You might have heard of the “Freshman 15” syndrome. Most people are known to experience it during the first year of their college. Are you prepared for it?
What is the “Freshman 15” Syndrome?
Most people are observed to gain about fifteen pounds of weight during the first year of their college education owing to their eating habits. It may occur due to the sudden exposure to buffet-styled meals or the personal choice of trying out different junk and fattening cuisines. Nevertheless, the freshman 15 is one of the most dreaded aspects of getting into college.
Some people may experience an advanced version of “Freshman 15” – characterized by gaining more than fifteen pounds of weight. At this stage, the need to employ an effective remedy is highly stressed. On the other hand, those experiencing the lower side of this syndrome – gaining less than fifteen pounds of weight – are at a risk to progress to the advanced level unless an effective counter strategy is employed!
Why “Freshman 15”?
Different colleges have different meal options. Some may offer buffet-styled meals with multiple choices and virtually an endless reserve of food. This promotes binge eating on a frequent basis. You may overeat while making an attempt to try all delicacies – the combined effect of which is seen as fifteen pounds at the end of the year!
Another reason for this weight gain could be the nonexistence of a personal kitchen and/or caretaker. Since you cannot prepare your own food, you are left with no option but to depend on foods prepared by restaurants and/or other food outlets. The foods produced at such places are more often junk containing an alarmingly high amount of unnecessary fats and devoid of other important nutrients. Consequently, when you consume such foods, you tend to end up with fifteen additional pounds of weight you never volunteered for!
Battling the “Freshman 15” Syndrome!
There are a number of ways you can keep your diet under control and ensure you are getting the right foods in the right quantities. However, this usually requires you to make an additional effort. Unless you are willing to go out of your way in order to eat healthy, there is nothing in the world that can help you avoid the fifteen (or maybe twenty) pounds of additional weight!
Here are a few ideas to help you maintain your health while on campus.
- Analyze your food options critically: You need to bring out the detective in you and analyze everything that you consume. Evaluate whether it is good for your health or not before putting it in your mouth. Only then will you be able to avoid unhealthy options.
- Regularize your meal times: Make sure you consume a healthy breakfast before entering your classes. Also, keep a specific time for your lunch and dinner. This will help you in battling hunger and therefore bad food choices.
- Research: Conduct your own research on what is good for your health and what is not. If there is something falling in the shady area between health and illness, login to your computer and search about its nutritional value. You can do so for all foods that you consume. You will automatically find out which foods you should avoid and which ones contribute towards your health!
- Seek Help! Most colleges have nutrition centers and nutritional experts that can help you regulate your food intake. Do not hesitate to approach them if you find yourself indecisive about your food choices. With their effort and your own dedication, you will be able to get your life onto a nutritious track. So you can keep off the weight and enjoy a fulfilling tenure on campus!
Stress, a poor diet, and partying are common to many students’ lifestyles. However, they are not conducive to good health. College-bound students leaving home for the first time are faced with making their own decisions about many things that affect their well-being. Here are some health tips to consider.
1. Eat a Balanced Diet
It should come as no surprise that eating right is at the top of the list of healthy behaviors. The adage “you are what you eat” is true. Your physical and mental resiliency depend upon your body receiving adequate nutrition.
Consuming foods with large amounts of sugar, salt, and saturated fats can compromise your immune system and lead to illness. It also can sap the energy you need to meet all your responsibilities. Your body requires nourishment to deal with the stresses of college life. Eating poorly can lead to obesity, sickness, fatigue, anxiety, and other undesirable conditions.
Most colleges and universities do not allow students to cook food in the dorms. However, you can keep your room stocked with snacks like fruit and nuts. This might help curb the temptation to order pizza or get fast food when you feel hungry.
Make good choices in the school’s cafeteria or dining hall. You have heard it a million times: Eat a balanced diet. That includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein. Make sure you have something from each food group every day. Ideally, the volume of vegetables in your diet should exceed that of meat.
This does not mean you have to survive on tofu and leafy vegetables, though you might be surprised by what you can do with such ingredients. Inevitably, you will eat some pizza, burgers, and fried bar snacks. These foods are linked to opportunities to make friends and socialize, which are important elements of the college experience. Practice moderation when enjoying junk food.
Be creative and find ways to eat your favorite foods in more healthy ways. Order whole-wheat tortillas and pizza crusts when they are available. Include vegetables in your pizza ingredients. Ask for low-fat white, rather than yellow, cheese; and choose chicken instead of beef or pork. Opt for baked, rather than fried, food.
