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How to Keep Off the Freshman Fifteen

By Molly M. Strauss, Crimson Staff Writer

A year from now, as you Facebook-stalk acquaintances from high school to see how they’ve fared away from Mommy and Daddy, your first response is likely going to be “Ew.” Why? Unfortunately for you, and for many an incoming college student before you, the dreaded Freshmen 15 is no fiction. So, take a long look in the mirror, because there’s a pretty good chance your figure won’t be looking this slim—or jacked, depending on your gender—come May. (Actually, come November. Who are we kidding?)

That being said, there are steps you can take to make your weight gain less dramatic. Let’s say you’re aiming for the Freshman 7.5. But, how?

1. Avoid the Fro-Yo

As you’ll soon discover, all Harvard dining halls are home to frozen yogurt machines. “Does that mean I can have melty, sugary, creamy goodness for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?” you ask. Yes, it does. Many an eager freshman will exit the ’Berg daily with telltale bowl or cone. But, warning: HUDS fro-yo does not count as a “healthy” dessert option, and over-consumption has its (very real) consequences. If you must, make a trip to Berryline for a cold treat that’s actually made out of yogurt.

2. Sign up for intramurals

There’s nothing more collegiate than watching your highly-competitive dormmates get worked up about throwing a frisbee. You might even find yourself in the grips of a rare emotion: dorm pride. Plus, you’ll be outside and moving, which is a must after holing up in Lamont for 14 hours straight.

3. Don’t Go “For the Food”

You’ll find that whenever anyone wants to lure you to his or her organization’s event/info session/comp meeting/seminar/movie showing/date event, they will do so by offering you free food. Do not be hoodwinked. True, it will taste better than dining hall fare. And, true, it will cost nothing. But showing up to everything “just for the food” is a tell-tale sign that the 15 are on their way. So, be judicious. If you know you’re going to be a Chemistry concentrator, skip the Psychology department’s “Burritos, Brain, and Behavior.” But when there’s dessert from Finale, go. You won’t regret it.

4. Work Them Muscles

Hemenway Gymnasium and the Malkin Athletic Center (referred to lovingly as the MAC) have both undergone serious renovation in recent years, transforming them from smelly-and-sketchy to clean-and-beautiful. They offer free classes where you can tone that booty (pilates, yoga, kick boxing), and/or shake it (step, zumba). And there’s a personal TV on every elliptical, treadmill, stairmaster, and stationary bike—it’s the only place where you can watch Real Housewives of New Jersey without feeling guilty! Note: Hemenway can be crazy at peak hours, when amped-up law students battle for a limited number of machines. Head to the MAC for a more stress-free experience.

5. The Deadly Trio

Noch’s, Felipe’s, the Kong. They are names you will grow to know well—favorite late-night eateries frequented at 2 a.m. by the very drunk and the very hungry. Greasy and cheap, they are every college student’s dream. But beware. As you accompany your stumbling friends in their early morning revelries and somehow end up at one of these three, try only eating half of what you order, and share the rest. Or pick the smallest thing on the menu. Or just sit there. (Let’s face it—there’s a good chance your friends won’t remember, anyway.)

—Staff writer Molly M. Strauss can be reached at

For more information on the ins and outs of Harvard life, visit the My First Year homepage.

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