Friday, December 17, 2010

Things I Wish I'd Known...

Today, I start a new blog series. It's called "Things I Wish I'd Known." I hope one day to turn it into a magazine column or something but for now, I'll keep it on the blog. Each post will relate to something I've learned in my college years, things I wish I'd known...So enjoy!

Things I Wish I'd Known...
Freshman 15

I've been in college for two and a half years as I enter my Spring semester of my Junior year. And there is one thing that sticks out in my mind as something I wish I'd known. Going into college, I heard horror stories about the freshman 15. Everyone I knew told me stories about people who gained gazillions of pounds their freshman year. Girls who ballooned out in just the first few weeks. Went from a size 8 to a size 12 in days.

I blew it off. Freshman 15, yeah right. That's just an old wives's tale, meant to scare incoming freshman into eating their fruits and veggies, even once Mom isn't around to force-feed them. It's supposed to scare you into exercising or doing gross sit-ups. That is all. Freshman 15 is a myth, that's what I resolutely told myself.

Boy, was I wrong. About a lot. The freshman 15 exists. It is SO easy once you hit college to leave the fruits, veggies and water at home. Trust me. School food is not always the best eatin' and it's super convenient to just avoid the "meat and three" line and go straight for the pizza and burgers. Ice cream is served at every meal, along with chocolate syrup and sprinkles - my personal weakness. And, thank you college, for putting nutritional facts at every food line, so I can ignore exactly how many calories I'm consuming. No matter how much I told myself I'd eat green beans tomorrow, tomorrow never came. Pizza and hamburgers, waffles and pancakes pretty much rounded out every single meal.

That's not the only issue either. When I lived at home, my parents were very ant-food-in-your-room. They were big on not snacking between meals. (Boy, I wish I'd have listened to them then and learned a valuable life lesson.) Not so at college. At college, they have conveniently placed drawers that are perfect to store food. And the store is always just a car ride away. Goldfish, Oreos, peanut butter crackers, fruit loops, all are food items that are exceptionally good for snacking. And for gaining weight.

So, using the pizza & hamburger, snack in the dorm room method, the Freshman 15 can be a very real terror. I know it was for me. And (let me let you in on a secret), it doesn't stop at Freshman. Pretty soon, the Freshman 15 becomes the Sophomore 25 which then turns into the Junior 30. I don't know what the Senior Blank is but I know I don't want to find out.

In order to help others avoid the trap I've fallen into, below are some simple guidelines that can help you avoid looking like a blimp. Trust me - takes one to know one! And don't worry - you can do it! I'm doing it right along with you.

  • Eat healthy. Sounds hard. It is. Avoid the hamburger and pizza line as much as you can. Even a turkey sandwich is better than a grease-filled burger. Go for a salad sometimes. And nix the ice cream habit. A small bowl once a week is okay but not ideal.
  • Don't go cold turkey. Start small. Eat one healthy meal a day. A bowl of ice cream a week. Eventually, you can become all healthy but as they say "Rome wasn't built in a day." Neither is a completely new diet.
  • If you're a soft drink junkie, like I am, try not to be. Go for a month without soft drinks, then reward yourself with ONE soft drink. Or just go two months. But make it your mission to drink more water - this really helps.
  • Try exercising. Everyone exercises differently. Some enjoy Pilates with a DVD, others running. Find what works for you. Then do it. Consistently.
  • Get a friend to work on this with you. Doing it alone is no fun.
Trust me, this isn't easy. To get off soft drinks, I had to pledge to pay my friend $5 every time I drank a soft drink. Even just a sip. It worked 'cause I don't have the spare money. Just get in the habit. It takes 21 days to form a habit. Can you do it?

Yea. You can. So come on and learn something I wish I'd have known...