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The Freshman 15: Fight the Good Fight

The "freshman 15" is often dreaded as an inevitability of college life, but a few simple tips can help you avoid unnecessary weight gain and live healthier.

The dreaded "freshman 15" is often seen as an inevitable fact of college life. For many who attend, college is a major change. Whether because of heavy academic workloads, new living situations, or new social groups, the added stress frequently has a negative impact on students' diets and health.

College life involves a lot of shake-up, but those changes don't have to come at the cost of unhealthy weight gain. By following these simple tips, you can avoid unnecessary weight gain and live healthier during your college years and beyond.

  1. Plan Ahead

    Whether you do it before you arrive at campus or once you are there, it's important to establish a meal plan and stick to it. Figure out a healthy eating cycle, and make it work with your schedule.

    Remember that getting a healthy breakfast will make for the best start to your day. From there, try to keep a regular schedule. Don't put off dinner until the late hours of the night when you'll be tempted to choose faster, easier — and often less healthy — meal options. And remember to grab something for lunch, which will keep you going throughout your busy day and make you less likely to consume an extra-large meal at dinner.

  2. Count Calories

    Counting calories may not seem glamorous, but it's simple and surefire way to keep weight gain in check. You can use a cutting-edge app or something as simple as a pad and pencil to track your caloric intake and output. Counting calories also allows you to fit your calories and when and how you consume them into whatever schedule suits you best.

  3. Walk

    It doesn't matter if you live on campus or are commuting every day to get to class: walking is always a good idea. It may seem like a chore at times, but taking those extra steps each day makes a world of difference. Walking stimulates both body and mind, and going to class on foot each morning (even for just part of the way) can give you an energy boost and get the blood flowing.

  4. Get Involved in Intramural Sports and Other Physical Activities

    College students are usually fortunate enough to have free access to a gym, which is a fitness gift that shouldn't be taken for granted. Even though you don't need to go to a gym to get exercise, going to the gym can get you out of the house, diversify your exercise activities, and provide a social environment that encourages fitness.

    Whether you enjoy biking, weightlifting, or a sport of your choosing, regular exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress, feel more energetic, and stay in shape. If you're looking to keep off the pounds, keep active by joining classes hosted by the gym. If competition suits you better, then sign up for intramural teams in various sports throughout the year. Remember — physical activity stimulates the mind and body, and having teammates gives you a network of accountability when it comes to meeting your health goals.

  5. Avoid Late Nights

    One of the most common themes for new college students is study sessions (and activities) that extend late into the night. At some point, you will almost certainly find yourself up into the wee hours of the morning, and these are the hours when you are more likely to consume extra liquid calories, either in the form of caffeinated concoctions or more potent potations. Whether it is a party or a paper that winds up keeping you awake, make sure to stay mindful of what you are eating and drinking.

  6. Don't Forget H2O

    One of the best tips to feel healthier and control your appetite is also one of the simplest: drink water! Water is essential to healthy living. It helps in digestion of food you've eaten, it can help calm feelings of hunger, and carrying a bottle with you around campus can deter you from craving a soda or a white chocolate mocha with extra whipped cream.

    College provides students with innumerable new experiences and opportunities. Among them is a chance to develop and establish healthy habits that will carry through to your personal and professional life for years to come. Getting and staying healthy requires commitment, and if keeping track of six tips seems like a lot, start by making one of them a habit and build up from there. Developing a healthy lifestyle will not only keep away the "freshman 15," but it will also help you make the most of your college experience and beyond.