The Freshmen Ten 101: Keep your Body Rockin’ Your First Year in College

You learn many essential survival lessons as a college freshman. For example, the super-sized wart on your toe (you know, the one right beside your yellowed flaky toenail) is a clear indication to you that shower shoes are not an option, they are a necessity. However, you soon realise that showering is optional, especially when you are late for an 8:00 am Biology 101 exam. So you walk into your class rocking a pair of Spongebob pyjama pants (their unique odour only adds to their appeal) and ace the exam. Then you’re back at the dorm for your first shower in two days (with flip-flops), pull on those booty jeans for a night of celebration, and…?!! No, it was not your questionable laundry skills which shrunk your sexy jeans; it’s the dreaded Freshman Ten!!! (Insert appropriate horror movie music here)

How do you avoid the dreaded Ten (Twenty, or Thirty!!)? Well, my friend, by using that brain that got you into school in the first place. Delve deep into your common sense and keep your health afloat! Here are the three commandments of svelte college men and women everywhere.

Thou Shalt Not Skip Meals

So your university probably man-handled you or your parents into purchasing the Super Solid Gold (a.k.a. The Most Expensive) meal plan. It is a blessing in disguise, my friends! You can eat at every meal without the bother of cooking it yourself. You will never be hungry, and your hips will not suffer.

When you skip a meal, your body says “Like, I think I’m gonna starve because I’m a primordial fat-retaining machine, or whatever, so, like I’m gonna keep my next meal as fat just in case.” It is bad. People who skip breakfast or other vital meals consume more calories per day than people who eat every meal. Eat a small meal even if you are not hungry, you’ll prevent a crazed call to Pizza Hut 3 hours later.

Eat three healthy meals a day plus two snacks. Each meal should be about 500 calories (400 for women), each bite 200 calories (150 for women). Make sure half your calories are from carbs (whole grains, fruits, and vegetables), about 30% protein, and 20% fat (try to eat good fats like olive oil, nuts, avocado). If you are an athlete, you may need to consume more calories, so talk to your trainer and/or coach for nutrition advice.

There is only one exception to this commandment: skip the midnight snack. Try not to eat after about 8 or 9 pm each night. Eating a meal high in carbs and fat right before you go to bed is a disaster for the diet. You don’t burn too many calories passed out on that extra-long twin bed. You’ll gain weight faster than a sorority girl racks up the credit card bill. If you absolutely must eat during that midnight cramming session, microwave an individual serving sized bag of air-popped fat-free popcorn. It will satisfy the munchies without adding junk to your trunk.

Thou Shalt Exercise

Think of your exercise schedule like a 1-hour class that meets three times a week. If you miss that class too often, you won’t know the material, and your professor could lower you grade even further than the resulting poor test scores. If you don’t exercise, expect to avoid the Freshmen Ten is as specific as an increase in tuition.

Aim for one hour, three times a week of cardio exercise. It means you should breathe heavily (almost as your roommate’s annoying sleep breathing). Walk, run, play tennis, or chase campus squirrels, it doesn’t matter as long as you get your heart rate up.

To keep those extra pounds away (and attract some campus hotties in the process), try to do 30 minutes of strength training twice a week. Most colleges and universities have fitness centres. Ask to have a student worker or trainer show you the ropes and give you a good routine.

Freak Not Thyself Out, Keep It Cool

Yes, those silly diet pill commercials do get one thing right: stress can cause weight gain. When your mind is stressed, there is stress to your body too. The human body doesn’t distinguish well between fear of predators or starvation and fear of Calculus for Business Majors. Lack of sleep and excessive worry can make your body switch on its protective mechanisms. It packs on the pounds to use for extra energy stores just in case that exam turns out to have a mean set of teeth and to sprint is required.

Take advantage of your college’s free counselling services. Grab a sack of pamphlets on stress management, go for walks, or get a ‘stress buddy’ and vent over a cup of de-caf coffee.

The most significant tool for managing undergrad freak-outs is time management. College is an adjustment. Last year you went to school during certain hours every day, woke up at the same time, had practice or meetings at the same time, and Mom had a healthy dinner on the table at the same time. Now you are in charge of your schedule, and you quickly learn a college schedule is not especially regular.

Create a routine for yourself: wake up around the same time every day, eat around the same time every day. Also, and this one’s a biggie, DO NOT put off what could be done today for tomorrow. It’s easy to slide when the sock fight in your dorm is screaming for your particular skills, but you need to buckle down. Any college vet will tell you that cramming for exams make for good war stories, not good grades, and not a stress-free existence.

Finally, give yourself a break. College is a significant change, and an essential step in life. Some weight gain the first year may be inevitable. Hopefully, you will lose the extra padding over the summer and arrive back for your sophomore year armed with the knowledge of experience. The most important thing is to keep yourself healthy, enjoy living these four years, and try your best at anything and everything.

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