Warning, this is going to be a long post. I’m soon to be graduating from college, and I know so many people wonder about the “Freshman 15” and how to avoid it, or better yet – how to get fit in college.
It sounds impossible. Shit. It looks impossible! My college has a ridiculous amount of food in the dining hall! Oh, and every freshman HAS to have a meal plan because apparently freshmen can’t be adults and cook for themselves.
Or colleges are just trying to milk you for every penny you have and every loan you can get. Do I sound bitter? Whatever.
Moving on, I’m not someone who started college skinny, thin, fit, or anything. I started college around 180lbs and I wasn’t happy about that. I knew college was a place where I could change though, and I knew I could control my food easily.
I had a weird start since after being accepted to my school, I immediately applied to study abroad and was accepted. So my first September of college was spent across the Atlantic Ocean in Dublin, Ireland. I fucking love that place more than any other place I’ve visited. Easily.
This brings me to my tips:
1. Do it for yourself
That’s a shocker. Sorry, but you can’t expect to fight food temptations without wanting to change. You have to want it more than anything else. In Dublin I shopped at a farmers market, did at-home bodyweight exercises, and walked to everywhere. When I was back on campus I knew I was forced to use a meal plan though so my approach shifted, plus having a gym on campus meant I could lift!
2. Calories are king
You’re best bet is to learn about calories and portion control. I download MyFitnessPal in Dublin and learned to track food loosely. I didn’t have a scale, but I had some measuring cups and my eyes. If I cup up an onion I estimated if it was half a cup and would look it up on MyFitnessPal and log it. Sometimes I would think “This is a medium onion, maybe,” and I would look up “Medium onion” on MyFitnessPal and bam.
I didn’t know about macros at the time, I just knew I had to understand what I was eating and how much of it. So the idea that you need to buy a scale (I love my scale though) is crazy. You don’t need to go all-out and weigh every little thing, you can ease into it at whatever pace you want. I was loosely tracking like that for 6 months! I lost weight while doing it! I even ate out and had pizza, it’s literally all about balance.
3. Use your meal plan to your advantage!!!
At my school I was able to find out they’re meal provider was Sodexo (but I think they changed now, who knows). Well, I searched “Sodexo” on MyFitnessPal and found them!
So whenever I ate I would look up the food in MyFitnessPal with Sodexo, for example “Cheeseburger Sodexo” and I would log what I found. I even did this with pasta, rice, eggs – anything. I know it’s not super accurate, but it’s close and that’s what matters.
I also did this sneaky thing where I would bring Tupperware into the dining hall and stock up on salad, chicken breast, chickpeas, or whatever I wanted. This pretty much meant I could have healthy food in my dorm fridge in case I was super hungry and needed a snack or didn’t feel like walking to the dining hall. This was extremely helpful in the winter.
The point is that you pay for the meal plan, so get the most you can out of it!
You need to find a balance for your sanity. I started off eating healthy every day of the week, and letting loose on the weekends. I didn’t go crazy, but maybe I’d eat more than 1 serving of pasta, or eat half a pizza – whatever I craved.
If you want to lose weight in college, you can’t drive yourself crazy by only eating salads, egg whites, and whatever other healthy shit people eat. You can’t feel guilty about eating what you want! I hate that.
Now, I happily eat on my macros for 6 days and loosely track 1 day a week. That honestly doesn’t mean I go crazy eating pizza and fast food. Some weeks it means going out on a date with my boyfriend and eating sushi, others it means eating pizza while watching football. Hell! Sometimes it means getting chicken nuggets from Wendy’s and fries from McDonalds! Balance. The world isn’t going to end.
On the other hand, my boyfriend never gets cravings. Maybe once every other week? He’s just not that type of person.
The point is that you need to figure out what works for you. Don’t let people guilt you into eating healthy for 7 days in a row if you’re dying for pizza. If you deprive yourself too much then you’ll end up binging and making things worse.
5. Figure out a workout routine
At first I did at-home workouts, I literally just searched on youtube. Then when I got to campus, I would go into the gym, warm up for 8-10 minutes on whatever cardio equipment I felt like using, and would lift. I had no real plan other than arms, legs, back, legs, arms. Then I would take 2 days off from the gym and repeat.
Hell, if I felt like doing a full-body workout, I DID IT. I just did whatever made me happy. It kept me going to the gym and that is what matters.
6. Motivation? HA! Good luck.
For me, nothing is better than having a friend to go with you to the gym when you’re starting. Now the gym is my “me time” so I prefer going alone, the irony!
If you don’t have a friend to go with you, I enjoyed watching Nikki Blackketter on youtube and girls who lifted. Some days 1 video was enough to make me want to lift, other days I needed to watch 5 before I found some motivation.
Shit. It’s ok to lose motivation and take some time off – I still do it. BALANCE!
7. Hire an online coach – just hear me out!
I don’t need a personal trainer or someone telling me “you can do it!” While I lift. What I needed was someone to keep me accountable when I went to the gym alone. I needed a real lifting schedule/routine that would push me more.
I worked my ass off and hired Matty Fusaro – best decision ever. I watched his youtube videos for around 2-3 years by that point, and he knows what it’s like to be chubby or fat and work hard to lose weight. He came up with a lifting plan that was 4 days a week, which initially scared me since I was lifting 5 days a week lol! He also added minimal cardio and calculated macros for me and adjusted them as we went.
I know the idea of hiring an online coach is scary. I get it. I was broke, but I worked my ass off and reached out to him letting him know I wanted to work with him, but that I needed some time to come up with the money. The point is that this pushed me over some sort of edge.
I lost 8-10lbs working with Matty for 8 weeks, and it felt amazing. Just knowing I had to send a weekly check-in email made me stay on track – plus the fact that I paid for his help so I didn’t want to waste my money or his time!
I highly recommend finding a coach you like (cough*Matty Fusaro’s website*cough) and signing up!
8. Focus on the Scale
This sounds bad, right? Well here’s the thing, at first you’ll lose weight fast and eventually it’ll slow down. Once it slows down then you can ease off the scale number, but when you first start you’ll find a fuck-ton of motivation from seeing the scale go down.
Don’t let the scale upset you when the weight loss slows down, or fluctuates. You don’t need to weigh yourself everyday, but I found out a lot about weighing myself everyday.
For example, I found out I bloat when I eat sushi about 1-2lbs. I can bloat anywhere from 3-5lbs when I’m pmsing or on my period, too. These are things I needed to know so if I have a high weight one day, I can say “Ok, this happened because of my period” or “It’s no big deal, that’s from sushi last night.”
You get the idea, use the scale as a tool to learn about your body – it’ll save you later on when your weight fluctuates.
9. Take the stairs
This seems a little obvious, but take the damn stairs. If you have to go up 2 floors, you can handle the stairs! Do it twice a week, or every day, I don’t care – just do it! I use the stairs 90% of the time, some days my legs are sore so I use the elevator, but I always use the stairs to go up 1 floor, and always use the stairs to go down (since going down stairs is WAY easier than going up haha)!
10. Learn the difference between bored and hungry
I am definitely the type of person who eats when they’re bored. No shame.
I started drinking WAY more water in school, and tried to really ask myself if I was hungry or bored. Do I really want to eat, or do I want to eat because I smell someone else’s food? It’s still hard now, but you get better at ignoring the boredom.
Hopefully, these tips can be helpful to someone. Avoiding the freshmen 15 is easier than it sounds. You just need to figure out what works for you and run with it. I don’t think it’s easy to follow all these steps (like always taking the stairs), but if you can do 1 thing I’d consider that a win!