Despite all the unique traits and individual atmospheres at different universities, one experience has been synonymous to each one. An experience so vile, so feared, yet everyone is susceptible to it. That, my friends, is the Freshman 15.
Every incoming college student faces new lifestyle changes, and eating habits are at the forefront. With extremely long nights, high stress levels, and trying to maintain a social life, people are more likely to fall victim to this collegiate curse. However, this is not the end all be all of your freshman year. It does take more self awareness, but anyone can see that Freshman 15 and forget to pick it up along the way down your first year of college.
At Vassar, we have the luxury of walking a short distance to the ACDC and consuming a large meal with a simple swipe of the card. It’s definitely not the most ideal situation for a healthy lifestyle. Walking in to the cafeteria and seeing the same old broccoli or beets at the vegetable station can be abysmal, and many tend to go for the much more comforting pizza and french fries choice. Yet students often overlook many options at the beloved Deece. One of the best discoveries I made last year was the stir-fry station. There are so many ingredients on hand, and you alone are in control of what you put into the pan and on your plate. It may take a while to cook, and the line can be long, but the wait is well worth it if you want to have a healthy, delicious meal that will fill you up without slowing you down. Now for many incoming students, including myself, who grew up with mom’s cooking, a stir fry station can be intimidating and scary. But people underestimate how simple it can be to put a few ingredients in a pan and make a culinary work of art. Vassar is all about trying new things and being bold, so why shouldn’t your food experiences be the same?
As important as what you eat is when you eat. Studies show that eating after 8 p.m. is extremely unhealthy, as one is more likely to be less active at night, and that evening snack just turns straight to fat. I know that tub of ice cream looks so good when you’re stuck in the middle of that 10 page political science paper, but really attempt to stop the cravings. Try to turn to healthy alternatives, such a baby carrots, almonds, or a fruit smoothie, or just try to avoid eating late all together. And avoid at all costs caffeine late at night, unless absolutely necessary. Sleep is essential for a healthy life, and a tired, stressed out person is more susceptible to store food rather than use the calories for good.
Maybe even more overlooked than the eating habits is one’s exercise routine. With all the new friends and activities, it can be difficult to find time during your day to go out and get some fresh air. I can remember many a day where I turned down a jog around Sunset Lake to instead take a long nap. But staying active is vital for an incoming college student. Not only will it keep your brain active and alert, it will also fight off the Freshman 15 and keep you in high spirits.
Walker Field House has an amazing gym facility that seems to be underused by the majority of the Vassar population. With everything from ellipticals to weight stations to an indoor track over a basketball court, Vassar provides every student with the means to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In-The-Pink, a Vassar newsletter dedicated to maintaining a healthy community, will make sure every student is well aware of all the exercise classes offered at the gym. Trust me, you’ll know their email handle within two weeks. If you find yourself with nothing to do, go try one of these classes. You may discover a passion for something you’ve never tried, like kick boxing or Zumba, and develop a regular schedule for activity. Setting aside a few hours a week in your schedule to go to the gym or just take a jog will be the key factor in preventing you from being one of the many to fall victim to the curse. Working out is also a great way to meet new people on campus or just spend quality time doing something active with good friends.
Your first year at Vassar College will be eye opening, powerful, and will shape the rest of your time at this prestigious institution. Don’t let the Freshman 15 get in the way of making the most of your experience. Not only will having a healthy lifestyle keep those nice pair of pants from becoming too small, it will keep you feeling refreshed, light, and aware, increasing your ability to perform well in class and other endeavors. With a little self-awareness and activity, you can avoid one of the most cliche woes of college students worldwide.