Many people have asked how I beat the freshman 15 or in other words the senior 60 (15 pounds per year ha). While swimming is one of the longest seasons for college sports, it isn’t the longest and does not span both semesters. I don’t have a free pass to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. Therefore on the off season (and even on the on season), I have to haul my butt to the gym and eat a little bit healthier. For those of you who don’t know-I eat in the dining hall at least once a day, almost every single day. I don’t avoid the dining hall in college, and I actually rather enjoy eating there. You don’t have to gain weight by eating there and you can eat ice-cream sometimes. More often than not, however, starting to eat ice-cream and cake at the dining hall makes for at least 500 extra calories to your meal. In my experience, or at least in my college, they do not cook the food in the healthiest way possible because as we all know it; the healthiest way is the most expensive way.
I am currently a junior in college. I started college weighing 140 pounds and I now weigh 118. My highest weight in college was probably around 150, but I’m not entirely sure. I know it was after swim team season ended my freshman year.
1. Stock your room with healthier foods that you can eat at night, or snack on during the day. Here are some of my favorite foods that are currently in my minifridge and cupboards:
a. Yogurt! Yogurt is by far one of the healthiest foods on the market. Those little bugs that live in there? Think of them digesting your belly fat. Look for yogurts with at least 15% of your daily recommended calcium intake and 6 grams of protein per 100 calories. My favorite type of yogurt is Greek yogurt, which I consume almost every single day. Greek yogurt is much thicker and has a lot more protein. For instance, Chobani plain Greek yogurt, per 70 calories has 15% of your daily calcium and 12 grams of protein. Other brands that are worth mentioning are Oikos and Fage. Dannon also has a Greek yogurt on the market now. With that being said, yogurt comes in almost every flavor you could ever imagine. Find your favorite and stock your fridge. For my final remark, try peanut butter and yogurt sandwiches. You will never be disappointed.
b. Fresh fruit-you know it’s good for you. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Try drinking 24 ounces of water and eating 1 medium sized apple before going to the dining hall. See where it takes you.
c. Protein Bars and nutrition bars-unless you are doing an ultra marathon you don’t need any with more than 200 calories. Try protein bars between 100-200 calories with at least 5 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein.
d. Peanut Butter-add it to everything. Healthy fats are not a bad thing.
e. Bread, look for bread with 40-60 calories per slice. The more fiber the better and I can’t harp on whole wheat bread is better than white. More fiber, the better. I can’t harp on that enough either.
f. Lean meats-I’m not talking about steak. Not everyone had an illegal George Foreman Grill in there room! Keep canned tuna fish (in water), lean turkey, lean ham and roast beef. Turkey pepperonis are also another amazing option.
g. Protein Powder-Everyone can benefit from it. 25 grams of protein per 100 calories is standard. Protein powders come in almost as many flavors as yogurt. Find a flavor that best fits you.
2. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Not everyone is a morning person like me, but every single person can benefit from having breakfast every single day. When I’m on a 1500 calorie plan on both off seasons, you better believe the first 500 calories everyday come from breakfast. Coffee is not an acceptable breakfast and will not help you stay focused in class. If you cannot begin to eat 500 calories for breakfast at least have a bowl of cereal. I’m not saying a bowl of cocoa puffs because that certainly won’t hold you over. I’m almost not saying a bowel of cardboard flakes because I like my food to have flavor as well. Here are my personal picks: banana nut cheerios, fiber one cereal, and oatmeal with protein powder, yogurt with fiber one cereal, or even peanut butter and yogurt bagels. You have to experiment with what works for you. Breakfast should be high in protein and high in fiber. That is what keeps you filled.
3. Food for thought. You are in the dining hall, are you still hungry, are you staring longingly at a piece of pie? Think about what you will be doing in 2 hours. Will it matter if you didn’t eat the piece of pie? It matters now-certainly but once you leave the dining hall…will it ever again cross your mind? This type of thinking has gotten me out of many pieces of pie and cake.
4. Track the gym schedule… Post it on your desk or wall. Once you have created and started to follow your own schedule, it becomes easier over time. My first few weeks of not swimming, is the hardest to get to the gym but I promise it gets easier over time. My school’s gym is open from 6:45am-10pm M-F. (12-6 on the weekends). Schedule you gym time around your favorite TV shows. When America’s Next Top Model was on, I would go for an entire hour on Wednesday nights at 8pm and watch the show and be on the elliptical. It killed two birds with one stone. Most of watching TV for me comes from watching it at the gym. Men (and some ladies including myself)-it’s football season! You don’t have class on Sundays go then. (Go Panthers!)
Think about this. You do not have go to the gym every single day. There are many other ways to burn calories and stay fit. Swimming, tennis, basketball, flag football, soccer, even ice-skating. Most colleges also offer classes at no charge for students. Research all the different programs you college truly has to offer. No one wants to be stuck in a gym for 7 days a week, speaking from experience that gets really old after 3 days.
5. This question always comes up: Is there room for alcohol and not the freshman 15?
a. Yes! There are many light beers which have anywhere between 60-110 calories and liquor which has about 100 calories. Those fruity mixers are what add thousands of calories to your body.
Is there room for binge drinking every weekend?
6. The more you walk the more you lose. Walk everywhere-in college, it is very easy for me to get over 10,000 steps in daily. At home-it is very easy for me to get maybe 1000 steps daily. Walk as much as possible. I live in a climate where it gets to be -30 sometimes, think of me walking out with wet hair when you have no motivation.
7. The busier you keep, the less likely you are to eat. For me personally, I go to the library to get a lot of work done because sitting in the dorms (or my townhouse), I just sit, eat and watch TV. Two hours later, am I anywhere closer to finishing my homework? No, in fact, I have probably lost knowledge.
Feel free to add what has worked for you. These are tips that have made me feel great and healthy. It isn’t that I have kept to them every single minute of every single day but these are simply tips that I have found helpful.
Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietitian. This article is written on my own primary opinions and what I have read and found most usefu