The Louisville Cardinal

Seven cardinal rules to fight the 15


By Nate Gilbert–

The first week of class is finally here.  You’re anxious, excited, nervous, scared and probably still confused as to what is going on in this new place.  What I most remember about my first semester of college was the dramatic increase in freedom accompanied by a dramatic increase in responsibility.

Adjusting to the new faces, sights, sounds and academic challenges of college are tough enough by themselves.  The last thing you need is to shop for a new wardrobe or end up sick within the first few weeks of the semester due to poor dietary habits and a lack of sleep and physical activity.

The “Freshman 15” is a commonly used term to describe the amount of weight a first year college student will gain due to changes in lifestyle habits.  These 7 tips will keep you well rested, healthy and help you fight off the freshman 15.

  1. Establish a sleep schedule. This will be the best thing you can do for yourself. A regular sleep schedule with sufficient shut-eye will keep your immune system running on high gear.  Also, it’s impossible to eat unnecessary calories while sleeping. Staying in the library during after-hours can really mess you up, plus, the peer pressure to order pizza is real, folks. Warning: napping is known as a college commodity, so please sleep responsibly.
  2. Do carry a refillable water bottle. This will prevent you from drinking your calories at the numerous soft drink stations on campus, while saving you hundreds of dollars throughout the year, and help flush toxins from your body. Plus, it won’t take you long to realize that everyone carries a Camelbak or some variation of the brand.
  3. Make the staples of your diet protein, vegetables and fruit. Fill your plate with as many natural colors as possible with a serving of protein and this will keep that Freshman 15 at bay. Especially when you make those habitual trips to the Ville Grille, or the CBC – sub the endless ice cream buffet for a spinach salad or regular potato chips for sweet potato fries.
  4. Eat Breakfast. Make sure there is a healthy dose of protein in your breakfast.  This will jump start your metabolism for the day and give you sustained energy versus a sugary breakfast which will spike your energy and leave you hungry shortly after eating.
  5. Exercise for 30 minutes. Give yourself 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise three to five days per week.  A great starting point is starting with a short 30 minutes.  You’ll find this much easier to fit into your schedule.  High intensity intervals on a cardio machine and resistance training will be your most effective and efficient at keeping you lean. A quick in-and-out 30 minutes at the gym can be more powerful in keeping you awake than shotgunning Starbucks coffee cans, and is a surefire way to clear one’s mind. Don’t underestimate the power of exercise and how much your body needs it.
  6. Don’t eat the fourth meal. This should take care of itself if you are on a regular sleep schedule.  A fourth meal will add anywhere from 200-1500 calories to your diet per day.  Papa John’s will lead you into temptation, so stock up on healthy snacks like apples. Adam and Eve would be proud.
  7. Do aim for perfection but be OK with progress. I’m a firm believer in setting high goals for anything in life.  Your physical health should be no different.  Aim for achieving all of these on a regular basis and, even though you’ll miss your target somedays, having a big goal will help you achieve more than you would otherwise with a lower target.

It really is the simple things that will guarantee your best self in your first year of college. Some bonus tips? If you get carried away with your flex points (and you will), try to use them smartly. College is a learning experience, therefore so is the lifestyle that accompanies it.