The Freshman fifteen. What a famous and nervous-racking event for all university students. During my first three weeks at Trent, I must have heard women and men alike mentioning this tradition in horror over thirty times. For some, it seems inevitable as class work takes up all of our time and hitting the gym becomes impossible. Nor can you forget that in Canada, junk food and fast food are much cheaper than wholesome healthy foods that take time to prepare. It seems as though it’s impossible to avoid! But I am not nervous myself and I feel as confident as ever in my ability to  maintain my healthy weight over the next four years.  “Is she pulling my leg?” you may ask. No, I can’t reach it from here. I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV, but I have found the trick to being healthy and even losing weight.

This is not an advertisement to purchase a weight-loss plan; those programs are garbage. I’m not going to tell you to eat a grapefruit with every meal, since grapefruit works as a laxative and you end up expelling all your food and absorbing no nutrients whatsoever. I’m not even going to tell you to only eat fruit and vegetables, to stay under a certain amount of calories or even to workout everyday. In fact, I still eat french fries, pizza, nuts, and never count calories! Throughout the many weight-loss programs  advertised, my best friend and I started to realize something. Something common amongst weight-loss plans is the promise to help you lose weight while eating whatever you want. This was it. The answer we’d been looking for! I am about to tell you the secret that no diet-companies will ever divulge: your liver controls your weight.

That’s right. Not your stomach, not even your metabolism, but your liver. Before I continue, I should note that everyone’s body is different; respect your own body! Your liver is what processes your fat. Although we need fat to live, we don’t usually want excess fat. When your liver is clean and refreshed, it can work harder to better process and eliminate your fat. When your liver is clogged, processing fat becomes difficult and the liver lets most of the fat pass through without processing it. This is when you gain weight. The biggest secret to avoiding the freshman fifteen? Keep your liver healthy!

Foods that refresh and restart your liver are garlic, walnuts, carrots, green tea, lettuce, kale, avocados, apples, olive oil, lemons, sesame seeds, sea salt and many more! You can use the Internet to find these other foods. Now it can be hard to work these foods into your daily diet, but here are some quick and easy methods that may help. When you’re filling up your reusable water bottle for the day, squeeze the juice of one full lemon into it. Now your water not only tastes better but it cleans your liver too! Trade in your daily coffee for green tea. Vegetable oil can be switched with olive oil in most cases, and table salt with sea salt. Sesame seed crackers are found in nearly every convenience store and grocers.

Foods that damage your liver include juices, meat, coffee, artificial sweeteners, table salt, vegetable oil, soft drinks and foods with preservatives, gluten, refined carbs, an excess of estrogen, soy. Again, the Internet can provide a more complete list. The two other major sources of damage are alcohol and cigarettes. Alcohol is incredibly hard for the liver to process and while your is processing it, it will let other fatty food slip by and onto your waistline. Cigarettes are even worse. Processing the chemicals that you breath in from smoking is equivalent to sitting down and eating a steak covered in Cheese Whiz with Twinkies and Taco Bell on the side for your liver. If you’re looking to healthily loss weight or just avoid the freshman fifteen, ditching the smokes will do wonders!

Now I don’t know about you, but I love french fries. How can I still eat them? Home cut, oven baked fries without vegetable oil are not at all bad for your liver. Remember, it’s all about changing the way you eat, not what you eat. Don’t believe me? It’s this exact attitude and method that had me drop thirty pounds in six months. I am my own proof!

But even if you are studying late and order a pizza from ResXpress, there are still ways to stay healthy! Order a gluten-free crust then drink a glass of water and have an apple before the pizza arrives. Most of your ‘hunger’ is actually thirst and eating an apple will clean your liver in advance. Only eat until you’re satisfied: don’t feel bad about not finishing a slice – your roommate, or the guy down the hall will eat it!

This doesn’t mean you can forget about exercise though. I always hated exercise but after finding the right activities, it became addictive. By finding a sport you like (for me, it would be roller derby and archery) or trying out a new class at the Athletics Center (Zumba, anyone?), you can find that exercise can be fun and addictive too! Even if you can’t find the sport for you, just power-walking to class will bump your daily routine up a notch!

Finally, try to avoid the scale. Remember that muscle weighs more than fat so even if your pants are getting loose, your number may be climbing. Focus on the only thing that matters: how you feel about yourself. A smile and a little self-confidence is so much more important than what your pants-size is! So no matter what your freshman number turns out to be, just get out there and have fun!

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You know that crazy cat lady with red hair, a love for charity, and a passion for social justice? That’s me. I view everything in a critical light and am dedicated to bringing readers the alternative side of the truth.

After Spring 2016, I will be entering my fifth and final year at Trent University as a Woman Studies and Business student. Where I will go next? Who knows! But I forsee a dozen cats in my future, and a long life in the Arthur newspaper’s future.