Advice for college bound kids

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My middle daughter is a hs senior & plans to go off to college next year (live in dorm). Of all the things to feel trepidation about, the only thing she has expressed to me so far is fear of gaining weight (based on friends who have). I thought, wow, there are probably 5 things I can think of off the bat I would be more concerned about. She's a nationally ranked athlete, so she does take care of herself and work out hard. Weight matters a lot in her sport, and her coach has worked with her re: optimizing diet, so she's not a complete neophyte when it comes to weight maintenance and nutrition. She's going to stop competing when she gets to college, and her concern stems from that.

Daughter #1 is in college now and weight gain was not on her radar screen at all. They are each so different.

I'm wondering if my response gave her enough support. Perspectives appreciated if others have navigated a similar situation.

Replies

  • Packerjohn
    Packerjohn Posts: 4,855 Member
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    If weight means a lot in her sport and she apparently takes it very seriously to be nationally ranked it's no wonder she concerned about weight gain when she stops training.

    I would assume the school has gym facilities she can use and I would also guess she would want to continue being somewhat physically active. She will just have to realize that she is most likely not going to be burning as many calories as she has been and be willing to cut down on portion sizes so the intake and calorie burn match up.
  • trigden1991
    trigden1991 Posts: 4,658 Member
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    If she stopping competing then her training intensity and volume will reduce. This will mean her TDEE (maintenance calories) will probably lower than she's used to.

    It might take some time to work out what her new TDEE but theres no reason why she would gain weight if she is aware of this.
  • ggeise14
    ggeise14 Posts: 386 Member
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    At least she's aware of the change, that's a big part of it. She sounds like she knows the basics, keep moving, be aware of what she's eating. Luckily she's young and in shape so her metabolism will get her through some bad choices and while she adapts.
  • Skipjack66
    Skipjack66 Posts: 102 Member
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    My daughter had the same concerns after retiring from her sport. As national level athlete she was used to training six hours a day, six days a week for over ten years in a sport that demanded a very lean body type.

    She saw that most of her ex-teammates gained weight after retiring - some with dramatic increases, becoming significantly overweight within a year or two. I suspect it was very hard for them to gauge how much to eat when they were no longer training like beasts and eating enough to maintain the calories expended through intense exercise.

    If your daughter can fit in some exercise at the school gym and keep in mind that her food choices matter she'll probably be just fine. But if she's transitioning to a university program where she has upwards of 50 hours of classes and labs a week plus piles homework assignments on top she might have a bit of a problem fitting any sort of exercise in. It's a really tough transition to be sitting all day.

    This is where my daughter is at, and has gained about 15 pounds. Although she is not overweight, she is unhappy that she lost her muscles and her lean athletic look. She tries to watch what she eats and tries to make healthy choices. She learned all this from her coaches and trainers. She knows that eventually she will get back to exercise once she graduates, but in the meantime she focuses on academics as the priority.

    I try to keep her body positivity up because sometimes she is hard on herself. I think it's ingrained in them when they've competed in a sport that requires a certain weight class or aesthetic look.
  • jvcjim
    jvcjim Posts: 812 Member
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    most colleges have nice gyms and pool, and many dorms buildings have smaller exercise rooms as well. two daughters have had no issues after stopping college sports and focusing on school, the third got real depressed after injuring both knees (acl, meniscus) and having to stop and she had no problem adding 50 pounds in college. so it will all depend on your daughters desires.
  • ahoy_m8
    ahoy_m8 Posts: 3,053 Member
    edited November 2016
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    Thanks for the insights. I can really identify with your description, Skipjack. My daughter has a pretty rigorous academic plan, and academics will be her priority, too. She would love inter-murals, but it's hard to know a priori how any activity will fit in. I'm sure my daughter will lose muscle. She has huge upper body strength now, and honestly, from an aesthetic standpoint, she wouldn't mind having smaller shoulders and arms. Being rather small myself, the idea of losing muscle pains me, but it is her body and maintaining what she does now is not a realistic option.

    jvc, I think injuries are really hard on students away from home. It's a depression trigger for many. I hope your daughter's knees heal and she finds the activity balance right for her body and her mind.
  • mari5466
    mari5466 Posts: 137 Member
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    I just graduated college and I gained about 15 pounds and lose it through out college. I didn't play sports in high school but in college I did have easy access to the gym and I planned my workout around my class schedule. She's gonna have to accept that she's not training like an athlete so she can't eat and probably won't look exactly like one too but she can still stay healthy and in shape.
  • Skipjack66
    Skipjack66 Posts: 102 Member
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    ahoy_m8 wrote: »
    Thanks for the insights. I can really identify with your description, Skipjack. My daughter has a pretty rigorous academic plan, and academics will be her priority, too. She would love inter-murals, but it's hard to know a priori how any activity will fit in. I'm sure my daughter will lose muscle. She has huge upper body strength now, and honestly, from an aesthetic standpoint, she wouldn't mind having smaller shoulders and arms. Being rather small myself, the idea of losing muscle pains me, but it is her body and maintaining what she does now is not a realistic option.

    jvc, I think injuries are really hard on students away from home. It's a depression trigger for many. I hope your daughter's knees heal and she finds the activity balance right for her body and her mind.

