#272 The Freshman 15
Tell a friend

I won't say ours was a tough school, but we had our
own coroner. We used to write essays like: What I'm
going to be if I grow up.

Lenny Bruce

10 Ways to Avoid the Freshman 15
(and Other Fall Maladies)

By Steve Edwards

Back to SchoolBack to school doesn't just affect students. It's the time of year when everything changes. The days shorten, it cools off, we get really busy, and the holidays are looming around the corner. As opposed to those frivolous days of summer, your schedule is now probably booked. In short, it's the easiest time of the year to let your health slide.

The "Freshman 15" isn't just for freshmen. We all face these lifestyle adjustments every year. Fall is beautiful, but it's also the toughest season to transition through. Here are 10 ways to make it to New Year's without the need to resort to a resolution.

  1. SunsetSchedule your exercise. One of the difficult adjustments to make during the fall is getting used to less daylight. As the days shorten, it seems as though you've got fewer hours to schedule activities around. When you come home from work in the dark, it hurts your psyche. And it's tough to believe that 7:00 PM is really no different than it was during July, when you still had two hours of daylight left. Then there's the cold factor. Even if you work out indoors, it's so much easier to get back under your warm covers or bundle up and sit in front of a fire or the TV than it is to force a workout. Just remember that exercising makes you warm. It also keeps you fit and healthy and is the best thing you can do with cold and flu season right around the corner. Schedule your daily workout like it's part of your job, and stick to it.

  2. Schedule your sleep. As things get busy, we tend to push projects later and later into the evening. To fuel those longer hours we eat . . . and eat. This is one major cause of the Freshman 15—a result of the infamous all-nighter. A recent study showed that resident doctors, who are forced to work extremely long hours and famously forego sleep, gain an average of over 20 pounds during their residencies. As daylight changes, it's easy to make alterations in your daily schedule, so plan for sleep just like you do for everything else (here are "10 Tips for Restful Sleep").

  3. Healthy PortionsPlan your meals. Plan your weekly meals ahead of time so you don't resort to convenience foods. If your schedule is insane during the week, try taking an hour or two on Sunday to shop and strategize. Put healthy meal and snack options in your car, your office, your backpack, or anywhere you're likely to find yourself hungry. Trust us, the energy you get on the back end of this planning will far exceed the time it takes to plan, especially when you consider how you'll feel if your diet is fueled by fast food.

  4. Carry water everywhere. When we're busy, we'll often forget to drink water, especially as the weather cools off. Then, in a dehydrated state, we often confuse thirst for hunger and eat. Avoid this by ensuring that there's water everywhere you go. Carry a water bottle and refill it at every opportunity. Have an extra bottle in your car, your backpack, at your desk, etc., and behave as if you're in a race each day. Force yourself to drink a glass of water every hour that you're working or studying.

  5. P90X® Peak Recovery FormulaBe realistic about alcohol. Another big contributor to the Freshman 15, alcohol, is very high in calories (7 calories/gram) and very low in nutritional value. Every drink you consume is about 200 calories of nutrition that you aren't getting from your diet, or that you're overeating to get. And this is before we consider the calories you need to get rid of a hangover. If you're a drinker, you'll never be faced with more temptation than during the fall. Plan for it. Prior to going out, consider the number of drinks you want to allow yourself and stick to it. Another helpful tip is to carry that water bottle with you socially as well and drink a bottle for every cocktail you have. This will help fill you up so that you aren't drinking alcohol to quench your thirst, which will happen at social events. And it will also keep you hydrated and minimize the effects of your hangover. One other helpful hangover cure is to have a glass of P90X® Peak Recovery Formula at night after you've been drinking. These calories before bed may be bad, but they'll minimize the damage the alcohol will do to your body, which should lead to less overeating and more productivity the next day.

  6. Plan for parties. Parties happen—and there's not much you can do about it. Even if you aren't social, the party will find you. Many offices are like the Seinfeld episode wherein the characters celebrate for any excuse. And fall comes with plenty of excuses. Beginning with Oktoberfest, you'll find a never-ending string of perfectly good excuses that last right through the New Year to ruin your health. Plan ahead and decide just which occasions will be worth the indulgence. That way you'll be fully armed with reasons when your coworkers show up in your office singing, "Get well, get well soon. . . ."

  7. Warming UpBegin a morning ritual. One of the easiest ways to live a healthy lifestyle is to begin each day by doing something positive. During the summer, we often let this slide because, well, we can. With long warm days to look forward to, there always seems to be time to do something energetic. As the days shorten, this takes more discipline. Beginning each day with something healthy, even as little as a 5-minute ritual, can give you a whole new outlook.

  8. Find a healthy nighttime ritual. Many of us undo an entire day's productivity in the last few hours before bed. This is particularly true when we're busy and/or stressed because we want to unwind, which often means cocktails and/or desserts in front of the TV. If you can find a healthier way to unwind, you'll do yourself a world of good. And even if you can't get away from the cocktail/dessert/TV habit, adding something at its end, instead of just sacking out, can reverse much of the damage. Stretching in front of the TV is one of the easiest ways to transition. Following that up with herb tea and some relaxing reading can have you hitting the sack with a positive attitude. If you can't get there yourself, consider something like Yoga Booty Ballet® Master Series Pajama Time, a "workout" designed with this in mind.

