Little Things Can Make A Big Difference In Avoiding The Freshman 15


Elysia Cook
Health & Lifestyles Editor
Photo Eugene Ho

One way of describing the Freshman 15 is to liken it to a cheetah hunting a gazelle in an open stretch of land. The gazelle is not completely oblivious to the predator out in the wild—it has adapted to the threatening environment and knows to flee when chased. However, the gazelle is not always aware when it is the target of the cheetah, and it is then that the cat strikes and claims its prize.

Such is the case with the Freshman 15. New students, the gazelles in this scenario, come to school armed with an abundance of knowledge about how to avoid this adversary of good health. But sadly, even the greatest amount of prior education is not always enough to outweigh the temptations of buffet dining, keg parties and pure lethargy that constitutes college life. It is during the first few months especially that the flurry of classes, homework, partying, meeting new people and immersing oneself in the UCSB atmosphere can make a person put good health and fitness on the back burner. Before you can say ‘just one more piece of cake,’ you’re 15 pounds heavier and shaking your head in both shock and disgust at being another statistic.

Some people are biologically blessed with a fast metabolism and fantastic, fat-burning genes and don’t have to worry about gaining an ounce. Unfortunately, those who don’t fall into this category (a.k.a. the general population) must take additional measures to prevent piling on the pounds. But in all honesty, sometimes you’re going to want that extra scoop of ice cream at De La Guerra Dining Commons. Sometimes you’re going to be ridiculously tired from five straight hours of homework and won’t want to drag yourself to the workout room and exercise. And sometimes your friends will cheer you on to do that keg stand, and you just won’t want to pass it up. This is, arguably, perfectly normal and reasonable behavior.

Therefore, it’s not logical to tell you to make time to work out for ‘only’ four days a week for ‘only’ 30 minutes, or tell you to eat a salad instead of a slice of pizza for dinner. Instead, here are a few ideas to help offset the Freshman 15 that aren’t both time-consuming and convenient for your everyday life at UCSB:

  1.  If you drink, avoid mixed drinks. Liquor shots alone can be upwards of 125 calories, compared to your average Bud Light (110 calorie per 12 oz. can). But throw in some Red Bull, juice, etc. and you’re looking at even more unnecessary calories that will also give you a sugar spike and/or a nasty hangover in the morning.
  2. Enjoy the scenery. If you have time to kill before a class, take the long way there and meander by the lagoon or walk around the edge of campus near Campus Point that borders Goleta Beach. A few extra minutes of walking will burn some calories and also score you some vitamin D.
  3. Take an Exercise & Sports Studies class. Although the course section was recently impacted from budget cuts, they still offer classes about nutrition, fitness and more that will inspire and/or scare you into being healthier. The things you learn in Nutrition/Health in one quarter could be enough to make you want to change your eating habits forever.
  4. The buddy system is a great way to motivate yourself to go on that run or not eat that candy bar. Roommates and other people on your floor that you’re friends with are around you practically 24/7, so they’re the perfect workout buddies and will be around to call you out when you’re trying to sneak a late-night snack in the lounge.
  5. Avoid going to Late Night at DLG. It’s hard to resist going when those hunger pangs hit come 10 p.m., but the food there is pretty much straight stoner food that has no nutritional value. It’s a grease and sugar-fest, and since it’s so late in the night you usually will end up going to bed not long after you eat. And it’s a rule of thumb that it’s bad to eat right before you go to sleep, particularly if you consume unhealthy food.

As a disclaimer, taking this aforementioned advice doesn’t guarantee that you won’t gain the Freshman 15. Obviously, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet and exercising on a daily basis are the most dependable ways to ensure that you won’t get the wide-eyed, agape-mouth reaction from your friends and family when you visit for Thanksgiving and Christmas. But for when those methods of weight maintenance are too much to handle, hopefully these pieces of advice will help compensate. By staying aware and taking both large and small preventative measures, you won’t have to be the oblivious gazelle in this open field of grass and shrubberies that we lovingly call college.