Welcome back to “The Conversation.” SALT has pulled together a community of college students and alums to share their thoughts about money, student loans, and life in general. Today, they talk about an issue that can affect anyone heading back to school or living on their own: weight gain.
Since I’ve started living on my own, I have really been putting on weight. I don’t know if it’s from being busy with school or unhealthy eating habits. I wanna know what you all do to keep in shape and healthy.
Are you cooking for yourself or do you rely on cafeteria food? If you’re eating in a dining hall, does it have a decent salad bar? I learned to get really creative with my salads. My biggest issue with eating in dining halls was dessert. I love the soft serve machine a little too much! I’d also recommend going for any grilled options instead of fried. My biggest thing though is don’t restrict yourself too much. If you do that, you’ll end up binging at your next bad day.
Another thing that has helped me is the My Fitness Pal app and website; it helps you keep track of your calories eaten and burned.
One thing I did was to start eating more fruits and veggies. I would pack an apple or orange in my bag and bring it to class, so if I got hungry I could munch on that instead of packaged junk. The fruits and veggies also have a lot of fiber, which will help you feel full longer and not eat as much.
I was always extremely thin in high school (unhealthily so), but now I’ve put on a considerable amount of weight. I started going to the gym daily, even if only for a half an hour. I started drinking a lot more water, and cut back on red meats and fried food. I feel a lot healthier now. I also started taking Zumba, and that’s my favorite thing. Ever.
Do you drink a lot of soda with lunch or dinner? Try replacing it with water instead. You don’t have to give up your favorite unhealthy foods completely to be healthy—just eat them a little less and see what happens!
After my freshman year, I put on a lot of weight and decided it was time for change. There was a Latin dance group on campus, and I decided to try out. I practiced with them 3 times a week, and it was so much fun that I didn’t even realize I was getting a great workout. So my suggestion is find something you might be interested in and see if there are any groups near you that offer classes.
Some things that I kept in mind while I was at school:
- You are probably staying up later and therefore that dinner you had at 7 p.m. leaves you hungry at 11, 12, and 1. Try to avoid greasy late-night foods, and pick foods that will satisfy your hunger without the extra calories, like a Chobani and fruit, to tide you over until you head to bed.
- I made my study breaks active breaks— such as going to the gym (even for only 20 minutes, if that is all I could spare) and taking a walk with a friend instead of lounging on the couch to catch up.
- I became a fitness instructor at my gym because the pay was great and I got a workout in at the same time.
Even if you aren’t into that type of thing, try to get a routine of going to the gym—whether that’s finding fitness classes you like, or if you have a highly motivated workout friend, ask them to tag along on a few workouts.
It’s also really important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night.
When I moved out on my own, I found that I could eat much healthier and cheaper if I pre-cooked my own food and reheated it for meals. There are plenty of dishes that reheat well and are inexpensive (nearly anything with pasta or rice for starters).
I think the most beneficial thing that you can do is keep a food diary/journal. It really puts into perspective what you are putting into your mouth, You can easily eat 2,000+ calories a day snacking or especially eating out.
Everyone had such great advice! You all have suggested many things that I am going to start doing. And that app sounds really interesting. I’m downloading it now.
Have a tip for avoiding the freshman 15? Share it in the comments.