Twenty-five percent of students gain quite a bit of weight by their first college semester according to a new study from research authors, Heidi J. Wengreen and Cara Moncur, in Nutrition Journal. What is driving this rapid weight gain? The study provides clear evidence that the transition to college life is a risk factor. It also explains that college freshmen need to learn obesity prevention strategies. Interesting to note: the stats are the same for both men and women.
The way I see it is that we are all freshmen during different times in our lives: Any new beginning whether a job, relationship, parenthood, buying an apt or car, experiencing a loss, getting divorced - any first time can be stressful. We become “freshmen” all over again. This experience of transforming into a newbie presents us with a challenge to our egos: We might be bad at what we do. However, it’s good to be bad at what we do because we are trying out new things, learning, growing and becoming better after messing up. For example, few people are naturals when it comes to learning how to drive or dance. It takes plenty of practice. So instead of beating our heads against a wall of frustration, let’s go with the flow of being fresh. We just might learn a thing or two along the way.
Significant weight gain during a period of transition means that we are out of balance – physically and mentally. We are overloaded and weighed down by internal pressure. To manage this stress let us learn how to “metabolize the past” which is over and done with in order to embrace the stimulation of change.
How to cope with the stress of a critical transition:
- Self-monitor – You are on your own. You don’t need external validation to feel good about yourself. External validation provides a good reality-check along with constructive criticism to polish your mirror. You have come a long way since the Puritan Scarlet Letter A to label your identity. Separate who you are from what you do.
- Food and mood go together. Stress fuels junk food eating – don’t! Balanced eating means balanced living. Be mindful of what you eat.
- Make sure to get your sleep. A worry loop will interfere with your metabolic balance and affect physical and intellectual performance the next day. Allow worry time (about 20 minutes) a couple of hours before bed to come up with positive solutions to your problems, so you fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Exercise is the most effective way to rid the body of stress and activate the empowerment you need for your transition and you will sleep better and organize your day around healthy eating. Since stress makes you feel fatigued, push through it and work it out. You will have high energy.
- Find your cheerleaders – those friends you can call for positive support.
For more information on managing your stress and reclaiming your life read my book, Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show