What steps did you take to live a healthy lifestyle and avoid the Freshman 15 when first coming to college?

7 Answers
I incorporated some exercise into my routine, ate more veggies, drank more water, and only ate junk/processed/sugary foods in moderation. Also, drinking water and getting a good amount of sleep helps!
First, set time aside at least 3-4 times a week (or more) to workout. Whether this means walking, running, weights, yoga, dancing, etc., just make sure you schedule a time for this. Second, no matter what you get in the dining hall, always prepare yourself a side salad so that you are getting the nutrients that you need from fruits and vegetables. When choosing a main dish, try to see if they have simply prepared chicken or lean deli meats. However, if you want that cheeseburger, go for it; just maybe cut it in half. Remember, moderation is key, but don't let fears of gaining the freshman 15 run your life.
My freshman year, we were always told to have a look around the dining hall before you decide what you're going to eat for each meal. It's tempting to take a plate and start piling things on as you look around, but you'll likely end up with more food than you actually need and may end up overeating as a result. Instead, take a look at everything that's being offered that day before you get in line. That way, you're more likely to only take what you really want. This will also force you to put more thought into what you're eating, and you might find yourself gravitating towards the healthier food.
I definitely struggled with this -- and I think a lot of students do! Once I figured out how easy it was going to be to overeat, I started challenging myself to balance my meals. For instance, if I had a big lunch, I'd have something light at dinner, or vice versa. I also found it fun to hit the gym with my roommates! We became pretty big fans of the group classes that were offered in the evenings. You'll feel a lot better if you eat better. But don't guilt yourself over microwaved mac 'n cheese.
Freshman 15 is often associated with meal plans - food whenever you want, in whatever amounts you want. The first step is to learn the difference between what you want to eat versus what you need to eat when faced when a seemingly endless amount of food. You'll also want to keep your own stash of food in your dorm. Stock your fridge with basics that can help you throw together a few basics: vegetables for salad, meat and bread for sandwiches, granola and yogurt for a quick bite. These easy meals can help you stop the urge to order late night pizza when the dining hall is closed. Try to incorporate a little more physical activity into your daily routine. Take the time to walk to somewhere on campus instead of taking the bus. Take the stairs to your floor instead of the elevator. Take advantage of your school's gym which is often included in your tuition charges - set up your own workout with a gym buddy, take a yoga class, or join a recreational sport team.
For me, the biggest problem is that healthy food is almost always more expensive than quick, cheap food (the food that college kids need to have!). One money and time saver is to learn and cook simple meals (and make them ahead of time) to avoid the costs of eating out. Many universities also have recreation facilities. I would definitely recommend that you utilize these. Signing up for a workout class or activity group is also a great way to meet new people and stay healthy!
Being on a meal plan and having food for "free" at your fingertips means you have to keep yourself in check. Choose healthy options and don't overeat just because there's so many yummy options you want to try! Eat regularly and go for balanced meals, changing up your choices so you're not just getting pizza every day for lunch and a burger every day for dinner. Additionally, while your campus may have shuttle buses running to get students from one place to another, opt to walk when you can. During school, I rarely ever took the bus, preferring instead to leave my dorm early so I had enough time to walk to my classes, even if that meant leaving myself 15-20 minutes to get to where I needed to go. Just because of walking everywhere and eating pretty healthy, I actually lost weight my freshman year, rather than gaining the freshman 15!

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