Going into college is a huge lifestyle change. Aside from a roommate or two, you're living on your own, with no one telling you what to do, where to go, and most importantly, how to eat. This leads to a large percent of college freshman gaining what is known as the "Freshman 15". When I began attending college, I was honestly horrified that I would gain the Freshman 15. Thankfully, I didn't gain any weight that year-- I actually managed to lose a few pounds!
Looking back on my freshman year, I realized I unknowingly adopted a healthier lifestyle than the one I'd always been accustomed to at home. From doing my own grocery shopping, to having access to the gyms on campus, I made my health one of my top priorities in college. Because of this, I still kept these habits throughout my sophomore year, and I don't intend on throwing them away any time soon. With that said, here are the biggest changes I made freshman year that I noticed.
I walked everywhere. One factor that makes my situation unique is my campus. My campus is about 2,600 acres, so I found myself getting a ton of exercise just from walking back and forth from my dorm to class. The good thing about any campus is that there are gyms on campus, and when you're living on campus as a freshman, the gym is basically in walking distance. You have very little excuses not to go once in a while!
Netflix & Tread. Imagine the time you spend watching Netflix: Just sitting on your bed, eating popcorn, enjoying season 13 of Greys Anatomy. Instead of spending that time sitting on your bed, why not spend it at the gym? (But you need to finish the season, duh.) So, why not do both? Just download Netflix on your phone, plug in your headphones, and hop on the nearest treadmill! For me, watching a TV show puts my focus toward what's going on in the episode, instead of focusing on other things like waiting for each lap to finish or each minute to go by. Plus, choosing to working out instead of sitting in your dorm will prevent mindless snacking while you're watching your shows. This helped me a lot, because I have terrible snacking habits.
I picked the smallest meal plan. When you're using a prepaid meal card instead of constantly swiping your credit card or pulling change out of your wallet, it's a lot easier to buy food without realizing you're using actual money. That leads to eating bigger meals or eating more often, which can indeed cause weight gain. Having the smallest meal plan certainly limits your options sometimes, but it does prevent you from eating too much. You learn to pace your meals, to not over-eat, and, most importantly, to discipline your eating habits. You also learn to spend your money in a smart way. It isn't really diet-related, but it sure as hell prepares you for when you're living on your own as a real adult.
There was no unhealthy food in my dorm. Okay, aside from the occasional tub of Ben & Jerrys to keep me sane. Anyway, I realized my eating habits drastically change when I'm home versus when I'm at college. That's due to the fact that my family buys junk food a lot (I have two brothers and they can eat anything without gaining weight) so I found myself snacking a lot. When I'm at college, I don't keep bags of potato chips, Pop Tarts, or Oreos in my room-- I only eat those when I'm home since they're right in front of me. If you shop smart, and buy healthier snacks to keep in your dorm instead of the ones I just mentioned, you'll be saving yourself a ton of calories, probably without even realizing it!
I made wise coffee decisions. I became a coffee drinker in college when I realized I NEEDED an extra boost of energy once in a while. At first, I was ordering a medium-sized peppermint mocha with milk and sugar almost every day, if not more. Boy, do those calories add up. I wasn't used to drinking coffee so often, and I didn't realize how many calories I was adding to my daily diet. When I finally realized what I'd been doing, I made some serious changes. I started off by ordering small coffees instead of mediums, then I started ordering my coffee with skim milk and putting in less sugar. Lastly, I got out of the habit of drinking coffee every day in order to make sure I wasn't becoming totally caffeine-dependent.
I made some rules. Having the freedom to choose whatever you want to eat can seriously harm your diet if you aren't careful. Dining halls offer a wide variety of food, and you can suddenly find yourself eating a burger and fries every night, donuts for breakfast, and potato chips with every lunch. To keep myself from going crazy and eating whatever I wanted, I made a few rules for my diet, none of which involved cutting out foods completely.
-no eating past 12am (reasonable for a college student)
-do not add butter or salt to food
-only buy ice cream once every two weeks (my addiction is too real so this was seriously hard for me)
-don't eat bread for breakfast (donuts, biscuits, toast)