How To: Avoid the Freshman 15

Yes, it's real. Freshman 15 is real. And it makes sense. Easy access to unhealthy food, late study night munchies, weird eating habits, alcohol. Although it's common, it's totally avoidable, and for some, it might be a healthy negative Freshman 15. That's right! Below I've provided ten practical tips to make sure you can avoid the Freshman 15 and stay healthy this upcoming fall:

How To: Avoid the Freshman 15 | The Bella Insider

This. delicious. cinnamon roll a la Bribery Bakery in Austin, TX (See Tip #10) 

1. Stay on the edges of the grocery store for healthy snacks.
I know how hard it can be to reach straight for the chips. (Any other Cheetos lovers out there?) My best tip when grocery shopping? Stay on the perimeter of your grocery store where things are refrigerated. It’s a great rule of thumb to find healthy, perishable snacks. I love avocados with honey, fresh + colorful veggies with hummus, a bowl of berries, yogurt, and cheese for snacking when studying.

2. Walk to classes if you can.
If you can walk from class to class on campus, do it! No step goes in vain if you're looking to keep healthy. It gets super hot in Austin, but it's a great way to work up a sweat and get in some exercise rather than drive around or take the bus to class.

3. Don't skip meals - especially breakfast.
I’m guilty of this one. There have been many times where I forget to eat, because I’m focused on my work. They’ve done a study proving that eating a donut is better than not eating at all. I find when I make sure to eat breakfast, I’m less likely to eat more during lunch and snack on a bunch of things throughout the day. The best thing to do is try to schedule classes that accommodate meal times, so you don’t make an excuse to miss meals.

4. Choose your drinks wisely.
Alright. First, alcohol shouldn’t be an issue, since underage drinking is illegal. But if you choose otherwise, make sure and understand that a lot of alcoholic drinks are packed with sugar. Not only that, it really dehydrates your body. Choose carefully, and know your limits and possible health consequences!

5. Eat on a smaller plate.
Studies have shown that the larger your plate, the more you'll eat - even with untasty food. I love the tip of eating on a small plate, because it’s a great way to control portion sizes. Large plates can make a serving of food appear smaller and trick us into eating more. Choose a smaller plate, so the same quantity of food will fill up the plate.

6. Take advantage of workout classes on campus.
Lots of college campuses provide awesome workout classes. Bring a friend and try some fun classes together like Zumba or circuit training. It's a great way to get moving and get motivated with others, too.

7. Drink more water.
Y'all know how much I love carrying around this water bottle! (mentioned here and here) Sometimes, it's easy to think you're hungry when you're actually thirsty. Carry a water bottle with you, and sip throughout the day to stay hydrated and not overeat.

8. Veggies first. 
Fill your plate with veggies first, then protein, then carbs (rice, beans, potatoes). It's a good way to make sure you get lots of vitamins, fiber, and other nutrients before filling you up with empty carbs. Find leafy greens and other vegetables with vibrant colors!

9. Get your sleep.
Y'all. You have to sleep! Try to get at least seven hours of uninterrupted rest. It'll help with your metabolism and curve late-night snacking. It's seriously the best thing we can do for our health, so make it a priority.

10. Treat yourself once in a while.
If you're super dedicated to making sure you don't gain weight in college, don't forget it's okay to splurge once in a while. See that cinnamon roll the size of my face? You deserve it!

I hope these tips were helpful, y'all! What tips do you have to avoid the college weight gain? Let me know down below. Thanks for stopping by on the blog. Have a wonderful day!

5 Surprising Lessons I Learned from Apartment Living

Four weeks ago, I mentioned in this Instagram picture that I'd be living in Austin this summer on my own for the first time. Big girl moves here! Since I've lived in a dorm for the last two years of college, I thought it would be a great idea to try living in an apartment while I wasn't in school, so I could see if I liked it at all. It's baffling to think I'm moving out today, since the time here flew by so fast! I romanticized a lot about what apartment living would be like in my head before I got here: getting more freedom, trying new recipes, having friends over!