Breakfast is important. You need an energy boost after many hours of not giving your body any fuel. Eat a bowl of healthy cereal or granola, or at least grab some fruit (and perhaps a whole-grain bagel) on the way out the door.
Drink water frequently, even if you are not thirsty. You may find that you feel better and eat less. Take it easy on the caffeine. While a little of this stimulant can be beneficial, consuming too much is counterproductive and potentially dangerous. The same is true of sodas and other beverages containing large amounts of sugar.
Your body needs a variety of nutrients, so don’t eat exactly the same foods every day. If you are trying to lose weight, be mindful of portion sizes but eat plenty of veggies and get enough protein. Never go on a crash diet. The weight you lose will probably return soon, and in the meantime you will have compromised your health.
There are some other ways to ward off illness, boost energy, and stay in shape. One of the best methods is getting some exercise every day. Walking from your room to classes is not enough. Take longer walks, jog, ride a bicycle, go to a gym, or play a sport.
Between studying and socializing, you may not think you have time to exercise. All it takes is about 20 minutes every day, which is not that hard to fit into your schedule.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Many people do not appreciate the importance of sleep. You need to get at least seven hours of sleep per day. If you don’t, it will be harder to stay alert and focus on your studies.
Sleep deprivation may cause fatigue, headaches, and depression. Your relationships, as well as your grades, could suffer. If you are not getting enough sleep at night, try to take an afternoon nap. Avoid caffeine and sugar for at least a few hours before going to bed.
4. Take Precautions
College classes are in session during the winter, when the most illnesses occur. As a student, you are in close contact with numerous people. It is crucial to protect yourself from viruses and other infectious diseases.
Wash your hands often, especially after touching door knobs and other objects with which many people come in contact. This will keep you from catching most contagions. Get a flu shot, or choose an herbal alternative, to keep yourself from catching a bug. Obtain appropriate vaccinations. Take Vitamin C and antioxidants.
5. Cope with Stress
College life is stressful. Living away from home, dealing with new people, is hard enough. Studying and taking tests create additional anxiety. The college life challenges your mental, as well as physical, health.
Diet, exercise, and sleep are critical to managing stress. Take breaks when you feel overwhelmed. Switch from studying to playing a game or watching a video. Gain some perspective and relax. Spend some time outdoors every day. Find balance by connecting with nature.
Compartmentalize the things that cause you stress. Figure out what you need to do, a step at a time. Set priorities and short-term, attainable goals. Try to transcend the anxiety and look at things logically. Remember that your fellow students are having the same problems. Share your feelings with them, as well as with other friends and family members. Try meditation, yoga, or a hobby. Do not hesitate to speak with a counselor.
6. Avoid Risky Behaviors
Many college-bound students are excited about their new experience for the wrong reasons. They may be looking forward to partying and having sex. They are at an age when experimentation is normal, but it is vital to know how to stay safe.
Parties featuring beer or liquor are common on, or near, most campuses. You are likely to find yourself at such a party. If you are of legal age and choose to drink, know your limit to ensure that you remain aware and in control. Have a designated driver.
Illegal drugs also may be available. The obvious advice is to refrain from taking them. If you do decide to experiment, understand the effects of the drugs and the risks involved. Remember that what you are doing is against the law, and may result in bad decisions and unwanted consequences.
Another part of the college experience is dating. Some students meet their life-long partners in school. It is easier to find people with common interests in college than it was in high school. Students who make the decision to have sex should use protection, get tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases, and go to doctors for exams and vaccinations.
7. Other Tips
If you smoke tobacco, figure out a way to quit. Your performance in school, as well as your health, may benefit from doing so. Find healthy alternatives to nicotine to provide the stimulation you crave.
Support your feet by wearing good shoes rather than sandals. You are likely to be doing a lot of walking, going to classes and moving around campus. Do not let aching or injured feet slow you down.
Give your back a break by minimizing the weight of your backpack. You don’t have to carry all your books, all the time. Do some stretching before heading out on a long walk or beginning your daily exercise regimen.
Communicate your needs to roommates. Coordinate times for studying and sleeping. Maintaining good relations with your roomies also enhances your mental health.
Resist excessive tanning because of the risk of getting skin cancer. If you do lay out, use sunscreen. Daily applications of aloe vera or other moisturizer help prevent skin from burning or getting too dry.
These tips can help you maintain mental and physical health during your college years. By eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, and managing stress, you get the most out of the experience. Your relationships and grades will benefit.
