Ahhh I remember my freshman year at Pace University like it was yesterday. I was so excited to get away from home and live on my own. Yes academics was at the forefront of my mind, BUT I’m not going to lie I was looking forward to the extracurricular activities. That would be the parties, campus events, hanging out in the dorms, off campus events etc. However, I quickly found out that there would be another popular hangout place, the cafeteria. It became the regular meet up spot in between classes or just to go to and hang out. This hang out spot also came with a price, weight gain. Let’s just say there were a lot more unhealthy options than healthy eating options. In fact, a staple meal for my friends and I was fried chicken drummies and curly fries (cringing right now.) Oh yea and how could I forget the hot sauce and ketchup to go with it! I’ll be honest, I didn’t make the best choices back then, which put me on the fast track to the freshman 15. For those of you that don’t know what that means, it’s those unwanted 10-15 pounds you pick up in your semester/ year of college. It happens so fast, you don’t even realize until you put favorite jeans and it doesn’t even get past your thighs!
Let’s not forget the 24-hour spot you may find nearby. Now you may really have a problem on your hands if you don’t exercise a bit of self-control. I recall frequenting a local spot with a particular group of friends to get food at random times of the night. I won’t name any names, ha! We would eat our food and just pass out after that. We all had what you would call “the itis,” a food coma. Eating highly refined / fried foods set off a bunch of metabolic reactions in your body that cause you to feel good one moment, then lousy the next. Plus your digestion system is working over time, so it’s going to steal energy from everywhere to help break down the crap you just ate. Ok health lesson done, moving on :-). I ate what I wanted and did what I wanted but there was a price to pay, weight gain. Because I was that person that couldn’t get her jeans past her thighs, I want to make sure you are better equipped than I was.
Here are a couple of tips to keep your waistline in check:
- Avoid mindless eating. If you really aren’t hungry stay away from the cafeteria. Just because it’s open late, doesn’t mean you have to take that trip! Next time your girlfriend calls you and asks if you want to go, just cause, say NO!
- Make time to workout. Most campuses have a gym on site. The same way you schedule your playtime, you can schedule time to workout. If you do go overboard once in a while, at least your workouts will offset some of the damage.
- Ask for healthy snacks. You know what I’m talking about. When you make that phone call to mom and dad asking them to send you stuff. Instead of always asking for Oreo’s, have them send you natural peanut butter, organic dark chocolate, nuts, rice cakes. If you load your dorm with processed crap you are just asking for it!
- Check your crew. Sometimes you have to check who you are spending the majority of your time with. If living a healthy lifestyle is a priority then your BFF(s) need to be onboard. You can easily pick up the bad habits of people you hang out with.
- Ease up on the drinks. If you are of age to drink (which most of you probably are not), stick to one or two drinks. Avoid sugary drink mixes or combos with five or six different alcohols (ahem Long Island Ice Tea). Try sticking to drinks that I mention in this blog post.
- Finals time. Most likely you will be up late studying, and at some point your mind will convince you that you should be snacking. Since you asked for healthy options in your care package (right?), you will have waist-friendly snack options to choose from. Keeping fruit around is always helpful too. Also make time to sleep, research studies show lack of sleep can lead to weight gain.
Unless you are a gym rat or have a naturally fast metabolism, you do have to be cognizant of what you put in your mouth. Listen life is about balance and you should enjoy your favorite foods / treats, but in moderation. Remember, when you eat right you will have more energy, mental clarity, better mood, and to top it off, a nice waistline. The stress of having to keep up your good grades and having an awesome social life is stressful in itself. Don’t add on another stressor by gaining weight and having to deal with the psychological issues that come with it. Enjoy college, because it all changes when you hit the real world! Also remember your good habits will translate into your professional life, which may help you make good choices when faced the demands of your job.
If your child or someone you know is heading off to college, be sure to send them this post!
I’d love to hear from you, feel free to comment and ask me questions. Feel free to share the knowledge by sharing, tweeting and liking my blog post.
Vanessa Cunningham is a Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach and dynamic speaker based in New York City. She coaches women and children in how to move from “I can’t” to a place of enthusiastic action so they can become healthier, more confident and able to take charge of their health and wellness. Trained in over 100 dietary theories, Vanessa creates customized plans for all her clients that are fun, sustainable and empower them to meet their goals.
If you are ready to take that first step towards living a healthier and more fulfilling life, apply for a health consultation with me.