How to Avoid Freshman 15 and be Healthy in College

Transitioning into college will require you to find a new normal. Oftentimes, finding a new normal leads most college students to forgo their health. Gaining and losing some weight is inevitable.

Most people gain or lose weight during major transitions in their life. That’s normal.

However, some students forsake their health altogether when they get to college, especially during exam season. Fortunately, there are some really practical (and painless) ways to help you stay on the right track.

#1 Establish a reliable source of good food

Food insecurity leads to overeating. A major part of healthy living is healthy eating but you if don’t have regular access to healthy food then you’re more likely to overeat when you do get access to food.

Needless to say, that won’t work if you’re trying to be healthy.

Figure out where every dining hall is on campus and when they’re open. Go online to figure out what’s on the menu and how much it will cost you to go to that dining hall on a regular basis.

Figure out the type of food and snacks that you like and that’s healthy to eat. Forcing yourself to eat healthy food that is disgusting is not a good long-term strategy.

During exam season or when life just gets stressful, you’re going to revert to food that makes you feel good. Food that makes you feel good is not necessarily the same food that is good for you. Find food that you like that is good for you. That way when your world is up flames you’ll revert to your nice healthy comfort food.

#2 Give yourself permission to eat like a pig

There will be a time that you eat like a pig. You’re a college student. It’s inevitable.

Since it is inevitable, plan out your pig-out days and times.

If you know that midterms send you into a spiraling mess of chaos then give yourself permission to eat trash on Wednesday mornings. (It doesn’t have to be on a Wednesday but you get the idea.)

Give yourself a predesignated time to pig out and stick to it religiously. The idea is to prevent yourself from going into a coma of cookies, ice cream and everything terrible for you. If you give yourself permission to eat junk food then you’re telling your body that you can have junk food, just not right now.

#3 Find easy, passive ways to workout

I encourage you to go to the gym on a regular basis, but I don’t mean every day.

I mean create a habit of going to the gym consistently.

Be so consistent that the staff on duty recognize you. You don’t have to go to the gym every day to have that type of effect. It can be twice a week in the evenings or every other morning. Find a routine that works with your schedule but it’s vital that you are consistent. It’s better to get a 30-minute cardio workout three times a week than to have an intense one-hour workout sporadically.

There are other passive ways to stay active as well. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Explore your campus in your free time. Get a bike or skateboard to get around campus. Find a different place to study periodically. Park farther away. These little changes will add up over time and have an impact on your overall health.

When you do go to the gym, find a workout that you enjoy or try out a different class when you do visit. The point is to stay active. Venture out of your comfort zone. It’s okay if you have never done pilates before. The goal is to be healthy, not perfect.

#4 Get a work out buddy

Having an accountability partner makes all the difference in the world. Sometimes we’re more motivated to be consistent if we run the risk of letting someone else down. Try to find a workout buddy who will keep you accountable to your goals. The point is to motivate one another to stay healthy and active.


As a college student, you have will have the opportunity to try out so many new things. Take advantage of all the resources at your disposal. When it comes to being healthy, the goal is to sweat. Don’t compare your journey to anyone else. It’s not a competition between peers. It’s a competition against yourself.

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