If I would’ve had a healthy college life hack, I wouldn’t have gained 30 pounds studying abroad. Thankfully for you, I’m here to teach you before you make my same mistakes. If you follow the three tips below, you can stick to a healthy college lifestyle and set yourself up for a healthier life after graduation.
The Freshman 15 is commonly referred to here in the States as the amount of weight you gain your first year of college. The weight gain comes from higher intakes of alcohol and increased fatty food, including fast food. If you’ve ever been in the college dining hall, you can attest with me how many food options you have in one sitting. With so many options, comes over eating.
College can also be more stressful than high school, because your future career is riding on how well you do (Or at least that’s the stress we put on ourselves in the moment. I was always so scared of getting a B in a class). In reality, it’s not that dire. But you may be studying or forced to pay attention more than when you were in high school. All of this can lead to weight gain too.
So if you don’t want to be a stereotype (Or show up in your hometown next year looking significantly different), then follow these three steps to live a healthy college lifestyle:
1. Limit Your Intake
It can be tempting to want to grab multiple things from the line in the food court. Or to eat the entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s after you ate an entire Tombstone pizza. Don’t! Overeating can stretch out your stomach muscles, which can lead to needing to eat more in life.
The above graph shows you what a balance plate should be like when you go up for dinner (I included a bit of dessert, because, well, I love dessert. And need to eat it at least once). Here are some easy to follow rules:
- Only go up once to fill your plate
- Try to eat at least 1 serving of vegetables/fruit per meal
- Only eat from the dessert line once a day
This also applies to alcohol. I know it’s sort of a rite of passage to drink excessively, but try to limit it to the weekends, or don’t eat after bar close, to limit caloric intake (No matter how good pizza tastes at 2AM).
2. Take Time to Relax
With exams, projects, and major tests coming at you from all classes, it can be very stressful. You might feel overwhelmed and as if you're drowning in work (I had 3 color coded planners in college to keep my assignments straight). With all of this going on, you will need to take time to relax and destress. Here are a few tips to help you get outside:
- Study or read on your campus lawn.
- Go for a long walk around campus.
- Stop to have coffee and small talk with a friend.
When you pull yourself out of the situation to let your mind calm, you can go back to your project more refreshed. It's also helpful to not wait until the last minute (Number 1 person who works under pressure over here, because I'm the queen of procrastination. But it does add unnecessary stress).
3. Get Moving
Everyone knows that maintaining a healthy weight is through a balanced diet mixed with exercise (But we all keep hoping that exercise part wasn't a factor). Even if you are still going to drink at parties, eat at the late night drive-thru, and try everything in the food court, you can still help yourself by finding small ways to exercise. Here are a few easy suggestions to help you stay active:
- Join an Intramural League
- Use the Free Gym Membership
- Go to a Fitness Class
- Join a Dance Club
- Skip Taking the Bus
- Take the Stairs
- Take the Long Way to Class
- Walk to the Bar. Don't Uber
College can be the most fun time you will have in the beginning of your adult life. Just be sure that you stay healthy through it. Thirty year old you will thank you for that (Heck! Even 23 year old you will be grateful!).