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5 Tips for Battling the Bulge on Your College Campus

As an academic (or a fan of ‘Band of Brothers’), you may be familiar with the historical Battle of the Bulge during WWII, in which Allied soldiers infiltrated the Ardennes Forest in order to reinforce their offensive line and stop Germany from splitting their forces in half. It is noted as the largest battle of the war and one of the greatest victories for Allied troops, despite heavy losses, because it basically signaled the beginning of the end for Germany when Hitler agreed to withdraw all forces from the Ardennes region. As a college student, you may not face the extreme conditions that the soldiers entrenched in the Ardennes went through during that notoriously cold winter. But everything is relative, and you certainly have trials and tribulations of your own to contend with. If one of them includes addressing the freshman fifteen (and then some) in order to get fit and healthy during your time in school, here are just a few tips to help you achieve a personal victory just as the Allied troops reached theirs.

  1. Eat right. This is a rather vague directive, so here are some particulars. Eating right means sticking to a schedule so that you never find yourself starving or driven to late-night snacking. It also requires you to pay attention to what (and how much) you eat. You should try to create a balanced diet that includes lean meats, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and plenty of fruits and veggies, while skipping the processed and pre-packaged items that seem to be staples of the college diet. In addition, you should learn proper portioning so that you aren’t eating more than you really need. Tracking apps can help you here. And try swapping in water for other beverages – you might be surprised by what a difference you see when you cut back on sugary drinks like soda and juice.
  2. Avoid alcohol. One of the main culprits when it comes to weight gain is alcohol, and since drinking is a prevalent pastime amongst college students, you might have some trouble avoiding it. However, you should know that alcohol is not only packed with empty calories; it also reduces your inhibitions, making it harder for you to make wise decisions where consumption (of food and probably more alcohol) is concerned. So if you’re trying to lose weight, skip the beer pong and Jello shots.
  3. Catch some zees. Sleep is an important part of weight loss or maintenance since it can directly affect hormones like ghrelin and leptin that control hunger and satiety (respectively). When you don’t get enough sleep, these hormones get out of whack, making your feel hunger more often and more keenly, as well as reach satiety more slowly. Although students are notorious for burning the candle at both ends, you must try to get adequate sleep if you want to lose weight.
  4. Get active. Some say that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise, but that 20% can do a lot for you in terms of replacing fat with muscle and helping you to achieve the toned and fit physique you’re looking for. So put on your jogging shoes, hit the campus gym, or give up the bus in favor of your bike – it will help you to lose inches even as you drop pounds.
  5. Get a gang. Whether you’re living on the NYU campus or attending UC online, you might find that enlisting the aid of friends can help you to reach your weight-loss goals. So start a running club or get everyone using a community app to track their diet and exercise progress together. Having a support network in place can make all the difference when it comes to both accountability and motivation.