I just graduated   – What do I do now?

It’s that time a year when young men and women all over the country graduate from high school. At this time in their life they are faced with many changes. Will I go to college? Where will I go? What will my goals be? Many have been very active in sports throughout their youth; they know themselves as an athlete. My oldest daughter is one of those graduates. After having conversations with her, her friends, and my clients, I am inspired to write about my concern for the students that were very active in high school sports, but are going to college and not planning to compete at  the college level or if they chose to not go to college and don’t continue to be active. Why am I concentrating on this group? Because I feel that they run the highest risk for losing control of their weight while going through these changes in their life. The average college student will gain about 15 lbs during their freshman year, this is known as “the Freshman 15″. They have been training and competing constantly throughout their youth as “athletes” and without the competition, will they become sedentary from the lack of having to make time to train, be at a practice, and the competition itself.

Parents and friends of the new graduates, and You the new graduate, let’s look at how we can make good choices to avoid the risk of letting unwanted weight creep up on you. As you start your new life and experience the changes and the demands of those changes, just like everyone else, you will start to make excuses as to why you don’t have time to work out.  Soon days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months and so on. The pace of college life will be much different than when you were in high school, or as you start your new job. 8:00 to 5:00 life takes on a whole new meaning, not to mention your social activities.  Time becomes a very valuable asset; it is easy to get caught up in eating poorly. Eating pizza, pre-packaged foods, fast foods, whatever is available? You may have limited space to prepare or store healthier food choices, you may not know how to make the “better” choice, but let’s start now and learn to make the healthy choice for you during these life changing years. Let’s explore some different options that will help you not only energize your body, stay focused in class and at your place of employment, help your budget and keep the “athlete” alive and strong in you.

Here are just a few ideas for you. When someone in your family asks, “What do you want for your Birthday or Christmas?” One thing on your list should be gift cards to a grocery store or ask for a goody box from home.  I remember being in the military and being thousands of miles from home.  Receiving a goody box from home was always a special thing, the familiar smells and tastes were always comforting. Mom, this is where you come in. Fill the goody box with those things that are healthy and good for your young adults away from home. Mom, when you have a ”working adult” coming home to raid the fridge and pantry, make sure you have healthy food for them not the usual snack food. As you learn to grocery shop for yourself, get to know the grocery store. If you stay on the perimeter of the store, you will find what is most healthy for you. The prepackaged food resides on the interior rows, along with the chips, pop and other “goodies” you should try to avoid.    There a number of items to keep around in your room, at school or in your home, to help you make the good choices, for instance; instead of eating stuff like a cup of noodles, try instant oatmeal, or granola. Regular oatmeal is always the better choice over instant but it may not always be practical, and it’s much better than eating other processed foods. Other good choices to try: trail mix, dried fruit, slim fast shakes (good source of protein, not just for weight loss) carnation instant breakfast is also a good source of protein, muscle milk, premixed protein drinks, food bars and fresh fruits. Most of these items are non-perishable and will make great goody box items.   Fueling your body always comes down to making a choice, if you have healthier food available; you are in a position to make a better choice in what to eat. Eating better not only nourishes your body, it will also nourish the brain and If you make better food choices you will go a long way in controlling your weight… start now developing good eating habits away from home.

Never over look the fact that you need to exercise, that goes without saying. Maybe look into doing intramural or recreational sports to help maintain your fitness conditioning.  Anyone will tell you, it’s easier to keep the weight off, than to have to work it off later.