Fighting the Freshman 15: How to Keep the Weight Off

Weight gain is a common reality for the college students. Here's how to stay fit mentally and physically

Wendy Ida, fitness expert, body builder and author


Wendy Ida
Nationally Certified Master Trainer, Nutritionist
Author of Take Back Your Life

Ida, a former corporate accountant, wore sizes 12 or 14 her entire life. In her early forties, she dropped down to a size four. Now, in her fifties, she’s healthier than many college students.

“I find, just as I found in myself, [people] feel like they should be following in the path of their parents—[people] feel that this is life—you get old, you get tired and you get sickly and your muscle joints ache—and that’s simply not true,” she says.

Ida, who worked in the corporate world for 20 years, knows better than anyone how easy it is to opt for fast instead of fresh food and sleeping in instead of working out. But she cautions against neglecting your health and urges college students to make the time for fitness and health despite busy schedules and limited food options. Here are her recommendations for the cub college kid:

Ida suggests adding to your diet instead denying yourself things. Most important to add, she says, are green foods. She stresses how imperative it is to get used to the different tastes and textures that sometimes come with changing your diet. “You can eventually change your palette and what you want,” she says. So, instead of craving soda and pizza, you’ll want water and spinach salad.

Like Barney, Ida says you don’t have to be a gym rat to stay fit. While a lot of schools have gyms and include membership fees in tuition, working out can often be intimidating. So if you’re a little gym-shy, Ida recommends a low-maintenance, dorm friendly, workout regiment. “You don’t really need one piece of equipment,” she says. She suggests exercises that use your body weight like squats, dips and push ups. If you want to up the ante, you can invest in compact equipment that can be used in the privacy of your own room like dumbbells, jump ropes or a door gym.

As a fitness professional, Ida knows better than anyone that it’s easy to get bored with a workout routine so she says you must enjoy what you’re doing. “If you love dancing and someone tells you there’s a hip-hop class or a salsa class—you’re going to have a good time there, so you’re going to be motivated to go,” she says. Ida suggests consistently shaking things up as a way to help you stay motivated. She advises setting realistic goals for yourself and achieving them to stay pumped. “Measure your progress—that’s probably one of the biggest motivational things is when you see that things are happening to your body, and you’re moving forward in some fashion,” she explains.

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