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College is for expanding minds, not waistlines

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Staying in shape keeps the body and mind healthy and full of energy. The freshman 15, the 15 pounds of weight gain during the first year of college that some students encounter, can be avoided according to some sources. 

The average weight gain of college students is about a half a pound per week. This is 11 times higher than normal, and about 20 percent higher than adults, according to Web MD. 

Developing good eating habits early is the best way to avoid obesity and the health problems that accompany it, according to Teens Health from Nemours.  

Weight gain is partly responsible for a plethora of health tribulations including diabetes, heart problems and joint problems, according to Web MD.

Students are developing eating habits that will not be too different from the habits they will carry through life, Web MD said.

Nemours stated college students between 17 and 18 years old are still building bone mass and need calcium-rich food and exercise. Pop and other caffeinated beverages interfere with calcium absorption and should be kept to a minimum, the site said.

Christine Rochester from Colorado State University-Pueblo’s exercise and health program said students should avoid soda machines and drink water instead.

Staying in shape is generally done by establishing a good eating and exercise routine. Keep a journal of what is consumed and when. Also, record the mood at consumption time, according to Web MD.

By keeping a journal problem areas can be identified. By recording the mood at the time of consumption, stress or loneliness can be targeted and replaced by relaxing or calling a friend,Web MD said.

“With stress people eat more,” Rochester said. “People need to get out in nature and take walks. Nature is a huge stress reliever.”

Eating after 8 p.m. is known to add extra weight, according to Nemours.

Staying up late at night and consuming pizza during study sessions is not a good idea, Rochester said, and social eating and drinking are huge contributors to weight gain.

Also, exercise frequently. Exercising a few times a week will not only provide the body with more energy, it will also burn any extra calories that may have been consumed, said Nemours. 

Start an exercise regiment slowly and ease into harder workouts, Rochester said. The exercise will be easy before long.

The CSU-Pueblo Recreation Center has a variety of equipment students can rent.  There are bicycles, skis, snow shoes, and camping gear. There is a one-time fee of $25, Rochester said. 

Another way to avoid weight gain is to not make extra trips to the schools all-you-can-eat food bar, Rochester said. Many excess calories and carbohydrates can be consumed there.

“Everyone knows that eating in the cafeteria is a reason people gain weight,” Rochester said.

 “Focus on eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid everything that has too much sodium,” Rochester said.

“Students get bloated from too much salt,” Rochester said. “Stay away from vending machines.”

According to Nemours, alcohol and cigarettes are other contributors to weight gain. Besides being illegal for a lot of college freshman, alcohol is full of calories and kills brain cells.

“Drinking 10 beers over the weekend is like 10,000 extra calories,” Rochester said.

Avoid cigarettes even though they may be an appetite suppressant, said Nemours. They are also an exercise suppressant.

Concentration and memory suffer when a daily diet is not managed, according to Web MD. Don’t skip meals or fall for the latest diet fad.

Nemours said to not become upset if a plan isn’t carried out exactly. Make sure you leave room to enjoy the food you like. By exiling foods from a diet, they become cravings and binge eating is more likely to occur.