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As a college student, I understand the female struggle with the “freshman 15.” It can be difficult to stay fit and healthy on such a small budget and with so few options in the school cafeteria. Sometimes it just seems easier to veg out and watch Netflix than go for a run in between study sessions. However, there are ways to keep up a healthy routine while still squeezing in that afternoon nap. As we head into summer break, here is a list of seven tips for college students, by college students, on how to avoid, prevent or ditch the 15 during summer session before fall rolls around again:
- A little goes a long way. Sometimes nothing gives you more energy than finding spots in your day-to-day routine for a quick exercise routine. Put yoga pants or run capris to good use and jog around campus in between classes. You may arrive to class a bit sweaty and tired, but you will feel more energized and ready to focus on the professor’s hour-long lecture. Another option: throw in a few squats during your bedtime routine. Your body, mind and even your grades will thank your little bit of extra work.
- Get moving. This applies to your time spent checking Facebook and binge watching Netflix after classes are over. Too often we can find ourselves simply lying in bed instead of becoming active while there’s still daylight outside. Go to the beach, walk somewhere, play a sport. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as your blood is pumping.
- For the times that you can’t seem to gather the energy to run or would rather catch up with your favorite sitcom, stretch. Do it during the show, while you study for a test or while you paint your nails. You can even stretch right before that nap you’ve been dying to take all week. All that matters is that you do it.
- Focus on different exercises. Going for a daily run is important, but it’s also important to develop the rest of your body. Many muscles have opposites—back and core, biceps and triceps. Both should be equally strong. Try to add other forms of exercise, like weight lifting, to your week while still going on runs. Many universities offer free gym membership to students.
- Drink water. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and refill it throughout the day. Water is the best thing for your body to drink (especially between weekend beverages).
- Practice moderation. The “freshman 15” happens when you stop paying attention. It occurs when you decide that a constant lifestyle of burrito runs, carbs and heaping plates is infinitely better and easier than balanced meals and smaller portions. The trick is to learn at what point to say no to seconds (and thirds) and allow your stomach time to digest. Have a plate, wait 15 minutes, and if you’re still hungry, cut up a chilled piece of fruit or have a small bite of dessert.
- Be patient—and don’t compare. Results come at a different pace for everyone, and you cannot expect instant changes. Constantly comparing your body to that of other girls’ is not only a bad idea, but it’s also unfair to both of you. All that you can do is love yourself and know that your body is beautiful; if you’re happy with the way it looks, there’s no reason to change it. A healthy lifestyle is just as much about happiness with yourself as much as it is about exercise and proper nutrition.