Preventing the Freshman 15

Freshman 15

Psst! Hey you. Have you heard about the..... FRESHMAN FIFTEEN. Da, da, dum.

The dreaded “Freshman 15” is the expression given to the general belief that the majority of students new to the college scene gain at least 15 pounds their first year. This is a relatively controversial topic with one side protesting that this is a myth and the other end crying out that this is the truth. So which is it? Fact or fiction?

According to a 2015 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, as much as two-thirds of college students do in fact put on weight their freshman year. Furthermore, these students gain weight at a faster rate than the average person does.

The blame to this phenomenon has fallen on the fact that students living for the first time on their own, without parental supervision, makes it easy to form unhealthy eating habits. Others blame mass-produced, fatty cafeteria food. Another segment places the fault on the intense school work load that limits students’ time to exercise. Whatever the reason, preventative actions are always the best place to start. Here is a list of five simple lifestyle choices you can make to ensure you do not join the Freshman 15 Club.

1.) Do not buy (and eat) junk food in bulk.

Note that we did not say any junk food at all. We get it. Oreos, Lays, Cheetos, Ben and Jerry’s, and Kit Kats make for some tasty snacks. They are affordable and convenient and fill our stomachs. However, moderation is the key. It might seem simple, but it is important to only consume a single pack of chips or a handful of cookies at a sitting. The temptation with snacks in bulk or family size is that once you start eating, you keep on going and end up consuming unnecessary saturated fat. Think of buying in smaller quantities as a form of portion control.

2.) Skip the soda/pop.

For a healthy and balanced diet, an average person should consume around 2,000 calories a day. A can of carbonated drink has roughly 150 calories; that’s 7.5 percent of your daily allotted calorie intake from a single can! And that’s just the calories. Harmful chemicals and sugar stew in that small can of danger. Besides, your dentist probably has told you that sodas are the chainsaws to your teeth. Stay safe and skip the soda.

3.) Drink water… lots of it.

Can you guess how many calories a bottle of water has? Zero. As we established above, a can of soda has around 150 calories. No matter how many gallons of water you drink, it will never match up to the calories you accumulate from one can. Water is a filler, so instead of munching on junk food, try drinking water. As if you have never heard it from your parents or teachers, let us reiterate the fact that water cleanses your body of wastes, including your skin. In other words, water helps with zit control.

4.) Use your feet.

You might have a fancy ride, or you might just hate the heat/cold, either way, skip the sitting and do the walking. The beauty of Southern is that it is compact, and the Promenade connects all the major departments. It will take you only about 10 minutes to get from one opposite end of campus to another. Boom, that’s 25 calories burned. Add to that number by using the stairs instead of elevators, and you are winning.

5.) Exercise.

Useful as it is, walking to and from your classes are not enough. Setting a special time to burn calories and strengthen your muscles intentionally is imperative for healthy living. Make exercising a habit. Go to Southern’s expansive Hulsey Wellness Center to run, weight-train, swim, rock-climb, etc. As a student, you get free membership. Why not take advantage of that? (If you need a guide to planning out your workout on campus, check out Stephen's blog here.)

The bottom line is that you do not have to be afraid of the Freshman 15. It is your life, your body. Take charge and prove to your future kids that their parent was healthy and fit throughout their college years.

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Shaina Rantung Story by Shaina Rantung Published: Last Edited:

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