Alright y’all, having survived my freshman year of college (with seven extra pounds on my belt, literally) I thought it was about time I shed some light on the dreaded Freshman 15… You know, those extra 15 pounds that college freshmen supposedly gain during their first year?
It seemed to me that people were quick to throw out warnings about weight gain before I went to college — “Watch out for the Freshman 15!” or “Hmm I hope she manages to keep the weight off…” Even if they were just jokes, this stigma about gaining weight bothered me, and I began worrying about my figure before I even left for college. Not cool!
Nobody ever seemed to offer advice for how to actually be healthy in college, or, better yet, how to feel confident in your own skin, no matter the weight. That’s why I was inspired to write this post! College is such a fun and exciting time, and it’s far too busy for you to waste time stressing over if your booty or tummy is getting a little bigger. If you don’t believe me, at least listen to Meghan Trainor. Boys DO like a little booty to hold at night!
So without further ado, here are some common factors affecting weight gain, some solutions to help you make healthy choices instead, and the most important truth I learned about the Freshman 15 at the very end of today’s post.
Problem: One reason students are more likely to gain weight their first year at college is because they’re picky eaters and/or they’re not used to food other than their Momma’s (or dad’s) home cooking. As a result, they start eating fast food or food that is less healthy because they know they like it.
Solution: Always have healthy snacks in your dorm or frozen meals (like Amy’s Bowls, not frozen pizzas) in your mini fridge/freezer. That way when the cafeteria has nothing that looks good, you can eat one of those items instead of resulting to Chick-fil-A…again. Another option is to try cooking a little yourself if your floor or building has a communal kitchen. Services like Blue Apron are great for this to get you started and they provide all the necessary ingredients. I realize this can get expensive really fast, but it might be nice for the first few weeks or months of college while you adjust to the new environment. One surprising thing I learned my first year is that a lot of people actually lose weight instead of gain it — they’re so picky or hate the cafeteria food so much that they just stop eating altogether. This is the other end of the unhealthy spectrum!
Problem: Another big factor leading to weight gain your first year is homesickness. Being in a new environment with all new people can be really tough, especially late at night when you’re feeling lonely in your dorm room…and the ice cream a’comes a’calling.
Solution: I actually wrote a whole post about combatting homesickness back in the fall when I was feeling it full-force. You can check it out at the link below!
In terms of those late night ice cream cravings… You should just know that they add up quickly. I speak from experience. With that said, I’m a firm believer that everything is okay in moderation, so make sure to buy a single ice cream bar (my favorite are the frozen Snickers!) rather than a pint — that way it’s automatic portion control!
Problem: In college, you’re most likely going to stay up and out much later, which means naturally, you get hungry again by 10 o’clock!
Solution: Rather than reaching for a bag of M&Ms or potato chips, keep a healthy snack in your purse or backpack at all times. Of course granola bars are always a good choice, but if you’re not into that opt for something like Trail Mix instead. You get a healthy amount of salt and the yummy taste of a little chocolate! Another favorite snack of mine is prepopped popcorn (and no, I don’t mean super buttery popcorn or the fake cheese Smart Food popcorn, as good as those are). There are plenty of healthier popcorn options out there, which satisfy your cravings in very few calories. Plus, unlike chips, I feel like popcorn bags are always actually full!
Another tip is to try and eat dinner later in the day — around 6:30 or 7:00, if you can survive that long and if the cafeteria stays open. That way you’ll be less likely to get those late night cravings in the first place. This tip is really hard for me ’cause I love to eat right at 5:00, which means I’m hungry again by 8:30!
Problem: There’s no question that college is busy busy busy, between classes, clubs, social events, studying, etc. It makes it that much harder to find time or a buddy to exercise with, and it’s really easy (unfortunately) to let fitness fall by the wayside.
Solution: Schedule exercise into your planner like you would any other obligation. By giving it a strict time frame in your daily schedule, you’re much more likely to hold yourself accountable to actually doing it. Another way to exercise more is to find a free class to attend with a friend at your campus gym. For the same reason you want to schedule exercise time in your planner, classes have strict times and days to attend, forcing you to actually show up rather than say, “Eh, I’ll do it later…”
For more fitness tips, check out my post below:
And finally here’s the big truth I learned about the Freshman 15:
It’s okay if you gain it.
The fact of the matter is that starting college is a very exciting time in your life that comes with tons of big changes — new places, new faces, new experiences, new confidence and attitudes. It’s only natural for your body to change with it. Did my weight fluctuate a lot throughout the school year, especially around the winter months? Yes. Was it hard to see old pictures of myself when my face was thinner? At first, absolutely. But at college, you start to become a new person, and it’s alright if your body reflects that. Don’t beat yourself up, and please don’t starve yourself… Beauty does not correlate to a number on a scale, and nor should your freshman year be defined by 15 (or however many!) pounds.
I hope you enjoyed this post and found some confidence while reading it, whether you’re a recently graduated high school senior, or if you just finished your first year at college and are feeling down about yourself. There are so many more important things to care about at college than gaining 15 pounds! As long as you feel healthy, happy, and confident, then you’re golden.
Miles of smiles,