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    Avoiding the Freshman 15

    September 09, 2016

    There's no doubt that you've heard of the Freshman 15. If for some reason, you haven't, allow me to fill you in. The Freshman 15 typically refers to the amount of weight gained during your first year at college. However, the weight is not always 15 pounds (often times it is much, much more than that) and it is does not just happen to freshman (I speak from experiences during my sophomore, junior, and senior years).

    That being said, the Freshman 15 is by no means an inevitable rite of passage in college. In fact, it's actually very preventable if you integrate a healthy lifestyle full of proper nutrition and regular exercise. In an effort to help you make better decisions than I did, here are five ways for you to avoid the Freshman 15.


    1. Eat Breakfast.

    It's not called the most important meal of the day for kicks and giggles. Eating a good, solid meal in the morning means you will be less hungry later and eat less calories throughout the day and you won't overeat because of your lack of calories earlier in the day. That being said, a donut and coffee doesn't qualify as a "good solid meal," it might fill you up but it's filling you up in all the wrong ways. Instead, you should go for things with whole grains, some form of fruit or vegetable, or proteins that are on the leaner side like eggs or turkey bacon.

    Eating breakfast also has some benefits beyond weight loss that all students should pay attention too including better concentration and higher grades

    Some additional facts and tips about how important it is to eat breakfast can be found here.


    2. Replace the potato chips with something green!

    It's common knowledge that potato chips are not healthy. They are high in calories, high in fat, and have almost NO nutritional value. Instead, go for something like carrot sticks, an apple, or anything else on lists like this one.

    Chips are not the only snack food with healthy alternatives, many kinds of junk food have a counterpart to act as a replacement. For example, instead of eating a Snickers bar go for a protein bar, instead of a bowl of ice cream have a bowl of sorbet, and my personal favorite instead of having a piece of cake make your own perfectly portioned mug cake.

    If you are still craving for that familiar potatoey crunch, you can go for the baked version, which still have a relatively high amount of fat, but are still much better than the alternative. Another option is to make your own. Baked potato chip recipes use the oven instead of the fryer. They are just as crunchy and potatoey as you want without the extra fat from being fried.


    3. Get active

    Be it running on a treadmill or lifting weights, 20160405_TCB6149.jpggetting regular exercise is an important part of a
    healthy lifestyle. If you keep a steady routine of daily or weekly amounts of exercise you can keep any extra pounds at bay. Make a habit of visiting Half Acre Gym. Take a group fitness class, get some personal training, or workout with a group of friends! Whichever activity you choose to go with, you'll burn off those extra calories and keep your body in the shape you want!



    4. Be attentive to what you eat

    They say that knowing is half the battle, and this rule applies to battling unwanted weight gain as much as anything else. Keeping track of calories not only holds you accountable for what you eat, but is also very helpful in understanding how many calories, fat, carbs, etc. are in your favorite foods. Try using an app like MyFitnessPal, available on Apple and Android, to track what you eat. The app has a huge list of different kinds of foods complete with all needed nutritional information and has a barcode scanning feature that catalogs the specific food you eat if used. 

    If you are eating anywhere on campus, the University of Wyoming has its own calorie calculator for food options like Panda Express, Rendezvous, the Book and Bean, CJ's, and Washakie Dining Center. The student eatery also has a set of tips to help you eat healthy.


    Washakie Dietitian Amy Bey has a few tips of her own on how to best eat healthier. First and foremost being moderation: "As long as you are being smart about most of your food choices and are balancing instances when you don’t eat the healthiest meal by cutting back at other meals. There is no reason why all foods can’t fit into a healthy diet”
    At Washakie Dining center you can choose from a variety of different stations that offer these better options. "The vegan station is totally plant based so it never has any saturated fats and is very high in fiber. You can’t go wrong with the Mongolian Grill, which has only vegetables, lean meats, and sauces made from low sodium bases. There is always the salad bar which is great place to get your fruits and veggies in as long as you watch how much dressing your using."
    "A new addition this year is the Hydration Station that has carafes of water infused with lemon and other fruit and herbs. They don't have anything extra added in like sugar or other sweeteners so it’s a good alternative to sodas."

    For on-campus eating and beyond, her advice to skip all of the fried foods as well as any bakery items offered and choose non-fried foods or go for a piece of fruit instead of the sugar-packed pastry. You can still indulge at places like Panda Express or any of the other restaurants, but just remember to balance out your meal by considering what else you have eaten, or will eat, and skipping sides like soda.
    If you are looking for a more vegetarian or vegan-friendly choices for your meal, Rendezvous' Sizzling Salads has a cajun flavored seitan to add onto your salad in addition to the array of veggies they offer. CJ's convenience store is also featuring more "grab and go options of salads that [the university] makes in a central section that will be vegetarian with walnuts, feta cheese, and cranberries" as well as other selections catering to all dietary wants and needs.

    Ultimately, there are amazing options to choose from if you make the conscious effort to do so.


    5. Skip the Fad Diets 

    "Eat this weird foreign vegetable and lose five pounds in one week"

    "Read about the diet that dieticians don't want you to know about"

    "Ingest this potentially lethal parasite and lose unbelievable amounts of weight!"

    What do all of the above headlines have in common? They are all representing fad diets that do not work as well as they claim to. 

    A fad diet is a diet that promises a nominal amount of weight loss in a very short amount of time. Sounds enticing in the moment, right? But, that is the problem with these kinds of diets because they only have short term results and more often than not result in even more weight gain than what you originally lost, even to the extent of reaching obesity. 

    You do not want to deprive your body of the things it needs, but amp up the intake of healthier nutrients like what you would find in fruits and vegetables. You shouldn't just diet to lose weight, you should diet to provide lifelong habits and health.



    These tips are a small number combare to the many more that are out there. Ultimately, you will need to choose what works for you and what doesn't. Check out this page with 30 more ways to avoid the Freshman 15 and check out some facts about the weigh gain phenomenon