  9. New Year's CelebrationMake a New Year's resolution. Instead of waiting until New Year's, make a resolution to get there, starting today, with gained fitness and health. Just think about how much better your goals can be for next year if you finish this one on a positive note. Consider that most of us make New Year's resolutions to pretty much undo the damage that we do to ourselves each fall. Why put yourself through that? Instead, set yourself up, beginning right now, to have a banner year in 2008.

  10. Cut yourself some slack. You can't be perfect and, frankly, who wants to be? You've got to live. By planning ahead with goals in mind, you'll be far more able to relax about the holiday season and enjoy it too. So make a plan, do your best to stick with it, but don't forget to make enjoying the season and having a little fun part of that plan.

Steve Edwards If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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10 Signs Your Computer Is Making You Fat

By Linda York

Working on ComputerWhen was the last time you had a big Mac Attack? How about a PC Pig-Out? These aren't some junk food junkie's gastronomical fantasies. They are terms for real-life experiences that are packing on the pounds for computer users everywhere. As people spend more time sitting in front of computers, they spend less time moving and exercising. People are exercising their "mouses" more than their bodies. They are gaining weight . . . even if they aren't eating more!

Calories in exceed calories out

Lunching at ComputerJust a decrease in the number of calories burned can pile on the pounds. However, less activity isn't the only issue. Many people work on their computers without taking breaks. They work and eat at the same time, and it's usually high-calorie food that is easy and quick to eat. Studies have found that given the choice, computer users will invariably choose candy bars over carrot sticks to power them through an online work session. A healthy, quick, and easy alternative is nuts—just pre-pack reasonable portions into small plastic bags so you don't overindulge, or you can sometimes buy pre-packaged portions at your local supermarket (for great reasons to eat nuts, read this).

Those at risk

People who appear to be at greater risk for computer-influenced weight gain are those who have received promotions and find themselves suddenly working lots of extra hours; people who are bored with their jobs and consider surfing the Net a physical sport; addicted online game players; and people who report that they "just planned on checking their email" and woke up three hours later to find eBay up on the screen.

10 top telltale signs

Chained to the ComputerChances are, if you use a computer for work or fun, you could be at risk for gaining weight. The following telltale signs have been compiled from experts all over the world to help you figure out if your computer is making you fat. You may want to see if you, or anyone you know, have experienced any of these common indicators:

  1. Are there food crumbs on your keyboard?
  2. Have you stopped going to the mall and done most of your shopping online?
  3. Do you IM or email the person who works at the desk next to you?
  4. When you are asked to choose between playing solitaire online or a rousing game of volleyball, do you usually choose solitaire?
  5. Do you ever want to "cut and paste" things—with your mouse that is—that you are reading in an online magazine or newspaper?
  6. Do you accidentally enter your computer password on the microwave?
  7. Is your reason for not staying in touch with friends that they don't have email addresses?
  8. Have you sat at the same desk for four years and worked for three different companies?
  9. Does your spouse carry a picture of the back of your head in their wallet because this is what they normally see?
  10. Do you have more friends in the online world than in your real world?

Online interventions

Walking and WorkingWhile it's awfully tempting to sit at the computer browsing the Internet or working on projects without taking a break, it's not exactly good for us. Mac users can download a free program called Time Out that times you on the computer and tells you when to take breaks. It can even be scheduled to play music to get you motivated for break time. There are options for skipping breaks or postponing them, which are tempting. PC users might want to look at Break Reminder software or Break Time or Albion StopNow! shareware.

Use your computer for good

Hip Hop Abs™The solution to many problems can be found in what is perceived as the problem. Being an active member of the Beachbody community allows you to use your online status to work out with other people online while doing your favorite Beachbody workout—whether it's Hip Hop Abs™, P90X®, or Slim in 6®. As part of this community, you can also get great tips and information about weight loss and healthy eating, and you can connect with a supportive community of people who are interested in helping each other use the computer to lose weight and live healthy lives.

Linda York If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your Dorm Food IQ!

By Joe Wilkes

Rank these college dorm staples in order from lowest to highest caloric content.

  1. Cup of Noodles1 container of shrimp-flavored Cup of Noodles. 300 calories. It also has 13 grams of fat—more than three times the amount of the mac and cheese, plus you get 44 percent more sodium than your daily recommended amount.

  2. 1/2 box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. 390 calories. At 72 grams, this is not a good choice if you're trying to cut carbs. It will also give you 38 percent more than your daily recommended sodium.

  3. Pop-Tarts2 frosted brown sugar and cinnamon Pop-Tarts. 420 calories. These breakfast goodies are easy to make but hard to burn off. They're mostly empty sugar and white-flour calories.

  4. 40 ounces of Colt 45 malt liquor. 530 calories. Well, at least it's fat-free. But some students have trouble stopping at just one.

  5. Pizza4 slices of a 12-inch Domino's cheese pizza. 840 calories. Oh, pizza, so delicious, and so deadly. This will also get you 28 grams of fat, 12 of which are saturated. And that's before you add fatty toppings like pepperoni and sausage.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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