I feel like I've heard about the dreaded "Freshman 15" all my life. It's mentioned in movies, books, tv shows, articles, Instagram posts and more. It's always been a joke that isn't actually that funny because it's too close to being real. But it didn't become that real to me until last summer. 

Last summer, I went to a language immersion camp in Germany. The food at the camp wasn't all that healthy and after three weeks, I started to feel the effects of eating a roll with Nutella for breakfast, and German pretzels or a roll with cold cuts and lettuce for lunch or dinner. 

Don't get me wrong, the Germans do bread and pretzels right, but it is definitely heavy food. Plus, when we weren't in class, we got the chance to explore the town and go out to eat, get ice cream for 1 Euro, and try European candies

The combination of my body changing mixed with how much I ate that summer made me gain a little weight. It wasn't that much, but it felt more noticeable to me and I felt so self-conscious about it. I had been previously transitioning to trying to be healthy the year before but it never lasted that long and my healthy eating and gym kicks would come in phases. 

tea, candy
Jocelyn Hsu

Now, as senior year rolls around, that means that freshman year of college is also quickly approaching. And thinking about how my three week camp last summer went makes me very nervous for how stressful and very different a year at college will go. Especially because I love eating all different kinds of crazy foods and not all of them are that healthy. 

At college, you have unlimited servings of food all around you. So this year, I've made it a goal to really "change my lifestyle." It's something that everyone says and you kind of listen, roll your eyes, and then go back to living your life. But I've read so many articles, seen so many photos, and heard so many stories of people who've done it. 

grass, pasture
Anvita Reddy

Last year, I tried out a few weeks of Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide until I went on vacation and eventually stopped. For the four weeks I did it, it was hard but it worked and I felt really good. 

Now, I am beginning Kayla's guides again. If I start now, and keep going as much as I can until college, I can really get into a routine. As they say, 21 days makes it a habit. I know that after doing it for a while, I will begin to dread dragging myself to the gym less and enjoy it more.  

broccoli, garlic, salad
Tiare Brown

Along with trying to change my fitness routine, I have been packing lunches for myself and making healthy meals with my mom who is now really into eating well and loves to cook with me. For us, our staples are always grains (brown rice and quinoa), a bunch of roasted veggies, and protein (chicken, tofu, beans.) 

My mom and I both get the chance to cook and I can send her recipes that I want to try out. (Minimalist Baker and Clean Food Dirty City are two of my favorite blogs for healthy meals.)

Obviously at college, it isn't the same, you don't have the time or the extra help and room that's needed, but getting into that routine is so helpful. Getting used to something really makes you miss it when you drift from it. Plus, Spoon University has a bunch of healthy dining hall hacks and cheap healthy meals for all college students.

Sure, I will always go for a burger, fries, and a milkshake if you ask me, or go get a decked-out ice cream sandwich, but I also want to keep up with my salads and grain bowls and, if I get myself into that mindset now, it'll be much easier to find balance in college. Both with a workout routine and my eating habits.

lettuce, meat, chicken, beef, pork, vegetable, sauce, salad
Maura Gownley

Whether you are going to be a college freshman or are in college now, these ideas of creating a routine are still important, especially if you can't stop thinking about gaining the dreaded "Freshman 15." 

It can be hard and it has taken me over a year to even begin to understand that—and I'm not close to my goals yet—but it is never too late to start. And it never means having to give up every delicious, indulgent food that you love along the way because that is just wrong.