I have so much to say on this subject, and granted I haven’t been to college in a LITTLE while cuz I’m in my twenties 😉 (wink wink wink……OH BE QUIET! 😯 ), I still know how it goes down!
To be clear as to why this is a topic worth tackling, let me point out a scary statistic. You ready? 70% of college bound kids will pack on an average of 12 to 37 pounds by graduation. That is frightening! Why is this happening? Well I can think of a bunch of reason – but MORE importantly, I have a bunch of SOLUTIONS! Gaining weight and losing self-esteem in college do NOT have to be a fait accompli. Read on….
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If you really think about it, what changes when you go off to college? Many kids join fraternities and sororities which, let’s face it, lends itself to a party life that NEVER existed in high-school (at least, not to the same degree). I’m not even referring to the alcohol. And the partying isn’t just limited to the Greek system. These young adults are stepping into a world of independence and freedom that they’ve never experienced before. There is a LOT of celebrating going on. With partying, celebrating and new-found-freedom – comes a lot of emotion, stress and ……this is a biggie…..LACK OF SLEEP.
There are so many things that really mess with metabolism, and sleep is a huge offender. When you are sleep-deprived, your metabolism will not function properly. Leptin, the hormone that tells you to stop eating, is actually lessened when you are sleep deprived. An average of 7.5 hours a night is ideal. Any less than that, your hormones pay the price – which typically leads to overeating due to not feeling satiated.
STRESS – another huge metabolism buster, is something college students know well. Stress causes your body to go into “fight or flight” mode. When this happens, your body produces a surge of cortisol and insulin. Unfortunately, both of these hormones cause you to store, as opposed to BURN, fat. Total bummer!
Peer pressure! Now, this is a biggie. Even as adults we deal with this one. (Of course we deal with sleep deprivation and stress as well, but when you’re older, it’s nothing NEW. For college coeds, it IS somewhat of a new experience to navigate). Trying to eat healthy amidst friends who are partying, eating pizza at 2am, having donuts for breakfast….. is tough! It sucks to be the stand out and order a salad! And really, who WANTS to? Getting swept away in that carefree environment is AWESOME! But the price paid is HEALTH, and in turn – weight gain!
So here are some strategies for keeping your shape in the thick of college life. (And yoo-hoo! Grown up! Yah, YOU! This is some good sh** to note for ALL of us!):
First of all, think HEALTH! Don’t focus on weight. Think about how your decisions you make NOW could ultimately affect your livelihood and health LATER. AND, think about how much better you’ll do in school (college, career, whatevs!) if you feel awesome! So let’s tackle one at a time, and I’ll try to be brief (cuz this blog is already longer than I wanted it to be. Don’t wantcha to get bored!).
GET SLEEP! Don’t burn the candle at both ends. I know it’s easier said than done, but seriously….think about it. College is fun, but you’re there to get an education. Put partying in it’s place. Don’t become a lush just because you CAN. Try to limit drinking to weekends, and even THEN – have one or two drinks at the most. Getting a buzz is better than getting drunk because you’re still in control AND you’ll get a better night’s sleep. Did you know that alcohol interrupts REM sleep? Even if you sleep for 10 hours after a night out, you aren’t getting the type of sleep your body and metabolism NEED. That goes for studying too! Don’t pull all-nighters. You will not get a better grade if you’re exhausted! Make sleep a priority and you’ll reap the benefits not only with your health/weight, but with your grades as well.
Manage stress by being active. Obviously being active is amazing for managing weight, but going for a run to alleviate stress is helpful ten fold! You’ll avoid producing cortisol (stress hormone) and your body will not store excess fat that it would have otherwise burned. It is in your best interest to incorporate some type of exercise regimen in college. Work up a sweat!
EAT BREAKFAST! Most likely you’ll have a mini-fridge in your dorm room. If you’re able to keep fruit in your room, DO IT! AND, keep a large container (and paper bowls) of that Quaker Oats that has that pilgrim-looking guy on it. Just a handful of raw quaker oats with some fruit is an AWESOME breakfast! OR, a handful of oats with a scoop of protein powder (skip the fruit if you want, or add it in too!). Add a touch of water if you want to make it more cereal-like, but it’s delicious raw and crunchy too. DON’T GO HUNGRY! You’ll end up over eating later, I promise you! Look at your schedule and figure out when you can grab lunch. Check out the lay of the land. Some cafeterias have salad bars. Some are awful and have heavy, oil-laden foods. Find the good places and stick with them.
Do not let your nutritionally-challenged friends talk you into indulging in fries and chips and crazy night-time binges. It’s so easy to get swept up in that and it definitely gets annoying when friends make comments about your healthy eating style. Change the subject, laugh it off – or tell them to go to hell – but don’t compromise your health. Do NOT be ashamed to throw tempeh in your book bag to pull out during lunch with friends. Be confident and vigilant about your well-being. And keep in mind…. we are all born with a loaded gun. Our genes. Maybe we have the genetics to have heart disease or cancer or auto-immune diseases. What pulls those triggers? Our diet choices. Eat well and never pull those triggers. Think of that when all of your friends are sharing a pepperoni pizza after a night out partying.
Shop. Keep healthy food choices in your dorm room and in your book bag. Don’t be caught starving. Preparation is everything. College can be a time to retool your lifestyle. Partying can comfortably be incorporated, but go by YOUR rules and CARE about your health.
Be the trendsetter with health and fitness among your friends, not the follower. Don’t succumb to the pitfalls that are so easy to fall into in college life. This is your opportunity to redefine yourself. Take control, make good choices – and feel free to message me with any specific questions. YOU GOT THIS!
😎 😉 Toodles!