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15 Tips to Avoid the Freshman 15 and Avoid Gaining Weight in College

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"Kiana Tom, one of the most significant Alumni" UCLA Alumni Association


Are you or your child heading off to college? College is such a fun and exciting time!  It is a time of self discovery and freedom.  Making new friends, figuring out your path and also a potential major weight gain trap.

"Make a plan and stick to it early on."

If you aren't careful, you can fall into very unhealthy habits and put on the dreaded Freshman 15.  Worse, you can develop unhealthy habits that will continue long after your Freshman year. Read on and get armed:


Yes, I am speaking from experience.  I graduated college and I did manage to dodge the Freshmen 15. I am a former student at the well known party school, University of California Santa Barbara.

The temptations was so great, that I literally had to transfer to UCLA to remove myself from the UCSB temptation of 7 nights per week Frat and sororiety parties and daily windsurfing and beach volleyball games.

Don't get me wrong, UCSB is a beautiful, top college, but having my dorm on the ocean front, unlimited water sports and parties left very little motivation for much more than extended spring break.

"Find a career that you truly love and you will be good at it." Kiana

Background: Ironically, I found my passion on the beach, working out! I have worked in the TV and fitness biz for over 20 years as the Host and Founder of the #1 rated fitness series, "Kiana's Flex Appeal" airing in over 100 countries an 80 million households on ESPN.  I have written thousands of televised workouts that have motivated millions of viewers toward a lifestyle of health and fitness. I am passionate about helping all ages & all fitness levels.


"Fitness Queen!" Access Hollywood "Best in Fitness" USA Today. "One of the most significant Alumni" UCLA

Here are my Top 15 Healthy and Fitness Tips to Avoid Gaining the Freshman 15:


1. Workout!

The key to avoiding the Freshman 15 is to exercise regularly as in everyday.  The secret is to make it as easy and convenient as possible.

To help you stay fit, I have 2 options: Downloadable Training Guides and Online Fitness Classes. Either option is convenient for you to workout anywhere, around your busy schedule. 

Throughout my college years, I always worked out in my dorm room 1st thing in the morning.  To this day, I still exercise first thing, before the day gets away from me. It's a healthy habit to establish early on. In college, I would jump rope and do a variety of body weight exercises.  On other days, I would go to the college gym at UCLA.

How to Avoid the Freshman 15 and Stay Fit While at Collage

TIP: Exercise within the 1st 15 min. of waking up, by going for a jog, doing yoga, power walking or  take my expert online, highly addictive Online classes. These are SUPER CHALLENGING,  FULL BODY BLASTS that all levels can do because I show options for all levels.  They are 15-30 min. SUPER challenging, condensed workouts using minimal gear; body weight and dumbbells.  Do 1-2 Quick Fit Hiits per day and you'll be the FCOC: Fittest Coed on Campus 🙂

Exercising early in the day will jump start your day, rev your metabolism all day long so you burn more calories even while sitting in the library all day, your brain will be sharper and you will feel productive first thing in the morning!

2. Eat breakfast.

It's important to eat a healthy breakfast within the first 20 min. of waking up.  While sleeping, your body isn't getting any fuel.  As a student you need brain fuel and breakfast will give you that to keep you sharp.


Every breakfast should include some form of clean protein. Easy grab-n-go breakfasts for students include: my 4 min. Super Power Oatmeal, Protein shakes, hard boiled eggs, breakfast burritos.  Avoid: white sugar carbohydrates in the form of doughnuts, muffins, white breads.

Instead, replace with my Hula Girl Healthy Muffins, whole grain breads, steel cut oats. All of the latter keep you fuller longer and have higher nutritional value.

3. Walk.

To burn extra calories, brisk walking from class to class is best.  The added weight of your book bag is bonus. Make sure and switch shoulders you carry your back pack on or put both straps on to even the weight out.  You should be walking fast enough to carry on a conversation and not be winded.  Check out my Fit Walk Audio Workout for your handheld device, I take you through an entire upper body workout using light weights, all while you are walking off the fat.


4. Sleep.

Ah yes, it's all coming back to me now. Take it from me, someone who was in both sororiety scene and little sister to many fraternities all the while playing numerous sports and teaching aerobics. You cannot burn both ends of the candles.  You'll suddenly hit the wall and need precious sleep.  Try to go to sleep at the same time each night. If you cannot get to sleep, little cat naps all add up to giving you more energy to keep up with your own pace.

