10 Tips for Losing the 'Freshman 15' this Summer from 10 Tips for Losing the 'Freshman 15' this Summer

10 Tips for Losing the 'Freshman 15' this Summer

Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to good health and longevity, so you defintiely won’t want to make a habit out of bouncing back and forth between gaining weight at school and frantically trying to shed it once summer comes around. Instead, use these tips to set and achieve your current weight loss goal and then implement them into your daily routine when you get back to school so that you can stay fit and healthy for summer, the whole school year and beyond.

Take Your Workouts Up a Notch

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If your workout routine at school consisted mainly of slowly trudging away on a cardio machine with your head buried in a book, then stepping up your workout intensity is exactly what you’ll need to help get your body back into tip-top shape. In fact, by taking it up a notch, you can burn more calories in less time and you’ll probably enhance your body’s fat-burning capabilities, too. One study from 2002 found that cyclists burned fat at the highest rate when exercising at a level equivalent to 74 percent of their maximum heart rate and another from 2004 that compared 30 minutes of running and cycling at three different intensities (55, 65, and 75 percent of VO2 max) found that the highest rate of fat burn occurred at 75 percent VO2 max.

Rethink Your Drinks

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On campus it can be hard to resist all of the different beverage options available at food courts and dining halls, but you should consistently (when you’re at school and when you’re on break) make an effort to avoid them and opt for healthier choices like water and unsweetened teas. Sugary drinks like soda, juices and sweetened teas not only promote weight gain but are also likely detrimental to your overall health. Steer clear of calorie-free diet beverages with artificial sweeteners, too. Research continues to show that drinking diet soda is actually more likely to cause weight gain (and health issues like diabetes and heart disease) than drinking regular soda. Oh yeah, and since it promotes fat storage, slows your metabolism and adds extra calories to your intake, you’ll want to cut back on alcohol, too. 

Build Muscle

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Strength training is another important component that you’ll definitely want to add to your workout regimen. Building muscle through weight and resistance training will not only help to rev up your metabolism, but it’s also an essential part of a smart strategy for reducing your overall body fat. A recent study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health highlights the importance of including both cardio and resistance training in your workout routine. The study focused on belly fat reduction specifically and found that when compared with men who increased time spent on different types of aerobic exercise (including yard work and stair climbing), the men who increased the time they spent training with weights by a similar amount (about 20 minutes a day) gained less weight in their waist.

Cut Out that Coffee Habit

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Relax, we’re not saying you need to give up coffee completely, only that you might want to reconsider the sweeteners and other high-calorie additives you order with it. If decadent coffee drinks were a regular habit of yours at school, consider cutting back by ordering your cup of Joe black instead. If you absolutely need to lighten it up, try keeping your sugar intake in check by adding just one or two packets of sugar (instead of those high-sugar syrup additives and whipped cream) and ask for low-fat, skim, almond or soy milk to cut back on the extra calories that come along with full-fat milks and creams.

Don't Over-Indulge Your Downtime

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Sure, it’s nice to veg-out while you’re on break, but don’t make the mistake of making the time you spend in the gym your only form of activity for the day. Sign up for sports and clubs that will keep you active on a daily basis, spend more time outside with your friends or make an effort to walk or bike when traveling to nearby places. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of spending all your down time sitting on the couch.

Readjust Your Eating Habits

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College life is notorious for creating some pretty wonky eating habits and schedules. Maybe you’re currently accustomed to snacking late at night or completely skipping out on breakfast, but you’ll likely want to ditch these habits if you want to reach your weight loss goals. Make a special point to always eat breakfast and you might even want to try keeping a food journal so you can track your eating schedule as well as keep an eye on the types of foods you’re eating. Studies have shown that monitoring your food intake by keeping a food diary that also notes how you feel can help to increase your awareness of not only how much you’re eating, but also the nutritional value of your food intake and how it affects you. Plus, it can help you identify anything that might be holding you back so that you can easily see where changes need to be made.

Avoid Food and Diet Trends

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Forget about trendy diets and the “great cleanse” your friend just started. Sticking to nutritious, whole foods will likely be your best bet when it comes to eating healthy for weight loss. For example, the latest gluten-free fad probably won’t help you lose weight. According to Rachele Pojednic, Ph.D., a nutrition researcher at Harvard Medical School, unless you suffer from celiac disease, there's not much scientific support to back the claim that eating gluten-free is healthier or a smart strategy for weight loss. And the same can be said for most other mainstream diet trends and plans


Set a SMART Goal

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You need to know exactly what you’re aiming to achieve, and setting a “SMART” goal—one that’s specific, measurable, attainable, record-able and timely—is one of the best ways to make sure you’ll stay on track. For example, in the case of a weight loss goal, you’ll want to realistically (attainable) define how much (specific and measurable) weight you’re aiming to lose and over what period of time (timely) while also making sure to keep track of your progress week by week (record-able). Most health and fitness experts agree that it’s safe and realistic to lose about one or two pounds per week, so decide how much weight you’re planning to lose and set up a realistic timeline that includes both long- and short-term goals.

Create a Workout Plan

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If you want to keep your workout habit on track, it’s a good idea not only to follow a strategic workout plan that follows your goal’s timeline, but also to map out your workouts for the week ahead. Use a calendar or planner and schedule each work out like an appointment at the gym (or wherever it is you exercise). Always write it down and keep a log so you can look back and see what you’ve done and whether or not anything needs to be modified in order to enhance your progress.

Get Your Sleep Schedule Back on Track

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Maybe you pulled a few all-nighters during finals, but if you want to lose weight that’s definitely not a habit you’ll want to keep. Research shows that sleep may be just as important as eating right and exercising when it comes to losing weight. A recent study published in the journal Sleep found that people who get adequate amounts of sleep on a regular basis may have a lower risk for weight gain compared to those who are sleep-deprived.