Overcoming the freshmen 15

By Emily Doran | 9/2/14 11:19pm

By Emily Doran


As a first-year student at Grand Valley State University, I can confirm that there are several aspects of attending college that intimidate me and my fellow freshman: There’s homesickness, the difficulty of adjusting to rigorous academics and the challenge of balancing homework and social life. These are hurdles that immediately confront incoming freshman and are too large and obvious to ignore.

Not all of college’s adjustments are so blatant, however. Rather, a college campus is the perfect breeding ground for developing bad habits that don’t produce noticeable effects right away. One such consequence that can develop subtly is the infamous Freshman 15. Free from parental constraints for perhaps the first time, it is easy for students to develop unhealthy habits that can lead to weight gain. These can range from eating unchecked in the cafeteria to failing to utilize the gym. I’ve only been living on campus for two weeks, but I can already tell that these will be challenging hurdles.

So I’ve come up with a “game plan.”

First, I’m trying to eat well. This can be very difficult with cafeterias that offer a lot of junk food (the soft serve machine at Fresh comes readily to mind). Still, there are plenty of healthy options as well. When I eat at Fresh, for example, I like to build a large veggie-topped salad to start off my meal, and when I grab a sandwich at The Connection, I reach for an apple as a side instead of a bag of chips (most of the time, anyway).

I realize that eating well is only one aspect of staying healthy, though; exercise is also very important. I’m sure I’m not the only freshman who’s realized that it’s possible to get a decent workout just from walking across campus lugging a heavy backpack. Needless to say, my shoulders will probably be significantly stronger by the end of the semester. I also try to take the stairs instead of the elevator, just as another way to add small bouts of exercise into my daily routine. For full-blown workouts, I either make the trek to Fieldhouse – which is not particularly time effective, but worth it for the equipment – or I pop in a workout DVD in my laptop when I’m feeling a little more lazy or when I’m under time constraints. But either way, I try to exercise frequently.

Finally, I am striving to get enough sleep. This healthful habit has been the most difficult to implement. For example, with a schedule that includes both early-morning classes and late-night study sessions, I often find that maintaining a full and consistent sleep schedule is nearly impossible. But sleep is still a critical part of staying well and, as such, I try to treat it as a priority, right alongside classes and work hours.

While avoiding the dreaded Freshman 15 may be challenging, I think that it will be far from impossible. All it will take is a little bit of diligence and the right tools, and with the abundant resources available at GVSU, including nutritious food and exercise options, I know that I will have plenty of ways to implement and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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