Now you’re a few weeks into college you should be past the ‘What is going on?’ confusion phase and should be settled into a routine. For the first time you are completely out of the clutches of parental control and you are ready to take control of your life and make important decisions yourself.
But with saying that, you now have a lot of new things to consider: your diet, your lifestyle and making it through freshman year without any major screw-ups. And of course the dreaded Freshman 15. While this article isn’t made to give strict steps to maintaining a balance between food, school and social life, it should give some food for thought that will let you evaluate what you think needs to be done to live the way you want.
So of course a big concern is food. I could link numerous recipes from MyProtein which are delicious and either low carb, high protein or low in fats, but if you’re anything like the typical freshman you’re going to eat at a dining hall. You now have a choice of eating fries and burgers for dinner instead of spaghetti and chicken, and can wash it down with soda rather than organic juice, and more than likely you will want to exercise your freedom. My advice – if this has been you for the first few weeks, I wouldn’t worry about it. You’re still settling in and eating some junk food will make you feel a little better emotionally while you’re struggling with settling in the new environment. But does that mean every meal from here on in is whatever you want? Not quite.
Most food in dining halls is made for mass production. This means lots of fat and cheap quality, which is just focused on feeding the hordes of students coming in and out each day. So chances are, even if it looks okay it may not be as healthy as you think. While you’re indulging though, I’d take baby steps to securing a better future diet, small things will yield a big difference. In the first week maybe, get a mini fridge for your room – that will definitely come in handy. Then get a calorie tracker app and start recording what you eat, but be aware that since you eat in a dining hall it will only be a ball park estimate though this still gives you a good impression of what you eat.
One of the best things you can do is take a car to a grocery store once a week to stock up on healthy, nutritious foods. There is a good article listing 10 Budget Friendly Foods with a number of healthy foods that are cheap and will help you reach your macros. Unless you made food actively before university, chances are you won’t start now so maybe get some easy to make stuff like brown rice, eggs, and baked beans, and maybe a little junk for those future cheat days, and water, lots and lots of water because the diet coke will not quench that thirst. And if you’re not sure what macros exactly are, or how to calculate your intake I would read this article: What Are Macros?
When considering food it is important to start easy and make small adjustments to your regime, as this is way easier than making drastic changes all at once. After a while you’ll be naturally choosing the healthier options on the menu and will be a master college chef grilling up healthy snacks for the whole dorm (and hopefully getting something in return).
What about Supplements?
Now what supplements should you get? Pre-workout, maybe to give you that kick you need. Or a carb blocker to lose weight better. Or whatever L Glutamine is, no idea why people use it, but since they do I might as well get it, right?
Well, you can go all out or you can start with getting your nutrition right and then getting the basic supplements to go alongside your diet when needed. Remember – supplements are just that, they are meant to help you improve your gains by assisting your nutritional habits and are not magic dust that make you go from Slenderman to Hercules in a matter of days. Even after you get your food ready I would suggest you start with the simple stuff:
✓ Fish Oil, such as Omega 3 6 9
The fish oil I would strongly recommend because fish itself is pretty expensive so it’ll be difficult to buy on a student budget (unless you like canned tuna) and dining halls will rarely have it for similar reasons. With those basic supplements and a good college diet you will have a really solid foundation to start making those newbie gains.
Workout & Training
So nutrition – Check.
Supplements – Check.
The next step is to actually get out there and workout. Most colleges come with a free gym membership for at least freshman year, and even if they don’t they’re usually cheap or can be gotten for free by working as a fitness monitor or at reception. If you’re starting out, I suggest going simple and focusing on getting the core lifts going (A popular one being Starting Strength). And this may not apply to many, but I would suggest going either before your first class or in the late afternoon, evenings and lunchtime can be hectic as it’s when most students finish classes and have the will to lift. I also recommend reading other articles on this website to help you gain a better understanding of how to train properly, the benefits of cardio and how to get the most out of every lift. It’s not only important to go to the gym, but also to understand the basic workings of what you are doing and why. It will really help in the long run and possibly make you more interested in the field of health.
Here are some articles to give you an idea of how to train some of the most important muscle groups:
If you’re not a gym fan, then either pick up or continue a sport. Varsity, Club, intramural, whatever you’re into you can find it. From soccer to muggle Quidditch, anything you choose to do will keep you active, healthy and is an easy way to get to know more people with similar interests to you, and as a freshman you will really want to get to know as many people as possible. And just because it’s intramural doesn’t mean you will train less or not as hard as the varsity teams, the only real difference is standard. Though what varsity incorporates into itself is gym and conditioning.
If you’re an athlete, chances are you already know everything that I talked about here. But if you’re new to the gym and training routines then playing varsity sport means you don’t need to spend hours on the web searching up workouts and cardio/strength mixes, as everything is planned for you. The trainers will specialize a program just for your sport.
Take Home Message
So here are the key take home points from this article:
☐ Don’t make huge eating plans from the word go. Start slow and make adjustments
☐ If you are new with using supplements, don’t splash out for the pricey stuff, start using the basics
☐ Gym or sport, do something or the freshman 15 may just turn into the freshman 20 further on in the year
☐ All in all, enjoy the experience. It’s 4 years that you will remember forever, so make the most of it