Tackling the curse of the fresher’s five

Have you ever dreamed of a place where you could eat anything you want, as much as you want without anyone telling you otherwise? For all of you heading to university in September, welcome to this wonderful world of independence.

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Indeed, your mother is not going to be able to comment on the quantity of food you eat, or reprimand you if you miss your 5 vegetables a day. A dream? Probably. But nothing comes that easily, welcome to the life’s rollercoaster with its ups and its downs.

You will realise that soon enough, and especially that day when you are going to finish an entire chocolate cake by yourself just because you were binge watching your favourite series. I guess it is not necessary to tell you that you will get so sick that you will probably refuse to touch another cake for some weeks. But, eh, that’s life, that’s the way you learn right?

The real problem with this freedom is that you might put on some weight pretty easily and quickly. You don’t believe me? There is even a theory called the Fresher’s Five to describe the five kilos (15 pounds) gained by students during their first year of university. Scary isn’t it? That’s what I thought too.

Here are my tips to avoid the curse that is the fresher’s 15. I am not going to pretend to be a nutritionist or a health’s specialist, this is just things that I think worked with me.

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*Take away is amazing, you call a restaurant from your bed to command food, and 30mins later yummy food is knocking on your door. How amazing does that sound? Once in a while, there is nothing wrong with that, but eating take away every single day is not only bad for that flat stomach of yours, but you will also feel your wallet become lighter.

Home cooked food can be as yummy as take away, but it is also cheaper, can be quicker and you do not even have to be a 5 star cook to do it. I mean, I don’t expect you to cook a meal for a family party that takes more than an hour and 100 ingredients and spices to make. Just take 5 minutes, some fajitas, chicken (here is for those protein shake addicts), some veggies and some of your favourite sauce; you just have to put everything in the fajitas and then enjoy.

There is even a better method: at the beginning of the week you take some time to cook all your meal for the week, or one big meal that is going to last you a few days. It’s as easy as that. So that day where you are lazy and don’t feel like cooking, you just have to heat everything up. No effort needed, 100% proof to saving time, money, energy and staying healthy. What more can you expect?

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* The beer belly is not a myth either. Alcohol flows freely around university halls and parties, this is common knowledge. What is less known is that alcohol’s level of calories is pretty high. Drink one beer and you already gain around 155 calories, and we all know that none of you just stop at one beer. I can go on with those figures, but I think you get my point.

I am not telling not to go out and enjoy a good night out, but if you want to go out every night and want to keep in shape, you will have to compensate those beers with some exercises.

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*Continuing on exercising, university can go two ways, either you become way more active than you were before, either you just don’t. In most cases there is everything you need around university, your classes, your work, your friends, pubs, nightclubs, shops… Nothing is really forcing you to move, and if besides you don’t particularly work out, there is no better path to gain those 15 pounds.

There is no miracle solution for that, just one simple way: find a way to be active. You can join one of the many sports team of your university, you can join the gym, you can exercise alone in your room, run in the street or even just walk instead of taking the bus.

However, don’t force yourself to do something you don’t like or enjoy, you will never find the motivation and eventually just give up. Find something that you like doing or at least that you don’t mind and that you can do regularly and get into a routine; after sometime doing that one activity will simply become an automatism.

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