Carla Birnberg, MizFit, educates (and entertains) the masses with no-frills exercise tips, trend-alerts and real-world lifestyle design. You can find her musings daily at www.MizFitonline.com.
Freshman fifteen. Chances are you need no further definition to know precisely what I’m referring to.
Most people fall into one of two categories with regards to these additional pounds: those who gain the weight and become frustrated or depressed and those who don’t, but spend far too many hours exercising or food-obsessing in an effort not to and, as a result, miss out on fun freshman experiences.
I’m here to offer you a middle ground. To make the suggestion that you may, in fact, gain a few pounds this first year away, but that it needn’t be the horrifying (tongue firmly planted in cheek here, People) experience you imagine.
Me? I gained my freshman fifteen and another person’s as well. Thirty pounds heavier I found I was merely surprised at my new fluffy midsection. Why wasn’t I depressed? The bulk (pun intended) of my gain happened while enjoying college life. The constantly available food, late night hangout sessions, and new tome beer drinking all quickly padded my frame. Yet, while I did decide to shed this weight, it’s worth noting, again, how it was gained. I was having fun. I subsequently learned tips which will save you bulking as I did, but I believed then *and* now that embracing my college experience was entirely worth a few additional curves. I still tell freshmen they have the rest of their lives to fret about weight should they choose, but only one college experience. In my opinion, it’s too precious a time to waste focusing on exercise and calories to the exclusion of living.
What do I wish someone had told me? S.N.A.P.
This acronym is the key to preventing the freshman fifteen yet not being relegated to plain salads, water, and the treadmill ten months out of the year.
S. Six small meals a day. This will increase energy, boost metabolism, and lessen cravings. The meals don’t need to be fancy (a few slices of low fat cheese & a piece of fruit. A cup of Cheerios & some milk) or large (300 or so calories per meal) but they’ll keep your blood sugar levels even so you won’t become crazy-hungry and grab the nearest available food-option.
N. No mindless eating. Easier said than done, but a habit to try and avoid starting. Campus dining halls are social places and it’s easy to consume extra calories when chatting there with friends. Try to be aware of what you put in your mouth (notice I did not say calorie count).
A. Assess your options. Whether making food in an apartment or a communal setting, assess your options before making a selection. Mix & match offerings and get creative with your meal. Is dinner chicken, corn and mashed potatoes? Is there a salad bar available? Think outside the box: slice the chicken, plop it on some lettuce and make that your meal. There are healthy options everywhere if you look for them!
P. Plan ahead. As with all things, fitness and life planning will set you up for success. On the go for hours? Bring a healthy snack along (look here for some ideas). Planning a festive dinner out with friends? Perhaps eat lightly (but eat!) during the day. Plan activity into your day, too. Anything from joining an athletic team to walking with a study partner burns extra calories and keeps your metabolism elevated. As with your eating, get creative with finding your exercise time.
Most important? Have fun. It’s amazing how, when you’re enjoying yourself, things really will fall into place in a S.N.A.P.
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September 26th, 2008