Even though it’s been a couple years since I graduated college, this time of year always makes me a little nostalgic about going back to school in September. It’s such a fun time! Between hanging out with friends, having a packed social calendar, and registering for all new classes, a college coed’s semester gets busy fast…and pretty much stays that way until winter break. There’s no questioning that all of these activities make for a big lifestyle change, especially for freshmen who are leaving home for first time. There’s no doubt that one of the biggest adjustments all freshman make is their eating and exercising habits. Drinking more often, eating late night junk food and working out less can really wreak havoc on your health (and your figure) during the first year of school. But, rest assured that the Freshman 15 is not inevitable.

All of us on Team LC recently put our heads together to remember our best tips and tricks that helped us stay healthy in our college years. Here are some healthy habits that will keep you looking great and, more importantly, feeling great during your four years at school…

1. Keep a routine.
When it comes to staying healthy, there’s one thing all of Team LC agrees on: Keeping a schedule. The biggest factor to gaining the Freshman 15 is a lack of routine. Freshman go from having a kitchen full of food and home-cooked meals to studying late at night, partying and having all the freedom to make their own meal choices. On top of drinking more and sleeping less, college classes can add a lot of stress, which also leads to weight gain. The best way to keep all of these factors from spiraling out of control is to make a routine for yourself. Eat a healthy breakfast every morning, make a workout schedule that works with your classes, and try to create a study plan so you don’t find yourself pulling all-nighters before each midterm.

2. Rec havoc.
Most college campuses have a rec center—so use it! Rec centers are generally inexpensive, in close proximity to student housing, and a great place to go when you need a break in between classes. I loved meeting my girlfriends at the gym, and we kept each other accountable for working out. The gym can also be a good place to clear your head and have some much needed personal time you might not have as often in college. Many college rec centers offer group fitness classes like spinning and yoga, so do a little research and maybe even try something new.

3. Walk it out.
One of the best ways I stayed active in college was by walking as much as I possibly could. It sounds easy…and it is! College campuses are designed so that students are able to walk from home to their classes and back home again. And while bikes are great for flat campuses, walking takes longer so you will get more exercise out of it. Try to walk to nearby restaurants when going out to eat with friends instead of driving. Your skinny jeans will thank you!

4. Be a joiner.
In high school, you may have played sports, been on a dance or cheer team, or been involved in some kind of activity that kept you moving most days of the week. But unless you’re on a collegiate sports team, your constant source of activity won’t be a part of your regular schedule anymore. If you’re the kind of person who likes exercising with a team, it’s easy to find a way to incorporate this into your college lifestyle. Sign up for an intramural team or register for a P.E. class. I took a tennis class my sophomore year, and I loved having a sport that kept me active in a new way two days of the week. I had also become a better tennis player by the time that semester had ended. Being on a team also makes you accountable for your workout: It’s harder to let your teammates down than it is to skip a session at the gym.

5. Drink smart.
Just because you can now go to every frat party you’ve ever dreamed of doesn’t mean you have to overdo it on the booze. Now, that’s not to say don’t have fun…have as much fun as you can! Just try to be smart about the kinds of drinks you’re consuming and how much you’re gulping down. Besides,drinking too much leads to a hangover the next day (enter: aforementioned breakfast burrito) and is really hard on your brain when it is still in these developmental years. So keep your wits about you and know your limit. Also, remember that clear cocktails are less calories than dark cocktails or beer.

College is a busy time, so it’s crucial that you get enough sleep, stay active make healthy food choices and de-stress when you’re under pressure. But make sure you are having fun, too! These tips are meant to be suggestions, not the basis for a rigid schedule. College only comes around once, so live it up.

There are so many other tips for staying healthy during your four years, so let’s hear what you have to say…

What are your best tips for staying healthy in college?

Leave your two cents below!

Team LC