The dreaded Freshman 15…how can we avoid it?

College freshmen have nerves about plenty of things, whether it be potential roommate drama, meeting new people, taking on new athletic challenges or apprehension that they’ve chosen the right major.

But one thing all college students dread – trust me, I was one of them once – is the Freshman 15.

Even if you’re a hardcore athlete like myself, the Freshman 15 is a challenge to avoid. Back when I covered the high school basketball tournament full time for this newspaper, I always tried to avoid the “Auditorium 15,” which in translation means battling urges to have Bangor Auditorium pizza for lunch and a pair of hot dogs for dinner while slogging through 10-hour days of game coverage.

That being said, a weight loss and wellness expert for Medi-Weightloss Clinics was kind enough to share five pointers to avoid the Freshman 15. I’ll even add a couple of my own for good measure.

1. Don’t turn to food when you’re stressed. It’s easy to turn to a candy bar, potato chips or a six-pack when you’re stressed about the big exam or watching Family Guy reruns. A lot of students tend to binge eat or drink when stressed, and that only makes things worse.

2. Eat three square meals a day. Just because you’re in a dorm room or an apartment for the first time and don’t have your parents nagging you doesn’t mean you skip a meal. An example, if you skip breakfast, you’re likely to overeat during lunch or dinner. If you’re in a hurry, just grab a banana, a yogurt, or even mix a protein shake.

3. Exercise, exercise, exercise! Every college campus, even the small ones, have fitness centers, so there’s no excuse not to work out! In bigger cities, you may even have more options to explore in terms of a fitness center selection. If you can’t find one that suits you, jogging around the campus or even walking to class does wonders and burns calories! Or some core work – such as pushups or hovers – in your dorm or apartment, is just as good. It’s also a good stress reliever when the due date for that 10-page essay is looming.

4. Watch the processed foods. A favorite of college students is Ramen noodles. That doesn’t mean they are good for you. Choose low-fat and high-protein options when you can, and keep healthy munchies, such as apples or bananas, in your mini-fridge.

5. Don’t binge drink. When students get to college, partying is one of the big things on the bucket list. But that doesn’t mean you have to down a six-pack every night. Yes, according to studies, drinking a glass of beer or wine a day is good for your heart, but being drunk every night can pack on the pounds. Plus, it’s never fun to work out with a hangover!

6. If you do drink, flush it out. Like I just said, working out or going to class with a hangover after a fun night of partying is never pleasant. The best ways to avoid them are, don’t overdo it on the booze, and drink some water and eat something before bed. It’s never good to go to sleep on an empty stomach anyways. Once you get home, eat a healthy snack or two and have a glass of water or Gatorade, and you’ll avoid those inevitable headaches.

Another key to avoiding weight gains is make sure you get plenty of sleep. Many hours will be devoted to late-night studying, but don’t stay up until 4 a.m. writing a paper and try to get up for an 8 a.m. class. It’s not healthy. At least eight hours of sleep is a good number for young college students.

The sooner you develop good eating habits and piece together a formidable exercise routine, the smoother the path to a healthy lifestyle will be. Some campus gyms around the country have Les Mills programs in their facilities. Kia Kaha.

Ryan McLaughlin

About Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective with BDN readers about what's happening on the Boston professional sports scene.