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Written by Alex Hutchison, Marketing Intern for American Made Dorm Nobody really knows what to expect going into college as a freshman. One thing is for sure:  it is full of surprises!  No matter how much advice you get or how many articles you read, there will still be unexpected things thrown your way.  I know for me one of the biggest adjustments was attempting to be somewhat healthy and fit while being completely on my own and surrounded by so many unhealthy, but tasty, options.  I’m not sure about most of you, but the university I attended didn’t really offer a wide variety of healthy foods.  Of course, we had the typical cafeteria options available, as well as a Subway and a salad bar, but we also had places like Papa Johns, Izzy’s Burritos, Panda Express, and Chic-fil-a.  As you could imagine, this is where the dreaded freshman 15 begins.  It’s extremely hard being tempted by all of these food options, especially when you have meal plans that cover a large slice of pizza, a breadstick and a coke; whereas, if you were to buy something healthier it is probably not covered through a meal plan because it is more expensive.  It is also much more convenient to swing through one of the lines and grab food to go, rather than attempt to cook something in that tiny little dorm kitchen, especially when you’re in a hurry...as you almost always are in college!  With that said, I’m going to provide you with a few do’s and dont’s of college life in terms of being healthy and staying fit!
  1. DO get a meal plan package.  I can assure you this will save you a ton of money in the long run, because, as I mentioned earlier, one meal plan covers a lot of food for a little price.  Of course, you will be tempted by all the unhealthy options because they are right in front of you, but try your best to find those options that are good for you.  Do your nutrition research on the restaurants your school offers, and figure out the places you should eat and those you should “treat” yourself to every now and then.  Also, stock up on healthy snacks in your dorm room.  That way when you get a late night craving you’ll have no choice but to eat healthy!
  2. DON’T get the biggest meal plan package.  Trust me, all of my friends that go the 19, or even the 14 meals per week always ended up giving theirs away or buying extra items to avoid letting them go to waste.  At my school, we could only use 4 meals a day, and at the end of the week they expired.  So check your school’s policies to see which plan is best for you. From my experience, 10 meals a week was just the right amount. This gave me the flexibility to eat on campus, in my dorm room, or even treat myself to something off-campus every once and a while!
  3. DO utilize your school’s gym!  This is a big one.  More than likely it is free for students and, if you’re as lucky as I was, it has tons of state-of-the-art equipment that you would normally have to pay big membership fees for.  It is also probably open fairly late, considering it is a college campus and they realize we all have hectic schedules.  My school even offered free exercise classes almost everyday, as well as one-on-one training!  I found the best way to utilize all of these amenities was by going with a friend. It is much easier, and more enjoyable to push through an hour long workout after a long day if you two set a schedule and stick to it.
Go into college with a plan for healthy eating and exercise and you'll be able to avoid the "freshmen 15".

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