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The Freshman 15: The Secrets on How to Beat (or Lose!) the Weight You Gain at College

You can blame bad genes, your dorm-mate shrinking your jeans or a whole host of reasons why college made you fat. If you keep whining about your weight and making up excuses for it, however, all you’ll do is change being fat into being fat and cranky.

Talk about a party pooper!

And we already know the physical reason behind the extra weight. You gain weight when, quite simply, you consume more calories than you burn off. Period. It doesn’t really matter if the 4,000 calories came from a nutrient-packed smoothie or a gooey chocolate cake. Unless you get moving and burn off those 4,000 big ones, you are going to gain weight. So that takes care of the physical reason.

Now let’s look at the mental stuff. College is a new, exciting, stressful, and foreign thing. No matter how much fun you may be having, there may still be moments of insecurity, confusion or downright fear.

Your old friends may be somewhere else and there’s all these new people hopping around campus. Your classes are a little bit tougher than high school English subzero. The accents are strange, your family is far and you’re adjusting to a whole new world.

Unless you’re some kind of robot who has absolutely no emotions, chances are you’re going to get a little freaked out. Admit it.

Good. That’s one of the first steps in avoiding that freshman 15. Admit your emotions are in a tizzy. When things are tizzied like that, you may reach for comfort. Comfort’s name may just so happen to be Twinkie.

Throw in the freedom to eat what you want, when you want, the proliferation of fast food joints and pizza shops all around campus and the drinking, and you’re fate of gaining weight is pretty much sealed.


Avoid Being 'The Big Man on Campus' - Tricks to Avoid It

Now that you know why the weight gain happens, you can nip the issue in the bud – and once again fit into those jeans you blame your roommate for shrinking. The first trick is to stop eating when you’re not hungry. Sounds simple but it can be tough.

The next time you’re stressed over a test or feel left out when your dormie didn’t invite you to the party or whatever reason your emotions get all tizzy-like, don’t reach for the Twinkie! Do something else instead. Take a walk. Do yoga. Read a book. Throw darts at y our dormie’s picture.

Grab a pad of paper and write or draw out your emotions. Not only will you break the plump cycle of emotional eating, but you may even get some kick-butt poetry and artwork out of the mix. Heck, if you’re distraught enough, you may even get to change your major and be the next Charles Bukowski or Sylvia Plath.

The technical term for such a practice is substitution. You are substituting a non-fattening activity for the Twinkie fix or whatever you chomp down when you’re an emotional wreck.

OK, so what about when you are actually hungry? Are you supposed to stop eating then, too? No way. Then you’ll just become scrawny and malnourished and the next time your mom sees you she could pull you out of college and say she needs to take care of you forever and ever.

You’ll then become one of those old men or women that live in their mother’s basement or, worse yet, prop her up in the attic like Norman Bates and come up with reasons to kill people. You don’t want that to happen. So eat.

And burn off the calories you eat. Bottom line. Don’t worry; you don’t have to go do something drastic like pushups. You don’t even have to start eating only sprouts and tofu unless, of course, you want to. There are tricky ways you can go about maintaining a healthy weight, or losing extra weight, without pain and suffering. Here we go.


Sneaky Tricks for Eating and Exercise Like 'The Little Man on Campus'

Pack snacks. Raw veggies, peanut butter, cheese and crackers can be godsends in your backpack. They keep your energy up between classes and help you avoid those evil vending machines filled with junk food.

Watch your portions. Just because you can only buy pizza by the pie doesn’t mean you have to eat the whole pie. Stop being mad at your dormie so you can split it.

Drink less. You knew this one had to be coming. Unless you’re a robot with no desire to party, you are probably going to be faced with beer by the barrelful. All you need to do is remember that one beer typically equals about 150 useless calories. Light beer is not that much lighter. That’s all we’re going to say about it.

Walk. Walk between classes. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park far from your destination. Buy a pedometer and track your steps; you’ll feel like a superhero when you net at least 10,000 every day. You’ll also be consistently burning calories. You may even burn enough calories to have the whole pizza for yourself! Or you can always take up running or other forms of exercise around campus.