Six Steps to a Healthy College Life

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Nobody wants to be the girl who goes home after her first year of college with fifteen extra pounds and a muffin-top. Bikini season would definitely be out, and wearing your dad’s oversized t-shirt at the pool is not OK. So, just skip the freshman fifteen all together. Gaining weight in college is likely but avoidable if certain steps are followed:

Step 1: Get some sleep! Stop pulling those all-nighters. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep is vital. The lack of sleep can cause weight gain and late night eating. If getting a full night’s sleep isn’t possible, try taking short 15-minute power naps throughout the day. Quick naps re-energize the body and will compensate for the lack of proper beauty sleep. No one wants to look tired with puffy bloodshot eyes.

Step 2: Don’t eat so much junk food. Consider your calorie intake, sometimes writing down everything you eat can be helpful. Be sure to get 2-3 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Remember the food pyramid from middle school health class? Use it! The pyramid is helpful in determining what your body needs to function properly each day. Eating right can boost energy and relieve stress. I know the chocolates, cakes and ice cream choices are tempting at the all-you-can-eat school cafeteria, but try to have some self-control. Indulging every once in a while is ok, but limit yourself.

Step 3: Eat healthy snacks. Students tend to ea
t more before finals or during other stressful times. This is normal, but instead of picking up a Snickers bar or a bag of chips, pop a bag of low-fat popcorn instead. There are lots of healthy snack options that are satisfying during crunch time or your time of the month. In fact, snacking in between meals increases the body’s metabolism and will make you less hungry during lunch and dinner.

Step 4: Get out and exercise. Exercising is the most important step in dropping the pounds and preventing future weight gain. Everyone should have 30-45 minutes of cardio 2-4 times a week, says Schmid Etinne, a Bally Total fitness trainer. You may feel like you don’t have enough time to work out, but walking counts as cardio. On a college campus there are always places to walk. Maximize your walking exercises by power walking, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or try walking somewhere you would normally take public transportation.

Step 5: Spend some time at your school recreation center. This will help you tone muscles and break a sweat. If lifting weights isn’t really your thing, take a class. Pilates or yoga classes are great for the body and increases flexibility. Spending just an hour at the gym several days a week could improve your health and make you feel good.

Step 6: Avoid binge drinking. Alcohol has an enormous amount of calories and packs on the pounds fast. Light beers are always an option, but even those can add up. If you are into mixed drinks, think again. According to the McKinley Health Center, one margarita contains about 550 calories and one Jager Bomb has 213 calories. Women should be limited to one drink a day. High alcohol intake can lead to serious weight gain, alcohol poisoning and can become habit forming.