The Freshman 15: Myth or Fact


Rather than take the approach of “how to avoid the freshman 15”, I’d like to address what actually happens during your first year away from home. Is the Freshman 15 a myth or fact? It’s, actually, a little of both. Did you know that the phrase “The Freshman 15” was coined by Seventeen magazine in 1989? I learned this fascinating fact while doing a research project in college. What’s even more incredible is that the research evidence available at the time suggested that weight gain experienced during the first year of college typically only ranged from 0-8 lbs. The iconic tagline took off and continues to instill fear in many college-bound students. Rather than take the approach of “how to avoid the freshman 15,” I’d like to address what actually happens during your first year away from home.

What are some of the causes of weight gain during freshman year?

  • Complete access to dining halls. Guess what? If you want to eat pizza every day, you can—because it’s always available! There is no one to tell you what to eat and what not to eat, and no one to control what is being served for dinner. Sometimes with this new freedom of dietary choices, we forget the importance of balanced meals.
  • No more PE. Your life changes a lot when going to college. Previously, you may have been involved in multiple sports or participated in physical education every year. PE is not a requirement for college curriculum, so it’s up to you to follow an active lifestyle! Many students overlook how important regular physical activity is for keeping a healthy weight.
  • Late-night habits. In high school, I would hit the hay routinely around 10pm. Once I went to college, that bedtime could be anywhere from midnight–2am. Drastic changes in one’s routine, lack of sleep and excessive late-night snacking can all alter your metabolism and cause weight gain.
  • Alcoholic intake. For those that choose to drink alcohol, remember it is a source of non-nutrient calories. Alcohol can also impair our good judgment skills. Suddenly, you find yourself justifying that an extra-large pepperoni pizza at 1am sounds like a perfectly good idea! Research suggests that students who gain the most weight are typically heavier drinkers.

Is weight gain in college really all that bad?

Absolutely not. For a lot of people, their bodies are nowhere near done maturing at the age of 18. Boys can continue to grow taller and develop more muscle mass. Girls’ bodies may mature more with continuous breast and hip development. Both of these growth examples are natural and have no correlation to being in college. Weight gain among college students is quite variable and some even lose weight their first year.

Should I be worried?

Nah. College was one of the best experiences of my life! Plus, you don’t have to follow a perfect diet to maintain health and wellness. Focus on all the new opportunities you will experience, such as a gym membership, culturally-diverse food choices and social gatherings. It was in college that I took my first group fitness class, fell in love with it and became an instructor. My taste buds exploded with all the new foods I was trying. And I met some pretty incredible people and made memories to last a lifetime.

It’s really simple. You’re going away to college.

Remember to:

-eat breakfast

-try to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep every night

-don’t forget your fruits and veggies

-have fun!

Food Art for Kids

With the explosion of crafting websites such as Pinterest and food blogs, more and more families are returning to the kitchen … and I love it! While it’s completely fine to indulge in some of the high-sugar concoctions that are quite tempting on these websites, be sure to not overlook the recipes that offer a healthy twist!

Research consistently shows that the more involved your kids are in the kitchen, the more likely they are to follow healthier eating habits.

Food Art has traditionally been associated with the restaurant scene. Have you ever been served a meal that looked almost too pretty to eat? The combination of colors, textures and shapes of food can make all the difference if someone tries a menu item or not. Creating that “wow factor” at home is actually much easier than you think. This technique is incredibly useful in getting your picky eaters to try new foods such as fruits and veggies. While it may take just a little extra time to prepare a meal or snack, here are some of the potential benefits of offering fun and creative dishes!

  • Getting kids in kitchen. Research consistently shows that the more involved your kids are in the kitchen, the more likely they are to follow healthier eating habits.
    Some age appropriate kitchen activities can include:

    • 2 year olds: washing fruits/vegetables, layering food, breaking sugar snap peas, handing items to adults
    • 3 year olds: add ingredients, stir items together, name and count food, squeeze fruits
    • 4 year olds: peel hard boiled eggs or some fruits, help measure simple ingredients
    • 5 year olds: measure liquid ingredients, help cut soft food with a dull/plastic knife, choose new ingredients when grocery shopping

This also creates learning opportunities for the different food groups and what healthy benefits are associated with them. For example, eggs are a great source of protein, which helps us develop strong muscles as we are growing!

  • Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. If you asked the 10 year old version of myself for examples of snacks, I would’ve responded with: gushers, Dunkaroos, nutty bars and Flintstones push-pops. Rarely would I have associated fruits and veggies with snack food. Having fun with your fruits and veggies at snack times can help kids learn early on that snack time is another opportunity to nourish our bodies with optimal nutrients. This also helps place an emphasis on fresh food and limits consumption of processed foods and products with added sugars.
  • Small portions for small tummies! It can be easily forgotten that kids don’t need as large of portion sizes of food as adults do. A whole apple with 2 Tbsp of peanut butter may be too much food for a 2 year old; however, you can slice your apples thin to create butterfly wings and decorate them with peanut butter dots. This is a much more appropriate serving size choice for a toddler.

