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Losing the Freshman 15

You've had your fill of holiday celebrating, family get-togethers, and good eating. Now it's time to stand on the scale and weigh the damage. That dreaded "Freshman 15" has officially arrived. What do you do? Don't panic. This is a great time of the year to take healthy eating seriously and keep your weight in check. Here are some helpful tips:

Make a plan and stick to it. Before you head to the nearest dining location, try to have an idea of what you're hungry for. While walking there, design a healthy, well-balanced meal that you want to eat. After you walk through the doors, stick to your plan. Use the popular Choose My Plate as a model for designing a well-balanced meal.

Don't skip meals. Skipping a meal can cause overeating at the next meal and decreases your metabolism. You may not care about your metabolism now, but in 20 years you'll care very much. Take care of your body, and give it the energy it needs. Keep nonperishable snacks like granola bars and crackers in your book bag for those crazy days when you don't have time to eat a large meal.

Avoid scale abuse. Scales are supposed to be helpful tools that tell us our weight, but using the scale too much can develop low self-esteem and eating disorders. If you're a scale-aholic, meaning you weigh yourself more than once a week, then consider taking the scale home on your next visit. Find better ways to use that time, such as taking a walk around campus -- past Shafer Tower or Frog Baby -- or visiting someone in his or her room in your hall.

Keep walking to class. As temperatures drop, more and more students use the Ball State shuttle buses or MITS buses to get around campus. These are both great options for transportation, but why not continue walking to class? It's not that far, and the cold air will make you walk briskly, causing you to get more exercise. If you do more indoor activities that involve less physical exercise, remember to consider that change in your eating and exercise plans.

Ask a friend to hold you accountable. You're not the only person on your floor who wants to eat healthy and keep weight under control. Tell a friend or a floor mate about your plan for healthy eating. Ask him or her to hold you accountable to that plan, especially in places like the dining locations. Who knows -- your friend will probably join you!