On May 1, 2013, almost every high school senior in America put down a deposit to their future home for the next four (hopefully only four) years. Universities and colleges across the nation, welcomed their new students with open arms by reaching out through email, facebook, twitter or good old snail mail. Now it was time for the details and the million questions now that the student has made a decision. “Who would I room with? How do I find my roommate? What type of dorm do I want? Living on campus or commuting? What meal plan do I choose?” and many more. Then the crazy thoughts enter their minds. “What if I room with a crazy kid? What if I actually don’t like it? What if I can’t make friends? What about Freshman 15?” Well I can’t promise you that your roommate and you will be best friends, and I can’t promise you a perfect college experience, but one thing I can help you with is the dreaded “Freshman 15”.
What is it? Basically, its a theory that states that due to many factors within your first year of college that you, yes you, will infact gain possibly 15 pounds. 15 POUNDS? Yes its crazy to think about but consider these factors. Eating all you can eat in your commons, not working out as much, lack of playing a sport, late night pizza & chinese runs, parties, not sleeping,and not drinking enough water. All these factor can lead to weight gain. Now I am not sitting here saying if you don’t party or if don’t get pizza and chinese that you will infact not gain weight. If only it could be that easy. Many have made it the goal to not gain any weight or even to instead lose weight. I say go for it, if thats your goal there is no stopping you just be healthy about it. I am going to point out different way to approach your freshman year that way you don’t need to worry about the dreaded 15.
Most Universities will ask for the meal plan deposit once you have applied for housing and that is when you need to think about the following question. What will work best with my eating habits? You may think its a silly question, but consider this, if you eat several small meals a day, then why would you get the plan that counts how many times you go in and out of the commons. You can even look at this the opposite way. If you rarely go and eat full on meals, then why pay for a full on buffett? You need to look at yourself and see what will work with you the best. If your school has one general meal plan, congrats that whole debate is not even needed!
Several studies have been done to see if the Freshman 15 is truly possible. A few professors at Northeastern University a few years ago did a study to compare female students and male students with the freshman 15. After looking at 125 random students, at the end of the first year male students gained an average of 3.7 pounds and female students gained an average of 1.7. However, 5% of the students in the study did gain 15 or more pounds in the first year! So see, it is possible, but is it highly possibly. Probably not. To reassure you of that I provided a few tips for how to not gain it.
Number 1: Look at what you are eating- Yes, that does sound ridiculous, but think about it. If you get pizza, burgers, and ice cream all the time, then obviously there will be weight gain. Instead of piling on calories that way, grab a salad, fruit, and water. Mix up the food that you eat during the week. Don’t always go for the “easiest thing to grab” try to grab a balanced meal. Its okay to eat the foods that you love, just know how to moderately eat them. So apologize to the craving you have for that really good looking bacon burger and grab a sandwich with an apple instead.
Number 2: Helping size- Every time you walk into the places you eat food on campus, you will probably have to get a tray. It is natural for us to want to fill the entire try, but not so fast, don’t do that! Filling the whole tray may lead to getting to overeating at that meal or wasting away food! Also, fighting the craving for seconds. Your body got the fuel it needs to last till your next meal, your stomach is just being greedy.
Number 3: Drinks on drinks on drinks- In college, the drinking community is a lot larger than in high school for one major reason. Kids that are legal are living and going to school with you. It is easier to get a hand on it. Many people, especially girls, won’t eat much during the day if they know that they will be drinking that night, little do they know that they are actually leading the body onto added more weight. The calories that you get from beer and other drinks are “empty calories” they just go in your body and that is about it. Look at it this way, a solo cup can hold about 16oz. Most drinks are based at 12oz, so right off the bat you are actually having more calories than you think you are. This chart here shows a few different drink options and just about how many calories come with it.
Alcoholic Drink Calories
Beer, light, 12oz 100
Beer, reg, 12oz 150
Frozen daiquiri, 4oz 216
Gin, 1.5oz 110
Mai Tai, 4oz 310
Margarita, 4oz 270
Rum, 1.5oz 96
Vodka, 1.5oz 96
Whiskey, 1.5oz 105
Wine Spritzer, 4oz 49
Wine(sweet/dessert), 4oz 180
Now by not touching alcohol does not mean that the pounds won’t add on, but not having it constantly or by just having a drink here or there and not binge drinking, you can save on the calories!
Number 4: Take a timeout!- So many kids talk about the daily stress in their lives and we shouldn’t even bring up finals week because we know that is 24/7 stress mode. However, take a breather! It can help prevent the weight gain! Pull an all nighter? Try to get that sleep back! The lack of sleep can cause your body’s weight to fluctuate. Now that doesn’t mean that you can never pull one, just don’t do them on a weekly occurrence. Another way to de-stress the body is to do some yoga. By doing yoga you have to relax the body, focus on breathing, and really slow down your system. This allows your body to take a second to calm down, and as a bonus its getting a good workout in! Speaking of workout, just being able to go on a run or go to the gym and lift can allow you to relieve different amounts of stress.
Number 5: Buy a scale!- I know its annoying to do, but keeping track of how much you weigh can really help! You can set goals for yourself with your weight. Dieting, trying to gain, or just trying to be healthy having the scale in your dorm can help with it! It’s a daily reminder of your goal, something that you can’t ignore. During our freshman year at college, many kids get into bad eating habits and obviously the weight gain is the repercussion of the not so healthy food choices. Having the scale will help you stay on top of it all.
Freshman year all and all is an amazing experience and you learn a lot about yourself. You branch out and meet new people, you learn your limits and you being to find what you are truly passionate about. With all of these things you will experience the stress, the all nighters, the parties, the sporting events and college life. Freshman 15 or as our friends in Australia call it “First Year Fatties” (Thank you for giving me a title for this article mates!), is most likely going to happen. Don’t freak out and worry that you will be part of that 5% that does infact gain 15 or plus pounds. Sometimes the weight gain is healthy. A few pounds here and there aren’t going to kill you. If you are an athlete or if you are a gym rat and you notice that you “gain weight”, well yes you did, but pure muscle weight. Muscle weighs more than fat ladies and gents. As I said before, freshman year is an experience. Enjoy it.