|Thigh (not mine) post freshman year|
Exciting news, we have a new Foodtrainer. Her name is Carolyn Brown. She’s a Tulane grad and has taught nutrition at the NYC Greenmarkets, she’s a blogger and a dodge ball player, smart and snarky. She’s running our 4-week “Summer School Course” for students and grads of all ages. I asked Carolyn to blog about that clichéd Freshman 15 and whether we tend to lose it or keep it as a collegiate souvenir. I’ll let her take it from here:
I’ve never liked talking about the freshman 15 – maybe because for me, it was more like 20. I’m seriously grateful it was in the pre-Facebook era. But as a freshman 15 alum I know that the freedom college offers (not unlike loosey goosey summer eating Lauren wrote about) may be great for your social life but the lack of structure can lead to a lasting “hangover” as in hanging over your pants. It isn’t always immediate; it can show up a little later as the sophomore surplus, the junior jiggle, or even the post-college pudge.
All joking aside, the problem isn’t so much the weight gained (assuming you’re still around a healthy weight). Research shows that women tend to lose most of it with time. The real issues are why it was gained in the first place and the eating patterns that may be repeated for years to come.
Some reasons for the freshman weight gain aren’t surprising buffet style dining halls replace mom’s well-balanced meals, high school sports no longer provide built in activity and then there’s the drinking. And when you drink more, you eat more – and make less intelligent choices. Would you really need the cheese fries, onion rings and mozzarella stick trio sober? It’s not all a lack of self-control though, so give yourself (or maybe your college-aged children) a break. In your late teens growth slows down—and so does ones metabolism. Add in inconsistent sleep and associated hormonal changes that affect hunger and fullness. And alcohol it’s is a depressant and in this way influences eating.
For many, college is the first time they gain a noticeable amount of weight and it’s also their first foray into dietland. College girls resort to dangerous methods to lose weight. It’s now a far cry from Weight Watchers. Extra popular before Cabo-bound spring breaks are starving, binging/purging, obsessive exercise and the use of “appetite suppressants”: cigarettes, Adderall, laxatives and diet pills. Eek.
But there are healthy ways to lose that stubborn freshman 15 even if it’s stuck around long enough to make it to a few reunions. Exercise is crucial. Yawn, I know, but there are actually ways to make it less of a chore. Lazy friends rub off, so try seeking out active friends who will drag you to a spin or dance class. Peer pressure can be positive and works at all ages. Another great way to get moving is to join your city’s “social sports” leagues. Teams are based on skill level and age (and are usually co-ed, wink wink).You don’t want your exercise merely burning off the booze, your total drinks for the week needs to be a single digit and I suggest at least 3 “dry” days. Treats (pizza we’re talking to you) should be no more than once or twice a week.
My freshman 20 came off slowly. Leaving the dorms for a house with a kitchen helped. Also I took Intro to Nutrition class learned low calorie doesn’t necessarily mean healthy and completely changed my relationship with food. This led me to a Foodtrainers-bound career path sans post-college pudge.
Are you a freshman 15 alum? When did you lose the weight? Was college the first time you dieted? Any scary weight loss regimes to share? Do you feel friends affect your eating or exercise?