Rookie Mistakes in College

Rookie mistakes in college are inevitable. College life, like all other areas of life, is full of what we like to call “trial and error.” Another way to say it might be mistakes, failures, mishaps, etc… Whatever you like to call it, these fails are often unpleasant, but the lessons can be quite valuable. Like it or not, one of the most effective teachers is failure: avoiding the consequences or discomfort of mistakes is quite the motivator to make a lesson stick.

Rookie Mistakes in College, College fails, Freshman year mistakes, college life

Freshman Year Mistakes

Freshman year, when life is new and, well, fresh, is like a magnet for mistakes. You are in a new place, with new people, and what is most likely an unprecedented amount of freedom. And with that deep breath of open, parent-free air comes the swift gust of “life-lessons” to knock the wind right out of you.

       Complete freedom when you’ve never had it before is like a cake to those with no self-control. Yes, the cake is delicious, and yes, in reasonable portions, no harm is done, and everyone has a good time. The problem comes when self-control leaves the chat, and the entire cake is consumed in one sitting—by one person. Our bodies are made to endure a lot, but an entire cake at one time is not a fight we are made to win.

               Total freedom for freshmen who are not self-disciplined has similar results. When we no longer have our parents ruling over what we eat, where we go, when we come home, and the like, setting healthy limits for ourselves can take a backseat to indulging in all the things that mom and dad wouldn’t allow. The aftermath of some of these college fails can be… unpleasant.

The Chocolate Diet

When Sarah was growing up, having strict parents was pretty normal. There were rules in place for most areas of her life, but one of the most structured scenes was around the dinner table. Her mother had rules about what they ate, when they ate, and how much they ate. Luxuries like dessert were rare, and usually reserved for special occasions, like birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays; and even then, those treats were carefully portioned for her. So, when Sarah left home for college, power over her own meals came as a welcome shock.

               Yielding her new-found authority, Sarah allowed herself all the snacks she wasn’t allowed to have at home, made dinners out of whatever foods she liked, and rarely concerned herself with a healthy balance of the food groups. Life was good—for a while.

               Sarah soon became quite familiar with the term “freshman fifteen,” which is a fun term we use to kindly refer to the weight gain that commonly happens in people’s freshmen year of college. Usually, freshman put on about fifteen pounds as they treat themselves to whatever and however much food they want. Think of it like nature’s way to teach us budding adults about portion control; some people learn this lesson better than others.

               But Sarah, intuitive as she was, understood that she needed to start cutting back and turned to calorie counting. She thought that she could start shedding off the new weight if she cut down to consuming about one thousand calories a day. But Sarah didn’t want to cut out all the food that she liked, so she came up with the perfect compromise.

 Thanks to the nutritional facts listed on candy wrappers, Sarah calculated that she could easily reach her goal of 1000 calories a day by eating four chocolate bars in place of her meals. With each bar of chocolate being about 250 calories, Sarah could enjoy the sweet food she loved and be eating less than she was before. Can you say, “win-win?”

Rookie Mistakes in College, College fails, Freshman year mistakes, college life

There was just one problem… Her strategy wasn’t working. Despite not consuming nearly as many calories as she had been before, the weight wasn’t leaving her. And, to add insult to injury, Sarah quickly found herself drained of energy and motivation to do anything. So, on top of not losing weight, Sarah was also not having any fun—or getting anything done (two important parts of college).

The thing is, while she may not have been consuming that many calories, Sarah was also not putting anything healthy into her body. Our bodies need things like vitamins, iron, and protein to function properly and create energy—all things that are in shockingly low supply in the average chocolate bar. Without proper fuel, the machine (our bodies) starts to break down (like a rusty, old car) because it does not have anything to power it.

As for the lack of weight loss, well—it’s hard to lose weight when the only thing you are consistently putting into your body is sugar, four times a day.

After a short time, Sarah realized that she could not keep up the chocolate diet and maintain any part of her life. She gave up the chocolate bars and started balancing her meals like the way that they had been balanced when she was growing up. She still allowed herself more freedom in food than her mother had, but she learned to treat herself with a lot more restraint.

Learning from College Mistakes

Learning how to manage ourselves is important. Freedom is not a bad thing. Your adult life will be spent making decisions for yourself and, at some point, for others. The key is learning during college life how to responsibly use your freedom. Figure out quickly that just because we can do something does not always mean that we should. Just because we can eat whatever under the sun we want doesn’t mean that we should pump ourselves full of chocolate, potato chips, and Starbucks frappes—as much as we all might want to.

You will still have your own college fails, but it doesn’t have to be this one. Learn from Sarah: take care of your body, balance your meals, and please—eat your vegetables.

For more helpful information on how to balance meals and how many calories you should be eating, visit

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