Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

Freshman year can be a rough transition for anyone, especially living on your own for the first time. Not knowing what to eat, when to eat it and how much to eat can all lead to gaining the freshman 15 (or any amount of unexpected weight), as can stress eating, not eating because of stress, not working out and not keeping your mental health in check.

Here are some tips I wish I knew when I was a freshman to stave off the extra weight and stay happy and healthy:

15. Join Clubs
West Chester University has an abundance of outdoors clubs (and clubs in general) that you may find interest in. Joining a club will not only help you make new friends who enjoy what you enjoy, but also help you stay active by keeping you out of the dorm room.

14. Get Credits for Exercising
At WCU, you need to take some elective classes no matter what your major. Make use of these electives by taking health and exercise courses. Not only are you staying healthy, but you are also getting college credits for it!

13. Everything Is Okay in Moderation
Eating chocolates, cakes, pizza, burgers and fries are all okay…in moderation. Having a slice or two of pizza or a few pieces of chocolate every now and again is okay. The only way moderation takes a turn for the worst is if you let it!

12. Cafeteria 101
Lawrence Dining Hall has some pretty great options for anyone who has a meal plan. They have a great big salad bar, a veggie station, gluten-free options, a fruit bar and a sandwich section; stick to these and you will be good to go.

11. Stock Up On Healthy Snacks
Keeping a healthy array of snacks in the dorm room is a great idea for when you want to snack. Fruit, nuts, fruit and nut bars and yogurt are just a few snacks you can keep in your dorm.

10. Realize the Harsh Reality of Alcohol
West Chester University is a completely dry campus, but if you are over 21 and choose to drink outside of campus, just know how many calories and grams of sugar and sodium you are drinking. For example, the average vodka cranberry has about 7.5 grams of sugar in it and is 160 calories.

9.  Cut Back on Sugar 
Bouncing off tip #10, cutting back on sugar in general is a great idea. Try to stick to natural sugars found in fruits and stay away from artificial sweeteners.

8. Get Your Beauty Rest
In college and being on your own, it is easy to be tempted to stay up all hours of the night studying, hanging out with friends or even binge watching your favorite Netflix show. It is recommended that adults receive seven to nine hours of sleep every night. This also doesn’t mean to go to bed at three in the morning and wake up at noon—going to bed at 11 p.m. and waking up at 7 a.m. is a much better idea for your health.

7. Don’t Skip Breakfast
After your full night of rest, wake up early (like 7 a.m.) and get your day started by eating a full breakfast. Eating a large breakfast will keep you more satisfied throughout the day. Your brain and body will literally thank you later.

6. Hit the Gym
Working out at least three times a week for 45 minutes will not only keep you fit, but it’s also a great stress reliever. Lift weights or do some cardio to your favorite songs! Working out with friends will also keep you motivated and make the work more fun.

5. Stick to a Schedule
Make a daily to-do list to keep you going and organized! Like Margaret Thatcher said, “Plan your work for today and everyday, then work your plan.”

4. Drink Excessive Amounts of Water
Health authorities suggest drinking eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day. Drinking excessive amounts of water will help get rid of harmful toxins in the body.

3. Avoid Emotional Eating
One thing I do when I am stressed, under pressure or just a little blue is eat anything and everything in sight. Finding ways to cope with stress, pressure and the blues will keep you out of the cookie jar.

2. Manage Your Stress
Joining clubs, eating well, getting enough rest, hitting the gym and drinking enough water are great ways to keep stress to a minimum. Also, finding a hobby you love is a great outlet for stress.

1.  Keep Your Mental Health in Check!
This is honestly the most important and crucial tip to keep you healthy. West Chester has great counselling programs on campus, special days with talk and dogs and classes that help balance your mental health and self. When your mind is healthy, you are healthy!

Zoe Falcone is a second-year student majoring in exercise science: pre-OT. She can be reached at ZF850107@wcupa.edu.

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