Most freshmen come to college in order to gain knowledge. Others come to gain friends and lifelong relationships. However, all are in danger of gaining something else.
The "freshman 15" seems to be an unfortunate rite of passage for many college students. Becoming an overweight college student probably isn't on any person's agenda for the year, but after countless nights of eating Hot Pockets, it happens.
Kate Brown, an International Sports Science Association certified fitness trainer, believes there is hope for students who are trying to avoid the "freshman 15," or just weight gain in general.
One item that should be avoided by all students is bottled coffee drinks. Brown estimates that each drink contains an average of 32 grams of sugar and is much closer nutritionally to soda than an actual coffee.
"Another thing [to avoid] is an energy bar. They are loaded with sugar, too, yet appear to be good for you because they have ‘energy,'" Brown said.
Late night snacking, being away from home for the first time and erratic sleeping habits are some of the largest reasons for weight gain among college students.
There was a reason that mom cooked healthy meals and set curfew to midnight.
"Whether you're out late with your friend and you grab a slice of pizza, or studying at night and have a cookie, everything adds up," Brown said.
Unnatural sleeping patterns may also be to blame for some weight gain. The amount of cortisol, a stress hormone, rises as a person sleeps less. This causes more fat to be stored in a person's body.
Prepackaged foods and eating out can also be very unhealthy. According to Brown, most portions are much larger at restaurants and are often loaded with salt. Nutrition facts are also much harder to discover when dining out.
There are some healthier alternatives, however. Some snacks that Brown advises are mixed nuts, curry and almost anything with cocoa powder. Almonds are thought to contain natural neuron-enhancing transmitters and curry contains the spice turmeric, which is believed to increase cognitive function.
Brown advises that snacks like a Snickers bar wouldn't be healthy, but a dark chocolate Hershey's bar with almonds would be a good alternative.
"I'm not constantly thinking about [the "freshman 15"], but I'm worried about it a bit in the back of my mind," said Brendan Dougherty, a freshman undecided major.
Dougherty also purposely steers away from fast food restaurants and tries to choose healthier alternatives.
Jesus Ulloa, a freshman accounting major, also has concerns about the "freshman 15." Ulloa will be trying out for the baseball team and feels that exercise will help him lose winter weight.
Besides being a certified fitness trainer, Brown is also the lead trainer for the website DailyBurn.com. DailyBurn is a free fitness site that focuses on social networking and community interaction.
"DailyBurn is like a Facebook for fitness. You can see the activities of others and motivate them when they're about to reach for the cookie," Brown said.
Exercise is clearly a substantial portion of any fitness regime, but Brown believes there are a few simple exercises that could be performed in any dorm room. Bench dips, toe touches, pushups, birddogs and wall sits are some of the best exercises a student can do, and can all be easily performed in a 10x10 space in under 15 minutes.
The "Freshman 15," or weight gain in general, doesn't have to happen. As long as careful attention is paid to diet and exercise, the fat pants can hopefully stay in the drawer for good.