Freshman Fifteen! What Is It?

Freshman fifteen is an interesting phenomenon that seems to attack all freshman girls. No one can really explain why girls gain weight their first year of college away from home. In my opinion, it is the result of a few things.

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You know, the very first time I came across the words "freshman fifteen" I really had no idea what it meant. In fact, it took me quite some time before I would ever figure it out. Let me tell you about it. I was on my way to the weight room when I overheard some girls talking, and you guessed it, they were talking about the "freshman fifteen". I soon learned that "freshman fifteen" was a problem that most freshman girls seem to face on a daily basis. You could even say that it is a sort of never ending battle of girls versus fat. It seems that girls gain 15 pounds of fat their freshman year.

Freshman fifteen is an interesting phenomenon that seems to attack all freshman girls. No one can really explain why girls gain weight their first year of college away from home. In my opinion, it is the result of a few things. The first of which is STRESS. Stress can be considered as a good and a bad thing. A few stressors in a college freshman's life may include trying to get good grades, trying to have a good social life, possibly trying to play a sport or perform in dance or music. Some students even try to work full time to pay for school. Then there is of course the stress of trying to get a date. It has been my experience that the stress of trying to impress all the guys is by far the one that causes the most facial boils, zits and weight problems. Another stressor could be stress on the body. Consider this: You and your girlfriends stay up all night talking about life. How do you think your body feels the next day? Probably not like getting into shape. I wonder what you were eating all night long-probably not granola bars and fruit roll ups! An even bigger mistake you probably made was the fact that you were wired from caffeine pills or coffee.

The second cause of freshman fifteen is the LACK OF EXERCISE. Few freshman woman know how to exercise properly, neither do they seem to find the time or the motivation to work out on a daily basis. It is typical for a girl to get together with her roommate and discuss how they are going to start working out and losing weight when they realize that those few extra pounds are starting to show up. It's kind of like a New Years resolution. It is also typical for the two of them to start working out for about two weeks and then all of a sudden quit. What? You're laughing??? Probably because this sounds familiar. Why is this? I say it is because they set their goals and expectations too high. Also, failure to continue to lift weights and exercise is a direct result of a LACK OF KNOW HOW. In other words, no girl wants to visit a weightlifting gym that she knows will be completely filled with testosterone loaded men, who all act like they are experts in weightlifting. It's kind of like trying to drag a man into a lingerie store. You know the scene. I won't even mention the swimming pool. If girls were confident about wearing a bathing suit in the pool, then there would be no reason for them to be in the gym, now would there?

The third cause of freshman fifteen is DIET. There is one word I can think of that almost every girl on the planet is familiar with. That is the word diet. Crash diets, eating disorders, bad eating habits, snacking and overindulging, all run wild among college freshman. Quick and convenient fast food seems to be the meal of choice. I won't even mention some of the crap that they serve as meal plans in school cafeterias. It's not like you are given a cute little handbook on the first day of school that explains exactly what you should and should not eat. If there were such a thing, then I think a lot of girls would be very happy. Lets get real here. When we experience our first years as freshman, the shelves become stocked with bags of Doritos, macaroni and cheese, Raman noodles, peanut filled M and M's, and other various junk foods. The freezer all of a sudden becomes filled with cartons full of your favorite flavored ice cream, all of which your loving mom tried to shelter you from for so many years.

Well guess what, she's not here anymore! It seems as though college provides a time to learn how to become "Suzy homemakers" thus allowing girls to explore their cooking skills. Making cookies and brownies are amongst some of the tasty pastries made. Don't forget those late night snacks, especially the pound of peanut butter and graham crackers you ate last night after you came home from a depressing singles dance. Trust me, there are other alternatives to dealing with that insensitive jerk of a guy. Making yourself fat by eating a gallon of ice cream to temporarily satisfy your taste buds should not be included as one of those alternatives!

