Health Column: Don’t ignore the contributors to freshman weight gain

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By Mary Austin

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You’re probably wary of it: the inescapable weight gain freshmen experience.

While recent reports say it’s more like three pounds, any amount of weight gain should cause concern. Maybe you don’t mind a few extra pounds, but the lifestyle supporting the gain could really drag you down. Here are some tips that will not only help you fight the fat, but will also keep you sane through your first year on campus.

Learn to navigate dining halls

Either you’ve escaped mom’s cooking or you’re pining for it. Either way, you’re on your own for planning meals. If you don’t consider the healthiest options, you’ll wind up hungry at Commons with a plate of nachos on your tray. The nachos won’t kill you if you practice moderation and portion control, but it is true that one good decision leads to even better decisions.

Frequent the Johnson Center

You’re already paying to attend this state-of-the-art gym with great classes and a friendly environment. Take advantage of it. Ladies, you can hop on the elliptical and see some weight-lifting eye candy on the floor below (no pressure, guys). With the pool, basketball court, track and rock-climbing wall, there really is something for everyone. For the less-than-dedicated types, joining a club sports team or taking a KHP class is a great way to stay committed.

Imbibe wisely

Alcohol? What’s that? Honestly though, you’ll thank yourself if you practice some restraint. Drinking makes you more likely to chow on some Cane’s and less likely to visit the gym. This all-powerful, new-best-friend serum is probably the crux of college weight gain. Watch out.

Sleep

When you are sleep deprived, your hunger hormones get out of whack and your metabolism isn’t up to its regular speed. Add in booze (the two are usually partners in crime), and you may see the number on the scale rise.

Practice time management

College beats high school because you have all this free time! Wait, is that why you’re up all night cramming at Willy T.? If you plan ahead, you can manage to: be mindful of your meals, burn some calories, have plenty of social time and get a solid night of sleep. Oh, and attend those classes you happen to be taking. Be creative with your time. The trek from the dorms to campus can certainly count as physical activity, and snacks such as fruit or nuts can tide you over to lunch. If you need a break, by all means take it, but don’t blow away the afternoon on Pinterest.

Go easy on yourself

Don’t try to be perfect. Chances are, you’ve embraced some new habits that, if managed well in the long run, can be included in a healthy lifestyle. Five pounds isn’t the end of the world. And depending on your height and stature, 15 may not be bad either.

Be proactive with your health routine and college weight gain won’t become a yearly struggle.