Guest post by Ashley Lipman of MoveU

If you’re getting ready to head to college, there’s a good chance someone’s told you about the dreaded freshman 15. If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase, it refers to the weight-gain some people experience when starting college. Between living on your own for the first time, a demanding class schedule, and let’s be real, a jam-packed social calendar involving a lot of junk food and alcohol, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy habits.

While some people manage to avoid it, falling into these habits and getting out of shape during college is real. Chances are you have a lot more work and responsibilities than ever before, which can lead to putting your health on the back burner. In an effort to help you maintain, or even learn healthy habits during this new chapter in your life, here are five tips to stay in shape and avoid the freshman 15.

Don’t Give Up on the Gym

This is one of the most important ways to stay in shape during your college years. Slacking on the gym means your physical fitness will suffer; if you kept a fit and athletic lifestyle during high school, throwing exercise to the wayside can ruin all the work you put in over the years. If you’re new to fitness and want to form and maintain healthy habits, keeping a regular workout schedule is essential.

Thankfully, many universities offer a student gym for free or for a small fee. Plus, Fitplan takes all the guesswork out of your fitness strategy so you can get in, get out and get back to class. If you’re a gym newbie, Fitplan provides regimens specifically designed to help you get comfortable using equipment and machines, so you can feel confident in your routine. For days when your schedule is too crazy to make it to the gym, Fitplan’s got home workouts, too.

Whatever you need to do to continue committing to your workout regimen (whether it’s rewarding yourself with new workout gear like these custom warm up jackets, or a enjoying a cheat day), go ahead and do it. Staying in shape is tough during college, but the benefits of taking care of your body now can last far into your adulthood.

Make a Schedule and Stick to It

Finding the time to work out can be a challenge. This is especially true during your freshman year, as you’re often busy adjusting to a new schedule of homework, classes, studying, keeping a social life and maybe even holding a part-time job. However, fitness shouldn’t be a hobby that you work into your free time —it should be a priority.

Creating a schedule and designating specific days and times to work out is an excellent way to help you stay fit during college. If you set aside time to go to the gym, you won’t feel like you are skipping or missing out on other priorities. While it can be hard initially, going to the gym will eventually feel like a natural part of your routine.

Fitplan is a great tool for helping you build a fitness schedule around classes, work and other commitments. Just choose a Fitplan that aligns with your goals, and take it to the gym on your schedule. It’s like having a personal trainer —only much more flexible and affordable.

Get Enough Sleep

It’s commonly known that students don’t get enough sleep —whether it’s staying up late studying or partying into the wee hours of the night, college life can be very nocturnal, which can take a toll on your mind and body.

Lack of sleep can lead to irritability and low energy, which can cause you to skip a workout. Getting a solid seven or eight hours of sleep at night will better equip you to stay in shape, make healthier decisions, and manage the stress that comes with juggling life in college.

Watch Your Alcohol Intake

For many people, part of the college experience is having fun and meeting new people, and those situations often involve drinking alcohol (not all, but many). While there is nothing wrong with responsibly enjoying a few drinks in moderation (if you’re of legal drinking age), too much alcohol is never a good thing. Not only can it affect your brain, but also your body. Alcoholic beverages contain a ton of empty calories and can dehydrate you in a big way.

In fact, many standard beers can easily pack over 100 calories, so if you have a few, that’s hundreds of unnecessary calories you’re consuming. Drinking can also lead to late-night eating, and it’s unlikely you’re reaching for carrot sticks or kale after a a few beers. Those tipsy trips through the drive-thru might seem like a good idea at the time, but they add up fast, making you feel sluggish and uncomfortable in your own skin.

Find a Workout Buddy

If motivation is your issue, finding a workout buddy (or even a group of friends) to train with can be a huge help. Your workout buddy will expect you to show up and you won’t want to let them down. You can share workout tips, eating advice, spot each other for safety, and more. If you’re both new to the gym, become pros together! There’s nothing like the support of a friend to keep you accountable, and it’s a great way to bond and catch up when you’re not running between classes or at a loud party.

You can also find a community of workout buddies online. Fitplan has several private groups for likeminded people who constantly motivate each other through their fitness journeys. Whether it’s a sweaty selfie, progress photos or questions on form or gym equipment, the Fitplan Fam is a safe, supportive space to do that.

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