Freshman fifteen is not an unconquerable beast. There are ways to get around the suggested three problems of stress, lack of exercise, and diet. It is my purpose to provide some of those solutions in writing this article. Let's begin with stress, because I believe stress is the forerunner to all the other problems I listed. There are two kinds of stress: eustress and distress. Distress is of course the bad one. A few things that may cause distress are: death of a good friend or relative, being dumped cold by the guy you supposedly loved and failing a major test or job interview. Eustress is the other type of stress and can be considered as the good one. A few things that may cause eustress include: the teacher assigns you to write a 3,000 word paper, you have rent to pay, you are trying to get a 4.0 this semester, and the guy of your dreams just asked you out. There are many others that I haven't listed. The point I am trying to get across here is that you and I have a task at hand, and that is to turn our distress into eustress and to turn our eustress into accomplishments that we are proud of. Let me explain myself, in terms of the freshman fifteen.

One: in order to avoid gaining those fifteen pounds because of stress, you have to SET GOALS FOR YOURSELF. Do not set outrageously huge goals that you know you'll never accomplish. Start with the itty bitty ones that you are sure to accomplish. Example: You have a 3,000-word essay due in two weeks. Set a goal to write 250 words a day. Now it doesn't seem so out of reach. Well, that one seemed too easy didn't it. Lets talk about that dream guy of yours. What are some of those itty-bitty goals of yours to win his heart over with? The obvious huge goal is to marry him of course. How are you going to impress him? The trick is to stop worrying about what he thinks of you and to start impressing yourself. Yes, you did read it right. The truth is, you will not even catch his eye if he thinks you don't love yourself. Be careful though. Don't show your love for yourself so much that you have to look in the mirror every time you pass by a car window.

Self-conscious is very different from self-cautious. Self-consciousness promotes self-esteem and self worth if you allow it to. Self-cautiousness does nothing but put you down. In other words, don't be cautious or afraid of yourself. Self-improvement is attractive. Let the man know that you love yourself by the way you act when you are with him.

I guess the question you are asking me is: how can I be confident in myself if I have those fifteen pounds added on me? I say it shouldn't even be a factor. If you are afraid of the guy rejecting you because of your weight, then he probably wasn't worth dating in the first place. There is a positive side to this thing also. If you feel inclined to lose weight because you want to impress a man, then by all means DO IT! In the process you will not only find that you like yourself even more, but you will also find that other guys are attracted to you. Why? Because you can actually look him in the eyes and not worry about him concentrating on your double chin. That sends a message of confidence that is sure to surprise even you. Don't be scared! Again the trick is to set goals. Take it one step at a time, even if they have to be baby steps. Later on, we will apply goal setting to physical fitness, exercise and diet.

Two: EXERCISE ON A REGULAR BASIS. The reason I recommend this is because I believe that exercise can be one of the best stress relievers known to man. It is incredible how a long, peaceful jog can relieve the stress of a hard day at work or school. For guys, the weight room is a huge stress reliever. Yes, it is true. If a guy is in a bad mood, or is mad at the world for some reason (Heaven forbid his frustration come because of you) he can relieve his anger in minutes just by lifting the bar on the bench press. Lucky for you girls, the guys would rather lift away their frustrations in the gym than blow up in your face at an unexpected moment. It's that testosterone thing again. Exercise is the perfect way to release the tension that plagues you on a daily basis. An easy way to avoid a nervous breakdown is to exercise it out. The truth is, your body gets a sort of natural high when it exercises. This high is your bodies way of saying thank you. Here's one for you, stress actually causes your muscles to atrophy. In other words, your muscles catabolize, or eat each other when you stress out. The way to reverse the process is to exercise in order to allow your muscles to build themselves instead of eat themselves. Wouldn't it be wonderful if your body started eating fat every time you got stressed? Fat chance.

Three: DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF! Are you a worry wart? Do you worry about the littlest things? People who try to make everything perfect in their lives stress out entirely too much. Hey, you're human. Don't have a cow if you are not perfect! Nobody is, despite what you might think about that gorgeous blonde that seems to have no problem getting a date. Don't you dare compare yourself to her, or anyone else for that matter. Comparing yourself only kills you. Self-comparison is the biggest problem I can think of. All I can say is don't do it! There is one exception to the rule here, and it is an exception. If by comparing yourself to someone else, you are motivated to become a better person then you have my permission to do so. By saying this, I mean, it is not a sin to admire someone for his or her accomplishments in life. If you set goals to become like them, or aspire to becoming better than they are, then go for it. The question to ask yourself here is: Does this comparison motivate me to become a better person, or am I drowning in self-pity?