5 Surprising Lessons I Learned from Apartment Living | The Bella Insider

While I am moving back into a dorm next fall, I'm happy to now have some solo living experience under my belt, as I've learned a whole lot about myself these last few weeks. Here are some personal reflections that I wanted to share with y'all from my time of living in my own space this summer:

1. Keep drinks in the fridge for guests.
I had such a blast if friends ever came over to visit, but I almost always felt like a bad host, since I never had drinks in the fridge to offer when they came in. It gets hot in Austin. Like blazing hot! Since I'm a pretty basic water + lemon gal, I didn't have much besides that. The few times that friends came over and requested something I didn't have, I thought it was time to get a few more drink options when I hit the grocery store. Even though friends probably didn't care too much, having things such as lemonade and iced tea made me feel more prepared if people came in dripping in sweat from walking outside.

2. More space = more to clean. 
Living in an apartment is so nice for the fact you have more space to yourself, but I found that everything gets dirty so fast! The floors, counters, toilet, basically everything you see...and can't! Note to future apartment-living self: keep cleaning products within easy reach. Tip I learned a few years ago: keep your space 15 minutes away from being guest-ready, so if a friend decides to stop in, things can be tidied up quickly!

3. Easy food will become your regular staples.  
When I first had the idea of living on my own, I thought I would use my love for cooking towards trying out new recipes, but I basically made the same foods over and over again. I became too lazy to find different groceries, and I had limited time to cook. I was constantly searching for quick meal prep inspiration through YouTube videos or my Pinterest. Besides the pizza in my "What I Eat in a Day", the meals I made took 25 minutes or less.

4. It can get lonely.
As a single dweller in a one-bedroom/one-bathroom apartment, it's easy to get cooped up inside the place without speaking to anyone. As a dorm roomer during the year, I was forced to be out of my room to study, eat, and even use the restroom, so I was constantly with people, even if it was just for a few minutes at a time. In an apartment, it's easy to keep to yourself, which might be good for some and not for others. I'm in the latter group on that one!

5. Time is more limited. 
For a lot of college campuses, apartment living can be cheaper money-wise, but in actuality, apartment living is more costly time-wise, because I spent more time doing things I didn't have to do before. For example, eating isn't as simple as swiping a card and going to the dining hall. It requires writing a list of food to buy/recipes to make, getting gas to go to the grocery store, transportation time to the grocery store, buying the groceries, cooking the food, washing the dishes, etc. It's a lot of time that I could have used studying. If I were to do this during the year, I know I'd have to be extra cautious about my time by planning my days well in advance.

5 Surprising Lessons I Learned from Apartment Living | The Bella Insider

Well, my time in Austin has come to an end...for now! I'm currently on the road back to Houston, and I'm stoked to see my family! Summertime here sure did not disappoint, but more on that later during my Monthly Favorites! Until next time, friends! Be sure to follow along on Instagram @sarah_thebella for the latest updates. Thanks so much for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

The Red Romper

A few years ago in a graphic design course, I learned about the power of the color red. It's used in countless commercials and advertisements to evoke a sense of power, energy...and possibly hunger*. It's crazy to think that a color can instantly make us feel a certain way or completely change our mood. This little red romper definitely does that for me, which is why red tops my list of favorite colors to wear while out at night.

The Red Romper | The Bella Insider

The Red Romper | The Bella Insider

The Red Romper | The Bella Insider

The Red Romper | The Bella Insider

ROMPER red romper (under $25) | SHOES black strap sandals (50% off, just $20) |  | CLUTCH old (similar linked here) | SUNGLASSES round sunnies (just $10) | LIPSTICK mac ruby woo 

This romper is definitely one-of-a-kind in my closet. It's short, it's red, and it's dare I *monkey covers eyes emoji* "Sexy" is not exactly the first word that comes to mind when I think of my wardrobe, but the great thing about college fashion is that it's supposed to be fun and experimental. When I first saw this red romper online, I knew I had to have something like it. At just over $22, I couldn't pass this one up! I loved the addition of long sleeves and fun, sweet ruffles on the side to juxtapose the deep V neckline. Plus, this piece doesn't bunch up or twist on my petite 5' 1" frame like a lot of other rompers do. Overall, this little red number just makes me feel confident and fierce, perfect for a night out in downtown Austin. Does any piece in your closet make you feel confident and fierce? I'd love to know!

