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As defined on Urban Dictionary, the freshman 15 is “When a first year college student (usually a female) eats a ton, and proceeds to sit on her ass and gain 15 lbs.”
Everyone has heard of it, the threat of gaining weight in college after one too many cups of sodium-infused ramen noodles and late night drunk pizzas. It’s hard when you’re a full-time student, working 15 hours a week, and trying to balance a social life. Everyone acts like the freshman 15 is a right of passage, but it’s not. There are actually a shit ton of things that many don’t know about it.
15 Facts About The Freshman 15 You Probably Didn’t Know About:
1. Blame it on the A-A-Alcohol!
A 1.5 oz shot of vodka has 97 calories in it. One can of beer is about 154 calories, and a glass of wine has roughly 125. All those extra calories consumed from Thursday to Sunday will eventually add up. Drunk-grinding with that hottie in a crowded frat basement might work up a sweat, but not nearly enough to burn off those six shots you downed.
2. Freshman 15? More like Freshman 2.7
Information released by the National College Health Assessment reported that the average weight gain of freshmen was 2.7 pounds, not 15. In fact, less than 10% of students gain the whole 15-pounds. About half of those students did gain some weight and 15% lost weight. This dreaded idea just causes anxiety for students and actually lead to anorexia and other eating disorders. The point of healthy eating is not to lead to excess, but to make you feel like you can succeed in school. So, it’s not always good to obsess over this stuff.
3. All-You-Should-Not-Eat Cafeteria
Welcome to the world of unlimited meal swipes where all meals are included in your tuition, no need to worry about grocery store runs. Nothing has nutrition facts labels or price tags, so you don’t have any idea what you’re putting on your tray. There are many options to choose from, and there is almost always a salad bar. Try and stay away from the heavy carbs and cheesy stuff. It’s so simple to just throw some french fries, a slice of pizza, and burger on your tray without feeling compelled to check the nutrition facts. And a plate of salad won’t be able to save you then.
4. Cheap Food Is Not A Win
35-cent dinners? HELL YES! When you’re a broke college student, it’s all about deals! However, budget shopping usually means high sodium, high fat, and all kinds of processed foods. Yeah, pre-packaged food is convenient and fast, but REAL food means more nutrition and energy. That’s totally worth the extra cash.
5. GYM=Better GPA
Dear students, your college comes with unlimited gym access that you’re paying for—USE IT! Sometimes, students actually gain muscle because they have access to a workout center. So, don’t get down on yourself if those skinny jeans don’t fit as well as they used to because of quad or booty gains.
In my experience, I end up being more productive when I hit the gym at least three times week. If I get my butt up early and go before class, it’s better than a cup of coffee! Not only does working out help your body, but your GPA! A survey conducted at UCLA recorded that students who worked out regularly held an average GPA of 3.20, those who didn’t averaged a 3.09.
6. Walking Is Not Exercise
Unless you are sprinting between classes or climbing a ridiculous amount of stairs, you’re not going to get much cardio in. The average student walks five miles a day which burns around 500 calories—depending on how fast you need to get to your class. Although, walking is good for you, if you want to keep the weight off, get your 75 minutes of cardio in per week.
7. Stressed Much?
Eating gives us a sense of control in our lives. Most students eat as a method of self-soothing. Being away from family and friends, some students may suffer from a little bit of homesickness. This may lead to digging your hand into the potato chip bag more often than normal. Sometimes your eating habits are indicators of deeper issues. This past year, more than 25% of college students have been diagnosed or treated for a mental health issue by a professional. If you are consistently stress eating, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. There’s no shame in getting checked out. Among college students, it’s more common than you may think.
8. Birth Control=Boobs
Weight gain is just one of the side effects of birth control. Since most girls are either already on or start the pill by their first year of college, it is often confused with weight gain from overeating. The pill may increase your appetite and very often, increase the size of your breasts by a cup or two. This can add about three pounds.
9. Breakfast, Breakfast, Breakfast!
It’s important to eat breakfast, make time for it! Breakfast actually gets your metabolism revved up for the day. If you are lucky enough to have a cafeteria that offers healthy breakfast options, take advantage. Stocking your dorm room with yogurt cups, fruit, and whole grain cereal is just as effective. It’s simple: roll out of bed and go eat!
10. 3,500 Calories=1 Pound Of Body Fat
To put this into perspective, if you eat 170 extra calories at every meal in addition to the usual 500 allotted for the 2,000 calorie diet, you’d gain about a pound per week. That brownie you tack onto your dinner can add as much as 400 calories. EEEK! The thing with college dining halls is they usually have ice cream or a massive cookie selection waiting for you at end of the line. Oh, temptation.
11. Schedules Are Necessary
Time in college is just nonexistent. But making extra time for working out and eating well will make life easier to manage. Completely cutting out all the good stuff is not realistic. Setting two or three days a week as “dessert days” will keep your sweet tooth in check and fulfill your craving for chocolatey goodness. Hey, after slaving over a 14-page research paper, you need to treat yo’ self! If you schedule about 75 minutes a week of intense cardio, you’ll have enough time to study and pound it out at the gym for a bit.
12. Social Events=Food Appreciation Gatherings
In college, if you’re a social butterfly, your calendar will be filled with nonstop events that are most likely serving a whole bunch of bad food and alcohol. Food always makes social gatherings less awkward because people bond over food, especially foods high in sugar and fat. When RAs schedule floor meetings, the only way they are going to get people to show is offering FREE FOOD! It’s fun to meet people on your floor but don’t stay too long, hovering around the cookies and chips. Just take a little handful of chips, chat for a bit, and leave. You probably have a paper you should be writing.
13. Meals Or Time Vacuums?
The more you sit and talk while surrounded by food that is easily accessible, the more you want to go back for more. A simple trick is to wait it out. While you talk, stand up to stretch. Sometimes, you can feel just how full you are by standing. Instead of going back for that double-chocolate pie, pop in a piece of gum.
14. Hibernation Is For Bears
It’s sooooo tempting to hide away when you attend college in a place where the days become darker and colder. The pressure is off to maintain the bikini bod, and everyone settles into a sweater-cushioned state of pumpkin spice coma. You can enjoy the cozy afternoons much better after going for a jog in the brisk autumn air.
15. Men Gain More
The freshman 15 is often identified with women. Did you think men were unaffected by this college curse? WRONG! According to the National College Health Assessment, on average, men gained 3.7 pounds, and women gained 1.7 pounds.