10 Ways to Avoid the Freshman 15Posted on Sep 8th 2010 1:00PM by Karen Asp
James A. Finley, AP
Here's how to survive your first year in college with your waistline intact.
Sweat toward your degree: Sign up for a fitness class, which many universities offer to fulfill credit requirements, so while earning credits, you'll burn calories, said Jen Cassetty, a personal trainer in New York City.
Minimize stress: In the aforementioned study, students who had high perceived stress gained body fat at higher rates than those with low perceived stress. To keep stress down, exercise daily, be organized, exhibit good time management skills and don't procrastinate, said registered dietitian Sareen Gropper, lead study author and professor of nutrition and food science at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala.
Pre-plan meals: Dining halls can be a nightmare for weight-conscious individuals, especially with the overabundance of high-calorie foods and friends who push you to indulge. Avoid these obstacles by deciding what you're going to eat before each meal, said Connie Diekman, registered dietitian and director of University Nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Many colleges post menus with nutritional information online so head there first.
Sneak in fitness: If you're crunched for time or hate formal exercise, add more movement to your day. For instance, hoist your book bag on your back and take the stairs to your dorm room; for a bigger challenge, climb two or three steps at a time. Or leave for class 10 minutes early (you are walking to class, right?) and use that extra time to log more walking, even chatting with a friend as you walk.
Heed the two-thirds rule: At meals, fill two-thirds of your plate with whole grains, fruits and veggies. The fiber will fill you up on fewer calories, and you'll have less room for calorie-laden foods on your plate, Diekman said. Another trick to keeping portions slim? Grab a smaller plate.
Be a waiter: Tempted to go back for seconds? Wait 20 minutes after finishing your meal -- that's how long it takes for your stomach to tell your brain it's full -- or else you could overeat.
Eat on schedule: Establish a regular eating routine, noshing your first meal within an hour of getting up and then eating every three to four hours to keep your body fueled. Most importantly, eat your last meal three hours before bed. "While all calories are the same, your metabolic rate slows while you sleep, causing your body to store more calories," Diekman said.
Transform your dorm: Not a fan of fitness centers? Even the smallest dorm room can become a gym. Just use your own body weight for strength exercises, Cassetty said. For instance, do the wall angel: Stand against the wall with feet about a foot or two from it. Slide back down wall until thighs are parallel with floor. Check that knees are directly over ankles; if not, scoot feet farther away. Contracting abs and keeping back against wall, extend arms overhead on wall, palms facing out. Lower arms to shoulder level; hold one second. Release to start and repeat. Complete three sets of 25 reps three times a week.
Avoid liquid calories: Nothing says weight gain like alcohol, lattes and regular sodas. Rather than filling up on these empty calories, switch to diet soda, unsweetened iced tea or water. If you're going to imbibe, skip mixed drinks, which are loaded with calories, and choose light beer, sipping no more than one or two. Also, because alcohol can increase the urge to eat, don't drink on an empty stomach or scrimp on meals during the day, Diekman said.
Don't sleep with tempting treats: When chips, cookies and candy are within arm's reach, saying no is tough. So ban those diet disasters from your dorm room. Instead, stock your fridge with healthy snacks like peanut butter and whole-grain bread, hummus and veggies, and yogurt and fruit.