Four: DON'T PUT UNNECESSARY STRESS ON YOUR BODY. Yeah, I think this one explains itself. Don't stay up all night eating potato chips, and expect to have a healthy day following. Be smart with your sleeping habits. Lack of sleep puts a huge stress on your body. The old saying "early to bed and early to rise will keep a man healthy, wealthy and wise" is very, very, very true. Live by it. .

NOW ON TO EXERCISE. It is my purpose here to provide some suggestions for working out that will help you to overcome the fear of not knowing how to get started. Let's begin with AEROBICS. My first suggestion is Tae Bo. I know some of your friends have the videos. Almost every girl I have ever talked with who has tried the Tae Bo workout has loved it completely. It is fun, and it teaches some self-defense. It will give you an awesome workout also. The trick with Tae Bo is to simply schedule time to do it. I prefer that you do it early in the morning on an empty stomach because that is the best time for your body to burn fat. If you need to do it at another time, go for the evening just before bed. I recommend doing 50 or more crunches before and after your workout, only if you plan on trimming up in the stomach. Also, it wouldn't hurt to do some push ups, and no they don't have to be the full on hard ones. Unless you are a professional bodybuilder, I don't expect you to do anything more than a "girl" pushup. In other words, do them with your knees on the ground. Ten or fifteen repetitions will suffice here. After all I have never met a girl that wants a firmer bust, or a girl that slaps you on the butt and says "flex your pecs man". The key here is to firm up the arms. Your chest will hardly be affected.

If Tae Bo isn't your thing, I recommend looking for the nearest aerobics class and enrolling. If there is one offered at your school, get in it! The reason I suggest that is because you will be expected to show up to class, and you will have to achieve results. Also, when I was in a college aerobics class, I was somehow motivated to stay after class and work out for another hour on the stair stepper or the exercise bike. A lot of my motivation came from being in front of all those people in class and at the gym. I really wanted to look good. If it is not possible for you to find an aerobics class, or you cannot afford to enroll in one, than here are some exercises you can do at home. Number one, jog in place for a half an hour at the least. It is absolutely important for you to kick your knees up high during this exercise, so you can work your abs. If you are like me, you dislike running so this is the best alternative for you. Watch a television show or listen to a CD set to the amount of time you will be working out. A TV sitcom is the best here because it usually lasts for thirty or so minutes and will keep your mind off the pain and of course the incredible boredom of the exercise. You will be surprised how fast it goes. Oh, and have fun while you do it. I mean, who cares if you are singing at the top of your lungs and are pretending you are in a boxing rink. Enjoy your workout. This should not be a chore to you. It should be a time of pure bliss, after all we are trying to make a habit out of exercising. Who wants do make a habit out of something they hate? I really don't care what you do for your aerobic exercises at home. If you simply dance or jump around for a while, that will work. The rule of thumb here is to work out for at least 35 minutes. No slackin here! If you really want to have some fun, get together with some friends and have an aerobic dance party, hmmm there's an idea.

If there is one thing I cannot stress enough, it is stretching. Stretch every part of your body. Do side bends and toe touches especially, alternating right hand touching left foot, and left hand touching right foot. Be sure to flex those abdominal muscles as you exhale.

Ok, so you're tired of doing the workouts at home and you actually decide to step foot into the gym. You arrive at your choice of workout facilities and the person at the front desk asks you if he or she can help you. The obvious reply is "yes" but the thing I want you to say is "I am just checking out your gym because I am looking at getting a membership somewhere". Chances are the gym will have a free weeks pass for you so you can get to know their gym and find out if you like it. This is a very good idea, do it. If they are smart, they will want your business and will do everything they can to impress you. Make sure there will be someone there to help you if you have questions. However, do not get reeled into paying an overpriced trainer.

Ok, so now you're in the gym. I want to make one thing clear before I move on to a workout schedule for you - there are probably tons of guys there working out. The thing I want you to know about the guys is that they all think they are experts in the field of weightlifting. It is quite funny actually. Look around you at the gym and notice the macho faces that the guys are putting on. It's like they have something to prove. Anyway, you are going to use this to your advantage. If at any time you ever have a question DO NOT HESITATE TO ASK ONE OF THOSE MACHO GUYS TO ANSWER IT. Don't be shy here. I am positive you will always get your answer. In doing so, you will not only learn more, but you will stroke the guy's ego a little. It's a win-win situation. To the workout we go!

