Freshman 15: Fact or Myth?

We have all heard of the freshman fifteen. Some of us have even heard of the sophomore twenty. It isn’t hard to believe, given the amount of free pizza, popcorn, and candy on campus; the all-you-can-eat style cafeterias that serve many delicious desserts. Despite this, gaining weight and eating ice cream for the rest of your life is not your only option, however tempting it might be. With some background information and quick tips you can take after Buffy the Vampire Slayer and tell the next person who asks you about the freshmen fifteen that they are, “mythtaken!”

Photo from Pinterest

Photo from Pinterest

College is a time of freedom, expressing yourself, and finding yourself. If, on the way, you find the line for free tacos, it isn’t really anybody’s business. As college students we sometimes feel it’s our right to eat ramen for every meal five days in a row and then a piece of lettuce to be “healthy” when we feel guilty. (To be clear, when I use the term “healthy,” I mean foods that are as natural and unprocessed as possible. Some examples are oranges instead of orange juice, brown rice instead of white rice, steamed vegetables instead of fried.) The range of diets is extensive and sometimes leaves a lot to be desired. There is a lot of literature out there on health and nutrition, so I encourage you to do your own research and find out what is the best for you!

We say we are too poor, lazy, tired, and so on to validate our diets. The first step is to realize and accept that those are all excuses. You chose paying rent over groceries? That’s totally fine! But that is still a choice you made. Chose sleeping an extra half hour over eating breakfast? It happens, but accept that you are the one that decided to do it. Every day we make the choice on what, when, where, and if we eat. Just like Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. You have the power to choose your diet which will affect your mood and health and in turn, your entire life! Your life is your responsibility, so what are you going to do about it? Well, here are some great campus and outside resources!

1. Campus Harvest Food Pantry: This September a campus food pantry opened up exclusively for students! Campus Harvest is a much-needed and awaited resource and is located in Schofield Hall 4. The pantry is available to help students one-on-one if the hours below do not work. Just email them at to set up a time. The regular schedule is as follows:
a. Mondays, 12:00pm-2pm
b. Tuesdays, 2:00pm-4:00pm
c. Thursdays, 5:00pm-7:00pm
As stated above, some students have to decide between paying rent (or tuition, or other bills) and buying healthy groceries. Although it is unfortunate that they have to make this choice it is still a reality. Campus Harvest provides these students solutions and help that they need. For more information on donations, volunteer opportunities, and more, check out their website:
2. Blugold Dining: The Blugold Dining website ( has more than the schedules for your favorite eateries. They host a wonderful array of resources, too! They connect students to My Fitness Pal, an app that helps people track their nutrition and exercise to make healthier choices and goals. They have information for those with food allergies and restrictions as well as the general nutritional information for their food.
Curious about what is really in that meal you just had? You can use Sodexo’s nutrition calculator ( to help your mindful eating. Spend a few minutes on the website and see what new things you can learn.
3. Farmers Market: The Eau Claire Farmers Market is a great place to go for fresh, cheap eats! Vendors sell anything in season from vegetables, fruits, pastries and flowers. They are open until October 30th with the following hours:
a. Wednesdays, 7:30am-1:00pm
b. Thursdays, 12:00pm-5:00pm
c. Saturdays, 7:30am-1:00pm

Photo from Tripadvisor

Photo from Tripadvisor

The summer location for the Farmers Market is downtown in Phoenix Park. For information about winter hours and location, harvest schedule, events, and more check out their website:

Hopefully these resources will help you conscientious decisions about your health and diet! I’d just like to leave you with a couple tips:

• Eat breakfast
• Drink water
• Sleep regularly
• Exercise
• Ignore the scale

Did you gain the dreaded “freshman fifteen”? Twenty? Ten? Thirteen? Who cares! The scale tells you a number. Your mood, immunity to illness, and energy levels are better measures of your overall health. So feel free to take any/all/none of these resources and tips on your wellness journey. Good luck!

Photo from revolutionprep

Photo from revolutionprep


So what is Paleo?

I mentioned in my previous post the term paleo. The paleo lifestyle (I don’t like the word diet!), is the most powerful approach to health and overall wellness. I’ll try to keep this short and sweet 🙂 For anyone reading this who wants to know more about the science behind it all…I’d be happy to share my knowledge anytime!
For now, I’ll keep to simple…

Diane Sanfilippo, BS, NC author of Practical Paleo does a great job of describing the lifestyle beginning with the basics.
1. Eat whole foods:
Meat, seafood, and eggs. Ideally from grass-fed, pasture raised, organic-fed animals or wild-caught sources.
Vegetables and fruit: There are tons of different veggies available and it certainly does not need to be boring! Farmer’s markets are a great place to start! Fruit can be hard on your blood sugar if you over-do it.
Nuts and Seeds: These are great go-to snacks. Again, they can be over done, especially for if your goal is fat loss.
Fats and oils: Coconut milk and oil, avocado, butter, ghee, olive oil, tallow, and lard are all great quality and healthy fats. We NEED fat to be healthy. High quality saturated fats are required to maintain healthy cells in every part of our body.

