I just finished my first year of university, and I have a confession to make: I feel terrible about myself. I gained the “freshman 15” in my first year, which has left me feeling unhappy and unattractive. I don’t even fit into some of my favorite old clothing. I want to lose the weight, but I don’t really know where to start now that we’re going back to the school year where I’ll be surrounded by the same food. What should I do?
A lot of people dread the Freshman 15, but it is often thought of as a right of passage — with good reason. First, remember that our bodies never stop changing. You will continue to undergo physical changes for the rest of your life. Second, the Freshman 15 is symbolic of the fact that you are living on your own, in a high-stress environment. You have to make choices about diet and exercise, and that might be new to you. It doesn’t help that most universities serve food that is not great for someone trying to lead a healthy lifestyle. For all of these reasons, people do tend to gain some weight in their first year of college. Here are some tips on what you should do.
What causes the Freshman 15? Very Well Mind lists a few of the most likely culprits. The aforementioned college cafeteria food is notorious. Eating while studying (you tend to eat more when you’re distracted…) and eating late at night (… and when you’re tired) contribute to that weight gain. Try not to eat while distracted or tired, and remember to eat meals at regular intervals. BoldSky, a health-and-wellness website, suggests that eating at regular intervals can have a multitude of positive effects, from reducing heartburn to lowering cholesterol levels. While you probably don’t have to worry about heartburn and cholesterol at this point in your life, building up healthy habits now could lower your chances of developing those problems.
The food in your Uni’s dining hall is probably pretty bad, as you mentioned. Even though it may be less convenient, try preparing and eating more foods at home, switching out your starchy breakfast for whole fruits and vegetables, or that greasy dining hall burrito lunch for a salad. When in doubt, build your diet out of fresh things grown from the ground, ideally in-season. A quick glimpse at the produce calendar at this site for wholesale fruit and vegetables in Melbourne should give you a good idea of when different fruits and vegetables come into season. Sticking to food schedules — daily, weekly, and yearly — can help you get the things you need, when you need them.
But this is all conventional advice. Everybody is familiar with healthy eating, even if few people implement the principles. What if they don’t work for you, though? This is where our not-so-conventional advice comes in. You might need to reframe your thinking. College is one of the few times in your life when you will be able to reinvent yourself. Your body has changed, so think of it as an opportunity to get some new threads. That old clothing that you say is your favorite? Chuck it. If it doesn’t fit you, maybe it’s not meant for you anymore. Get some new maxi dresses and shoes to go with them. Get some designer T-shirts, or check out work by local or student artists in your University’s town. Treating yourself well doesn’t just mean eating right. It also means finding and doing things that you enjoy. One of life’s great pleasures is learning to love ourselves. This is something that you should never forget, and that you can carry with you for the rest of your life.