Every year, millions of high school graduates make their way to college to begin the next chapter of their lives. As freshmen, students experience late-night dining, frequently skipped meals, all-you-can-eat cafeteria dining and a lack of exercise.
By the end of the fall semester, students may return home looking more “fulfilled” than when they had left. By the end of freshman year, many students have noticeably packed on a few pounds. But that’s all part of the so-called freshmen experience; the legend of the “Freshman 15.”
“A lot of freshmen are experiencing their first time away from home,” said George “Chip” Heimbach, director of programs at the FAMU Recreation Center. “This creates a minimal structure in their daily diets and exercise routines. Being a college student on a fixed budget with access to lots of quick foods, you tend to indulge in foods higher in calories and low in the nutrients that you need.”
Although the “Freshman 15” is what a lot of students talk about, many fail to mention that lots of students gain more than just 15 pounds.
Some students go on a journey of vegetarianism. and more students find convenient ways to exercise if they can’t make it to the gym on a regular basis.
There are plenty of vegetarian diets, but the two most common are lacto-ovo and vegan. Lacto-ovo includes eggs and milk products, but no meat. A vegan diet disallows consumption of animal products. It’s easier to acquire all your nutrients through a lacto-ovo diet.
De’Arcy Livingston, a sales associate at Complete Nutrition in Tallahassee, became a vegan in 2006 when he noticed disease was running rampant in his family.
“My grandma had cancer,” said Livingston. “My mom was overweight; my little sister had fibroid tumors and it was all related to diet. Eating dead, fast, fried, fake foods leads to a path of destruction.”
Livingston decided at the age of 19 he didn’t want to experience any health issues because of his diet. He experimented with vegetarianism before fully committing at age 21.
“I was in a yoga class and the instructor asked, ‘Why would you put death in your body if you are alive?’” said Livingston. “That spoke to me because we are what we eat, and I began to take vegetarianism seriously.”
Becoming vegetarian is beneficial to weight loss. Students naturally start eating lighter and leaner foods, so they’re more likely to lose weight. Your calorie intake is lighter, fats are reduced and you’re not consuming cholesterol.
“Cholesterol is animal based,” said Livingston. “The best foods to have in your diet are dark leafy greens like spinach and collard greens. And it’s filled with more nutrients, so you don’t need meat.”
Heimbach mentioned being a part of a workout group or a sports team is a good source of motivation in working out.
“You will meet people who have the same interest as you,” he said. “That way, you form a support group as well, and you’re having fun.”
Students may not have an adequate amount of time to visit the gym three times a week for two hours, but they can choose to work out elsewhere, like their dorm room or apartment.
The FAMU Recreation Center’s personal trainers can create a personalized fitness routine for students if they prefer to work out in the comfort of home. Having a buddy to endure a fun exercise with is also extremely beneficial in not giving up. Students have to be mentally prepared before seeing physical results.
“Every time I’m in the gym, there is a freshman who would like my assistance with their fitness training,” said Darnell Jordan, a personal trainer at FAMU Recreation Center and Youfit Health Club. “Your basic exercises like pushups, lunges, crunches and squats are good for those who cannot make time to come into the gym and work out. Mountain climbers and burpees are good high-intensity cardio exercises for weight loss.”
Jordan believes the worst foods a person can have in their diets are foods high in sodium, sugar and saturated fats.
“Stay away from fast food and fried foods,” said Jordan. “Shopping locally is a healthier choice. And avoid those crazy celebrity diets!”
Jordan also says the average student should work out three times a week to stay in decent shape.
To avoid gaining the infamous “Freshman 15,” students must have a good balance of healthy foods and fitness. With this being many students’ first time on their own, they must be mindful of how to take care of themselves.