2. Eliminate refined foods

Refined grains: Cereals, oatmeal, toast, muffins, pasta, rice…it is all processed and should be avoided.
Whole grains: All whole grains including wheat, barely, rye, corn, rice, quinoa, buckwheat and others. Again, processed. Anything that has been popped, puffed, flaked, floured, or shredded has been processed and therefore, it is not in its natural state and lacks its proper nutrition.
Dairy products: Eliminate processed and pasteurized milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, and ice cream. Raw dairy is a maybe food.
Sweeteners: Anything sweetened, especially with artificial sweeteners should be avoided. This includes soda, diet soda, juice, teas, coffee drinks, shakes/smoothies.

It may seem that eating whole foods is hard and limiting, but trust me…it isn’t! It is certainly an adjustment and at times can be challenging, but when it comes to our health, it’s totally worth the extra time!

Lastly, I need to point out the quantity and quality of scientific research behind paleo as noted in Practical Paleo. If you are interested in learning more, the following are excellent resources:
-Dr. Loren Cordain’s The Paleo Diet
-Robb Wolf, biochemist and author of The Paleo Solution (
-Chris Kresser, LAc., Integrative Medicine Practitioner (
-Dr. Amy Meyers MD (

Podcasts you can download from i-tunes:
-The Paleo View
-Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness (one of my favs!)
-Dr. Amy Meyers MD
-Nutritional Weight and Wellness
-Chris Kresser
-Balanced Bites

Recipe blogs/websites:
-Everyday Paleo
-there are too many to mention…you guys all know how to Google and Pinterest!

How I found the power of food

When Katie asked me to share my personal journey and experience with nutrition and health, I said I would love to, but that I could probably write a book! Over the last several years, I have made a major transition in how I view overall health and wellness.

First a little background…I have always been a “healthy” person. Or so I thought. I grew up playing sports, eating a well-balanced standard American diet (meat, whole wheat bread, low-fat dairy, fruits/veggies, and the occasional diet coke!), and my parents made sure we always had lots of fun as kids. Fast forward a few years- I still maintained what I thought was good nutrition and exercise (running 3-5miles/day, cylcing classes, and basketball). Now add in nursing school, work, and stresses of being a busy college student as well as a young woman trying to find her way in this world. With a hard-working and perfectionist personality, I never slowed down. Not even when my entire world literally crashed right before me.

Weeks before my 21st birthday and in the middle of my senior year of nursing school, my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My. life. fell. apart. It was an unimaginably tough battle for our family from the moment the first doctor said the word…cancer. The cancer never once responded to the multitude of chemotherapy burning through my mom’s body. 9 short, yet never-ending, months later, my family and I sat beside my mother as she took her last breath on Earth.

My mother taught my sister and I to always be strong, faithful, and giving women. Thats exactly how we live every day. But as time went on, the busier I made myself, the less I payed attention to how I was truly feeling inside. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This post is supposed to be about nutrition, right? I promise I’m getting there!

The amount of stress I encountered as well as forced upon my self was slowly destroying my body. I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease, an auto-immune condition in which my own immune system was destroying my thyroid gland. Very much a result of physical and mental stress and poor nutrition. Unknowingly, I listened to my doctor at the time and was quick to take any medication he gave me. I accepted the quick fix mentality of health care and ignored the possible root cause of my auto-immune condition (stress, lifestyle, nutrition). Powerful medications only made me feel worse. quick fix- remove my thyroid! Yes, I was a little nervous, but I was also too busy being a nurse and taking care of everyone else around me, I neglected my own health. BIG MISTAKE!

Somewhere in that time, I was introduced to CrossFit. I instantly fell in love. A daily workout, designed by the CrossFit certified trainers, that was a combination of high intensity, functional movements, and heavy weights. Perfect for this washed up athlete with a competitive spirit! But what I didn’t see coming was CrossFit’s strong emphasis on nutrition and other lifestyle factors. Enter…Paleo!

CrossFit nationwide endorses the paleolithic lifestyle. AKA the caveman diet, hunter-gatherer, whole foods diet, or just paleo. In very simple terms, it is the lifestyle and nutrition of our ancestors from the Paleolithic time. Think about it…back then there was no fast food. They needed to hunt and gather and be fast and fit to survive. Furthermore, the Paleo lifestyle is “nourishing our bodies with real food that is grown and raised as nature intended, not manufactured in a sterile facility. It’s about unplugging from the modern-day electronics from time to time and giving your body a chance to actually rest. It’s about getting enough sleep, getting out in the sun, playing for the sake of playing, reducing stress and giving your body a chance to thrive in the manner it evolved” (Paleo 101).

Finally. Something woke me up. Actually, slapped me in the face! Paleo is a lot more than just a “fad” diet. It is a lifestyle template that makes sense. It is derived from history and supported by modern evolutionary science and research. It has saved thousands of lives, including mine.

I will write a second post about more details of My Paleo Lifestyle. Sorry if you didn’t want all the personal background here! But I think it’s so important as it relates to almost everyone in one way or another! Regardless if your story looks like mine or not, most of us are submerged in a similar busy, stressful, sedentary lifestyle. Or the opposite can also cause stress…under eating and over exercising. Regardless, God put each of us on this beautiful earth for such a short time. We all deserve to find and feel our ultimate best!