We all know there are loads of ways to GAIN weight when in college — hence the ever-familiar Freshman Fifteen — but did you know there are a few really good ways to lose weight when in college, too? By following a few simple rules, and remembering a few key ideas, you can lose weight while you’re away at school, while everyone else is chubbing out. Here are 18 ways to lose weight when in college… and keep it off!
1 Take a Class
Whether your degree requires it or not, try taking a fitness class to help you lose weight while in college. Most colleges and universities will count this class as a 3 or 4 credit-hour elective, and aside from earning the credits, you’ll also be forced into being fit… and you’ll even learn exactly how to be fit, without hiring a trainer or paying to join a gym. Bonus!
2 Take ANOTHER Class
Okay, you’re taking the fitness class, but what other classes are there that can help you lose weight at school? Think outside the box, and try a group sports class (like soccer) or a specific fitness class (like yoga) or even a nutrition class. Aim for one each semester, so you’ll keep up your fitness and healthy eating and weight loss. You’ll pile on the credits and healthy habits while everyone else is miserable, packing on the Freshman Fifteen.
3 Use an App
You’re going to be a busy little co-ed, so keeping a food and fitness journal isn’t going to be easy. As if you don’t already have enough notebooks to keep track of! Solution: download a calorie-tracking and fitness app, which makes keeping track of your diet and fitness a snap. My favorite is the LIVESTRONG Calorie Tracker. Try it!
4 Count the Drinks
College life means parties, and parties can mean near-instant weight gain. I’m not just talking about the junk food, either — drinks count too! Be sure to count the calories in the mixed drinks (or even just the soda) you consume, as well as the Starbucks coffee drinks you’ll need to stay up late for studying.
5 Shop Right
There’s nothing healthy at the campus bookstore, though an occasion treat won’t hurt. Rather than stocking up on quick but incredibly fattening canned ravioli, shop smart, at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Another tip: shop the outer edges of the grocery store, where the fresh fruits, whole grains, and lean protein are, and avoid the inner aisles, where the junk food resides.
6 Avoid Junk Food
Seems simple enough, right? But it can be tricky to avoid the junk food responsible for at least ten of the Freshman Fifteen pounds. Here’s a thought: if you don’t buy it, don’t eat it. Another idea: don’t buy junk food!
7 Ban Soda
No matter how good it tastes, or how well the caffeine perks you up for that Monday-morning class, soda is empty calories, and is a dieter’s worst nightmare. Even diet soda is riddled with nasty, potentially cancer-causing chemicals, so the smart thing to do is to ban soda from your diet altogether.
8 Forget Fast Food
I know it’s convenient, and nothing tastes better than a chalupa at two in the morning, but fast food, in general, is too loaded with calories (most of them from fat) to be worth it. One value meal often contains all the calories you’re supposed to consume in one day… so one of the best ways to lose weight while in college is to forget all about fast food… except for the occasional late-night chalupa.
9 Save Pizza for Special Occasions
Pizza is a college diet mainstay, which is probably where a lot of that Freshman Fifteen comes from, too. Oh, but it’s so tasty, and so impossible to avoid it all the time, so try to save it for special occasions, and when you do have it, try not to wash it down with soda or beer (which just adds even more calories).
10 Find a Friend
You have your back-home friends, your dorm friends, your Modern American Literature 101 friends, your bookstore friends… why not surround yourself with a circle of Fitness Friends, too? These are the guys and girls who will encourage you to stick to your diet, and who might even share cheap (but healthy) meal plans… or invite you along to healthy pot-lucks… and while they’re encouraging and inspiring you, who knows? Perhaps you’ll also encourage and inspire them, too.
11 Pay Attention
Finals week is coming, and you barely have room in your brain for your own name, not to mention diet plans and calorie-counting. But your health and fitness is just as important as your studies, and in fact, proper health and fitness can even help you study and take exams better, and decrease stress. Pay attention to your diet and exercise, even when you feel like you don’t have time.
12 Don’t Forget… Sleep!
Along with diet and exercise, sleep can help you study, too. Research has also shown that dieters who get the rest they need lose more weight, so catching a cat nap is another simple way to lose weight at school. Guilt-free napping? Yes please!
13 Petition for Change
If the cafeteria at your college or university is always serving up the same fat-laden “cuisine,” without a salad or fresh fruit in sight, it might be time to petition for change. You pay tuition, you should have a say, right? Gather your Fitness Friends, make some protest signs… or just send a letter to the person in charge of student services.
14 Try for 5
Whether you’re wanting to lose weight when in college or after you’ve gotten your degree and moved on, this one simple guideline will help your diet success. The USDA recommends five servings of fresh fruits and veggies every day, which leaves little room for junk food snacks, doesn’t it? Fruits and veggies are loaded with “good” calories, along with nutrients fruit-flavored snacks just don’t offer. Another plus? Fiber, which help you feel full and helps your digestive system function properly.
15 Get up and Move!
If you feel like you’ve been glued to your chair in the library, slaving over your books, and you can’t take another minute of it, don’t! Get up and move around! Send your term paper to print at a printer across the library, rather than right next to you. Go for a walk to see which interesting books and source materials are on the third floor. Or just stroll around and keep your eyes peeled for hotties… just move around and burn some calories!
16 Walk or Run or Bike…
Your Tuesday and Thursday afternoon classes are all the way across campus. You’re tempted to take the shuttle, or drive yourself, but why not take the opportunity to jog, walk, bike, or roller-blade to your class instead? You’ll burn some calories, spend quality time outside, and sneak in some much-needed cardio.
17 Take the Stairs
The elevator bank is surrounded by tired-looking students in hoodies and sweat-pants, and you’re right there with them. Why wait? Push open that EXIT door and jog up the three flights of stairs to your next lab or lecture. You’ll get there before the crowded elevator, get your blood flowing, tone your legs, and burn some calories.
18 Bring Your Gear
Did you notice that some of these ways to lose weight when in college require some physical activity? It’s a good idea, actually, a brilliant idea, to make sure you bring your fitness gear from home when you pack for school, like your trainers, yoga pants, and maybe even your hand weights. If you don’t bring your gear, you may try to fall back on that as an excuse for not working out… don’t give yourself the out. Bring your gear.
With so many ideas for losing weight at school, there’s no reason to gain the pesky Freshman Fifteen… in fact, you may be fitter than ever! Which of these tips will you use to avoid weight gain while you’re away at university? Or do you have another tip to share? Please do!