Avoiding the Freshman 15 in College
I'm going to be really honest with you here. I walked into college FULLY believing that I would gain that freshman 15....or even freshman 30. My thought process was "everyone always says how hard and time consuming college is, and I already don't workout and eat right...so I guess I'm just doomed". What I didn't realize though the few months before I started college, is how much that thought would impact me to want to myself and others that that was wrong. I would NOT end up like that. I had been ashamed and unhealthy for too long, and college was going to be the time that I focused on getting my mind healthy, my spirit healthy, and my body healthy.
I decided before that big life change even happened, that I would make a daily conscious effort to get up before everyone else in my house did, drive 45 minutes to my campus gym (which was free) and workout before class.
Now let me backtrack a little bit and tell you that the whole spark to wanting to become a better version of myself in college came from the guy I was talking to at the time (who is now my husband). He knew I had an eating disorder, and he knew how badly I needed to believe in myself. So every single day out of the kindness of his heart he motivated me to be better than I was yesterday. All of those mornings that I fought waking up at 4:30 in the morning were accompanied by a text from him reminding me of what I'm fighting for; the chance to live my life differently and steward my body in a way that was pleasing to Christ.
Every Sunday I would spend 1-3hrs in the kitchen meal prepping my food to take with me to class and I made sure that what I brought with me would both fuel me, and satisfy me. Did I crave carrot sticks? Lmao..absolutely not. But did I want to make sure that I wasn't; about to fall back into the binging habits that I had for 5 years leading up to this? Yes ma'am. I still ate cookies and brownies and popcorn and cereal...but I didn't allow those foods to be the triggers that lead me down a rabbit hole of failure and regression.
College can be rough, intimidating, and altogether exhausting. But we also have an amazing opportunity here to make some lifelong changes within ourselves that eventually produce physical, spiritual, and mental results.
Prioritizing health for me, made me a better girlfriend, friend, student, and daughter. Why? Because it made me believe in myself about something. Lifting heavy is empowering, and it makes me appreciate the body that God gave me and how badly I want to be a good steward of it. And you can too.
Okay so now that you've heard a little bit about my story, I want to give you some tips that genuinely helped set me up for success to LOSING 20lbs my freshman year, not gaining 15.
Tip 1: Plan Ahead
You might be like..lex...duh...But are you really even planning? Have you taken time before the semester starts, or even before each week to sit down and think about what it's going to look like for you? Because I can almost promise you that planning out your week in advance and just sitting down to get a good hard look at what you've got going on, while both give you a piece of mind, and will allow you to have more productivity throughout your week.
Planning ahead for me was the time where I saw down and got real wth myself. I asked these questions:
What days could I go to the gym?
What time on those days could I go to the gym?
Would I be able to go in between classes or after or before lunch? Would I have to get uncomfortable a couple morning and make it early before I worked or had class? Would I feel so much better on this day if I just got up early and got it done in the morning? What types of food do I have in my fridge right now that I can make for meals for the week to take to school and work?
What do I need to get at the grocery that will be both nourishing and satisfying?
I want to do cardio 2x this week, so what days would work best for that?
Don't let that list be overwhelming to you. Because if you are just starting in any kind of fitness routine like I was, start with this simple question: what is realistic for me to accomplish this week, and how can I make it successfully work?
Simple as that. Making this giant transition into college is stressful already, so don't make things to complicated. And each week or couple of weeks as you start to make planning out your week in advance a habit, you will be able to add more points of focus into your fitness routine. But you do NOT have to start with a complete life overhaul. I think that's where some of us get confused. We think it's got to be all the change all at once and if we don't get it perfect, we give up.
Don't let that be you. Okay? You have enough on your plate, and the worst things that you can do is overload your brain with trying to be perfect at your diet and your exercise.
Going to the gym is like anything else in life, if it's important to you, you will make time for it. Let me take some weight off of your shoulders right now real quick....you DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT...have to be at the gym for 2hrs to make it count. And better yet. You do not have to do cardio for hours...don't do that..please don't do that lol.
That brings me to my next tip.
Tip 2: Have A Game Plan
One of the biggest mistakes that I made going into this fitness journey in college is not going into the gym with a game plan. Literally..on my first day.. I walked in, and froze. I just STARED at all of the equipment, and weights, the machines, and I walked out. It was a pretty embarrassing scene because the guy at the front counter looked at me like I had 12 heads and then got that "aww....your so cute cause you're a newbie" look. VERY proud to say that that experience did not stop me from coming back. But the second time I came, I didn't mess around. I went in with a plan. And where did I get this plan? The most valuable invention since automatic start cars....the Youtubes.
I went home that night and watched at LEAST 40 youtube videos on how to workout. I mean I'm not kidding by the time I was done I was on information overload, but I also felt so much better going into the gym the next day.
Sister I know the gym can be intimidating. Especially if there are meathead guys in the weight section there their were at mine. But I honestly didn't care because this wasn't about them noticing me or thinking I knew what I was doing. It was about me doing this for me because I knew something had to change. So I walked into that weight section, swallowed my pride, picked up a set of 5lb dumbbells and shoulder pressed my little heart out.
