Avoiding the Freshman 15

Our office is located less than 1.5 miles from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.  This is the second in a series of blogs intended to help our college students establish healthy habits.  Last week we wrote about strategies you can use to relieve back and neck pain while in class .  This week, we will cover the topic of weight management.

Is the Freshman 15 Fact or Fiction?

Let’s put your mind at ease a bit.  Although the saying “Freshman 15” has been around for a long time, studies show that it is a rarity.  Research in an article by the Washington Post, show that while weight gain is common during the Freshman year, only about 10% of college students actually gain the 15 pounds.  Although the average amount of weight gain is actually around 7.5 the research gives us an understanding of how unhealthy habits in college can create problems beyond the freshman year.

What’s Causing the Scale to Change

Being in a new environment can be tough.  We work with students from Western Washington University and other colleges in Bellingham.  Among other things, some of the factors they tell us that contribute to unwanted pounds include:

  • Not taking time to prepare healthy meals
  • Reaching for fast food during midterms, finals and all-nighters.
  • Skipping meals that later lead to overeating in the dining halls
  • Not making exercise a priority
  • A vibrant social life sprinkled with cocktails, beer, soda, mochas, and more (We know it happens.  Even as a Freshman

For many students, being away from parental life can be like being freed from a cage.  For others, it is like being a fish out of water. Regardless of your perspective, being on your own provides a great opportunity to establish some solid health habits.  

A Holistic Approach to a Healthy Weight During Freshman Year and Beyond.

Here are a few tips and tricks from The Washington Post article above along with our clinical experience of working with patients on their weight issues.

1). Stick to structure and be careful in the cafeteria:  

Many parents manage to plan healthy meals while juggling a career and family life.  Sometimes it involves making meals that can be done on the fly. Other times, large batches of food can be made and eaten over the week.  If you live in the dorms during your freshman year then healthy choices can be a snap. Just be mindful of your portions and choices. However, if you’re living off campus, a slow cooker can be your best friend for making healthy meals over the week.  Here is a link to 25 Healthy Recipes That You Can Make In A Slow Cooker  to get you started.

2). Get Fit with Friends:

Chances are your friends are also trying to avoid weight gain, so create a workout group to hold one another accountable.  Participating in a league sport, working out with a buddy or establishing a workout time can be a great first step to your workout routine. If you’re using the workout to de-stress, make sure your workouts are aerobic.  Use a heart rate monitor to track your activity and ensure that your workout gives you energy instead of stealing it from the energy you need to study.

3).  Go beyond the scale:

The numbers on the scale don’t tell you the whole story.  Some people can look skinny on the outside but have excess fat on the inside (a terms called Tofi) while others look heavy on the scale, but are very fit.  Remember that muscle weighs more than fat so many times we need other indicators to see if our health is moving in the right direction.  At our office, we incorporate body fat testing as a way to help people track their weight as they reach their health goals. If you would like to know how your weight is broken down, refer to this article and schedule a Free Body Fat test today.

Although the Freshman 15 is an urban legend, the transition from home to college life is inevitable.  Like we said before, change can be tough. With great challenges comes great opportunities. Join us in our final week as we help our students…

Decompress School Stress

You can also consult with us if you have specific problems you think we can help.

In service,

Drs. Tran and Hsu

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