Photography by Kelly Rice

*interesting article discussing why fast food signs are red and a fun infographic about color psychology


How To: Create Your Perfect College Class Schedule

The start of college is such an exciting time. After deciding on a place, and receiving confirmation that you've been accepted, one of the only super important things left to do is to create your perfect class schedule. I've gone through quite the class registration experiences over the last two years. From overloading too many classes to barely getting any at all, I can say that registration can be summed up in two words: exciting, but stressful. Let's be honest. An absolutely perfect class schedule is pretty rare. Here on The Bella Insider, we're gonna help you get your college class schedule lookin' its best. Below are five tips on how to do just that:

How To: Create Your Perfect College Class Schedule |

1. Be prepared for your registration period.
Assuming your school requires you to take a certain number of credit hours to complete a degree, you'll need to have a list of required courses out and ready to know the classes you'll need to take for the semester/quarter. Make sure you've spoken with an advisor, fulfilled your prerequisites (required classes you need to complete before a specific class), claimed any IB/AP/dual credits (helpful AP Credit Policy Search here), connected to the Internet for online registration, and cleared any registration bars, so you don't run into trouble while registering. The more prepared you feel, the smoother the process will be, so you can get right to registering for the classes you want.

2. Know your productive hours.
Are you a morning person? An afternoon person? Do you like to get up early? Or do you like to sleep in? Before you start looking at your college schedule, know what times of the day you feel most awake and in the mood to work. For example, I try to schedule my classes in the morning, because I really value afternoons to myself for working on The Bella Insider, doing homework, or working out. (Plus, it's prime napping time!) I also try to set meal times as off-limits for classes, because I know all I'll be thinking about is food if I don't get the chance to eat. The trick is to be realistic, and schedule classes when you know you'll be paying attention.

3. Discuss your classes with past students.
Making friends in college has its benefits, especially when they've already taken the classes you need to take. One of the most helpful things I do to plan for my perfect class schedule is ask past students what they think of a specific professor's teaching style, grading scheme, exams, and general interest in the students. By asking people you know, you can take their recommendation into more serious consideration when choosing classes. If you don't personally know past students, check out resources such as Rate My Professors or your university/college's database of student feedback.

4. Use a visual guide to plan your classes.
I'm a visual learner, and I really enjoy looking at color. If you're similar to me, I highly recommend using a computer program or a site like MyEdu to clearly see all your classes in calendar form. I love that I can customize my own colors and clearly see what class I have at what time, so I don't miss it or accidentally schedule something during a class period. Below is an example of a MyEdu page with my Spring 2016 schedule. As you can see, food is important! #sawahthefatty

5. Have backup classes prepared just in case.
No matter how much you plan and how perfect you think your schedule is, sometimes things just don't work out in our favor. In case there are registration issues, it's great to have a few backup classes written down. Whether they're a different section time of the same class or an entirely different one, backup classes are a good idea to still give you hours, so you can finish your degree on time.

If you're just entering college, I hope you found these five tips helpful. In the real world, it's rare to have the luxury of building your own perfect schedule, so enjoy college while you can! Here are my class scheduling tips from above summarized in Pinterest-friendly form:

How To: Create Your Perfect College Class Schedule |

I'd love to know how many of you are headed off to college in the fall! If you are, what are you excited about most? Let me know down below! Thanks so much for stopping by on the blog today. Please feel free to ask me any questions you have about college in the comments or email me at I'd be happy to answer them. Have a great day, y'all!

