The following post was composed by the amazing Carla Birnberg for Cath in College. Carla is a professional fitness blogger and has been featured in publications like The Wallstreet Journal, Women’s Health,, and Shape Magazine. Carla was also named one of the 15 Fitness Gurus You Need To Follow On Twitter by Shape Magazine alongside Jillian Michaels and Oprah Winfrey’s trainer, Bob Greene.

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Thank you Carla, for jumping on board this campaign and sharing your advice with the CiC community!

Don’t forget to check out Carla’s blog at for more AWESOME tips and advice!


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During college, after college.

Freshman fifteen.

Chances are you need no further definition to know precisely what I’m referring to.

Most people fall into one of two categories with regards to these additional pounds:

Those who gain the weight and become frustrated/depressed OR those who don’t gain, but spend far too many hours exercising/food-obsessing in effort not to and miss out on fun freshman experiences.

I’m here to offer you a middle ground.

To make the suggestion you may, in fact, gain a few pounds this first year away, but that it needn’t be the horrifying (tongue firmly planted in cheek here, People) experience you imagine.

I gained my freshwoman fifteen and a few other people’s as well.

35+ pounds heavier I found I merely registered surprised at my new fluffy midsection.

Why wasn’t I depressed? The bulk (pun intended) of my gain happened while enjoying college life.

The constantly available food, late night pizza & gossip sessions, and new-to-me beer drinking all quickly padded my frame.

While I did decide (eventually) to shed the extra weight, it’s worth noting, again, how it was gained.

I was having fun.

Sure, I subsequently learned the tips I share below which may save you bulking as I did, but I believed then *and* now embracing the fun of my college years was more than worth a few additional curves.

I still tell the first year college students who will listen they have the rest of their lives to fret about weight should they choose, but only one college experience.

In my opinion those four years are too precious a time to waste focusing on exercise and calories to the exclusion of living.

Go out, have fun, meet people, stay up too late, miss class & loll in bed, try new things.

And yes.

Should some of these aforementioned things be off the beer & greasy ‘za variety—that’s just fine.

What do I wish someone had told me prior to my freshman year?


This acronym is the key to preventing the freshman fifteen yet not being relegated to plain salads, water, & interminable treadmill time.

S. Six small meals a day. This will increase energy, boost metabolism, and lessen cravings. The meals don’t need to be fancy (a few slices of low fat cheese & some fruit. a cup of Cheerios & milk) or large (300 or so calories per meal) but they’ll keep your blood sugar levels even so you won’t become crazy-hungry and grab the nearest available food-option.

N. No mindless eating. Easier said than done, but a good habit to try and avoid starting. Campus dining halls are social places and it’s easy to consume extra calories when chatting there with friends. Try to be aware of what you put in your mouth (notice I did not say calorie count) when you’re hanging out & not enjoying the bites.

A. Assess your options. Whether making food in an apartment or a communal setting, assess options before making a selection. Mix & match offerings and get creative with your meal. Is dinner chicken, corn and mashed potatoes? Is there a salad bar available? Think outside the box: slice the chicken, plop it on some lettuce & veggies and make that your meal. There are healthy options everywhere if you look for them!

P. Plan ahead. As with all things, fitness and healthy living planning will set you up for future success. On the go for hours? Bring a healthy snack along (look here for some ideas). Planning a festive dinner out with friends? Perhaps eat lightly (but eat!) during the day. Plan activity into your day, too. Anything from joining an athletic team to walking with a study partner burns extra calories and keeps your metabolism elevated. As with your eating, get creative with finding your exercise time.

tricep dips
Stop, drop, and tricep dip!

Most important: Have fun.

Get out and LIVE.

Life is too, too short not to.

It’s amazing how, when you’re enjoying yourself & LIVING fully, things really will fall into place in a S.N.A.P.


Written by Catherine Goetze

Catherine Goetze Find me on social media! Facebook: Twitter: @catherinegoetze Instagram: @catherinegoetze SnapChat: @catherinegoetze Contact me:


  1. Great tips! You are so right about having fun. College is such a small part of your life and it is not worth it to spend that time so focused on you diet and exercise plan that you forget to enjoy it.


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