How to avoid the Freshman 15


How to avoid the Freshman 15The fear of the Freshman 15 and the dreaded weight gain that most students experience in their first year of university is something that can be avoided if you know what key pitfalls to avoid.

A study published in the Journal of American College Health found 70% of students reported weight gain in the first two years of college. Typically students gained around 4-10 pounds in weight and I was no exception. For me, one of the biggest pitfalls was opting for junk food as my late-night study snack. Fueled by the sugar rush of high-carb, high-fat foods, I would get through my studies, ignoring what was happening to my waistline. By December, I was passing over my skinny jeans that no longer fit for my comfy sweats. And I wasn’t alone. A lot of my friends experienced the same thing.

The all-you-can-eat cafeteria didn’t help matters, or the fact that I didn’t plan my meals at the beginning of the week. The cafeteria offered lots of delicious junk food with few options for healthy eating, on top of the opportunity to take three different deserts just to try them. Late nights at the library involved many trips to grab a high-sugar café mocha and bag of chips.

Living on campus and being immersed in such a social environment also comes with a price. Going to the pub, socializing and drinking is a natural part of campus life, but it only aggravated my weight gain issues. Catching up with friends over a couple drinks and a plate of nachos always seemed like a great idea.

Since we were too uncomfortable to go to the gym because everyone there was in athletic shape and had an attitude that was quite intimidating, getting in a workout didn’t happen very often. Not knowing which machines to use, or even how to properly use them led to embarrassment we were sure to avoid.

It was easier to continue in this lifestyle of sweatpants and junk food instead of acknowledging that I too had become a victim of the dreaded Freshman 15. For students at this age, body image can be a huge concern. Having negative feelings about the way you look can kill your motivation to leave your dorm room, even to meet up with friends or to head to class.

How to avoid the Freshman 15

  1. If possible, pack meals and snacks for on-campus days – Avoiding the all-you-can-eat cafeteria and fast food options can greatly help in keeping your portions smaller and your food healthier. If living in residence, opt for fruit or veggies as snacks in the cafeteria.
  2. Avoid unnecessary sugary coffees for late night studying – Choosing a healthier green tea over a café mocha can give you the caffeine boost you need without the empty calories.
  3. Find a workout buddy – Whether you go to the gym, join a class or stick to working out to YouTube videos in the privacy of your dorm room, having somebody to motivate you, keep you on track and support you when you’re struggling to navigate a new exercise routine will keep you on track.

To connect to one of our Health Coaches, call 1 866 833-7690. You may also want to learn more about our new service, Fitness Coach Connects. You get three free sessions with a professional Fitness Coach, Fitbit™ wireless activity tracker and an online program to get you on the path to improved health and well-being.

About the author

Entering her final year at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Claire Sargeant is a student majoring in psychology. For the past three summers, Claire has been working in the Communications Department at Shepell∙fgi. During the school year, she is actively involved with Queen’s Health Outreach, a student-run NGO that promotes international health initiatives. Claire also enjoys working with kids and is a long-time volunteer at Camp Oochigeas, a camp for children affected by cancer. When she graduates, Claire hopes to balance her love of travel and working with kids to promote positive physical and mental health.


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