The Freshman 15

As we touched on in the Healthy College Cookbook post, mom’s home cooking is a thing of the past (or at least for the next four years it is).  You will now be subjected to all the unhealthy food in the cafeteria and whatever healthy (or unhealthy) snacks that you choose to keep in your dorm room.

As I’ve mentioned before, the “Freshman 15” refers to the average number of pounds that most college freshman gain during their first year on campus.

Here are some interesting facts that were found in an article on

Fact #1:  Researchers at Cornell University found that college freshman gain about half a pound per week, which is 11 times more weight than the average 17 or 18 year-old will gain and nearly 20 times more than the average adult gains

Fact #2:  An American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) study shows that college students in general eat about 200 additional calories between the hours of 8pm and 4am

Fact #3:  Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that about 70% of students gain a significant amount of weight between the beginning of their freshman year and the end of their sophomore year

So that’s the bad news, but here’s the good news…you can avoid the freshman 15!  And I’m going to give you some tips on how you can do just that.

Tip 1:  Make Healthier Food Choices – I know the burger and french fries in the cafeteria look tempting every day, but try to eat these types of food in moderation.  Try to opt for healthier food options whenever you can.  This will help prevent the pounds from piling on.

Tip 2:  Get Enough Sleep – You should try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.  Not getting enough sleep can cause higher stress levels and can lead to loss of concentration in the classroom.  And what do people usually do when they’re stressed? That’s right, eat!  And typically they’re not eating healthy snacks…it’s more like ice cream, cookies, etc.

Tip 3:  Be Active – I know the shuttle will take you to the class that’s on the other side of campus, but why not walk?  I know the elevator will take you up to the 5th floor where your dorm room is located, but why not take the stairs?  All of these little changes in your everyday lifestyle add up and can all aid in warding off all those extra pounds.

Tip 4:  Go to the Gym – Take advantage of the gym on campus…after all, it’s free!  Partner up with your roommate and make it a point to go the gym at least 3 times a week.  If you’re working out with someone else then you’re more likely to go to the gym on a consistent basis.

Your exercise plan should include the following 3 components:

  •  Cardio
  • Strength Training
  • Stretching

Dorm Workouts

You should exercise at least 30-45 minutes 3 to 4 times a week.  Here are some examples of exercises that you can do right in your dorm room in each of these three categories:


  • Running up the stairs of your dorm
  • Jogging (in place)
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Jumping Rope
  • Dancing

Strength Training:

  • Push-ups
  • Crunches
  • Sit-Ups
  • Leg Lifts
  • Calf Raises

Stretching:  Watch this video to learn how to do simple stretching exercises right from your dorm room!


With the use of the tips included in this article, along with a little creativity, you can turn your simple dorm room into your own personal gym and avoid the freshman 15.  Always remember, a healthy body leads to a healthy mind.  Enjoy!

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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