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Living life and loving it, ‘Freshman 15’: Avoidable or inevitable?

As a college freshman there is a lot to look forward to — meeting new people in the dorms, scheduling classes after 12 p.m. and no more curfews.

Along with all the exciting things that accompany being a college student, there is also the “Freshman 15.” It is that popular phrase often referred to while eating pizza at 4 a.m.

Students joke about the weight gain like it won’t effect them, but each student could face this during their transition from high school lunches to all-you-can-eat campus dining halls.

So how strong is this fattening force? Is everyone’s freshmen year destined to be cursed by the “Freshman 15,” or are there ways to escape what seems to be an inevitable weight gain?

On a calming note, research shows that the estimated 15 pounds of weight gain may actually be more like five to 10 pounds. However, the number of students experiencing this weight gain is still great.

According to a recent study by Cornell University, college freshmen gain an average of 4.2 pounds by the end of their first 12 weeks on campus. Researchers assessed the weight gain of 60 Cornell first semester students. They were weighed at the beginning and end of their first 12 weeks of college. A freshman, on average, gained about 0.3 pound per week.

Although 0.3 pound a week may not seem like much, it adds up; and before students know it, the jeans they wore comfortably as a high school senior won’t zip closed.

It is important to understand that there is no need for students to obsess over everything they eat, or spend hours at the Campus Recreation Center in fear of weight gain.

Researchers attributed the weight gain of 0.3 pound a week to the consumption of an extra 174 calories a day. Therefore, cutting out a late night snack or giving up minutes in the dining hall may be all it takes to prevent weight gain. At least 30 minutes on cardio equipment is enough to burn extra calories that were hard to say no to the night before.

It really can be as simple as giving up some extra calories at dinner or burning some extra calories in the afternoon. Though it may seem inevitable, the “Freshman 15” is avoidable.

To prevent the freshman pounds from creeping up, students can stay mindful of diets and stay active. Walking or riding a bike to class, and drinking water are two simple ways to help.

Try to stay on a regular eating schedule, and avoid skipping breakfast and indulging in late night dinners. Consider signing up for an intramural team on campus in order to stay active.

Just don’t get sucked into the obsession of counting calories and clocking every minute on the treadmill. With this in mind enjoy gaining friends, knowledge and experiences this year, and forget about gaining the weight.

Dayna Davidson is the group fitness supervisor at the Campus Recreation Center and is a senior majoring in wellness leadership with a minor is professional writing. She can be contacted for questions or comments at