“Should I make a salad for dinner or maybe I’ll just order a pizza?” “Do I really need to go out for a third night this weekend?” “I walked all the way to class today, do I really need to go to the gym later?”
These questions are all decisions college students face everyday and while the “right” answer seems to be obvious to most, it’s not that simple.
From juggling schoolwork and internships to living on your own for the first time, senior year of college can be more intimidating than the hype surrounding it. Add in an unknown future post-graduation and attempting to maintain a social life and you have a stress bubble that could burst at any given moment.
Recently, Indiana University released a study revealing seniors in college gain an average of seventeen pounds between freshman and senior year. Decreased physical activity and increased stress were the main contributors to the weight gain.
While the study surveyed only students at Indiana University, students at Boston University offered their views of whether the same results applied to a more urban university.
Marc Filippino, a senior in the College of Communication, finds the survey to be inaccurate. He says he has lost weight since entering BU four years ago.
“When I was a freshman, I was still adjusting to everything in college life that I was so overwhelmed by what was going on that I very rarely had enough time to work out….I really didn’t take advantage of the facilities [Fitrec] until my sophomore and junior year.”
Filippino cites walking to and from his off-campus apartment to class as one way he is able to stay in shape. ”I think BU, the way it’s set up and where it’s located really helps and pushes a healthy lifestyle.”
For Filippino maintaining a balanced lifestyle has helped him control his weight.
“You go out a few nights a week and you have a couple of drinks, maybe you fall off the wagon for a couple of meals. But as long as you keep it in check with some really well-balanced meals and getting to the gym two to three times a week, you really can tackle the ‘freshman fifteen’ or the ‘senior seventeen’.”
(To hear more of the interview with Filippino, click here)
Erika Brownson, a senior International Relations major, also relies on her daily commute to stay in shape. However, unlike Filippino, she has noticed different results since the beginning of college.
“I feel like my metabolism has slowed down, I’m eating the same and still working out as much as freshman year, yet I’ve definitely gained weight… I used to eat a large burrito, and workout after and I’d be fine. Now I eat a large burrito and it’s visible on me for 2 weeks,” she explains.
Brownson says she goes to the gym about five days a week and “never takes the T or the bus. I always walk.”
Despite her frequent exercise routine, Brownson insists she has gained weight over the past four years. She cites maintaining a social life as another possible source of weight gain. “You’re going out, you’re drinking, you’re probably 21 and there’s the stress of next year and grad school. I know for me I’m just so stressed.”
Going out on the weekends provides an outlet to ease stress for many seniors.
College of Arts and Sciences senior Jordan Sisson shared similar sentiments as Brownson.
“Once you’re legally able to drink, you find yourself drinking more because it’s easier. You know, drinking wine and beer with dinner casually.”
Yet, Sisson who transferred to BU from the University of Connecticut sophomore year finds her eating habits have improved since moving to a more urban environment.
“Since we don’t really have a campus and we’re in the city, you’re forced to walk more. Also, on weekends, when you’re out—you’re walking more. You’re walking down Newbury, you’re walking down Boston Commons versus being on a small campus where it’s limited in size.”
While the Indiana University study focused mostly on physical activity among seniors, diet was also found to be another contributor to weight gain.
While Brownson said her eating habits have hardly altered since freshman year, not being able to rely on a dining hall has made eating healthier more difficult.
“I don’t make vegetables, I’ll make microwaveable pizza—it’s easier and I’m a terrible cook,” she confesses.
Living with three other roommates, all who have various eating schedules has made avoiding snacking during meals challenging for Brownson. “You smell someone making something good and you think you’re hungry so you make hot chocolate but you don’t need it.”
Sisson disagreed. Coming from a school with a dining hall with “many unhealthy options” Sisson says she finds herself eating better now that she lives on her own.
“The older you get and if you’re in an apartment cooking for yourself, I feel like you tend to eat healthier and you don’t really eat as much.”
Sisson says it is sometimes difficult to deal with stress and resist buying junk food
at the supermarket, but when she thinks of the results, she chooses healthier options.
”In the long run, it makes you feel worse. You don’t have as much energy. You look worse. Overall it doesn’t work out.”
BU’s Sargent Choice website offers a variety of healthy recipes and video demonstrations to help you make easy meals from your apartment.