Do You Know the 5 Ways to Avoid the Freshman Fifteen?

junk foodI didn’t exactly pick up the freshman fifteen—the weight gain that so many new students experience in their first semester of college—but I did certainly gain at least a freshman seven or ten, and didn’t shake it off until halfway through my sophomore year.

I was luckier than many of my classmates in that I am naturally thin and I actually like working out, but there are still plenty of things I wish I had done in order to stay fit. Here are 5 different ways to avoid those extra pounds your first year of college:

1. Recognize that just because you’re at a buffet doesn’t mean you have to try every item on the menu. Meal plans mean dining halls, and dining halls mean food set up to feed thousands of students quickly and cheaply. Eating everything you see behind the counter is tempting, but all that will accomplish is 1) expanding your waistline, and 2) getting you more tired of the food earlier in the semester.

2. Sign up for a physical education class, if it’s available. Two out of my three workouts every week are scheduled P.E. courses that I’m getting graded for. If I wasn’t in those classes, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gotten beyond a single workout each week. They’re short, free (usually), worth an easy (if small) GPA boost, and great motivation to actually haul your tail to the gym.

3. Find out if your university gives you a free gym membership. If so, use it—even if only because affordable gym memberships are hard to come by.

4. Put mealtimes into your schedule, and stick to it. College schedules are often less regular than high school schedules, so the shift away from regular mealtimes can be jarring for both your routine and your metabolism. Eating constantly is hard habit to notice, an even harder habit to break, and an easy way to eat far more than you mean to.

5. Buy healthy choices. For any meals you eat outside of the dining halls: Healthy food is both worth paying for and worth walking to the grocery store for. Buying five bags of Cheetos for dinner from your in-dorm stop-n-shop does not count as dinner, and deep down you definitely know that.

Be sure to keep these things in mind, and you’re bound to stay clear of those extra (sneaky) lbs freshman year. Happy snacking!

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Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.