The good freshman 15

Fitness Expert

You know exactly what I'm talking about when I mention the freshman fifteen. You see young men and women go off to college to advance their knowledge of certain subjects in hopes of making a profession out of it. What they are not planning on is the advancement of their waistline. Instead of being afraid of the freshman fifteen that tends to register with most students, you should be using this time to make improvements to your body. Before you give in and start stuffing your face with Meat Lovers pizza, please consider the following.

Make use of the campus facilities.

You're already paying for the recreation center (gym) on campus with the $20,000 tuition bill that you just paid so make use of it. You can't tell me you don't have one hour, four days a week, to spend at the gym weightlifting (not screwing around with your buddies). Even if you're one of the busiest college students (I run the FitCast, take 16 credits, and am an RA, and I still find the time), you should be able to organize your schedule in a way that you have an hour, four days a week. If you can't, you suck at time management. You need to stop reading this and address that by taking a time management course or buying a PDA.

Now I know that not all weight rooms are created equal. But you have to do your best with what you got. So be inventive. Many of the workouts out there can be modified for limited equipment. As long as you have a bench, a squat rack, dumbbells up to 100 pounds, and plenty of weight to throw on those barbells, you will be able to get a great workout in. Don't be afraid to ask others on or other forums if something else would be a good replacement or even ask the authors themselves.

Figure out what time the gym is not full.

I literally cannot workout in a gym that is full of dumb ass frat boys hogging the squat rack to work on their biceps (or even better the groups of four guys lifting together and jerking off in between sets). To avoid this, find a time when the gym is almost empty. Most likely this is going to be between 6:00–11:00 am, 2:00–4:00 pm, or anytime after 9:00 pm on the weekdays. The weekends are usually wide open, but again, the best time would be before dinner (6:00 pm).

Keep in mind that the hell times are at lunchtime and from dinner on till 9:00 pm. During this time, you will be lucky if you don't find yourself waiting for a piece of equipment. If you can't find a time that works for you when the gym will not be crowded, you might want to consider a body weight workout if you are in the market for fat loss. However, for muscle building, there are no other options.

Find a good workout.

Now for the nutrition part of keeping off the Freshman 15.

Although there are a few down sides to eating food from your college's dining commons (DC), not everything is deep-fried or covered in some mysterious sauce. Just think to yourself, "What can I eat that I know won't be tampered with by the cooking staff?" Well if you look hard, you would be surprised at how easy it is to eat clean. Let's go through a normal day where you eat three meals at the DC.

Breakfast: It is 7:30 am, and you have a class in thirty minutes. What are you going to eat that will be appetizing and keep you going through a two-hour class? First off, pound a whey shake or even better a whey/cassin mix like low-carb metabolic drive with two fish oil caps before you leave your room.

Now let's walk over to the DC. There are a bunch of choices. Grab some slices of whole wheat bread and throw some peanut butter on them. Make an omelet with vegetables if it isn't coming to you in a powdered form five minutes before it is handed to you. Make a bowl of oatmeal (throw some whey in there too if you want). Have a bowl of high-fiber cereal or some hard boiled eggs or cottage cheese. Get the idea? Also, don't forget to try some sausage, bacon (although overall tried to limit the fatty meats), fresh fruit, 2 percent and skim milk, and even some yogurt. I have been to six campuses in the last two years and all of them offered at least 80 percent of the options that I just mentioned. There may be other options that would also be suitable. I trust you to use your judgment.

Lunch/Dinner: I'm not molding lunch into dinner just to save myself the typing. Honestly, the same options are usually presented at both times of the day. Automatically you must stay out of the pizza and pasta lines! Let's step into the main meal line, which changes for every meal.

This is going to be a meat, fish, or chicken dish with some kind of sauce on it. I don't get why all the meat and poultry served at colleges has to be covered in some sauce or gravy and all the fish has to be fried or at least breaded.

Along with the protein source, most of the time a vegetable will be served with it. Again, watch out for what's on it. In this case, it will be butter. Don't fret. Your new best friend is the salad bar. This is something that colleges are getting very good at. From romaine lettuce to cucumbers to raw broccoli to peppers, the list goes on. All the vegetables here are fair game so go nuts but go light on the dressing.

Dorm room food.

Having "clean" food in your dorm room in very important because instead of ordering a pizza when you are starving and typing a term paper, you can have a handful of raw almonds, microwave some frozen vegetables, or make some eggs. Along with the food, make sure that you have the necessary equipment to make a decent meal (frying pan or George Foreman grill, if it's ok).

Here are five must have foods that should be in your room at all times:

  • raw almonds
  • eggs (make some eggs in six minutes; easy protein and some good fats)
  • frozen vegetables
  • chicken breasts (cook five or six at once in a pan with some olive oil and then freeze them until needed)
  • cottage cheese

With these five foods you will be able to put together a healthy and appetizing snack. Of course this list should not contain all the food in your room, there is always room for beef jerky, string cheese, fresh vegetables (raw broccoli), cold cuts, some natural peanut butter, yogurt, high fiber cereal and some whole grain bread. Your choices may vary if your goal is fat-loss, but either way this is a nice list to start with.

The supplements.

I know you are on a college student's diet so I will keep it simple and cheap. Only the necessities.

  • 100 percent whey protein
  • creatine monohydrate
  • fish oil
  • multivitamin
  • Gatorade powder (great to mix with whey for a cheap, great tasting PWO drink)

Now just to wrap this whole thing up…

You have the information. Now what you chose to do with it is up to you. If you want to eat right, lift weights, and avoid the freshman fifteen, great. If you want to put on fifteen pounds of muscle after being the scrawny kid in high school, great. If you want to kill a 30-rack every weekend and get fat and weak, that's great as well. Just keep this in mind-college gives you the opportunity to reinvent yourself, socially, academically, and physically. I hope you make the right decision. And don't forget to have fun. It is college after all.