5. Party! Party! Party!

If you go to parties beware of the beer.  In college, it is everywhere.  That will put weight on you faster than anything.  If you choose to drink, alternate with 2 glasses of water to keep hydrated.  Make sure and eat before going to any parties.  And, sounding like a mom (because I am) NEVER EVER drink anything that you left unattended. EVER.  If something doesn't feel right, it's NOT RIGHT.


6.  Eat Fit.

College students notoriously eat junk.  I think it's the "I am away from home, I can eat what I want" syndrome and the fact that it's comfort foods because you miss home. The main thing to note is that it WILL MAKE YOU FAT AND UNHEALTHY.

If you know that "certain foods" are a weakness, do not make them or buy them. It's easier to avoid binging if it's not in the house.  In college, living with 5 girls in an apartment, it seemed someone was always baking cookies, cakes, cupcakes.  If you aren't the type of person to take 1 bite and stop. Do NOT take 1 bite.  If you are tempted from the smell of baking cookies, leave.  Too many times I have seen college students sitting in their pajamas eating raw cookie dough, sheets of cookies, 13x9x3 glass pans of brownies at 11 pm at night. I am not surprised if all 15 lbs. weren't put on that night!?

It's Psyche 101 all over again: it seems if everyone else is eating or drinking it, it's okay. Um. It is Not.

Here are Tips to Fight Sugar Cravings, too.  Healthy Desserts are only a click away.

7.  Eat 5-6 Mini Meals per day.

This will keep you blood sugar levels even and keep your energy high. Check out my Healthy Fit Cooking Recipe Blog and Fit Cooking Recipe Videos, too.

8. Size Matters.

Use salad plates instead of dinner plates. It makes it easy to control portion sizes.

9. Eat & Enjoy.

Never watch TV, read or work on the computer while you are eating.  Never eat over the sink, at the 'frig, out of a carton or bag.

10. Birds of a Fit Feather.

Surround yourself with like-minded people who have the same fitness goals. I ran, cycled, played tennis and worked out with weights in the dorm and gym every day. Most of my friends did too. I taught aerobics at the sororiety house. Friends that didn't workout slowly faded away.  I got a job as a personal trainer and as a fitness model in college.  I did all the major print ads that required athletic ability such as biking, skiing, etc., I was the model who could actually do the sports.

You don't have to be a fitness model, but find a type of work that will keep you from gaining weight.


Work in areas that cultivate your fitness goals and that help you avoid gaining weight. For example, I would not suggest working at Sees Candy or in a bar if you have a weakness for chocolate or drinking.


I worked at a health food store and tanning salon (Funny thing I just remembered, NFL great Marcus Allen and ahem, OJ Simpson used to come in and visit with me at the tanning salon all the time).


11. Eating Out.

Eating at a restaurant? When the food comes, put 1/2 of your food in a "to go" container for the next day's lunch. If it's not on your plate, you won't eat it.

12. Drink more water.

Studies show that most people are dehydrated. Drink a glass of cool water before each meal. It will fill you up so you eat more slowly.

13. Grocery Shop the Perimeter.

Shop the perimeter of the grocery store where the healthy fruits, veggies and meats are. Avoid the center aisles that has the pre packaged processed foods.

40 Must Have Items in Your Grocery Cart

14. Pizza.

Pizza is a common college meal. Limit this to 1x per week max, every other week is better. Make sure and eat a salad with the pizza, dressing on the side. Dip the fork into the dressing instead of pouring the zillion cals on top of your healthy salad.

15.   Pack healthy snacks.

Students often go for hours studying and forget about eating.  Then they are starving and grab unhealthy fast food, or whatever is close by.   Make sure and pack healthy snacks in your backpack: prepackaged almonds and trail mix, bananas, string cheese, protein bars, single pack Greek Yogurt, are all terrific options.


You can workout with me online, I stream FREE live online workouts MWF 9am pst right here on the website. If you can't make a live class, PRO Members can watch the recorded version(s) anytime. Click here for details on going PRO and pricing.


The Best Regimen for College Fitness

Special thanks to for this adorable and healthy graphic!



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