Debunking the Freshman 15; Wellness Instead of Weight Loss

Posted: October 29, 2021 | Author: Abbie Cochrane | Read Time: 4 minutes

Debunking the Freshman 15; Focus on Wellness Instead of Weight LossCollege may be overwhelming to a new freshman. Juggling school, friends, work responsibilities, and school activities is a stretch. In the rush to join college life, some students forget exercise, sleep, and healthy eating. 

Is the Freshman 15 Accurate?

Southern Utah University professor of nutrition, Celesta Lyman MS, RDN, and Certified Dietician says that the freshman 15 is a myth. According to a study done at SUU by Matt Schmidt RD, most freshmen don’t gain 15 lbs, or even close to it. Still, being healthy is less about what you eat and more about taking care of your body and it’s unique needs.

And even if you do put on a pound or two, according to Lyman, “Weight gain in that first year can be appropriate for many freshmen, some students gain the extra weight to finish developing into maturity.”

Choosing Wellness Over Weight Loss in College

Here are five health tips to help you better take care of yourself so you can feel your best as you start college.

Have a Food Plan

Eating healthy starts with the kind of fuel you give your body. Knowing what to put in your body can help you maintain a healthy weight and help you feel your best. Western Wisconsin Health states, “where you get your calories from is just as important as how many you consume.”

Be sure to check the nutrition labels on food packaging to see exactly what you’re consuming. Giving your body the nutrients it needs to function is more important than dropping a few extra pounds. Visit the T-bird nation blog for recipe ideas.


According to Accredited Schools Online, “Exercise can happen nearly everywhere, either intentionally or as part of your day. For example, walking to class instead of driving or taking the stairs instead of the elevator are two easy ways to sneak in some activity.”

A great tip to get the exercise your body needs, and the credits your degree requires, is to take an exercise class. However, if you aren’t currently enrolled in one, you can always go to the Fitness Center on campus or any gym in Cedar City to do an independent workout or an exercise class. Of course, there is more to working out than just the gym; Southern Utah is also home to beautiful hiking trails and five national parks!

Don’t want to leave the comfort of your dorm? There are plenty of exercise videos on YouTube that can help you get a little workout in when you have a minute. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting a new workout regimen so that you know the healthiest choice for you.

Go Easy on Yourself

It’s so common to look around and notice the traits that others have that you want. However, this kind of thinking is damaging and can not only kill your motivation to make a change in your health routine, but it can also kill your self-esteem.

Ursula Ridens, a registered dietician for Sharp HealthCare says “taking a more compassionate nonjudgmental stance with yourself by putting emphasis on well-being rather than weight sets you up for feeling worthy of positive change.”

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is all about gentle correction--remember that you are doing your best and to keep trying a little harder every day. Breathe. You got this.

Healthy Eating Doesn’t Have to be Expensive

Aiming for balance is key to maintaining healthy weight. Fruit and veggies that are in season tend to be less expensive, and compared to one fast food meal that could cost upwards of $10, spending that same money on a week’s worth of fruits and veggies is an effective choice. Many other nutrition professionals agree that eating out costs more than cooking dinner at home.

Here are some great ways to get the most bang for your buck when eating on a college budget.

Utilize SUU Dining Services

SUU Dining Services offers affordable meal plans as an option for all students.

“Moving away from home for college might be the first time a student has been on their own,” says Director of Dining Anthony Lazenby. “Meal planning, grocery shopping, spending money, and then cooking can be intimidating.”

You also might have no clue where to begin on buying healthy foods and preparing meals. No need to play Iron Chef, sign up for a meal plan!

The goal of the meal plan is simple; help eliminate stress about preparing your own food and give you healthy options for meals every day. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed thinking about cooking for yourself, don’t! SUU Dining Services makes strides to provide healthy meals as well as drinks and snacks, vegan and vegetarian options, food that is responsibly sourced, and fresh produce at all of their locations. In the dining hall, food is appropriately labeled and iconed, so you know exactly what you’re eating.


Staying healthy in college can be difficult as you learn how to cook for yourself or maintain an exercise routine as you go throughout your classes. Knowing what kind of nutrition and exercise your body needs is the first step to staying healthy in school. But remember, your overall wellness is a lot more important than any weight loss. Don’t focus on myths like the “freshman 15”, instead focus on keeping yourself healthy and happy.

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