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Lose the Freshman 15: My final post

I’m not usually a quitter.

I learned the value of sticking to commitments when I was 9 years old and wanted to quit gymnastics. My dad made me finish out the season and told me not to return the following year. When I was in high school, I hated softball and desperately wanted to quit, but I finished the season anyway. There’s just something seeing your commitment all the way through that adds to your credibility and trustworthiness — no one wants to rely on a quitter.

I’m not usually a quitter, but “Lose the Freshman 15: Healthy, Happy Weight Loss” is going to be the first thing I do not see through to the end — not because it’s too hard, not because I don’t enjoy it, but because it’s no longer actually healthy for me.

Throughout my life, I’ve struggled with my body image. I was 10 years old when I skipped my first meal because I thought I was too fat to eat. My freshman year of high school, I skipped lunch every day because it was the only way for me to eat less without my parents noticing. My senior year of high school, my friends noticed my small portions and started to get worried.

I was able to hide my problem for the most part because I would eat huge meals every once in a while and I would talk about all the food I ate. Most days, I would only actually eat half of a turkey sandwich, a granola bar and maybe an apple. I became obsessed with weight, constantly comparing myself to friends, celebrities and models. I would pick out girls wherever I was — a mall, a poms competition, wherever — and ask, am I fatter than her? It completely consumed me.

Along with this obsession, I had a skewed body image and thought my 115-pound frame was overweight. I hated my body and I spent hours on “thinspiration” blogs looking at photos of skin-and-bone models, telling myself that I had to be that thin. I can still remember how happy I was when I returned to school after having surgery and everyone told me how thin I looked. I also remember the time I went back for seconds at dinner and both my parents said it was nice to see me eat more than a spoonful.

I’m not sure how I broke away from my obsession with weight, but it happened sometime after graduation. I look back on the person I was and it makes me so sad and so ashamed. I wasted so much time and energy wanting to be someone else’s version of perfect, when I should have just been happy with myself.

At the same time, I’m proud to have gotten past this low point in my life. I finally realized I wasn’t fat and felt actually beautiful for the first time in years — not, I’m pretty but my thighs need work, not, I look okay but my arms are too flabby — actually beautiful the way I was.

Unfortunately, writing this diet blog has made me become re-obsessed with my weight. While I haven’t taken any drastic measures, I find myself tempted to skip meals again. Even though I’ve lost eight pounds, I’m still disappointed and borderline disgusted every time I look in the mirror. I weigh myself multiple times a day and feel worse each time. I’m back to hating my body, and that isn’t healthy at all.

This regression has lead to a lot of emotional stress and for this reason, I will not be continuing my blog. I’ve tried to stay positive and focus on being healthy, rather than losing weight, but ultimately writing about my body every day has made me more than dissatisfied with myself.  And while that isn’t the intent of the Lose the Freshman 15 program (several bloggers have successfully lost weight and maintained a great body image), because of past issues I’ve faced, the blog has become unhealthy for me.

I realize that weight isn’t everything. I’m never going to look like Marissa Miller or Megan Fox or Adriana Lima, and that’s perfectly fine. I’m 5’4” and I’ve had “thunder thighs” since I was 4 years old — they’ve always been muscular, that’s just how I’m built. I just need to make sure I can be happy when I look in the mirror and not have to tell myself that I’m not fat every single time — and at this point, I have to start by ending this blog.

While it is no longer in my best interest to keep blogging, I want to make it clear that this has overall been a positive experience. I’ve learned so much from writing this blog and I hope to continue writing about health on a regular basis — just not about my weight.

Here are a few of the things I’ve learned along the way:

Writing: The whole reason I applied for this blog was for the experience. I was excited by the chance to write for Her Campus and SELF Magazine every day and ultimately it has been a phenomenal learning experience. I’ve learned how to produce quality work in a short amount of time. I’ve learned how to better use my voice and how to be relatable for readers. I’ve also learned how to promote my own work through social media. My @SamGetsHealthy twitter account has 118 followers, there are 154 people attending my “Sam Gets Healthy” Facebook event and I get a lot of likes and comments on my statuses.  The writing experience I’ve gained from this blog has been invaluable and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity.

Nutrition: The other reason I applied for this blog was to learn how to be healthier. Even though I’m currently struggling with my body image, I have learned a lot healthy eating. I now know tons of tips for how to cut calories and increase nutrients and I’ve been introduced to some of my new favorite foods, including quinoa and pop chips. I’ve learned how to be more active and I’m much more conscientious about incorporating exercise into my daily routine. I still plan on using everything I’ve learned from the Jump Start Diet, even if I’m not blogging about it.

Me first: Sometimes you need to put yourself first. Not enjoying something is one thing, but experiencing this type of unhappiness is another and for this reason, I feel it is okay to let myself quit. When my mom and my boyfriend suggested I stop writing, I immediately thought it wasn’t an option — I have to finish what I started. But then I realized that they were concerned with my I’m-fat-and-ugly mentality and that they were probably right, it’s time to call it quits. I’m 21 years old and 130 pounds. My first priority doesn’t have to be weight loss, especially when it’s leading to something unhealthy.  Even though I made a commitment, in this case, it is okay to put my own best interest first.

I’ve taken so many positive things away from this experience that it would be hard for me to ever regret it. I just know that if I do not stop now, I could end up right back where I was in high school — with a skewed body image and an unhealthy obsession.

My goal was to lose 18 pounds, and I fell short, only having lost 8. My ultimate goal, however, was to learn how to better take care of myself, and if I want to reach that goal, I have to say goodbye to the Lose the Freshman 15 blog.

 

Thank you for reading,

Samantha

I am a junior studying News-Editorial Journalism at the University of Illinois. When I'm not writing and editing for HC Illinois, I work as the Features Editor of the Daily Illini. I am also the vice president of the Society of Professional Journalists on the UI campus as well as the computer chair for the Iota chapter of Delta Gamma. Writing is my passion and I hope to one day move to New York City and work for a magazine, writing feature stories and investigative pieces. I love HC Illinois because I have so much fun writing stories for collegiettes™and reading stories by my amazing peers.
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