    Ha! Funny how kids are different. My daughter prided herself on her huge upper body strength and large shoulder/arm muscles. She loved the look even though it definitely impacted her ability to buy clothing that fit properly.

    Your daughter will be ok. There are lots of new things to learn and new people to meet in college. The most important things that develop from being an elite athlete (with no free time) have helped my daughter immensely in university. Focus, highly organized, effective and efficient study skills, leadership skills combined with a positive team mentality to getting all the group work assignments done. Plus, they are used to being away from home from all the years of out of town competitions.
  • richardgavel
    richardgavel Posts: 1,001 Member
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    Since she's living in the dorms, is she going to be on a meal plan? What kind of cooking facilities are in the dorms (all we had was a microwave)? The biggest concern for weight gain living in the dorm is dealing with less flexibility in meal prep, I would think.
  • not_my_first_rodeo
    not_my_first_rodeo Posts: 311 Member
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    Since she's living in the dorms, is she going to be on a meal plan? What kind of cooking facilities are in the dorms (all we had was a microwave)? The biggest concern for weight gain living in the dorm is dealing with less flexibility in meal prep, I would think.

    And probably steady access to not so great food. That's one of the problems. I tried to get nutrition information from what passes for food services at the university where I work and was stonewalled. Having seen the options that they typically offer in the cafes and cafeterias, well, I can see how college students can pack on the pounds.
  • zcb94
    zcb94 Posts: 3,679 Member
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    Since she's living in the dorms, is she going to be on a meal plan? What kind of cooking facilities are in the dorms (all we had was a microwave)? The biggest concern for weight gain living in the dorm is dealing with less flexibility in meal prep, I would think.

    And probably steady access to not so great food. That's one of the problems. I tried to get nutrition information from what passes for food services at the university where I work and was stonewalled. Having seen the options that they typically offer in the cafes and cafeterias, well, I can see how college students can pack on the pounds.
    Same here. I gained "the Freshman Fifty," so my family and doctor ordered me to either starve/fast or juice-fast for lunch. I hated it because I couldn't pay attention in class due to hunger but it worked.
  • alexaaMD
    alexaaMD Posts: 3 Member
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    well.. even the buziest freshman in college is not thaaaat buzy; she will have time to go for a run or hit the gym a couple time a week or start an intra-mural sport or something if she actually want to. you make time for your priorities and living at school in dorm/not having to cook i'm assuming?/being next door from the gym makes it even easier. i'm a dental school student and a varsity athlete in top of that and i manage my time (with difficulty) BUT DS is nothing like college too. she will be fine if she mindfully eat and move a little :)
  • rosebarnalice
    rosebarnalice Posts: 3,488 Member
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    I would encourage her to contact the dining services office. I work at a mid tier university with a large on campus population on meal plans.

    Our dining services office takes pride in accommodating a variety of special diets--- from severe food allergies to vegans to the unique needs of certain athletes.

    It might just give her some confidence to know what options are available so she can learn to meal-plan around her class schedule and her available options.
  • hapa11
    hapa11 Posts: 182 Member
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    Nowadays there are a lot of healthy options at college dining halls. We toured several in the past year and all had lots of vegetarian/vegan options and always a really good salad bar. My son is a college athlete and is easily able to eat well at the dining hall--lots of grilled chicken, veggies, salads.
  • nxd10
    nxd10 Posts: 4,570 Member
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    It's really easy to sit and talk to your friends in the cafeteria every meal and keep eating the whole time, and there's lots of yummy food. She should get a good healthy meal with lots of veg and a small desert if she wants (ice cream is actually a good bet - much better than cookies or anything with frosting). Then if she wants more to gnosh on, get a salad with no dressing - or an apple. Things to chew and crunch but no calories to speak of.

    Drink water, not milk, soda, or juice.

    Skip the bread.

    Load up on meat and veggies and get SMALL portions of pasta and carbs. There are lots of healthy options.

    In her dorm . . . . Figure out how much a serving of chips or cheetos is, take it from the bag, and put the bag away. Eat fruit. Popcorn is a good bet.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 32,427 Member
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    From thinking about the college-age people I know, a piece of the puzzle will be the friends with whom she chooses to surround herself. If she gets involved in intramural sports in some form, or otherwise associates with active people, part of her social life will be activity. People go for a run, to the gym, or for a bike ride together.

    There are also club sports at some schools, requiring a higher commitment than IM sports, but not as high as for a true varsity sport.

    If she gets into a dorm or academic program that surrounds her with lots of sedentary people, it may be a little tougher.

    Since she's nationally ranked currently, I assume she's had opportunities to continue her sport at the collegiate level, and has chosen not to. However, if that's not the case, considering walk-on status in a sport might be an option. Yes, it's a huge time commitment, but at larger universities especially, there's very strong academic support for student athletes in the varsity sports.

    At the major (40K+ student) university where I worked, many of the sports teams had high GPAs and many participants in tough majors - in fact, this tended to be the case in the non-revenue sports, to be frank. My sport, rowing, even takes female walk-ons who've never participated in the sport before - this is true at many universities. Typically, one needs to either be tall (5'10"+, though some particularly strong athletes from other sports are accepted even if shorter), or tiny (around 110 pounds)