Beat the Freshman 15: Tips Toward a Healthier Lifestyle on a Full Schedule

freshman15

One of the most popular myths one learns about when they are beginning university is the Freshman 15. If you are not familiar with this myth, it is basically a belief that a person usually gains about 15 (or more) pounds during their first year of college. With proper diet and exercise, the Freshman 15 will be nothing more than a myth, but for some people (including myself) who love trying new cuisines, eating late, and going out and drinking at parties, the Freshman 15 is very, very real.

During my time in university, I never really exercised, I usually ate dinner super late, partied, stressed out over school, and was in a relationship. It was the perfect formula for extreme weight gain! By the end of my freshman year, I was roughly 190 pounds. This really caught me off guard because the last time I weighed in, I was only 160. I gained a whole 30 pounds in under a year, which is insane!

Looking at myself in the mirror day-to-day, I felt like I was just fine. However, when looking back at tagged photos of me on Facebook, I appeared a lot bigger. I felt horrible about myself, but seeing the scale wasn’t enough for me to start consistently working out until my senior year of college. I was directing a huge production for school, and I didn’t want to be the same person I was 3 years ago. I wanted to show the audience a more confident and healthy version of me, and I’m happy to say, during my final bow, I stood at 170 pounds.

It took a lot of hard work, but I feel like if what I did got me motivated enough to workout during my hectic schedule, it could most definitely help some of you out there to lose some extra weight and move towards a more confident and healthy you!

1) Drink more water.

Everyone always starts off with this rule, and there is a reason for it: It makes all the difference! There are many benefits to drinking more water, such as:
  1. Your skin will feel softer and more bouncy
  2. Your appetite will decrease
  3. You aren’t wasting your calories such that if you were drinking soda or juice

If you are not keen on drinking bland-ass water (like me), opt for unsweetened tea, fruit-infused water, eating more veggies and fruits. There’s water in almost everything that’s edible, but tea, infused water, natural veggies, and fruits are the healthiest ways to get more water in. One trick that really helped me get accustomed to drinking water was to not take on the whole 4-liters-a-day right way. That’s miserable! You’ll pee like crazy! Instead, I measured my progress in water bottles. My first daily goal was to finish 2 water bottles. Then I would raise it to 2 and a half, then 3 bottles, etc. etc.

2) Aim to have your last bite before 7pm.

night-snack

This tip was really hard for me because in college, everyone always wanted to eat out or hit up nightlife, but once I started getting into the habit of eating before going out with friends, I noticed I started feeling a lot better about going to sleep and waking up in the morning knowing that I’m properly digested.

3) Eat slowly on smaller plates.

plates.jpg

When it comes to food, we all like to fill up the space that is given to us. The smaller the plates are, the smaller the portions. Also, before you can say that you can always get seconds, try to eat slowly. That way, your stomach can have time to process when it’s full. I know it’s super hard to control yourself when you’re hungry af and theres a plate of food in front of you, but one trick that, surprisingly, almost everyone disagrees with, is to surf the web, go on your phone, or do any activity while you’re eating. The reason I find this really helpful is because these activities require one or both of your hands and part of your attention, which will ultimately slow the pace of your eating. If you’re not the type to use your laptop and eat at the same time, try having a meal with your friend and focus on talking and conversation. By having an extended conversation over a meal, both of you are taking short breaks between bites which will also slow down your eating.

4) There’s no magic pill or contraption that will do all the work for you. It’s all diet and exercise, baby!

beach-fit

Unfortunately, there’s no short cut to losing weight. It takes time and consistency. It took me 9 months to drop 20 pounds which is slow for some people, but for me, it was pretty fast. I’ve tried the diet/fat burning pills, skinny teas, and waist trainers. I’m not saying those don’t work. They will definitely help you achieve results faster during your fitness journey, but they won’t be effective when paired with a shitty diet and no movement. You gotta put in some work if you want to see results!

5) Find the fitness plan that works for YOU!

I hated going to the school gym. It was always crowded, sweaty, and full of egotistical jerks who don’t re-rack their weights and hover over you during your last set. It was frustrating. Instead, I found solace in pilates and dance. It’s no secret that Cassey Ho from Blogilates is a fitness mogul that almost everyone in the blogosphere is taking lessons from. She is amazing! Watching her channel and keeping up with her meal and exercise plans really helped me kickstart my fitness journey. Her videos are uplifting and challenging. I never finish a playlist without working up a sweat. However, tbh, Cassey’s bubbly personality kind of got on my nerves after awhile and I felt like a lot of her moves were feeling a bit repetitive. That’s when I decided to move away from Blogilates and joined a ballroom dance troupe. It was a great way to try a different form of working out that was both educational, fun, and partner-based. I never missed a session and I had the best time of my life! Picking workouts that peak your interest is important because if you don’t like what you’re doing, you’re not going to commit!

6) Incorporate at least one veggie in every meal.

veggie-board

My go-to veggies are spinach, carrots, broccoli, and/or tomatoes. They are all easy to make and prepare, and when seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper, they can instantly transform any meal. I even did this with fast food and made the extra effort to put fresh veggies in burgers and even in instant ramen. Incorporating fresh veggies in even the most #basic meals will make them appear as if they’re #gourmet.

7) Treat yourself!

Every week, I allowed myself ONE cheat meal to whatever I wanted. This really helped me stay sane and realistic with my nutrition goals. By treating yourself, you are also putting your body in a state of shock from eating super healthy everyday, making your body work harder to get rid of the food. If you can’t stick to just one cheat meal, then make compromises with yourself. For example, when I would tell myself, if I eat this cookie right now, then I can’t have dessert tonight. The only rule to the compromising method is that you CAN NOT have both options. It has to be one or the other. Plus, small food swaps a day can make all the difference when you are trying to make better food decisions.

8) Don’t have time or space to exercise? Sub it with household chores instead.

laundry

Sometimes, you will have moments where your day is super packed. One way to make up for not working out is by doing household chores such as cleaning your room, washing dishes, vacuuming, etc. Sometimes, I get really winded from doing chores because of all of the bending, standing, tiptoeing, and lifting. Cleaning is a workout in itself!

9) Force yourself to walk!

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If an opportunity to walk to your destination appears, take it. That means walk to the grocery store if it’s a few blocks away, find the farthest parking spot, walk to your classes instead of taking the bus, take a few laps around the mall, etc. Just use your legs as much as possible.

10) Sleep more.

sleep

Sleep and recovery is key. If you don’t get at least 7 hours (even that’s pushing it) of sleep each night, you are adding stress onto your body and it will actually store fat and slow down your metabolism. I used to sleep at 2am and wake up at 6:30am for my morning pilates class, and it was a mistake. I felt like shit every morning and I fell asleep in every single class. I didn’t quit this habit until after graduation, and when I started sleeping at 10pm and waking up at 7am, I felt like I  was in heaven. I did not feel sleepy in the mornings nor did I feel the need to snooze my alarm. It was amazing. I’m still currently working on this at the moment, and I am starting to see results and changes in my mood, energy, and attitude!

I feel like a lot of these tips have been said over a million times, but there is a reason for it. They really work if you stick to them! I’ve failed so many times and I’ve been on plenty of fitness journeys, and I would say that the difference between now versus then, is that my attitude is completely different. I don’t have that stomach-of-steel teenage body anymore and I know that with age, my body will show negative effects when I don’t take care of it. Fitness requires a lot of mental discipline, so the more you stay focused on your goals and stay true to yourself no matter how much you mess up, you will succeed!

What are some tips that helped you get through your fitness journey? What was the hardest part about getting in shape, and how did you overcome it?

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