When you begin a workout, it is important to warm your muscles up. You will do this by riding the exercise bike for 5 to 10 minutes. The purpose here is not to burn a million calories, but to just break a small sweat. When you are done, you have a ton of choices. I recommend going first to the bench press. Every gym should have a bench press. If they have one that is a nautilus machine, I recommend you use that. This is a machine that will work your chest, triceps and shoulders. Go easy on yourself. I recommend doing two sets to start out, doing maybe 8 to 10 repetitions. Don't be confused by the terminology I use in weightlifting. Sets are the number of times you will perform a particular exercise. Repetitions are the number of times you will lift the weight while performing the set, or exercise. Before I move on I need to tell you that if you go to the gym and see a lot of machines that look really weird, they are probably nautilus machines, and they are probably arranged in a specific order called a circuit. The circuit is there for your training benefit. Just move from machine to machine. They are really easy.

The second exercise I recommend is the hamstring curl for your legs. There is a machine that you lay face down on while placing the back of your legs under a cushioned bar that you put weight on. This machine is great for working the butt and thighs. Again, two sets of about 8 to 10 repetitions is recommended. My favorite exercise for toning up the legs is the squat. This is definitely one of those exercises that I recommend you talking to a man about. I prefer you choose someone who actually looks like he knows what he is doing. If he is cute and asks you out, then gladly accept the offer. But, if he is a total geek that only cares about his masculinity, then I recommend you tell him that you are engaged. In my opinion, that is the easiest and least painful way to say no. After all we are not out to hurt anyone's feelings here! For his sake, it is best to make him feel like he is the gym mack daddy. Ok, back to the workout. If you know how to do lunges, do them. They are great for shaping up the butt and thighs. I recommend 10 to 12 reps here. You need to learn what your body can take. In other words, it is smart for you to push yourself to the limit at the gym. Do as many sets and reps as you possibly can. I say that because I want you to learn how to listen to your body. It is fairly routine to do only one set per exercise.

Moving on to arms again. It's not like you need to get huge biceps. What you probably want to work on is firming up those arms so there is no flab. In this case, take some dumbbells, about 20 pounders or so, and curl them. Don't worry if you have no idea what I am talking about. I refer you back to the macho guy part of your gym experience. Chances are there are at least two or more guys doing bicep curls. They are fixed on the phrase "no curls, no girls." Watch them carefully to see what they do. I really could go on and on forever giving you ideas about what to do at the gym. The truth is, you will learn more from going there and watching the people around you working out than I could ever possibly explain to you in this article. Generally the rule of thumb is to do 10 to 12 repetitions for each body part. If you really want to trim up, go swimming. This will give you a cardiovascular and an anaerobic workout. Also there is one hidden advantage to swimming. It is the simple fact that you are actually forced to look good. Now that's motivation. Again, I really recommend the stair stepper. It works. Stretch before and after everything you do, and for goodness sakes, drink plenty of water!

Now moving on to that word that every girl in this world is familiar with: diet. This is probably the most difficult subject to write about. There are so many different ideas floating around out there for dieting. It seems like everyone wants to put their two cents in. There are high carbohydrate diets, high bread and grain diets, low fat/no fat diets, zero carbohydrate diets, meal replacement diets, vegetarian diets, fruit diets, and the list goes on and on forever. I personally don't subscribe to any of these ideas. It is a fact that you can lose weight on most any of these diets if you do them right. Unfortunately, we've all heard the complaint that the fat seems to disappear for awhile and then wham! You're right back where you started from and possibly are even fatter.

It seems like a losing situation no matter how you look at it. Then there's the swimsuit models on Sports Illustrated and other glamour magazines. You can't help but wondering where in the world did they get their figure? Well, I only have one recommendation for this one, EAT RIGHT. Honestly, your bodies potential is suprising. If you put your mind to it, it is possible for you to achieve anything, especially in the category of health and fitness. I am speaking from experience. Hey, if you want to look great, set your mind to it and you will achieve. Before we move on, I refer you to my personal success story on the world wide web. Visit www.bodybuilding.com/fun/rendell.htm. Also if that doesn't bore you to death you can visit www.ironmountainfitness.com/feb01.htm. I hope these stories provide some hope and inspiration to you.

