By now, you’ve probably heard about the infamous Freshman 15 where, legend says, on their first year of school, students will gain around 15 pounds. Moving from your parents’ house where you have real wholesome meals cooked for you at all times to a place where you sometimes (okay fine, most of the time) have to live on frozen pizza and ramen noodles can take a toll on your health. However, you don’t have to fall for the idea that going to college (and more specifically, college in America) will make you get unhealthy.
Plan your meals. Whether you have a meal plan with the school cafeteria or you’re off-campus and have a full kitchen, planning what you will eat ahead of time will keep you from being tempted to eat unhealthy foods out of hunger and desperation. Know your schedule and when your breaks will happen. Do you have classes until 10am and then a 15min break until your next class? Don’t forget to bring a healthy snack. That way, by your next break at noon you will be ready for lunch but not so hungry that you will fall for Italian day at the cafeteria. If you don’t have a meal plan at school, pack your lunch. This doesn’t have to be overly complicated. If you have a Trader Joe’s in your neighborhood, they have the best frozen and microwavable foods. Plus, done right, a sandwich can actually be really good for you.
Make smart choices. You don’t have to eat salads for every meal to be healthy but eating lots of veggies is very good for you. If you must eat a slice of pizza, make sure you balance it out with a side salad. And for snacks, stay away from processed foods and sugars – instead of giving you more energy, they will make you groggy and make it hard to focus in class. Go for a piece of fruit and a protein bar instead.
Take advantage of the school gym and fitness classes. Most campuses have free gyms available almost 24/7 for students. Take advantage of the equipment or the group fitness classes if those are available. If you’re a morning person, go before class. Most schools have a locker room where you can shower so there are no excuses. If you can’t make it to the gym before your 8am class, bring a change of clothes and go after. If you live on campus and the gym is literally a 5min walk away, you have zero excuses. Struggling to stay motivated? Get an accountability buddy! Getting in shape is so much more fun with a little competition.
Make exercise a social activity. If you live in an outdoorsy city with lots of parks – take advantage of them! Get a group of friends together and go for a hike. You live in the middle of a city? Grab one of those bikes you can rent and have a fun outing with your crew. Saturday brunch is so much more rewarding after burning some calories!
Staying healthy is not rocket science. It just involves a little bit of preparation and some dedication. You can do this!