman fifteen”, or becoming less healthy in any way, as a fact of life and simply accept that they will adopt an unhealthy lifestyle when they begin college. But it doesn’t have to be this way if you don’t want it to be – healthy lifestyles can be easily adopted in college if you know what to do and are willing to stay dedicated. The two things you have to focus on are what you are doing and what you are eating.

The first thing you need to know in order to stay healthy is that being a couch (or futon) potato will not help your cause. Getting out of your dorm and being physically active is one simple way to stay fit. Gustavus, like just about any college, has a gym for students to utilize. While Lund Center is currently under construction, it’s doors remain open for those looking to get a lift in, run on the treadmill or take a few laps around the track.

Cardio is a great way to burn some calories and stave off the buildup of fat, but if treadmills aren’t your thing there are plenty of other ways to get your heart rate up. The Linnaeus Arboretum, with its many paths and fields, offers space for activities like ultimate frisbee, hiking, trail running or a game of catch. Any of these options are guaranteed to get your body moving. However, staying active is just one part of staying healthy. Eating right and finding a caloric balance is the second and arguably more difficult part.

If you want to maintain your weight, you have to tailor your diet to fit that desire. This requires you to match how many calories you burn throughout the day with how many calories you consume in the form of food. Sticking to a diet is tough, and is often one of the reasons many people fail to achieve their fitness goals. College is full of temptations in the form of easy access to junk food. A diet doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from eating sugary foods, but it does mean you have to enjoy those vices in moderation.

There are a number of ways to help you stick to your diet. Fitness applications allow you to easily track how much and what you are eating. Apps like Macros give you caloric info as well as the macronutrient (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) details of the food you eat.

Many people find greater success in dieting when they do it with a partner. Finding a diet buddy is a great way to keep yourself and a like-minded friend in check. Gustavus also has a registered dietitian, Jen Donkin, that is available to help students looking to find a nutrition plan that works for them.

College is a busy time in a person’s life. It is all too easy to get caught up in the fast life and lose track of physical health, but it remains important nonetheless. The ‘freshman fifteen’ and losing track of your health in college is real, but it doesn’t have to be. Staying physically active and eating well is the key to avoiding the ‘freshman fifteen’.

The first step in adopting a healthier lifestyle is understanding what you need to do. The second step is formulating a plan of action and sticking to it. If a First-year student is able to do this, they will overcome the dreaded freshman fifteen and put themselves in a better state of physical health.

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