Fitness

Freshman 15… or 25: My Story

130701College_Workout

3 tips and a fantastic info graphic from TheBestColleges.org!

By now, we all know the Freshman 15 isn’t a fallacy. If that were the case, your level of guilt wouldn’t escalate every time you scroll past a blog, tweet, or Facebook post with “Freshman 15″ in the title (so thanks for stopping by TheStarrList.com!) While the outreach of this phenomenon is great, most tend to ignore it because it will never happen to them. And on the flip side, the outreach wouldn’t exist without those who have experienced it.

Having battled through the ordeal myself, let me be the 15th person in your life to tell you that it’s much better to have read about and avoided packing on the pounds than enjoying those late night drive-thru excursions and week long, pizza-filled, Smash-Bros. tournaments. Don’t get me wrong, those experiences can still exist, just be a little smarter about it.

So what about me, you ask? To keep it short and sweet (much like my beloved high-school weight), I ignored my body, took full-advantage of unmonitored meals, and put off schoolwork until the last minute. Along with that awful mixture, I endured very little physical activity (I wasn’t an athlete in high school, why start now) and discovered just how delicious and inexpensive soda was. And who could forget about Monopoly season at McDonald’s?!

I, like many freshmen before me, decided to take the reigns of my health from my parents and prove to them that I could eat whatever I wanted because I was young; that their dietary entrapment was just for their old bones. Oh, how wrong I was. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realize I had put on  25 pounds until a photo of a pudgy double-chin (discovered after removing a grizzly summer beard) had shown what once was a decent 180 had quickly turned into a bulky 205 version of myself. I needed to divert course, and quickly.

I won’t bore you with years of details (change in diet/hobbies/jobs), struggle (one lap around the block = red-faced and winded), embarrassment (breaking two lawn-chairs), and complacency (I’m fine with being over-weight, this is the “new” me). Instead, I’ll cut to the chase with a few hard-and-fast, yet obscure health tips:

Candid Photos

With a smartphone in every pocket, it has never been easier for to snap photos on the fly. It has also never been easier to delete those that aren’t from the top down, hiding our unflattering “flaws” and slimming us down. I’ve got some bad news. Those “bad” photos are probably the “true” photos. But the camera adds 10 pounds, right? Wrong. Candid photos of myself (one beach trip in-particular) helped me realize that I was no longer living in the fit body I once was. Candid photos, especially at summer outings, can sound the alarm and should not be ignored. Friends help friends. Take more candids and instead of deleting, tuck them away! Looking back can lend to some positive reinforcement in the future.

Go Shopping

I may possibly owe my life to the college Physical Education credit requirement. With a need to take a PE course, I decided that enrolling in a cardio class, trapping myself into a new fitness regime, would be the perfect way to boost my health. Clever trick but it didn’t work as well as I had hoped. Like most students, I gave it the bare minimum effort to pass. I decided that I needed a little extra push. It was time to break out the wallet and pick up some new gear (and new tech!)

I invested in an iPod nano, Nike + iPod sensor, and Nike + iPod shoes. As a starving college student, I’ll be damned if I was going to let $350 go to waste. Plus, it scratched my tech, music, gaming, and artsy itch! I was able to get lost in new albums, track my fitness analytics, and discovered how freeing jogging is all with a nifty little gadget attached to my arm. This was exactly the push I needed to get out the door!

If jogging isn’t for you, invest in a bike, a gym membership, or hiking gear. Find an active hobby and spend good money on it. Spending money can be a tough pill to swallow; however, when money is hard to come by, you tend to appreciate those infrequent and expensive purchases a little more.

Eat Smarter

I’m not going to lie and say that I traded in my junk food intake for mass amounts of fruits and veggies. On the contrary, I continued to hate fruits and veggies throughout my college career. Bread, meat, and cheese was all I needed to be content. However, with all of the running I was doing, I feared negating my efforts. I decided to make a few choices:

- Stick to singles, smalls, and kids meals. No double-burgers or Super Sizes.
– Pay attention to serving sizes
– Lower red meat intake. Substitute with turkey and chicken.

As for liquids, Diet Coke was my best friend. 0 calories! Not so fast. In an attempt to curb my addiction to caffeine,  I decided to ditch my diet beverage counterpart and drink more water. Did it help? No. I quickly fell back into my old habit of reaching for a soda whenever I finished the previous can. And while debatable, I am of the belief that diet sodas encourage higher food intake. Because I drink liquids like a camel, I knew that part of my weight problem relied on my large consumption of soda. So I made a few more strategies:

- Substitute soda for water. Water curbs hunger and assists the metabolic process.
– When drinking water, make it cold to burn calories!
– When drinking soda, make it regular as it tends to fill you up faster.

To note, taking the plunge to eat healthier with loads of fruits, veggies, poultry, and tiny meals can be tough as it may feel like your body is freaking out. But don’t worry, it is worth the torture. Remember when I said I hated fruits and veggies,? Well, I put a stop to that once I met my girlfriend. I knew she loved to cook and I promised her I would never turn away a dish. Since that promise, I have fallen in love with fish, tomatoes, berries, kale… you name it! I’ve turned into a human garbage disposal! As most restaurants offer bloated portions, we also make it a point to split a single entrée when eating out. Not surprisingly, this intake of new food groups, less salt, and split portions has help tremendously!

Photography, shopping, and food. Not a bad way to stave off the Freshman 15. With all of these tips and investing a bit of my time, I  now bounce between 170 and 175, 165 on a good week!

For more  fitness tips (and great design), enjoy the awesome infographic from TheBestColleges.org below! I’m off for a run!

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Kyle Starr is the writer of TheStarrList.com and The State of Gaming. Find Kyle on Twitter at @_kylestarr.

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