Everyone’s heard of the dreaded “freshman fifteen” – the weight college students supposedly put on after the first few months of all you can eat cafeteria food for every meal. That’s in addition to the cheap beer and late night Xbox sessions!
It’s possible to stay fit in college, but it takes discipline and hard work. If you’ve got what it takes, these tips will help you stay in shape while you’re in college. What’s more, the self control you will learn by keeping a regular exercise schedule will help you to stay on top of homework and other college obligations.
The campus dining hall is dangerous – unlimited pizza, chicken wings, and desserts as far as the eye can see! Often, students who are away from Mom’s cooking for the first time will spring for these items, stuffing themselves on fatty, greasy food and avoiding the vegetables entirely.
It’s true that most cafeterias don’t offer great vegetables. Cooking for yourself on occasion is a great solution to this. You may find you prefer your own cooking to what’s available in the dining hall.
Look at your portions when taking food. Vegetables should cover about half your plate. If meat takes up more than a third of your meal, put it down. Try to alternate your proteins – fish, nuts, and eggs all contain protein, and it’s healthier than eating red meat all the time.
Find Your Community
Your campus might have a gym, but if it doesn’t, a college student can’t be expected to pay for an expensive membership at a local gym. Try doing simple exercises instead. Running is a free way to get exercise. You can also do bodyweight exercises like pushups in your dorm.
Finding other people who are interested in working out can help to keep you motivated. Find a running buddy who will get you up in the morning even on days you don’t want to go. Or consider joining a club at your school – most colleges offer free yoga and other classes after hours, and anyone can go.
Track Your Progress
Keep track of your progress so that you can see how far you’ve come! It can be very motivating to see the time it takes you to run a mile dwindle down, or to realize that you can now do twenty pushups when before you could barely do one.
Find a fitness tracker, such as the popular FitBit, that will track your cardio and report how much exercise you get per month on a calendar. These trackers can even monitor your sleep and help you understand why you don’t feel rested in the morning.
Follow these simple tips and you won’t be gaining the freshman fifteen – you’ll be getting stronger. Good, honest exercise feels great, and by staying fit, you’ll be more able to fight off college problems like the dreaded “dorm flu”. College is a time to try new things, so use this opportunity to turn daily exercise into a lifetime habit.