How to avoid ‘Freshman 15’

Jacey Corley

Many of the typical college student tendencies are not healthy, and can ultimately lead to one thing that almost no one wants to happen to him or her while in college: weight gain.
Pulling last-minute all-nighters, surviving off coffee and Red Bull, staying out all night at a party and then heading to Waffle House for that 3 a.m. meal are some of the college student rituals that will never go out of style, but that doesn’t mean they are healthy.
This is about the “Freshman 15” — the name often given to the additional 15 pounds gained once a person begins college.
‘Smart decisions’
“I was warned about the Freshman 15 before I came to college,” said Emily Coleman, a biomedical sciences major from Prattville who was a senior in the spring.
“I told myself I would never let it happen to me. I made smart health decisions during my years here, and I’m so glad I did.”
Coleman said she stayed clear from the Freshman 15 by exercising at least three times a week and limiting her alcohol intake to rare occasions.
According to, a recent study shows that one in four freshmen gain at least 5 percent of their body weight, an average of about 10 pounds, during their first semester.
Poor dieting, lack of exercise and binge drinking are all reasons for gaining the Freshman (or sophomore, junior, senior) 15, according to
Tempting but dangerous
So how can anyone avoid weight gain in college? Fitbie
.com health and fitness writer Emily Chau, writing about how to avoid gaining weight during college years and how to shed pounds, said that  fast food is not your friend.
As tempting as that 99-cent double cheeseburger sounds at 2 a.m., don’t give in. Go to the grocery store and stock up on fruits, veggies and lean meats before the week starts can help avoid fast-food cravings, and it’ll save money in the long run.
Lauren Wilson, a nursing major from Gulf Shores who was a junior in the spring, said cutting fast food out of her diet was one of her smartest decisions.
“In college, it’s so easy to just run through McDonald’s and grab something quick, but it will catch up on you so fast.”
Wilson said the best way she avoided fast food was to eat before she was starving.
“If I waited too long, I would wind up getting cravings and want to drive to the nearest fast-food restaurant.”
Another simple way to balance a diet is by eating breakfast.
Lori Higgins, a registered nurse for Elmore County School Systems from Montgomery, said eating breakfast jump-starts your metabolism.
“Your metabolism has been resting for six to eight hours, and if you don’t eat breakfast, then you’re adding another three to four hours to your metabolic resting time,” Higgins said.
“When you eat breakfast, you’re turning your metabolism on so you can start burning calories.”
Lack of exercise is another top reason for weight gain in college.
Don’t have a gym membership? That’s not a problem. Troy University has a fitness center open seven days a week students can enter just by showing their student IDs.
“It’s always great when you don’t have to pay for something, but the location is perfect,” said Taylor Hatcher, a physical education major from Hartford who was a senior in the spring.
“It’s so easy to get to. I can go to the gym right after class just by walking down a flight of stairs.”
The fitness center, located in the Trojan Center, is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 10 p.m.
Credit for fitness
Troy also offers physical fitness classes, each one credit hour, during the fall and spring semesters. These include badminton, swimming, tennis, yoga, weight training and jogging.
Alcoholic beverages, especially beer, contribute to weight gain. If having a drink is absolutely necessary, stick to something low in calories and don’t overindulge.
A little goes a long way, and these tips will help keep that unwanted weight off while in college.

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