May 17, 2010
Summer is just around the corner. And many of you who have just gotten out of classes may be glancing at your waistline and hips with a bit of concern. So in today's post, Sarah Harris of Zen College Life gives her real world example of how she beat the freshman fifteen.
“If you’re like me, an avid food-lover, chances are you’ve faced some of the same struggles, most notably where weight is concerned. As a chubby child I put up with a lot of teasing from my classmates, so by the age of eighteen I had gotten involved in an exercise routine (thank god for personal trainers) and managed to get myself down to a svelte size six (boy, did I work hard for that one!). I was feeling and looking better than ever, so it was with some trepidation that I set off for college on the opposite coast, leaving friends and family behind to begin the journey towards getting my degree, and facing the dreaded freshman fifteen.
Now, if you’ve ever been out of your element, you know how easy it is to fall back into bad habits, and that’s exactly what happened to me. With a different schedule (classes, homework, all-important social events) and a total lack of parental prodding, I quickly gave up on my daily exercise routine and began to go for the quick fix in the food arena (as it turns out, Pop Tarts are not a college student’s best friend). And all the weight I had worked so hard to lose came back full force, and brought along a few of its friends. By the end of my first year, I was the heaviest I had ever been. It never ceases to amaze me how long it takes to lose a pound and how quickly it comes back. I was able to ignore it until I went home for the summer. Then my mom, god bless her, greeted me with such a look of horror that I was unable to avoid the truth any longer. I knew I had to make a change.
I started going to the gym and with my mom making healthy meals, I was able to get back into my old routine pretty quickly. I even saw significant weight loss and firming in the first month as my body sprang back into shape with a vengeance. But as the date of my return to school drew closer, I began to panic. How could I possibly keep this up while living in the dorms? At least I had a kitchen at home. At school I had a mini-fridge, a microwave, and the cafeteria…ugh. So I started searching online and talking to friends and I came up with a few tips that really helped.
- Keep a food journal. I had never done this before, but it really allowed me to stay aware of what I was eating and how much. Plus, it wasn’t hard to keep the notebook on hand when I took my backpack with me everywhere. I soon realized that my penchant for snacking was undermining any other healthy steps I might have taken during the day.
- Look for vegetarian options. I didn’t even realize that most cafeterias offer vegetarian food, which can be much better for you (and sometimes better tasting).
- Stay stocked up on healthy snacks. When the cafeteria is closed and you’re pulling an all-nighter, it’s tempting to go for fast food or the vending machine in the hall. But low-cal microwave dinners and fresh fruits and vegetables are a much better option, so have them on hand.
- Avoid stress-eating. This one was a killer for me. But I found that taking the time to pre-pack healthy items into single servings saved the day more than once. It really stopped me from going overboard when I was feeling the pressure of an upcoming exam.
- Exercise with a friend. You’re not the only one facing the freshman fifteen, so grab your roommate and take a jog or a bike ride around campus a few times a week. You’ll push each other to work harder and it’s just more fun to do it with a friend.
In the long run, I found that it was not that hard to stay healthy while living on campus, once I had a plan in place. The most difficult aspect was being dedicated, day in and day out, to keeping up with diet and exercise, but over time, I settled into a routine and it became second nature. Sure, there were times when I slipped up, but each setback made me more determined than ever to succeed, and today I continue to enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle even though the freshman fifteen are far behind me.”
Thanks for the tips, Sarah! Do you have tips or comments of your own about losing weight after a busy semester of classes? Just leave them below, and if you have a college student who you know would benefit from this information, send it their way!
And how about that bonus video on butt exercises and butt toning with Ben's butt workout? Check it out!
(I use a Gymstick in exercise #2 of this video. Get one here.)