Ben Greenfield is recognized as one of the top fitness, triathlon, nutrition and metabolism experts in the nation. As a public speaker on fitness, nutrition, and training, Ben hosts one of the top ranked fitness podcasts in iTunes, the Get-Fit Guy. This is Part 2 of a 2 part series from Ben Greenfield on how to lose the freshman 15. Click here to read the first part of this series.
It can happen in college. It can also happen in high school. It is a dreaded phenomenon that can afflict even the brightest of students, and have repercussions years after graduation. And it has nothing to do with a timed essay question or complex mathematical equation.
I’m talking about the Freshman 15 – those pesky pounds that seem to magically appear as soon as you start studying – and in this article, you’ll find out how to lose these extra pounds and if it’s not too late, make sure they never get there in the first place.
Ben’s post is not a substitute for professional fitness or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with questions you may have regarding health fitness, or a specific medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional medical because of something you read on this website.
In Part 1, you learned about how the Freshman 15 happens. In this follow-up article, you’re going to learn what you can do about the Freshman 15.
So what can you do to rescue your body from the Freshman 15, or keep them from piling on in the first place? Here are four Quick & Dirty Tips to keep you trim and fit in college:
1) Exercise. No matter how poor your dietary choices are, frequent physical activity will help to stave off at least some of the damage. At least 2 times per week, do the kind of workout I describe in my article “The Best Workout for Fat Loss” which involves a series of resistance training exercises, with each exercise followed by a 30-60 second bout of high intensity cardio. On the days you can’t squeeze in a structured workout, instead try quick workouts, which you can read more about in my article “How to Do a 10-Minute Workout”. Finally when that’s not an option, try to stand whenever possible, walk or bike to your classes, and avoid sitting for long periods of time.
2) Eat Healthy. Here are two articles that are very helpful for college eating: Healthy Eating Tips for College Kids and More Health Eating Tips For College Kids. Both these articles give you everything you need to know to make the right choices at the cafeteria and on a budget. In addition to these tips, try to drink high amounts of caffeine or energy drinks only when absolutely necessary, such as a series of all-nighters during finals week. If you’re already out of college, able to eat healthy, and want to get rid of the Freshman 15, try rebooting your body by taking 2 months to cut out all the foods you relied on during college, such as processed food from packages, starches and refined sugars, alcohol and caffeine.
3) Control Stress. While a daily yoga routine is probably going to be tough to coordinate with a busy course load, you can make small changes to control stress. During classes, practice breathing deeply through your nose, and then breathing out through slightly pursed lips. When you feel overloaded with homework, try breaking it into small, achievable portions. And when you experience stressful social situations, try venting to a friend, or simply in your own personal diary. Both can help you from keeping things bottled up and putting your body into stressed out, fat storage mode. If you’re living a high-stress, post-collegiate life, you may actually have the time to add in a weekly or bi-weekly yoga class, which I highly encourage.
4) Optimize Sleep. I have a comprehensive article on getting better sleep, which you can read here. While you will almost never have ideal sleep patterns during busy school life, take advantage of the days that are lighter to catch up on sleep or get an extra nap, and try to avoid partying for multiple days in a row whenever possible. If you’re out of college, catch up on rest and recovery by making every lifestyle change that you can to give your body a couple months of 8-hour-per-night sleep cycles, even if it means cutting out your favorite TV show or social networking time.
Controlling and losing the Freshman 15 is a fight against a new lifestyle with different foods, stress and poor sleep. Now that you know the four biggest contributors to the Freshman 15, you can do what it takes to ensure you don’t end up needing to buy a bigger graduation gown!