by Madison Reale
Gaining weight in college is a fat problem. Nationwide students repeat the phrase “freshman 15”, associating the term with how college students gain weight in their first year. College freshmen seem to be the most vulnerable to packing on the pounds mainly because of the severe lifestyle change. Many factors weigh in on this issue, including stress from classes, lack of exercise, and bad eating choices. Surely this is can be avoided. Not every freshman has to chow down the same path as those before her. All it takes is gaining some knowledge about stress management, exercise programs, and healthy eating habits for the fear of the fifteen to be crushed.
Any students enrolled in college-level courses know that class can get stressful at times. There may only be two exams per semester that determine a final grade, which creates an intense pressure to score high on both. Aside from that, studying for these assessments requires a large amount of detail given over a long period of time to be regurgitated; the brain becomes so full it could burst. Furthermore, for freshmen the pressures of these classes are new and far different from high school courses. Being freshly exposed to this kind of education makes the entire year challenging for the novices.
Chronic stress has been proven to increase appetite and send the body into “fight or flight” mode. Stress signals can lead not only to weight gain, but also the tendency to store “visceral fat” around the midsection. These fat cells lie deep within the abdomen and are linked to an increase in both diabetes and heart disease. Along with the regular old academic stresses, the freshmen living transition poses an extra cause of stress to add on the plate. Most of the entering class are used to a routine and living with their parents. Luckily stress can be managed so that it will not expand waistlines.
An expensive aroma therapy massage with a deep-cleansing facial always seems to work, but without mommy and daddy’s credit card the options to reduce stress are a little more on the practical side. At the top of expert’s recommendations is always exercising. Exercise produces biochemicals that counteract the negative effects of stress. It can be as simple as walking for thirty minutes, just as long as one mustards up enough speed to get the heart racing. Besides literally working off the weight of tension, eating a balanced diet steadies blood sugar levels. In turn insulin levels lower, resulting in the control of appetite and weight. Lastly, sleep is crucial for stress management. Without enough rest, cortisol levels rise, creating a hungry sensation and less satisfied feeling from the food students do eat. The plump college students need to start seeing the error of their weighs and skip the frat parties to ketchup on important Z’s. Once stress is minimized, the chance for the freshmen fifteen to become reality reduces in size.
Not only does exercise prevent stress, it burns calories. When exercise occurs, muscles act similar to electric motors, taking in a source of energy and using it to generate force. In order to continue exercising, your muscles must repeatedly make ATP (a biochemical bond that creates energy). The facts with fat calories are that they store three times the amount of energy as carbohydrates. Moreover fat-calories have high doses of glucose, which quickly turns into fat if not used up by the body. It takes an intense workout to first burn off the carbs and then tap into the fat calories supplies for energy. For freshmen to use their gym memberships is also the healthiest way to work off the standard late-night Taco Bell runs. Think about it. If a crunch wrap supreme with a side of nachos are ingested, the total fat calories exceed the recommendation for two days. It is no wonder the pounds pile on college freshman. Fast-food items are typically unhealthy, but the inexpensive products are easy on the college budget. This convenient and cheap preference makes hitting the gym consistently necessary.
A one-time workout is not sufficient for avoiding weight gain for freshmen. Chances are the increase in stress and unhealthy eating combination will require a workout plan. It is highly recommended to alternate days working on different muscles to avoid build-up of lactic acid. An example would be: Monday working abs, Tuesday is for arms, Wednesday leg muscles, Thursday is back muscles and Friday the cycle starts all over again back at abs. Working out individual muscle groups builds lean muscle. That keeps freshmen metabolisms high, which burns off calories after you eat them. On top of that, a 45-minute cardio session should be performed four times a week. This will burn fat specifically and keep the student from gaining fifteen extra pounds from eating leftover pizza slices. Many individuals have the problem of only exercising occasionally, but the way to deter fat build-up is to be consistent and have a plan.
Eating healthy can be a major challenge for new college students. Late-night eating fast food, keeping unhealthy snacks in the dorm room, and eating unhealthy cafeteria food makes for a ton of unwholesome feasts. In addition, the meal plans provided are unlimited and the cafeteria is set up buffet style. Freshmen are in awe when they figure out they can have as much of their favorite foods as they want at no extra cost.
The simple advice is to portion meals and look past all the cafeteria’s cheese fries, pizza, and hot dogs. Hit up the salad bar for tons of fresh veggies. Bringing some Ziploc baggies and filling them with veggies is a good take-home option for free healthy study snacks. Eating healthy can be common sense; just look for healthier options.
With all the new experiences that happen freshman year, health often takes a back seat. Luckily if one follows this plan, health can be maintained in a simple and easy way. All it takes is commitment to a daily routine: decrease stress, visit the gym regularly, and maintain a healthy diet. If you achieve all of this you don’t have to stress about gaining the Freshman 15.