How to Avoid Gaining the Freshman 15 + Healthy Back to School Tips

Have you heard of the Freshman 15? It’s a real phenomenon. I know from personal experience. Moving away to college is usually a teenagers first experience with total freedom. When you mix in freedom, late night study sessions (or parties) and a cafeteria full of processed food…an extra few pounds (or 15) can happen quickly.

I gained more than fifteen pounds my freshman year at the University of Michigan- so I am very familiar with this type of weight gain. Now that I’m ten years post college graduation, I also know what healthy measures one must take to drop those unwanted pounds (and keep them off!).

I recently joined the anchors on Fox Chicago to discuss some of my top three tips on avoiding the Freshman 15!

Tip #1: Exercise in your dorm room!

College kids are busy and often times bogged down with homework. If they live on campus, they might not have a car or a way to get to a gym to workout. A little creativity can go a long way in this scenario!

What about using your laundry detergent bottles as weights? Turn on your favorite music and do some bicep and tricep reps with the detergent bottles.

Sure, you’re roommate might roll their eyes, but you can even get a friendly competition going. These were some of my favorite memories in college. I even started an aerobics TV show from my dorm room!

Tip #2: Pay attention to what you eat.

College cafeterias are full of chips, cookies and soda machines. However, there are also plentiful options like fresh fruit, protein options and greens from the salad bar. The key here? Choose wisely. Load up on spinach and chicken breasts from the salad bar, not croutons drenched in cheese and ranch dressing.

One trick I wish I had practiced in the cafeteria is to avoid white colored foods (i.e. bland starches or calorie empty breads) and make sure there is a variety of color on your plate. It’s ok to indulge, but watch your portion size when treating yourself to the soft serve ice cream.

My 30 Days to Love Your Body & Your Life workbook teaches you how to practice mental exercises that will help you value your body.


Tip #3: Parents- stay involved even though you might be geographically far away.

It doesn’t matter if your child is going to college in your hometown or has moved all the way across the country for school. You can still help them in various ways avoid that dreaded Freshman 15 and carry on healthy habits you instilled in them at home.

Sending healthy care packages is one way parents can help their college students. If they are in town, drop off a bag of healthy groceries. If they are out-of-state, mail them a big box of non-perishable snacks. Some ideas to get you inspired are Vega Bars, almond butter with honey, Wild Garden snack packs, and Safe Catch Tuna. Do you have a tea lover or aspiring chef at college? Frontier Coop has a great assortment of herbs, teas and spices you could include in your care package.

A healthy care package in lieu of one chock full of candy and junk food will definitely help your son or daughter avoid the freshman 15. Healthy food can also help to boost their energy so they can focus on their studies!

College is such an exciting time and it’s not realistic (or healthy) for students to restrict their food intake because they are worried about putting on weight. This isn’t a good tactic for anyone! Instead, students should use their brain to make smart, educated decisions. And never forget to listen to your body! It’ll tell you exactly what it likes and needs!

Looking for more healthy living tips? Tune into Step It Up With Steph and sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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