by John Leung

“Freshman 15” refers to the belief that first-year university students will gain 15 pounds during their first school year. After talking with older university students and being in university for two months myself, I hate to verify that Freshman 15 is not a myth.

breakfast plates

Breakfasts like these is why Freshmen 15 exists

As someone who is very conscious about their weight, I pledged before I moved to Toronto that I would make the Freshman 15 a myth for me. So far, I have been succeeding in the mission as my weight has not changed significantly. All university students, though, would probably agree with me that it is very difficult not to gain weight during the school year. For New College students in particular, this is due to the all-you-can-eat meals in the cafeteria, as well as having generally unhealthy living habits and stress from school work.  For future university students or those who might be realizing that they may be putting on a few unnecessary pounds, here are some tips on ways to avoid Freshman 15!

1. Start your meal with healthy foods

Starting your meal with healthier foods (such as vegetables or salads) forces you to make room for the more nutritious food groups before consuming your carbohydrates and protein.

plate of salad leaves

For those that want to be even healthier, try eating a salad without dressing!

2. Don’t keep eating until you are full

Bob Harper, a weight-loss trainer from the TV show “The Biggest Loser”, gives the advice of eating till you are about 70-80% full. If you eat until you are completely full, you are forcing your stomach to expand. When your stomach keeps expanding, your appetite will increase and that makes you want to eat more.

3. Go to the gym

The gyms at U of T have a good variety of cardio machines and weights for you to burn off the unnecessary calories or to gain muscle mass. I encourage everyone to go to the gym because it is included in the tuition fees that students pay and won’t cost you anything extra.

U of T Athletic Centre

The Athletic Centre at Spadina and Harbord


4. Exercise

So maybe you don’t like going to the gym, and that’s alright! Find an activity that you truly enjoy doing: tennis, biking, soccer, yoga, whatever. Even if you aren’t that good at a particular sport you want to play, there are intramural tournaments around the school so that you can enjoy your activity in a non-competitive way.

5. Have healthy food in your room

Kensington Market, Toronto

Kensington Market is a dynamic and colourful marketplace just a short walk from U of T

Yes, studying is stressful and people like to snack during the studying or cramming sessions. I would recommend that you have some healthy snacks to munch on when you study, such as fruits, vegetables or nuts. For now, let’s skip the chips, cookies and chocolate. 6. Get out and explore! Toronto is such a vibrant and active city – get out there and explore it. Go for a walk in a new neighbourhood, bike along the waterfront, skateboard across town. Toronto is an amazing city and it’s waiting for us to discover all it has to offer!  

I hope that you find these to be good tips to help you stay healthy and fit for the year. If you think that I’ve missed something out, then add your comment below!

Goldring Student Centre, U of T

The Goldring gym facility recently opened at 100 Devonshire Place