How to Look Fit for Break

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No one wants to go back for the holidays with the extra freshmen fifteen. While your mom might be too nice to say anything or your dad too oblivious to notice, you want to return from the break looking and feeling your best! On the other hand, it is the time to relax, not to suddenly pick up a fitness or diet regimen. It’s better to focus on that now, so by the time your family picks you up from the airport, you’re not hiding behind flowy shirts and heavy parkas.

Whether you’re worried about facing your family and friends or not, it’s never a bad idea to adopt some healthy habits. If you establish them beforehand, it’ll be easier to keep them during high-stress finals week and the temptation-filled holidays.

Look at the Dining Hall

Just because this is the stuff that the school is feeding you doesn’t mean that it’s the best for your health. The food that is served in the university dining hall probably covers a lot of ground — Asian, Tex-Mex, fast food, sub sandwiches, etc. Having such a wide range of options at your fingertips constantly can overwhelm even the strongest-willed person, especially if this is the first time you’ve ever been entirely in charge of your own diet.

Some university dining halls also have beverage machines. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence, but limitless soda is definitely bad for your health. Furthermore, just moderating your soda intake can help you lose weight. My dining hall even had a limitless milk dispenser, and even though milk is often touted as a nutrient-rich beverage, drinking more than a glass a day is concerning.

It can be tempting to just indulge in all the tasty food at the dining hall, but really examine every option before you eat it. The salad bar or sandwich station might seem like a healthy option until you see that all the dressings and meats are filled with fats and calories. This is where you can find some of your healthiest options, of course, but you need to be mindful of what ingredients you choose. Keep this in mind no matter what station you choose.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Okay, this is probably the most repeated advice ever, and also the least followed. Yes, we all know it’s easier if you plan out your meals ahead of time. Instead of scrounging for the cheapest meal in the dining hall, it’s better if you pack your own salad before leaving for class. But no college student has the time or the willpower for that, especially after a long night studying.

The trick is to prepare something that will last you a long time. That way, you only have to prep once and then you’ve got something to grab for the week. Things like breakfast pizza, a tray of lasagna, or any sort of pasta will keep in your fridge for a long time. Just watch your portions on these!

If you absolutely cannot bring yourself to prepare ahead of time, then there are on-the-go meals you can fall back on, but they’re not always the most satisfying. Don’t always rely on these, or you’ll end up in a food coma once you get back to your mom’s cooking.

Stay Active!

As the weather gets colder, you might be tempted to drive or take the bus to class, but it’s important to stay active. Walking or biking to class can help you offset the typical winter weight gain (which you WON’T have because you’re following these tips!). You’re also probably not moving around outside as much, so try to find some winter sports to participate in.

At the very least, hit your student rec center or local gym. Being active in the winter takes commitment; you can’t just wait around for the next ultimate frisbee tournament like at the beginning of the year. Plus, with more exam pressure, you’ll have to really want it to stick to your plan.

If you develop a consistent workout schedule now, it’ll be that much easier to stick to when you get home as well. Instead of wondering what happened to the fit high schooler they knew, your family will be impressed that you’re managing yourself so well! At that point, you can indulge a little bit in some festive foods, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to go back to school looking different than when you left either!

How to Prevent the “Freshman 15”

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Freshman 15 Health

Are you one of those people who loves to binge eat junk food and watch Netflix? Well, then you’re like me. Every freshman (including myself) is beyond excited to get away from all of the organic food that their moms gave them while they were back home — but do you want to have the “Freshman 15”? Keep reading for some helpful tips!

Image via Giphy

 

Junk food sometimes, healthy food every day:

  • Unless you’re going to the gym every day and working out constantly…don’t go to the dining hall every morning for breakfast and get yourself three pancakes. Switch it off… Some days have a treat and other days get a smoothie on the go, organic cereal or maybe some scrambled eggs!

Image via Giphy

Do not skip the most important meal of the day:

  • Breakfast is key. Grab a cereal bar, make some easy Eggo waffles in the microwave/toaster or go to the dining hall and get some egg whites. Don’t want to ever miss the most important meal of the day!

Store healthy snacks:

  •  No Doritos, Lays chips or cheese doodles. Not healthy. Not worth the calories… I am glad my mom taught me to bring healthy snacks to college because if not I would be the size of a balloon by now. Snack on some apple chips, gluten free pretzels, cheese, and grapes or a banana.

Image via Giphy

Skip the sugary drinks:

  • Enough with the energy drinks such as Redbull and Monster. Soda is even a big no no. I do not have any sugary drinks in my mini fridge. Get a bottle of water, iced tea or low-calorie lemonade!
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Image via Monster

Use smaller plates in the dining hall:

  • Instead of using the big bowls that they leave out for us, I use the plastic plates and it definitely helps my portion size. It helps you to avoid piling on food to fill the bowl, then feeling forced to finish it even if you’re already full.

Join sports clubs, intramurals or take a Zumba class:

  • Time to go hit the gym, find a buddy and get your daily dose of workout in you! Yoga, Zumba, treadmill or a run around campus… go get those legs moving! Fitness is also a great way to meet friends that you can set healthy habits with.

Image via Giphy

Don’t eat food when watching TV or doing homework:

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  • I know everyone loves to do this… but this is one way of gaining weight easily. I know because I do this constantly and it is not healthy. You get so engrossed in what you’re watching, and five minutes later you look down and the bag of chips has been completely annihilated. You can’t even remember eating it — which feels like a waste! Instead, have a bottle of water or some gum in your mouth while watching tv! Save your snacks and meals for a time you can actually sit down and enjoy them without distractions.

Stay hydrated:

  • Drink PLENTY of water. Whether it is Vitamin Water, Gatorade, sparkling water, or whatever it may be, keep on staying hydrated! Sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking we’re hungry, when we’re really just dehydrated.

Get plenty of sleep:

  • I know we are all in college, but don’t stay up until 4 am when you have an 8 am class — leaving you to complain to your roommate or not show up to class the next day. Get a lot of sleep so you can have a bunch of energy throughout the next day!

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The great thing about college is that things are constantly changing — your class schedule, your classmates, your favorite new hangout spots and sometimes even your social circles. So now’s the time to evaluate your priorities, and what is or isn’t working for your health. Not getting enough sleep? Maybe cut out the 8am lectures and schedule classes for later in the afternoon next semester. Having trouble finding an available elliptical during the free-time you usually use hit the gym? Consider skipping the regular Thursday-night party, and instead grab a few workout buddies and head to the gym as a “girls night”.

With these top tips, you should be able to avoid the dreaded Freshman 15. Just make conscious decisions about your eating and lifestyle habits and you’ll be fine!