Workout Tips

Defying the Freshman 15

Avoid packing on the extra LBs with these tips to stay lean and fit during your first year in college.

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College life for many is a land of adjustment, lack of sleep, and excess. For those who are fitness enthusiasts, these things don’t go well together. Being a recent college freshman myself, I learned first hand just how hard it is to balance a healthy lifestyle while still maintaining a memorable university experience. These tips will make it easier to maintain the balance.

Being Flexible

This is key. School, social life, clubs and even work can bog down students. This makes it extremely difficult to find time to head to the gym. That being said, it may not be best to do a very specific split where you need to find this time 5 times a week. If you can do it -great, everyone’s schedules are different. The vast majority, however, won’t be able to.

Many of my friends and I went into college thinking we could keep up the same rotation as during summer. What I find tends to happen is that many end up missing, for example, chest day. After that they try to recollect and go the next day. On it’s own this isn’t a big deal; however, it’s problematic and highly discouraging when it begins to pile up. Before you can even realize it, you haven’t worked legs in two weeks. The point I’m making with this is if you find that working out five times a week isn’t realistic, than go three times. It seems simple but it will save you from feeling overwhelmed. Mental health is as much a part of a healthy lifestyle as physical health.

Combo it Up

As I mentioned earlier, the college experience includes a ton of social interaction. For many, this is where they meet their best friends for life. Going to the gym with your earphones blasting is fine, but when it starts to cut into seeing friends or hanging out consistently, it may be time to try something different. A great thing to do is try to do activities that are social, but also a great workout. Intramurals sports can be an absolute lifesaver. They can also be some of your fondest memories later on.

Sooner Rather than Later

Don't put off a workout. If you have time, go. Don’t put it off until later that evening. You may not have anything planned later, but being around so many peers, things can pop up at any time. There might be a party your friends just invited you to so you want to go. Or maybe it’s an assignment due at midnight that you forgot about. Whatever it is, it’s preventing you from going to workout because you chose to wait until later.

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Eat

Get your macros in. It’s not easy to get a good nutrition plan when in university, especially living on campus. There just isn’t always time to grab a bite every few hours. I know for me, there were many days where I skipped breakfast and had class until 3 or even 5 pm without having eaten. On days like those, I’d feel lethargic and would have no motivation to go workout. For those of you who have kitchens available: meal prep. I found keeping a box of protein bars in your backpack is also a great solution.

Relax

To bring this home, just relax. Don’t let missing a workout trigger more stress. Just take a minute, regroup and start fresh the next day. Everyone has different course loads and schedules so just find what works for you and stick with it. Good luck!

Jean-Samuel Poirier is a sophomore at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, and studies chemical engineering.

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