And it felt good, So I kept going and I kept showing up, even on the days when I would have rather slept in or not drove that 45 minutes. But I never regretted a workout. Not once. Because every time I stepped out of that weight room, I knew that I had just did the thing that I had told myself for so long that I couldn't or wouldn't be able to do.
Scroll to the bottom for a free dumbbell only workout <3
Tip 3: Be Realistic
I've touched on this one already a little bit, but be honest with yourself and your goals. If one of your goals is to lose that 15lbs in three weeks, then I promise you that you will be sadly disappointed. The kind of weight loss that you want, I promise you you don't want it to be quick. Because if you are like me and you've spent most of your life battling between trying to live healthy but also live life but have also been COMPLTELY unhealthy...then you want the kind of goals that produce LASTING results, Not results that last a month while you slowly gain it back. Thats why fad diets like keto don't work for some people. It's not a realistic way of eating or living. Completely knocking out an entire food group or macronutrient is absurd if you are doing it for the long term because I'm sorry...but I will NEVER crave chicken or vegetables more than I crave a good ole fashioned cinnamon roll..and I refuse to live my life in a way that doesn't allow those little things.
Being realistic with yourself means that you set goals that are attainable and maintainable.
Here is an example of a realistic goal:
1. I will go to the gym 4x every week this semester for 45 minutes each time. I will make a conscious effort to move my body and get at least 6,000 steps in daily and drink 100 ounces of water daily. I will make sure to meal prep my food in a way that steps me up for success and I will not be restrictive, but I will be honor my body with food. At the end of this semester, I would have liked to create a better mindset around food and exercise, and feel better about the way that my body feels and moves.
This goal isn't far fetched or hard to obtain. Will it take effort? YUP. But so does college and every other hard thing you've done in life. And this is the thing that's ultimately going to be a game changer for your future!
Here is an example of a realistic weekly routine:
Monday: 45 Minute Leg Workout + 10 minute of stair master
Tuesday: 45 Minute Upper Body Circuit (shoulders, tricep and chest focused)+ 10 minute stair master
Thursday: 45 minute Upper Body Circuit (back and biceps focused) + 10 minute incline treadmill walking
Saturday: 45 Minute Leg Workout + 10 minute incline walking
Tip 4: Get some Accountability
Accountability is HUGEEEEE. Please hear that from me. If I didn't have my boyfriend rooting me on and motivating me on the days I felt like I couldn't go, I wouldn't have made this a lifestyle. I know everyone always talks about accountability and how important it is...and if you rolled your eyes at this one then that tells me that you've never tried it. Because I don't know about you but every single time that I have failed at something before, it's because I did it alone and I didn't have someone else to cheer me on to keep going. The truth and reality is, is that we just don't believe in ourselves enough sometimes. Especially when we are first starting something. But if we have someone there who cares about us, genuinely wants to see us succeed, and pushes you past what you think you could handle, you will have a much better chance at making this change a lifestyle thing.
Maybe your accountability looks like your best friend going to the gym with your between classes. Or maybe it means going to classes offered at your gym with other people around you to motivate you. Or maybe you ask someone in the gym who seems to know what they are talking about to help you or challenge you in some way. OR maybe it means you hire a personal trainer or an online trainer. Yes, this is something investing in yourself, but isn't that what you are already doing? I fully believe that if you are serious about wanting to change things up and make health and fitness part of your life as a way to honor your body..then investing in someone who knows how to help you, is huge.
It's better to learn the right way first, than to unlearn the wrong way.
Trust me sis, I definitely did things the wrong way. And that is why I am so passionate about helping women who want to make the change I did, because I don't want you to have to learn, and relearn again. Is investing in yourself scary as heck? YUP sure is. But the knowledge that you walk away with is irreplaceable.
If getting professional guidance is something that you think you need or want, click to here how I can help you. I would be honored and blessed to help you navigate fitness through the college experience. here
Tip 5: How much Netflix are you watching?
I'm SO guilt of this. SO so guilty. I often like to make excuses of why I can't make it to the gym...or sometimes I don't even make excuses..I just happen to have watched netflix "way too long last night and I'm too tired to go this morning". But we have to drop those self sabotaging thoughts and actions because that does good for no one. And maybe it's not netflix but it's scrolling on Instagram? If you have a 4 hour break between classes, or some time to kill after your last class and going to work, don't spend it doing something that doesn't challenge you or make you grow as a person. Do something healthy and good for yourself. And if watching netflix is something you REALLY want to do, then do it while you walk on the stair master. My friend and I to get some extra movement between classes would go back to the gym, get on the treadmill or start master and just do some easy walking or cardio while watching our favorite show. Killing two birds with one stone right there!
Whatever your vise is, don't allow it to be the excuse that prevents you from the goals that you set out to attain or the promise that you made to yourself to prioritize your health. Netflix can wait. Instagram can wait. Those won't make you a better human. But having a determined spirit to go in and sweat even when it sucks, will.