Freshman 15

Coming to university is a considerable milestone in life. Every student at Acadia who lives or has lived on campus knows the struggle of maintaining a healthy balance throughout the duration of their freshman year.

Everyday, the men and women who work at Wheelock Dining Hall witness students’ eating habits. Meal hall offers food that is considered “unhealthy”; however, a well-balanced diet can consist of the odd splurge every now and then. It only becomes an issue once a “treat” turns into an everyday occurrence. For instance, having dessert doesn’t make you an unhealthy person. If you have dessert after lunch and dinner on a regular basis, then you will gain the freshman 15. To gain one pound, one must eat 3,500 calories more than a person’s recommended diet. Avoid that by cutting desserts down to one or two times a week. It’s all about making the healthier choice.  What’s your version of a healthy choice? The answer varies from person to person. If you eat peanut butter and jam toast for breakfast regularly at home, then do not be surprised if you are gaining weight if your breakfast at Acadia consists of scrambled eggs, home fries, and three sausages. Base your diet on gender, age, and weight. A diet is not cutting out half of your caloric intake for the day, the scientific definition for diet is the individual person’s food choice and intake patterns on a day-to-day basis. 

The “MyFitnessPal” app by UnderArmour is a great way to maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet. Download it from the app store for iPhone and Android. Chartwell’s has foods on “My Fitness Pal” app, so students can track their caloric intake and macronutrients (energy yielding nutrients) ingested throughout the duration of the day.  Along with MyFitnessPal, UnderArmour offers apps that can connect with one another. The UnderArmour: Record app is connected to MyFitnessPal, and in addition to tracking calories and macronutrients, this app tracks physical activity, sleep, and steps. It is a perfect app for any university student! 

In regards to gaining that muffin top or expanding those thighs, alcohol consumption is a leading contributor to weight gain.  Binge drinking is very common in a university setting, and not only can it make someone gain weight, it increases long term risk factors in health. Weight gain is short term. Heart disease is long term. Of course, people want to have fun. In the vibrant town of Wolfville (Wolfvegas) Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights are when the largest quantity of alcohol is consumed.  Sure, it’s fun to kick back and keep it social with friends, but is it a ‘healthy choice’ to go out every weekend?  Going out and drinking every weekend is taxing on the body, and there are negative effects on the diet and a student’s bank account. After going to the Vil and the Axe every weekend, a student will begin to show the Freshman 15. 

Another way to help maintain a healthy diet: watch out for snack foods! Packaged poison is fun every now and then, but it is not healthy to eat a bag of chips on a regular basis! People eat when they are hungry and/or when food is available.  Hunger and appetite are two very different things. Hunger is our means for survival and appetite is our lust for something savoury or sweet.

Beating the Freshman 15 is not solely dependant on one person’s diet. Going to the gym 3-5 times a week can make considerable differences in the health and diet.  After exercising, the body releases endorphins, and it is easier to make healthier food choices with a clearer mind. Although going to the gym is not for everyone, there are plenty of ways to stay active while living on and off campus. Know that going to the gym is not the only solution to staying fit. Try going for walks on the dykes with friends, hiking through trails, and maybe even spontaneously going to a yoga class at the Athletics Complex. For those who did not know, the Acadia Athletics Complex also offers Aquafit on Sunday mornings and Zumba on Tuesday nights. Perfect ways to meet other students with common interests and stay fit.

For those living on campus, join intra-murals! They’re a great way to add physical activity into a healthy lifestyle. In addition to intra-murals, Acadia offers plenty of clubs that include physical activity such as dance, cheerleading, sports, etc.  Is the sky really the limit?

There are so many ways to conquer the Freshman 15 and it really comes down to balancing caloric/macronutrient intake, daily physical activity, and sleep! Set goals, create routines, and eat in moderation. Those are some of the key principles in avoiding the wretched 15 pound weight gain.  Remember: 10% mental, 10% physical, and 80% hydration!