This Month In Body
  • Goodbye, Freshman 15!
    The college years can be some of the best years of your life. But they’re also a time when many young adults begin to gain weight. With a little extra effort and smart choices, you can stay fit, trim, and healthy during your college years and beyond. Read >>
  • Stretching: Static Vs. Dynamic
    If you’re like many people, you may be tempted to jump into exercise and forget about the warm up and cool down. What’s the big deal about stretching, and what are the differences between static and dynamic stretches? Read >>
  • A Workout that Goes Up and Down
    If you’re not ready or able to exercise at the gym these days, maybe you’re looking for a new workout you can do at home. Look no farther than your stairs. Read >>
  • Kick Things Up a Notch
    Are you getting bored with exercise or not seeing the fitness results you want? Here are a few ways to take your workouts to the next level. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

Goodbye, Freshman 15!

Avoid the freshman 15 and stay fit during your college years.

You’re away from home, on your own, and making new memories. Life is exciting and full of new experiences.

The college years can be some of the best years of your life. But they’re also a time when many young adults begin to gain weight. Stress, late nights, cafeteria food, and a lack of exercise all contribute to what’s known as the freshman 15.

The good news is that weight gain in college doesn’t have to be inevitable. It may be common, but you can be the exception. With a little extra effort and smart choices, you can stay fit, trim, and healthy during your college years and beyond. Read on to learn how.

Manage Stress

There’s a lot of fun to be had in college, but if you’re at all serious about the classes you’re taking, there will also be stress. Studying for tests, writing papers, and class presentations are just a few stress makers, not to mention roommate drama, paying for college, and being homesick.

For many, it’s natural to turn to food as a way to cope with stress and other negative emotions. A candy bar or bag of chips may distract you from stress for a short time, but the stress is still there. In response to stress, your body produces a hormone called cortisol that disrupts your blood sugar and causes weight gain, especially around your middle.

Remember, stress is a part of life you can’t avoid. To keep it from affecting you negatively, you’ve got to learn how to manage it in healthy ways. Instead of turning to unhealthy lifestyle choices, get enough sleep, get regular exercise, and take time to relax and have fun.

Prioritize Sleep

It’s obvious that late night study sessions and parties with friends keep you from good sleep. It’s not as obvious that there’s a connection between a lack of sleep and weight gain. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to eat unhealthy snack foods. You’re also more likely to make poor food choices when your mind is foggy.

But there’s also a physiological connection between sleep and weight gain. Skimping on sleep slows your metabolism, increases your body’s production of ghrelin (a hormone that increases appetite), and decreases leptin (a hormone that tells you when you’re full). Too much ghrelin and too little leptin is a recipe for instant weight gain.

Watch What You Eat

When the cafeteria buffet is filled with cheese burgers, pizza, brownies, and ice cream, it’s hard to make healthy food choices. A diet that’s high in calories, added sugars, and unhealthy fats contribute to the freshman 15. Get in the habit, and you’ll gain every year afterward also.

Even though cafeteria food is often bad for you, there are always healthier options available. Allow yourself an occasional treat, but make it your goal to include fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbs at each meal. Skip the soda and drink water or unsweetened tea instead.

Get Regular Exercise

College life can be busy. Between attending classes, studying, and socializing, it’s easy for exercise to fall by the wayside. But regular physical activity is an important part of fending off weight gain. Exercise burns extra calories from cafeteria food, helps you manage stress, and is good for your mental and physical health.

To force exercise into your schedule, make it a social event. Sign up to play an intramural sport, join a hiking club, or meet a friend at the gym to work out. Just like your history class and lunch break, you can make exercise a regular part of your everyday schedule.