Six easy steps  to losing weight  on campus

Illustration by Nadine McPatrick

The dreaded freshman 15. It could happen to anyone if it hasn’t already; the sad truth is that doesn’t just happen to freshmen. Unfortunately, like a cold sore the day of family pictures, it can hit anyone at anytime.

Luckily, there are preventative actions and cures for that 15 pounds of unwanted weight and they cost less than picture touch-ups. In fact, they are wallet friendly, as well as simple and easy to fit into a typically busy semester.

STEP ONE on the road to weight loss by semester is to eat a healthy substantial breakfast first thing in the morning. Oatmeal is highly recommended. It’s affordable, sticks like glue throughout the day and is approximately 160 calories.

STEP TWO is to schedule an early morning cardiovascular elective class such as aerobics, zumba or possibly even pilates. Doing this ensures that the heart rate is raised and the body is burning fat at least two to three days a week, or else the class is failed and hard-earned GPA is negatively affected. An early morning class also forces better sleeping habits, which will positively affect weight loss.

STEP THREE is wise vending machine selection. High calorie vending machine snaking can be both hard to track and expensive. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly cheap and conveniently located candy bar behind glass. That $1.75 three times a day on top of meals and beverages substantially adds up over the course of a four-year degree.

Ironically, some of the cheapest snacks have the least amount of fat and taste just as good. Both pretzels and fruit snacks are under a dollar and are less than 200 calories. If a snack is needed between the time classes start and end for the day, and before a healthy meal can be obtained, these two items should be at the top of the vending machine selection for desired weight loss results.

STEP FOUR involves the other type of vending machine. The one screaming “You’re tired, buy a Mountain Dew.” The most healthy and weight loss friendly beverage on campus is – gasp – free. Believe it or not, there are several drinking fountains located in every hall.

Drinking non-diet liquids adds to a daily caloric intake faster than anything else. It is also a complete waste and a sacrifice for delicious food that could be eaten in its place had water been the hydrating beverage of choice.

STEP FIVE brings to focus the time wasted between classes. It is commonly referred to as the Hall of Flags, or wherever it is that the most lounging and people-watching may be done. This time should be seriously re-evaluated. Granted, socializing is a key factor in continued education, yet it does not have to be done in a sitting position.

Any hall on campus can be just as easily scoped out at a nice brisk strut as it can from a seat along the wall. By walking/strutting laps with friends around the school, more people can be checked out and time is used productively by burning calories in the process.

If sitting is necessary, remove the chair. While visiting with friends before or after class, do wall sits. This is done by placing the back against the wall and sitting as though there were a chair present. However, without the chair, this forces the thighs to engage and hold the body in a seated position, conveniently burning fat.

While there are endless ways to both shed and prevent the freshman 15, there is one final step that is likely the least desirable but the most productive tool of weight loss on campus.

STEP SIX. The free lot. Yes, there are many benefits to parking a million miles away from class, the least of which is saving $80 a year. This is a way to force exercise and, in turn, burn calories. Especially if an item is accidentally left in a vehicle and forgotten until students have reached the doors of the LA building, requiring another trek to the lot and back.

This step requires determination above all the others. Do not be swayed by the shuttle option – be brave and sprint through the bad weather.

Through these six steps and continued self-control off campus, weight loss can be achieved. However, skipping steps can easily dilute the effectiveness of the others. Don’t cheat!