Photography by Joyce Tong


TOP (old, similar here and here) | JEANS j. brand relaxed skinny | SHOES brygida wedge sandals

What I Eat in a Day

Living in an apartment by myself has been very eye-opening. It's my first time truly living alone, and well, cooking for one is more challenging that I thought it would be, since I always end up making too much food. Leftovers, anyone?! That aside, I love experimenting in the kitchen, so I made a goal to cook as much as I can in this space. As a fun little experiment, I wanted to take pictures of what I was eating on a daily basis and share them here on The Bella Insider, unedited with tips + personal comments. Of course, the food down below isn't what I eat every day, but I think it gives a good idea of a normal day of meals for some future food inspiration to you gals living on your own. I hope you can excuse the picture quality, as I used my phone for all the pictures in my little experiment! Here we go:
Breakfast: 8:30 am

veggie egg scramble | whole grain toast | navel orange | GoodBelly Mango JuiceDrink

I take breakfast very seriously. After all, it's the most important meal of the day, right? A typical breakfast for me is quite large, so it keeps me full for a morning of work. Here I quickly sautéed 1/4 of a white onion, a handful of spinach, 1/2 a tomato, and a handful of baby bella mushrooms with two eggs. Shame on me for not scrambling these eggs first before tossing the veggies in! I also like to have some fruit for breakfast. I might be a weirdo, but the white stuff on oranges doesn't bother me, since I know the fiber is healthy. Finally, I usually just drink water with lemon, but I went to Whole Foods the other day and sampled GoodBelly for the first time. I knew I had to get it! The packaging says its packed with probiotics for good digestion, but I mostly just got it because it tasted really good. 

Lunch: 12:00 pm

zuppa toscana (similar to the one at Olive Garden, recipe here

Since I eat such a large breakfast on most days, I usually have a lighter lunch. This soup recipe is one of my favorites, because it's so tasty, easy to make, and has KALE! It's one of my favorite veggies when blanched with hot liquid, because the color turns bright green. It's also easy to make this soup vegetarian by substituting ground Italian sausage with beans and chicken stock with vegetable stock.  

Afternoon Snack: 3:00 pm

baby carrots | mini bell peppers | yellow tomatoes | grandma's humus (my favorite)

I always get hungry before dinner, so I have to have an afternoon snack to hold me over. When it comes to snacking, I always try to reach for fresh fruits and vegetables. I love mine with lots of color, so I reach for those with a side of hummus. I have to thank my roommate from last year for introducing The Mediterranean Chef's "grandma's humus" to me, because it's so garlicky and tasty - my new favorite! Also, yellow tomatoes are so sweet. If you haven't tried them yet, you definitely should!

Dinner: 7:00 pm

homemade pizza (dough recipe here) | kale salad

Pizza isn't a common dinner for me, but I crave it a lot. One of my close girlfriends came over for dinner, and we both wanted pizza, so we decided to make our own from scratch. Pizza is a great way to use leftovers, so we topped ours with homemade meatballs using leftover ground turkey and veggies sitting in my fridge such as red onions, bell peppers, spinach, and mushrooms. The kale salad had red onions, sliced strawberries, and avocado and was topped with olive oil/lemon juice (my favorite simple dressing!) The silly oven didn't get hot enough for the crust to get golden brown, but it was still delicious. One must-have in my future kitchen: a pizza stone

Dessert: 9:00 pm

strawberries | Wensleydale with blueberries | water crackers

If I don't watch what I eat, I could possibly eat dessert for every meal, because I have a huge sweet tooth. No meal feels complete without something sweet at the end. I hope I'm not alone on that thought! I think it's great to venture out of your comfort zone when it comes to food, so I try out a new cheese every time I go grocery shopping. For dessert, I have just a small chunk with some water crackers and fruit. The one pictured is a bit chalky in texture, so it's not my favorite, but I'm glad I still gave it a go. Another go-to dessert is a piece or two of dark chocolate. Yum!

I forgot to mention that if a drink wasn't shown in the photos, I probably had water with lemon - my go-to. I have to warn you that I'm no nutritionist or health expert, so please feel free to critique what I'm eating if you're into healthy food! I've learned a thing or two from my gymnastics days, so I try to avoid processed foods as best as I can, and I love fresh and wholesome food, but a splurge here or there is totally worth it in moderation. If you have any specific questions about what I eat, recipe details, or general questions about a college girl's diet, let me know down below in the comments. I'd be happy to answer them! For more food pictures, follow along my food hashtag #sawahthefatty and my Instagram feed @sarah_thebella. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day!