How to Stay Fit Without Really Trying

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With the threat of the “freshman (or senior) 15” constantly looming, we tend to become more conscious of jean sizes and belt notches. Unfortunately, an unending avalanche of class work and extracurricular activities often blocks the pass, preventing us from hitting the gym daily. 
Rather than gaining unwanted weight or skipping a Thirsty Thursday, make some changes to your daily routine. Though you probably won’t rock Michelle Obama arms right away, you will avoid a few pounds. Here are eight non-committal ways to stay healthy in college
1. Avoid the Feeding Frenzy
Just because the cafeteria prides itself as an all-you-can-eat doesn’t mean you need three plates of macaroni and cheese. As you meander through rows of overcooked meatloaf and limp lettuce, make sure the slop that makes it on your tray constitutes a balanced meal. Though they’re normally the least appealing of unappealing options, choose foods you’ll feel good about the next day. Once you’ve made your selections, you shouldn’t down your whole-wheat pasta like your last meal before the apocalypse. According to Livestrong, eating slowly allows your brain the time to recognize nourishment. Take your time and munch on a meal your mom would approve.
2. Miss the Bus
Usain Bolt didn’t grab the gold by taking the last seat by the sick professor and the crying undergrad. While you probably don’t plan on qualifying for the Olympics, you might need to fit into a pair of dress pants. Opt toward walking or biking. Depending on the size of your campus, ignore the bus schedule, wake up a little early and throw on your Nikes. Walking or pedaling to class could add 20 minutes or more of exercise to your daily routine. On a cold morning, the trek to class might as well count as a marathon. 
3. Clean Your Apartment
Though they’re no trip to the gym, the chores you hate can burn a few calories. According to How Stuff Works, simple tasks we should be doing everyday can help us stay fit. Sweeping your floor for ten minutes with a broom will eliminate 28 calories. Mopping that stickiness off the kitchen floor will knock off 153 calories every half an hour. Even dealing with that dreaded load of laundry can help you fit in your skinny jeans. Thirty minutes folding clothes takes care of 72 calories and a fitter you might actually have a clean apartment. 
4. Ascend Everest
The 14-flight mountain you must conquer to get to your seventh floor dorm could replace your elliptical. Livestrong reports that climbing stairs serves as an aerobic workout, strengthening gluteal muscles, hamstrings and quadriceps. Rather than moving laterally, the vertical nature of stair climbing creates a better workout because it forces your body to work muscles from new angles. Heading upstairs could burn hundreds of calories an hour depending on your physique and pace. After eight hours of class, that open elevator door will beckon to you like the world’s largest ball of yarn. Avoid the temptation and show some perseverance. That minute-long ascent to your dorm could burn a few dozen calories. 

5. Say No to the Siren
You don’t have to join the never-ending line between every class. According to Starbucks’ nutrition information, the venti version of the standard Java Chip Frappuccino with whipped cream constitutes 580 calories and 21 grams of fat. Such intake proves too much when combined with a strict Pizza Hut and Miller Lite diet. Avoid the call of the sweet tooth and grab a venti dark-roast for a mere five calories or save a few dollars and brew your own. Unless you have a dairy fetish, the cream and sugar you pump into that baby won’t compare to a coffee milkshake that is more milkshake than coffee.
6. Football Instead of Madden 
Rather than grabbing a controller the second you walk into the door, grab a group of friends and head outside with an actual ball. You don’t have to be a professional to jump in a pick-up game of basketball or volleyball. Many schools offer excellent intramural or club sport programs for less than serious athletes. It may seem common sense, but the sport you love can be a great workout even if you didn’t make the varsity team. Plus your thumbs won’t hurt at the end of the day. 

7. Go Lite on the Liquor
For those unwilling to sacrifice a night out for the sake of the scale, don’t despair. Livestrong reports that drinking causes your body to burn less fat for energy, making it difficult to lose weight. While alcohol will eternally benefit your weight as well as it assists your liver, there are ways to cut calories. Fitday, a free online diet and weight-loss journal, suggests using carbonated water with your vodka rather than soda and diet tonic with your gin. Fruit juice also serves a healthier alternative. Ditch that 300-calorie rum and coke like a Frappuccino. 

8. Boycott Bar Food 
Don’t ruin the progress you made with “healthier” drinking with a 2 a.m. McDonalds munchies run. Though you (rightfully) love $1 pizza after a night of cheap beer, you don’t need to grab a slice every time you go out. Even with lowered inhibitions you know the difference between delicious and healthy. Set aside a healthy late-night snack before the first round of shots. Chips and salsa doesn’t rack on the pounds like mass produced grease. 
(main image via

Daniel Kuhn is a senior studying journalism at Penn State University. A great companion. Just don't feed him after midnight.

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