The wow factor! Being able to create a head-turning dish definitely gets my attention. If you’re like me, then you secretly receive a warm sense of satisfaction when your guests gobble up a dish you supplied at a party or gathering. Food art can help you turn the ordinary into extraordinary!

For more tips on food styling, please visit Kid’s Eat Right.

Click here to  see >>> The Crafting Chick show you a great way to transform ordinary kids’ snacks into backyard bug creations.

Research consistently shows that the more involved your kids are in the kitchen, the more likely they are to follow healthier eating habits.

Click here to see >>> Wit and Whistle’s Cookie Cutter Fruit Salad

Research consistently shows that the more involved your kids are in the kitchen, the more likely they are to follow healthier eating habits.

Click here to see >>> Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail’s Apple Teeth snack.

Research consistently shows that the more involved your kids are in the kitchen, the more likely they are to follow healthier eating habits.

Figge’s Summer Trends: Workouts

With a new season comes new trends! The past two weeks I introduced you to some fun gadgets and ideas to get you and your family off the couch and into the yard for some outdoor fun, as well as the latest in tips to improve your diet. This week I’m going over some of the latest approaches to amp up your workout!

Figge's Summer Trends- Outdoor Fun

Express Workouts. Why work out for 60 minutes when you can possibly get better results with just 20 minutes or less? Workouts that are 30 minutes or shorter are all the rage and who wouldn’t want a quick workout and more time to spend outdoors this summer? These programs can include HIIT, Crossfit and cardio-strength that can be easily viewed through medians such as On Demand. In fact, P90X reformatted their workouts to be 30 minutes long versus their previous 60 minute workouts. The concern with chronic HIIT is that it can be quite taxing on your body. Generally, you shouldn’t perform these high intensity workouts more than 3x per week and you should be allowing your body proper rest between workouts. I highly recommend performing HIIT under supervision whether it is your Crossfit coach or an established program.

Back to the Basics. The ACSM predicted that body weight training would be the leading fitness trend of 2015. Body weight exercises can include movements like lunges, squats, planks, push-ups and burpees. These are some of my favorite exercises because not only do they target multiple muscle groups, you don’t need equipment to perform them. Not only do these exercises provide good strength-training, they can also be programmed as part of a cardio workout too! Don’t believe me? Try performing 20 walking lunges followed by 10 burpees. Repeat that 3x and see how high your heart rate is!

Figge’s Summer Trends: Dieting Tips

With a new season comes new trends! Last week I introduced you to some fun gadgets and ideas to get you and your family off the couch and in the yard for some outdoor fun! This week I’m going over the latest in tips to improve your diet.

Figge's Summer Trends- Diet Tips

Mindful Eating. We have been seeing a gradual decline in dieting this past year with a greater emphasis put on simply making better nutritional choices more consistently. The principle behind mindful eating is to emphasize whole, fresh foods and decrease consumption of processed foods, added sugars and restaurant-prepared menu items. Eating mindfully can help improve overall feelings of wellness as well as help with weight loss for many individuals.

Saturated Fat is Back Baby. Better late than never is my motto! Researchers have been speculating for quite some time now if fat, or specifically saturated fats, aren’t really that bad for us. Saturated fats can be found in foods such as eggs, cheese, red meat, butter, coconut, poultry skin, grain-based desserts, candy, chips and fried foods. Scientists are more conclusively concluding that saturated fat is not as big of a demon we once thought it to be. While I do personally enjoy eating saturated fats, I do encourage caution on processed foods with saturated fats (grain-based desserts, candy, chips and fried foods) as we are still unsure of those effects on the body. Keep in mind that these food sources are also not natural occurring saturated fats like eggs, butter and coconut are.

Anti-Sugar Movement. With the rise in popularity of fat, sugar is now being more closely scrutinized. This is all music to my ears, but I feel we have just seen the tip of the iceberg with this health movement. Sugars in the form of candy, sweets, juice and soda absolutely need to be minimally consumed; however we get excess sugar in our diet from grains, breads, cereals, potatoes, snack foods and sweetened dairy products to name a few. Excessive carbohydrate consumption has been linked to increased insulin levels, blood sugars and inflammation. Since it is hard to cut back on all of these items I do recommend cutting out three: fruited yogurt, juice and granola bars. Here is what you are actually eating:

  • Juice = soda with a squirt of Vitamin C
  • Fruited yogurt = adult pudding
  • Granola bars = glorified candy bars

Figge’s Summer Trends: Outdoor Fun

With a new season comes new trends! Here are some fun gadgets and ideas to get you and your family off the couch and in the yard for some outdoor fun!

