15 Ways to Fight the Freshman 15

Alex Simpson finds out how you can avoid starting Second Year with that unfortunate extra bit of insulation.

Features Freshman 15 UCL London Tab

University: get educated, get laid and get fat. Your new-found freedom may look and feel great, but soon you will not. A few more weeks packed with pizzas, pints and parties will see you fall into the clutches of the ‘Freshman 15lbs’; the phenomenon that started in the US but is now making students all over the world fret about their Freshers’ habits. Panicking? Don’t. Let this simple guide be your sword as you wage war on your waistline.

1.      Think smart, drink smart

Is wine your Wednesday night wingman? Think beer is your pre-Proud buddy? Your taste buds’ friends will soon become your flab’s foes. It’s easy to underestimate the calorific content of your party favourites. Just because the calories aren’t labelled doesn’t mean they’re not there. Fitting into those skinny jeans means sticking to spirits and diet mixers.

2.      Be a freak on the dance floor

As you dance the night away, take a tip from The Chemical Brothers and “don’t hold back”. Going all-out on the dance floor is a fun and (relatively) pain-free method of burning the calories without realising. So flex those muscles, neck that shot and prepare to crack out ‘The Robot’.

3.      Lose the late-night luncheons

Post-Moonies you may think a Big Mac is a necessity. But remember: a moment on the drunken lips is a lifetime on the academic hips. So bin off the burgers and just go home. If you’re unable to face such a stomach-churning prospect, make sure you’ve got a nice slice of (wholemeal) toast waiting for you at the other end.

4.      Take the stairs

While this may not be the safest option as you fumble for your keys at 4am, try to use the stairs as much as possible. Another step, another calorie: it all adds up.

5.      Sex, sex, sex

Once you’ve made it up the stairs, make it happen between the sheets. Experts claim an hour of hot sex will burn at least 288 calories (the equivalent of half the Chicken Legend you just devoured). So if you want to stay stick-like, stick it in.

6.      Join the gym

It seems obvious, but so many of us are disconcerted by the seemingly excessive price tag. £160 for 12 months? Visit twice a week and it works out at around £1.50 per time. Bargain.

7.      Gym classes

A visit to the gym needn’t mean an hour spent labouring away on the treadmill. Make the most of your membership and partake in a few classes. Spinning, yoga, box for fitness…

8.      On your bike!

If you haven’t got the time, energy or funds for the gym, invest in a bike. It’s an easy, breezy (albeit slightly dangerous) way to incorporate rigorous exercise into your daily routine.

9.      Weigh yourself

It’s easy to bury your belly in a baggy jumper, but turning a blind eye can prove fatal as the academic year progresses. Assess the damage now and buy a set of scales. Regularly weighing yourself will ensure your grades are the only things going up…

10.  Put the ‘fresh’ into fresher

Yes, you’re a student but you’re not a sloth. The stereotype of the unwashed teenager who only eats beans on toast is out-dated. Under budget needn’t mean undernourished. Fresh fruit and vegetables are often cheaper than stodgy convenience foods. So kill off your romance with Heinz, grab some greens and show nature some love.

11.  Reward yourself

Eating bowl after bowl of stir fry can leave a bad taste in your mouth. However, don’t allow yourself to feel deprived: set yourself a goal and make sure there’s a worthwhile reward at the end of it all. Renouncing chocolate for seven days surely justifies those three Sainsbury’s donuts…

12.  Stick to filter coffee

Excessive coffee drinking is not a pre-requisite to being a successful student, but it certainly helps. As you try to keep your eyes open, keep them on your waistline. Coffees such as cappuccinos and lattes can contain as much fat as a chocolate bar. Stay faithful to fat-free filter coffees: a caffeine fix on a calorie budget.

13.  Be a good Samaritan

Discover your inner philanthropist and commit to a sponsored run. Running for charity is not only a noble endeavour but a fail-safe means of motivation to get moving on those unwelcoming winter nights.

14.  Live in the library

The books have eyes. No matter how plucky you believe yourself to be, few students successfully demolish a sandwich without being snared at by an anally retentive librarian. Spending mornings and afternoons in the library will force you to scrap the snacks and stick to meals.

15.  Try a crazy diet

Not for the faint-hearted. Hardcore diets receive a lot of bad press, but they’re not all bad. Take for instance the 5:2 diet: eat normally for five days, fast for two. Having tried it myself, I know it works. Maintaining the will to live on your ‘fast days’, however, is another matter…