By Daniel Ketyer — Duke University, Class of ’16
We’ve all heard of the notorious “freshman 15.” You leave for college, get sick of the dining hall food, order Domino’s 3 nights a week, and spend so much time “studying” that you forget about the gym conveniently located near your dorm. Slowly, you notice your jeans are getting a little too snug, you’re winded after climbing the stairs to your room, and you’re carrying around 15-pounds of unwanted baggage. Check out my 5 tips for avoiding the freshman 15 and staying healthy in college:
1. Eat a balanced breakfast
It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes the more you eat, the less you’ll gain. Breakfast jump-starts your metabolism and provides your body with fuel to power through the morning. My go-to breakfast: egg white omelet with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, and jalapeños; yogurt with strawberries and granola; cup of water. Yum.
2. Limit yourself to 1 sugary beverage per day
As a student in the South, I know how tempting it is to drink a large Sweet Tea with every meal. DON’T DO IT. I love Sweet Tea. I also love Cherry Coke. And there is no better value than a $0.99 Arnold Palmer. But sugary beverages (including fruit juices) are packed with empty calories and are unhealthy.
3. Exercise at least 3 days per week
Exercise is exercise. Whether you spend 30 minutes running, an hour lifting, or 2 hours playing pickup basketball, you are doing good things for your body. The gym is free at most schools, and pickup basketball games (and other intramural sports) are great for meeting new people. The health and social benefits of exercise can never be overstated.
4. More sleep is better (for some people)
Doctors say you need 8 hours of sleep to function at a high level. I rarely get more than 5-6 hours of sleep per night, but this doesn’t stop me from being productive. To me, the benefit of spending 2 extra hours studying or hanging out with friends is greater than the benefit of 2 extra hours of sleep. When I first got to Duke, I was told I could pick 2 out of following 3: sleep, good grades, or a social life. Sleep was naturally left out. Lack of sleep is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you can compensate with exercise and a healthy diet.
5. Have fun
College is an awesome experience. The classes. The parties. The laundry. (Ok, maybe not the last part.) As a student, you have an obligation to make the most of the best 4 years of your life. Having fun means doing things that make you happy. And happiness is essential for healthiness.