freshman fifteen

Bad Habits to Avoid in College

College is a time when you gain some independence.  You are now free to live your day-to-day life without checking in with Mom and Dad (although depending on your parents, they might not have been like that before …or they could be on the other end of the spectrum insisting on daily phone updates).  No matter what your parental situation is, you definitely have more independence now than back in high school.  Professors have a higher expectation of you in the classroom.  You have more control over what your schedule is like.  And what will you be doing with your free time?  Working out excessively?  Partying too much? Diving into mounds of ice cream, sugary cereal and macaroni and cheese? Hopefully, that last one isn’t all in the same mouthful.  Anyway, a healthy lifestyle is all about balance.  Any of the habits you will pick up in college, healthy or not, could follow you for the rest of your life, so let’s make sure you start your new college lifestyle on the right foot:

Overeating ­– People talk about the “freshman fifteen” for a reason, but I am here to tell you that a person can make it through while maintaining your current weight and even becoming healthier.  For one, paying college tuition always comes with a gym membership (I have never heard of a college that does not have a gym for their students)!  These gyms range from top of the line equipment to smaller gyms with just enough machines, free weights, and other things to stay in shape.  To be fair, these gym amenities also come with dining halls; these are usually buffet style, which are full of greasy, fattening comfort foods.  It is easy to indulge day after day on burgers, fries, and other treats.  Try to first look up either online or at the front of the dining hall what is being served that day.  If the healthiest options are things that you do not like, try to eat somewhere else on or off campus that day.  Remember that maintaining your weight means eating and exercising the same as you did at home, and if you were not eating junk food much then, college should not be the place to start

Another way people overeat is through munching.  To keep from munching constantly in your room, remove the temptation.  Only keep healthy foods in your room.  If you are into crunchy things, grab an apple or two on your way out of the dining hall to keep in your dorm for later or stock up at a local grocery store with cereal (one that isn’t so sugary), soup, granola bars, yogurt and other healthy snacks.

Sleeping Late – This is a major problem for a lot of college students.  Whether you are up late socializing or studying, sleep deprivation is something not to be messed with.  Dr. Max Hirshkowitz and Patricia B. Smith of warn that sleep deprivation may cause you to “age more rapidly; become more susceptible to colds, flu, and other infections; display an increased risk of accidents due to sleepiness and poor coordination; experiencing more emotional problems, including depression and anxiety; feel irritable and experience mood swings; forget important information; have reduced ability to deal with stress; increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and death; and show poor judgment, poor concentration, and an inability to make decisions.”  Learn more by reading the whole article here.

College is a time to start off fresh, to begin a healthy lifestyle.  To do this, be sure to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly but in no means excessively.  Be sure to pick friends who are good influences on you, as you do not want to pick up other people’s bad habits.

When you enter college, you are going to meet all different people.  You will have all new options, decisions, and choices before you.  It may seem daunting, but it can be fun and simple if you just stay true to yourself and balance healthy choices with fun ones.


I’m reading America: A Narrative History

The Best Time of Day to Work Out

There are plenty of debates about the best time of day to work out. Some say it’s best to work out first thing in the morning, others mid day, and then there are those that swear by late night sessions that send them straight into a deep sleep.

So when is the best time to hit the gym?

Talking strictly in terms of scheduling, there are pros and cons to different time frames.

Are you a morning person?  If you answered yes, then AM sessions might be worth exploring. Depending on when your first classes are, the early morning might be just what you need in terms of motivating yourself to sweat. Working out in the morning is an instant energy boost and helps jumpstart your day. You could potentially go to your first class having literally run circles around your classmates! However, timing really is everything. If you have class at 8, and the gym on your campus opens at 7— unless you have superman speed, and feel loosely about showering—you may need to opt for a later time.

So how do you feel about mid day? Do you have gaps in schedule? Some spare time to play around with? Some college co-eds are partial to naps whenever they have free moment—and that’s not entirely a bad idea, considering you need to give your hardworking body a rest every once and a while! But if you’re all napped out, and you have an hour to work with, why not mull over your assignment for your 2:00 class on the elliptical machines? No one says you have to power race on level 10, just do a casual session warming up your joints and getting your blood pumping. If you don’t need to primp excessively for class, this midday boost could give you the upper hand in your afternoon classes, and help fight off the urge to let your lids get heavy. I find it difficult to stay alert during afternoon lectures. A little workout to spice up your schedule and warm up your routine may be just the ticket!

What if you are booked solid from sun up to sun down? No problem. Maybe you’re an evening workout warrior. You may have to line up for equipment—everyone’s schedule is a little freer in the pm and students may have a workout on the brain just like you!  Working out during the evening can be relaxing and a nice way to wind down after a busy day of classes. You can de-stress while running on the treadmill, or lifting weights. After a good workout and a healthy dinner you will be set to start your homework, go out, or just relax and watch a movie. I’ve found that after a good workout and moving around, I feel the most productive and confident—like I could run another few miles! I don’t know if I would even put my money where my mouth is on that, but it sure feels good when you know you just worked hard and made it through the day.

Although there are different debates about when it’s best to work out, when you’re in college, the most important thing is just finding the time to work out! It’s not really a question on when, but more of a question of how to fit it in. My best advice is to schedule gym time into your planner or agenda. What works for me is seeing the word “gym” stare up at me from the pages. It’s already written so I know I have to go or unless I’ll have to scribble it out and feel bad for not going. By blocking the idea of working out into your day, you won’t be struggling with how to fit it in, but rather, finding the best time to make it happen. Working out is healthy and a great way to de-stress in college. So don’t worry about the when’s and just make sure you get out and move around—every time is a good time to get our your feet and get some exercise!


I’m reading A Pocket Guide to Writing History