DIET: Suggestion number one. If you must have a late nighter with your friends or your homework, for crying out loud! Eat sensible foods. For starters, here's a suggestion you are sure to like - get yourself a bag of baked Tostitos (or any other baked tortilla chip for that matter) and a nice fat bowl of your favorite salsa, preferably the hot stuff. The beauty of this snack is that you can eat all you want and then go back for more. Also, it is said that eating hot foods helps you to burn fat. I like the idea personally and put hot salsa and pepper on all my foods when I am training for bodybuilding competitions. Whether or not the idea actually works, is up to you I guess. If you desire, I will allow you to microwave some fat free cheese on the chips. I have two words for you "Butter Spray". This is a wonderful invention. It is fat free, calorie free and after awhile it begins to taste very good. It goes with everything! Don't be afraid to spray some on those fat free tortilla chips and them put them in the microwave. Mmmm, mmm, good. Before I suggest to you any more eating tips and recipes, there is one law you have to live by when it comes to food. If you feel good after eating it, then you can eat it. Simple enough, isn't it? This rule applies to amount of food consumed also. If you feel like a blob after eating something then you either ate too much, or you ate the wrong thing. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

Do you like sour cream? Have you tried the fat free stuff? I have and it tastes gross! I do love sour cream though, despite how fatty it is. Yes, there is a way around it. The trick is to mix the sour cream with plain yogurt. Try it, you may be surprised at the results. Oh, and my favorite: cookies. Use apple sauce instead of butter or Crisco. In my opinion, the cookies taste a lot better this way. The beauty of it is, I can eat all the cookies I want and not feel guilty afterwards. A big mistake college girls like to make is starving themselves. This is irrational, stupid and very harmful. Eat food, that is why your body craves it. You can eat a ton of it, if you eat the right things. Do Not go on a liquid diet. In other words, don't try to substitute a supplemental shake or dietary drink for a meal. At the time, this may seem like a good idea, but believe me it is not. If you do by chance decide to take a meal replacement supplemental drink then make sure you eat real food also. It is possible to lose fat while taking a meal replacement. The trick is to mix plenty of fruit in with your drink, and to also eat something solid like cereal. Please don't drink anything more than skim milk! You would be surprised at the difference that would make in your diet. Jello is the definite snack of choice. It is not only fat free, but you can buy the sugar free stuff also. Also Jello pudding made with skim milk is so good. You have my permission to eat all you want of these two desserts. My absolute favorite meal or snack is fat free pizza. It is possible to make it, so give it a try. There are so many foods you can eat, just use your imagination. Yes it is true that you will lose weight if you burn more calories than you take in, but don't stress this one. If you are eating properly, you will lose weight. In fact, you will lose fat. It is unfortunate that people judge themselves by how much they weigh. You can weigh 150 lbs and still look amazing. Our worries are focused on the inches around the areas of concern. Do not guage your success in terms of weight loss.

So what about dietary supplements? I recommend Xenadrine. It is safe and effective. If you must take a metabolic enhancer, this is the one to take. Don't mess around with all those miracle drugs and supplements. My recommendation is to talk to someone who has taken the pills that you are investigating. Remember, everyone thinks they are an expert in this field. You have to find out what works for you. Just don't rely on the supplement to do the work for you. Also, I highly recommend taking a multivitamin/mineral. Trust me, your body will thank you for feeding it this. In all the before and after pictures you see, the advertiser doesn't tell you about how hard the individuals worked out in the gym. They don't tell you about their diets either. Again, ask someone who has taken the product before. You will be able to locate these people online. There are plenty of websites dedicated to just that, including this one and the Bodybuilding.com message boards.

In closing, if I could say just one more thing to you it would be love yourself and your body. It is a gift from God to you. Cherish it. Perfect it. Do all you can to make it the best it possibly can be. Please don't compare yourself to others. We all have different body types. It is true that it is easy for some to lose weight without even trying. Yes, there will always be those people who can eat anything and everything they want and not gain an ounce. All I can say is you are you. Be happy with yourself, whether it be physically fit or pleasantly plump. If you have any questions or would like to meet me, feel free to email me at rendellwilkinson@hotmail.com.