One of the biggest myths about college is said to be the "Freshman 15." I am here to tell you firsthand that it is indeed not a myth and that it is actually real — all too real.
When I moved to college, I had no idea just how real this Freshman 15 could be. I always considered myself a junk food connoisseur growing up — my daily routine all through high school involved a morning stop at Chick-fil-A for a spicy biscuit meal. If I came to school without my red-and-white bag, someone was sure to notice. Most of the money I made washing cars and cutting lawns went towards fast food. At the time, I could not possibly see how college life could change this habit for the worse (or worse for me).
And then it hit me. No matter how much I thought I had eaten out in high school, that was all I could do in college. I did not have a kitchen or a home-cooked meal waiting for me. Like most freshmen, I had a meal plan which allowed me three meals per day in any of about 15 campus food choices. The Caf, as it was affectionately known, offered all-you-can-eat service all day, every day. I barely even had to walk - my dorm building was only a short hallway away. Inside, all the spoils awaited — all-you-can-eat Chick-fil-A (Yes, really!), barbeque, Mexican food, and even Greek food. If none of those sounded good, there was always a full-service salad and sandwich bar and various rotating hot choices.
This was "eating out" as I'd never known it before and it was every bit as amazing as it sounds.
Or it was, until "mid-term" season when I began to realize just how terrible that temptation was. I came to college with the expectation of disproving the Freshman 15 myth, and I had done just the opposite. I was not even trying to. I was just eating like everyone else.
Sure, campus food is hard to resist. The Raising Cane's in the next building, which was also on the meal plan, was open until 2 a.m. most nights. The Caf was almost always open. Whenever so much as a pang of hunger hit, I was never without options.
Something I never quite figured out while I was in school there was how to stave off the dreaded Freshman 15. While my school was very quick to tout their vast assortment of food options, they were equally proud to promote the Huff, our gym. There were no excuses to not go — the gym was closer to my room than even the nearest snack bar. However, I put too much faith in my metabolism and almost never went. I wish I had. They had everything- a pool, several open-gym basketball courts, cardio rooms, a weight room that rivals any other I have seen, group exercise classes, personal training, and just about anything else a gym might need or want. And it was all free. That was, after all, one of the benefits of paying tuition!
My advice to those about to embark on their college journey is this — do not do what I did. Do not make assumptions. Take full advantage of having such a variety of food options nearby, but do not neglect a trip to the gym. Maybe you are like me and you do not consider yourself an athlete. That is perfectly fine! Take a friend or two and walk the track. Find a group of friends and start a game of pick-up basketball. Take a swim, even if it is just a few laps. One of the best unsung benefits of college is the use of the campus gym, take advantage of it! You will feel great and your body will thank you. Even better, when you come home for the summer after your first year, you will be able to say you successfully survived the "Freshman 15."
Just do not let the Freshman 15 claim yet another victim!