With a new season comes new trends! Here are some fun gadgets and ideas to get you and your family off the couch and in the yard for some outdoor fun!

Self-Tying Water Balloons. Growing up, water balloons were the epitome of water-warfare fun summer. While I am slightly jealous that this device was not around when I was a kid, I am still just as excited to use it as an adult. The worst part about playing with water balloons is the 30 minutes it takes to fill up all of them. Devices like Balloon Bonanza and Bunch O Balloons can fill up to 100 balloons at one time and they are self-tying! These packs can be purchased both online or at your local Walmart and Target.


Glow in the Dark Bubbles. Again, where was this idea when I was a kid?! Kids tend to stay cooped up indoors too much during the summer. What better way to get them outside than with bubbles? This DIY project is simple and can involve the entire family. Be sure to check your glow in the dark paint for any harsh chemicals and any additional safety concerns. The recipe for the bubbles can be found here.

Fitness Gadgets. Items like FitBits, pedometers, the iWatch and Nike Fuelband have been all the rage this year. They can help track your movement, sleep patterns and calories. These tools can be quite beneficial since they theory is, “the more attention you pay to healthy behaviors, the more likely you are to improve on them.” They are great for people who benefit from constant accountability of healthy choices; however, they are not the sole reason for someone losing weight or moving more. That motivation still comes from within!

Check back next week to get the scoop on this summer’s healthy food and diet trends!

I have BIG news…


Photo specialist, group fitness instructor, personal trainer, tree surveyor, dietitian—I have had many titles in my life, but none have prepared me for my next title I will have…mom! Yes, I am happy to announce that I am expecting and my little figlet (haha, get it?) is due right around Halloween! Being pregnant causes your body to go through a whirlwind of changes and this increases your nutrient needs for specific vitamins and minerals. A false myth about being pregnant is that the mother-to-be can eat anything she wants because she is “eating for two.” In reality, pregnant women’s energy needs only increase during the 2nd and 3rd trimester by about 300-400 calories. While I am still a newbie at this whole pregnancy thing, I do have a few tips to share for a healthy pregnancy.

Exercise daily. Regular exercise during pregnancy not only helps control healthy weight gain, but stronger core muscles and a more fit cardiovascular system have shown to make the labor and delivery process easier too. During pregnancy, your goal is to maintain your fitness level, not improve it. I am still crossfitting during pregnancy and plan to up until delivery. Keep in mind that my body has been crossfitting for 2 years and it would be a bigger shock to it to quit now. I would not recommend starting an exercise program during pregnancy for those who do not currently follow one, but low-intensity exercises such as walking and yoga are wonderful for all women.

Eat at least 1 serving of dark green, red or orange vegetable daily. These are some of the most nutrient-packed veggies with increased amounts of vitamins and minerals compared to other selections. For some, it may be difficult to get adequate amounts of specific nutrients when being conscious of calorie intake. These vegetables are the stars of the produce section.
-Broccoli, spinach, kale, collard greens
-Sweet potatoes, orange bell peppers, carrots
-Tomatoes, red bell peppers

Drink water. How much should I drink? The easiest advice I give is to drink until your urine is mostly clear when you go to the bathroom. Darker urine can indicate that your body is slightly dehydrated. Constipation is very common during pregnancy, especially if an expectant mother is on iron supplements. Consuming adequate fluid can also help keep your bowel movements more regular. I do not recommend juice in pregnancy since we can get the same amount or even more vitamins and minerals from nutrient-dense foods, plus eating real fruits and vegetables provides fiber, a nutrient that juice lacks. Additionally, juice can spike blood sugars in those with abnormal glucose levels during pregnancy.

Eat dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime. One thing I am having a terrible time with is reflux. Certain pregnancy hormones can relax muscles all throughout the body, including those of the digestive track. When the lower esophageal sphincter (the passageway between the esophagus and stomach) is relaxed, it can allow stomach acids to splash back up the esophagus causing heart burn and for me, an awful burning throat sensation. Try not to lie down (for at least 3 hours) after eating and avoid eating in a lying position. I learned this the hard way when my husband and I were lying in bed watching a movie and enjoying some munchies. Within 30 minutes, I was talking to Ralph on the big white telephone.

Take your vitamins. Taking a prenatal vitamin is really non-negotiable. While we can get all of our nutrients through diet, it is extremely difficult to eat perfectly for pregnancy on a daily basis. Ideally, you should start taking a prenatal vitamin a couple of months before pregnancy to ensure adequate nutrient levels in the body. I would also recommend taking an omega-3 supplement during pregnancy. Omega-3 fatty acids and pregnancy has been a hot topic in research the last 10 years. The typical Western diet is quite low in omega-3s. That’s why a supplemental form would be most beneficial. Higher omega-3 intake by pregnant women has correlated to better mental and psychomotor skills and visual awareness in babies. Always consult with your OB-GYN before starting a supplement in pregnancy.