Regular physical activity is one of the keys to staying healthy. Exercise is especially important for college students, who are often under a lot of pressure academically and socially.
To get the most out of exercising, it is necessary to elevate your heart rate and sustain it for at least 20 minutes. Activities that accomplish this goal are considered cardio workouts. They have been proven to relieve stress, as well as anxiety and other symptoms of depression. You might achieve greater confidence and emotional balance.
Cardio also aids efforts to lose weight and become more fit. These are goals shared by many college students, who typically eat a fair amount of junk food and perhaps drink a few beers. Cardio workouts can make you more resilient to illness, disease, and injury. Regular, intense exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Another benefit is growing muscles without adding fat. Increased strength and agility have been attributed to cardio. It is an effective way to keep cholesterol and triglyceride levels in check, as well.
The average adult should take part in activities that provide about one-half hour of cardio per day, according to U.S. government health officials. You may choose from among numerous types of workouts.
In Your Room
The weather could make exercising outdoors difficult, and perhaps you would rather avoid the cost or social dynamics of a gym. Fortunately, there are cardio exercises you can try in the privacy of your dorm room.
Some workouts do not even require any equipment. They include running in place, jumping jacks, core-power yoga, belly dancing, aerobics, and climbing stairs. Other exercises recommended by fitness trainers and others are squat jumps, leaping into the air from a crouched position; burpees, jumping from a squat to a plank position, then jumping back and standing; “mountain climbing,” working the knees forward and back while in a push-up position; bear crawls, moving from a squat to pushup position, then walking the hands back and standing; and kickboxing, punching and kicking a bag, other object, or the air.
Many types of home-exercise equipment are on the market. You have probably seen the late-night Bowflex commercials on television. Treadmills and stationary bicycles are among the most popular kinds of equipment. Others include elliptical trainers, weight machines, resistance bands, and free weights. Some manufacturers give the impression that their devices can magically transform your body. Understand that you will see results only if you are willing to commit the necessary time and effort.
In the Great Outdoors
Exercising outside provides the added benefit of fresh air and sunshine. Running is one of the most common cardio techniques. Maintaining adequate speed for long enough distances can produce the elevated heart rate you need. However, running can be hard on your feet and legs. Alternatives that place less strain on the body are jogging, power walking, and hiking. You might want to combine periods of walking and running during an outing.
Other outdoor workouts include bicycling, golf, tennis, and playing in the yard with the dog or the kids. However, it could be difficult to achieve enough exertion for such activities to qualify as cardio. If it snows frequently where you are going to school, consider buying or renting cross-country skis, snowshoes, or boots. Just hiking through heavy snow is an intense form of exercise. Shoveling snow is also sure to get the blood pumping.
At a Gym
You might be unable or unwilling to spend money on expensive home-exercise equipment. Elliptical trainers, rowing machines, and other devices are also available at gyms and fitness centers. Because these facilities offer a variety of equipment, you can try various models to see which ones are right for you.
Many students who go to gyms find that they benefit from the advice they receive from fitness experts, other customers, and fellow students. Gyms are social environments, where people have at least a few things in common. They are all trying to improve their health and get into better shape.
You may be able to find a gym, spa, or fitness center that has a running track, tennis court, basketball court, or swimming pool. Some businesses require annual membership fees, while others let you pay on a per-visit basis. Take advantage of recreational facilities on campus, especially if you are at a large university where multiple options are available.
Before deciding which kind of cardio workout to try, have a good understanding of your physical capabilities. Consider not only your fitness goals, but also your age, health issues, strength, and mobility. Your gender may be another factor. For instance, authorities say aerobics, jogging, running, and using a treadmill are particularly valuable for women.
It is recommended that you tell a doctor or other medical provider about your workout plans. Get a checkup and some professional advice. You want to make sure that your exercises do not cause pain or injury. Warm up and stretch before starting, and initially do short workouts. You can make them longer and more energetic as your strength and endurance build. Don’t overdo it, or you may find yourself in worse shape than before. It’s a good idea to vary workouts, to benefit different muscles and prevent excessive strain on any of them.
Determine your optimal heart rate during cardio. Subtract your age from 220. Seventy percent of the resulting figure is the number of heart beats per minute you should strive to attain. This is the rate at which calories and fat are believed to burn most effectively.
Deciding upon the best kind of cardio workouts for you is the first step. The hard part is devoting yourself to regular exercise. You will not experience the results you seek without putting in the work. If you make the effort, better health and a fitter body may be among the rewards. You also might feel less stressed, more confident, and even happier.