Five Ways to Avoid the Freshman 15

Take advantage of technology and use the buddy system to keep the weight off.

College is a stressful time. Classes are difficult, you may pull an all-nighter (or five) to finish a paper and mom isn’t there to do your laundry when you just don’t have the time.

Stress can manifest itself in many ways, and every incoming college freshman has been warned about the “freshman 15.” Away from home and out on their own, young adults are allowed to make their own life choices—and food choices. And when you’re stressed, it can be difficult to make wise food choices, or prioritize exercise. So, when students are strapped for cash and time, fast food seems like a good meal option. And when there’s a cafeteria stocked with soft-serve ice cream and endless pancakes for breakfast, self-control isn’t always easy.

Here are five ways to physically, mindfully and creatively avoid gaining the freshman 15.

Make time to sweat

Add a workout into your weekly routine and commit to it—even if it’s only half an hour or 20 minutes a day. Go for a walk, try this quick and easy morning workout before you shower or carve out “me” time at the on-campus gym and relieve your stress on a treadmill or bike.

Take advantage of technology

Don’t have a lot of time? There’s an app for that. No, seriously: Download this app for a 7-minute workout. Want to eat more slowly, or put the miles you run toward a good cause? There’s an app for those, too. When it comes to your health, use technology to your advantage. Download an app for practicing yoga in your dorm room, or track how many miles you run or walk to class every day with a Fitbit, Apple Watch or other step tracker.

Have a food strategy

Create and stick to a strategy when you hit the cafeteria or eat out. Load up on veggies, and avoid anything fried or processed. And while you eat, try to eat mindfully and enjoy your food. Slow down, notice as you chew and let your body tell you when it’s full.

Use the buddy system

Did you know that just having a solid circle of friends makes you healthier? Plus, we bet that in your group of friends, you’ll find at least one workout buddy who shares your love of walking, biking or running—or partner workouts.

Stay social

You’re probably on Facebook and Instagram every day anyway, right? So use social media to your advantage—for motivation, inspiration and accountability. Follow your favorite fitness and health experts for #fitspo, nutrition tips and workouts, and post your goals publicly so your friends can keep you accountable.

Photo credit: 6okean, Thinkstock