By Team Beachbody

Back to school doesn't just affect students. It's the time of year when everything changes. The days shorten, it cools off, and there's a feeling of seriousness in the air. It's time to get things done. As opposed to those frivolous days of summer, now work and school come first. This is the easiest time of the year to let your health slide. Exercise takes a back seat. And diet, well, who wants to diet when there's work to be done?

Don't let this annual malady get you. Avoid the "Freshman 15," or whatever you call its real-world equivalent for you. Here are 5 quick tips to help you hang on to whatever progress you made this summer:
  1. Go to a tanning booth - just kidding, how about... Make an exercise plan - As the days shorten, it seems like there are less hours in the day. Plan ahead to figure out just when you're going to fit your workout in. Often you will come home in the dark and it just feels too late to workout. You have to train your mind that 7:30PM is really no different than in July when you still had two hours of daylight left. Whether it's 8 minutes or an hour - you need to maintain some discipline with your fitness schedule.
  2. Get enough sleep - the antithesis of the above. As things get busy, we often push projects later and later into the evening. And to fuel those longer hours you'll eat ... and eat. (The Freshman 15 is nothing compared to what a lot of resident doctors go through. In order to fuel 20-hour workdays, they must eat continually to stay alert - brain fuel - see carbs below. A recent study showed that residents gain an averageof over 20lbs during their residencies.) Make sure that your sleep doesn't suffer, or your figure is likely to be the real casualty.
  3. Plan your meals - As the schedule gets hectic, it's easy to "just grab something" during the day. Unfortunately, this limits our options to the neighborhood fast food outlets. Fast food contains absurdly high calories for very low nutrition value, and a steady diet of it makes keeping any progress you've made this summer nearly impossible to maintain. Just take a look at most of the crowd in a diner or fast food establishment sometime. Do you see the type of bodies you're striving for? Plan your weekly meals ahead of time so you don't resort to fast food. An hour on Sunday will not only keep you healthy, but most likely give you so much extra energy that you'll make up for the time you spent 5-fold during the week. (For a test, make the recipe below and take it to work or school. Eat it one day and a Big Mac the next. Remember which makes you feel more alert and gives you more energy. Try and remember this feeling next time you think you'll just wing it for the week.)
  4. Do Drink...Water - When you get busy, you often tend to forget to drink water. The result is dehydration, which is not only bad for you but it makes you hungry. You confuse your dehydrated state with hunger so you eat. To avoid this, make sure that you have a water source nearby all day long. If you don't, then make sure to bring a bottle of water to work or class. You'll be surprised how much less hungry you are if you stay hydrated. So don't be shy about refilling that bottle.
  5. Don't Drink...Alcohol - This may not be terribly realistic, especially for you college folks. But keep in mind that alcohol is very high in calories with almost no nutritional value. At a typical fraternity party it's easy to get your entire daily caloric requirement from beer, and this is not going to keep your brain fueled too well for class, not to mention the downside effects of "hangover food." Remember that even though alcoholdoesn't contain fat, its calories are absorbed by the body as sugar, which if it isn't burned off will be stored as fat. (A great case for dancing the night away instead of drinking the night away!)