By Hatti Sudell
The mythical Freshers’ Fifteen you were warned. You were sure it would never happen to you, but just a few months into first year the impossible has become reality. You seem to be carrying more pounds then you’re spending! The classic combination of late nights, lie-ins, and full English breakfasts hits every fresher hard, so how can you fight the bulge without compromising the fun? We’ve compiled six top tips to get the beach body back in no time.
1. Set goals with friends
The first way to keep yourself on track to achieving anything is to be accountable to someone else. Maybe your friends are also keen to start eating well and getting some exercise, in which case you can set some goals together and encourage each other on the way. Maybe your friends couldn’t care less, even so keep them informed with your plans so they can nudge you in the right direction when you’re reaching for the chips at dinner.
2. Drink sensibly
The increase in alcohol consumption in first year definitely contributes to widespread weight gain among students. Let’s be real you can’t exactly give up going out anytime soon. So when it comes to alcohol try to make sensible choices. The calorie content of popular drinks may surprise you, for example a large glass of wine can contain a whopping 190 calories (the equivalent of a couple of chocolate digestives!). A pint of beer is similar at 180 calories. Meanwhile, by sticking to spirits like gin and vodka mixed with diet mixers you can enjoy the same number of drinks as the rest of the group but for less than half the calories.
3. Get moving
Walk to where you usually take the bus, try the stairs instead of the lift and if you’re feeling brave, go for a run or walk with a friend - any form of exercise counts! If you haven’t already, you could also join the uni gym. They are usually suited to student budgets and offer great value for money in pretty convenient locations for visiting to or from lectures. Sign up to a class that takes your fancy, try out the machines or go for a swim. You may be surprised about how much you enjoy it. If nothing else it’s a prime location for people-watching.
4. Get up earlier
Studies have shown that not only getting enough sleep but also the time we wake up can massively affect our metabolic rate (i.e. how quickly we burn energy) due to increased exposure to sunlight. Think of what you may have been missing by starting the day with a 3pm lecture and ideally try to seize the day sometime before 10. With all those extra hours you can probably fit in a trip to the gym or walk to the class you normally have to travel to by bus.
5. Eat healthy
It goes without saying but the main trick to avoiding freshers’ weight gain is simply eating less and exercising more. Getting up early and having a normal breakfast is a good place to start, and will help you to avoid the fatty staple of first year: the all day brunch. Brain work requires sustenance so try to snack on fruit or nuts, and sip on water not high-sugared juices in order to keep going until lunch. If you cook for yourself then using a low-calorie spray instead of oil or butter is a small change that will actually make a huge difference to the calorie content of your meals. Try to cook from scratch as much as possible which is not only cheaper, but allows you to see exactly what’s going you’re your body. Generally brown, unrefined carbs will keep you fuller longer than the same quantity of the processed kind.
6. Let technology take the strain
You already have a lot to think about at university so where weight loss is concerned let technology do (some of) the hard work for you. There are some great apps, such as My Fitness Pal or Weight Watchers, which can quickly count the calories you eat from scanned bar codes, or searches in their food databases, and then offset this against the exercise you do, so you know how much you can indulge at dinner. Using the technology already in smartphones fitness apps such as Nike Training Club, act as pedometers and even personal trainers to keep you motivated and moving towards your goals. You still have to put some effort in, but the Freshers’ Fifteen … there’s an app for that.
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