Four Steps to Avoiding the “Freshman 15”

Welcome, classes of 2017, to the Claremont Colleges. As you are probably already aware, you have entered an extremely exciting period in your lives. This coming year, you will learn to write and speak cogently and evaluate arguments critically. You will also take your first steps in acquiring specialized skills that are valuable in the labor market. Yet, the education you will receive extends beyond just classrooms and lectures.

A single year here in Claremont will relay other lessons, often when you least expect them. For example, the book your professor wrote is always required for class, mom’s cookies are a currency for making friends, and printers malfunction only when your assignment is due in 20 minutes. At times, adjusting to campus life may prove so overwhelming that you turn to food to smother your feelings. How do you know if you are susceptible to emotional eating? There is no set formula, but reflect on these questions: Did you gorge on chocolate after a breakup? Did a traumatic, tearful move-in lead you to seek solace in an entire oven tray of Scripps cookies? Do you plan to hit up the evening food trucks to deal with the stress of juggling academic, social and extracurricular demands? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are in danger of packing on the infamous “Freshman 15.” Fortunately, there are four recommendations you can follow on how to keep the poundage at bay.

First: Embrace healthy eating habits. There are few places on campus that exemplify the freedom of a college student more than the 5C dining halls. Nonetheless, rather than cave to your long-suppressed craving for midnight onion rings, try to maintain a healthy eating schedule. Waking up for breakfast is a challenge, especially as the semester progresses. Yet, if you put in the effort, you will be more alert for your morning classes and be less inclined to gorge at the lunch grill. Eating balanced meals is also important (and surprisingly difficult). For example, when searching for fresh fruits you will be hard-pressed to find anything that does not fall into the melon category. Melons are cheap, so we get them up the wazoo. Soon, even the sight of a melon will give you nausea. Luckily, Frary and Scripps dining halls periodically put out morning bananas. If you do manage to arrive before all the bananas are gone, stuff the whole bunch into your bag and dash to the exit lest you experience the wrath of a dining hall employee.

Second: Watch what you drink. If you make the decision to consume alcohol, keep track of how much you have had. For those of you who are calorie-counters, a can of beer has around 150 calories. A shot of hard liquor averages between 60 and 80 calories and a normal glass of wine comes in at 120. Alcohol is a wellspring of hidden calories that will quickly settle on your waistline. Trust me, a semester’s worth of excessive partying will see you investing in a new wardrobe to accommodate the new you.

Third: Stay active. The 5Cs offer a plethora of athletic outlets. If you are not already on a sports team, join one of the intramural teams; take a break from studying and participate in hallway Nerf wars; get a group together and trek up Mount Baldy; embrace the beefcake lifestyle by spending a couple of hours in the weight room; sign up for a PE class that actually requires physical exertion; use the stairs. (You get the point.)

Finally: Try to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. There will be nights when you are frantically composing an essay due the following day, but don’t make this a habit. Snacks inevitably find their way into your mouth late at night. Strive to avoid the 2:00 a.m. In-N-Out run. Forewarning: Students enjoy bragging about their sleep deprivation. Dinner conversations usually include some version of, “Oh yeah? Well I haven’t slept in three days!” If you fight the urge to join in the competition, you will look and feel better.

Freshman year tends to be a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Dining halls and parties are certainly part of the first year experience. Occasionally splurging on chocolate fondue or raging at Foam Party is a great way to celebrate your self-discipline, as long as you return to healthy habits. By being mindful of your choices in the buffet line, and elsewhere around campus, you can turn the “Freshman 15” into an urban legend.

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