Freshman year is a time of big transitions. So many adjustments – to a new living environment, daily routine, new friends and classes, maybe even a new time zone – may mean healthy habits fall away. What does that add up to? For many freshmen all that change can add up to a few extra pounds. Here are some tips for avoiding the extra weight when you head away from home.

Plan ahead

Teacher With Clenched Fists Against Dumbbells Drawn On ChalkboarSelf-care and healthy habits require commitment and planning just like any other important activity. Look at your schedule weekly to determine when you will make time to exercise. If you don’t have the meal plan you will also need to make time for meal shopping and planning. Skip this step and you may find yourself ordering pizza or scarfing fast food at a rate that practically guarantees weight gain.

You don’t have to be a chef to make great meals either. There are a number of blogs specifically geared to students that can help you plan easy, healthy, inexpensive meals using just a microwave or hot plate.

On jam packed days try to walk or bike to class. Also, carry healthy, easily portable snacks such as fruit, nuts, peanut butter, string cheese, hummus and whole wheat crackers. Having good food on hand for emergencies means you are less likely to let yourself get so hungry you don’t care what – or how much – you eat when you finally get the chance.

Get a buddy

A fitness pal can help you stay committed to your plan. That’s because you are more likely to show up when you know someone is waiting for you – plus two heads and four feet can make fitness more fun.

Join in

Young people on stationary bikes exercising in the gymTrack, basketball, tennis, swimming…there are so many ways to stay active in college. The sense of camaraderie can help you develop a sense of belonging in your new home. The activity can also help you manage your weight as well as your stress. Organized sports are a good way to ward off the freshman 15 because you have to work out regularly.

Weigh once a week

Monitor your weight weekly so you can make adjustments before you pack on too many pounds. Have an ideal weight in mind and stay as close to that number as you can.

Sleep well

Too little sleep can leads to overeating and weight gain. Aim for a minimum of 7 to 8 hours each night as often as possible.

Don’t overdo the alcohol

There are lots of reasons not to drink too much. For safety and your waist line, too – drink responsibly.

Weight gain is not a guarantee when you plan ahead. Understand that a new environment will require a little more attention and care to maintain or adopt healthy habits. Check your schedule weekly and write in time for exercise and meal planning. Choose active social outings that help you create connections and keep moving. Remember, exercise and healthy eating habits don’t just help you look better – they also promote good health and help you to be the best student you can be – a pretty worthwhile investment of your time.