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5 Easy Steps to Avoid the Freshman 15
The “freshman 15” is the term used to describe the weight gain of students entering college for the first time. The combined freedom and responsibility can give birth to many unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits that can really pack on the pounds. The first line of defense against any obstacle is the awareness that it exists. The second is the desire to do something about it. For those teenagers out there who want to take action against the “freshman 15”, following these easy steps will not only make you immune to this phenomenon, but allow you to be in the best shape of your have life at the end of your first year!
1. Reduce your alcohol consumption – Realistically, I’m not asking you to completely avoid alcohol (although that’s not a bad idea), I’m just suggesting that you be aware of how many drinks you have over the course of a week. After you know that number, cut by 20% the first week, 30% the second, 40% the third, and 50% at the end of the first month. Alcohol carriers a lot of extra calories that lead to unhealthy weight gain. Look for ways to cut calories by choosing light beers or drinks mixed with diet soda instead of regular soda.
2. Schedule exercise – Treat exercise as you would a class and put it in your daily planner. Look at your week and schedule specific days and times that you can consistently commit to exercise. To make this technique successful you need to be specific. You must determine the days, the start times, the end times, and the type of exercise you will perform. I promise you that if you treat exercise like a class, you’re less likely to forget or miss it. You also avoid the stress associated with trying to “find” the time because you’ve already “made” the time. All you have to do is show up.
3. Get more sleep – If you don’t sleep enough or you don’t sleep deeply enough, the body increases its level of cortisol, a stress hormone that is directly responsible for body fat, specifically in the abdominal area. Research clearly shows that people who sleep 7 hours or more per night get thinner than those who only get 5 or 6 hours. Cramming for mid-terms and finals all night and partying late are the 2 areas you need to examine and make adjustments. Something as simple as a “scheduled nap” can help you not only with your energy levels and focus, but also with weight loss.
4. Avoid late night meals – Consuming calories later in the evening will certainly cause unwanted weight gain, especially if those calories are from fast food, take-out, or the vending machine. As the saying goes, “those who fail to plan plan to fail.” When you know that you will be late studying, or going out with friends, go grocery shopping that day and buy healthy snacks like fruit, popcorn, or carrots and hummus. Your calorie friendly snacks will be waiting for you when you come in at 3am.
5. Avoid fad diets – All diets have 2 things in common. They all work in the short term and ultimately fail miserably. Diets slow your metabolism, cause cravings, mood swings, decrease energy and focus, eat away at your muscles, increase body fat levels, and destroy your confidence about successful weight loss. Think about the whole reason you’re in college in the first place. You and your parents or guardian know that nothing worthwhile in life comes easy. You are there because you understand that “the later is bigger”. Take control now, don’t take short cuts through dieting, and you’ll never become a victim of the “freshman 15.”
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