After high school graduation and heading into college, I heard lots of chatter and worry about the dreaded freshman 15. I was told to “watch out”, and to “keep an eye on what I was eating” as if weight gain was the ultimate enemy. There was always talk about how easy it is to enter the dining halls and essentially lose control. When I finally got to college, it felt like the Freshman 15 monster was lurking behind me during every meal.
With diet culture always in full swing and social media reinforcing impossible body standards, I took things a little too far. By the end of first semester at college, I was tracking my food and attempting to eat as little as 1200 calories in addition to going to the gym for 2 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not only was this routine harmful to my physical health (gotta have a rest day or three) but it has been just as harmful to my mental health.
I checked the mirror every day to see if I had lost weight or looked more ‘athletic’. I was canceling on lunch plans with my friends because I needed to go to the gym or needed to eat at a ‘healthier’ restaurant. I would even plan and write out my whole day’s schedule revolving around the food I was going to eat. It was safe to say, I was being controlled by the invisible monster. Most of my freshman year was truly a mess of numbers, treadmills, and salad.
Now, this story is not to upset you or sadden you. It is also not to gain sympathy or attention. The attention should not be put on me, but instead the issue at hand:
The Freshman 15 and the expectations that we should stay the same weight from high school into adulthood(???). Excuse me, I think there are very few of us that look the same and have the same body type as we did in high school. I have more meat on my bones, more fat on my hips, and a nice stomach pouch from all the desserts.
Of course, this article is not to encourage unhealthy eating either because we all need our vegetables, vitamins, proteins, etc… Choosing options that fuel your body and taste delicious at the same time is possible people (sweet potatoes, baby)!
Let me also reiterate that you do not have to eat salads all the time. You do not have to cut out carbs or drink detox tea or go to the gym every day or go on diets. You do not have to be a size 0 to be beautiful. You do not have to be a size 12 to be beautiful. There is no certain size or criteria that you need to fit into. I am still learning to this day.
The ‘freshman 15’ and the idea that weight gain is embarrassing is downright rude.
Life happens. We fluctuate. Our BMI does not tell the whole story. Your weight will change, your muscle mass will change, your booty size will change. And I am not just talking about women here. I am yelling about all genders. There is no shape or size or height or weight that you should be. Wherever you are at is great.
There should be no competition with your high school friends who can gain the least weight. There should be no pressure to be thin, thicc, or any size for that matter (take up all the space you need).
The idea that you should be staying the same on the outside when you’re changing and becoming a whole new person on the inside is, for lack of a better word, whack. So, live your college life. Find workouts that you enjoy- group fitness, cycling, yoga, hiking, skiing. Drink coffee with creamer in it, eat a whole pizza, walk on the treadmill while you study (it works, I’ve done it), go out on the weekends, join intramural sports, and let your body breathe. I know from experience that restriction is not any fun. Gain some weight, stay the same weight, or lose some weight- your body will do what it wants. But life is too short to worry about it. F the freshman 15.