The Truth About Your Weight in College

Whether you have a health problem, have realized the horrors of the dreaded "Freshman 15", or you just feel as though you have a never-ending struggle with your weight- the first thing I will tell you is that you are not alone.

                       

Soon after I turned 18, I began to rapidly gain weight. No matter how much I exercised or what I ate the numbers on the scale steadily grew higher. After many tears and doctor’s appointments, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism a few months into my freshman year in college. I found an endocrinologist that helped me get my thyroid back on track and my weight slowly began to level out, but the damage was done. I was heavier than my body frame wanted to allow and I was uncomfortable everyday with what I saw in the mirror. I would hide my bad eating habits in the drawers of my dorm room and when I was stressed out, I would eat large amounts of food, food that I hoped would make me feel better.  Over time, I began to realize that I was an emotional eater, as in, I ate my feelings when things became difficult in life. Working out was also an issue; when I wouldn’t see results after working out for a certain amount of time, I would give up and go back to my old bad habits. It was a vicious cycle and I felt that I was alone in my struggle.

 Everyone, yes I mean everyone, has something they don’t like about their bodies. I could give you facts and statistics about how women really feel about who they are but I’m sure the only place you have to go is your friends or classmates to hear the truth.

The habits that you begin in college may follow you for the rest of your life. The first thing you need to do is start looking at your lifestyle and analyzing whether how you are living is how you want to live in your later years. Bad habits are one of the main reasons why we gain weight. Maybe it’s the late night snack from the vending machine or that muffin you have in the dining hall every morning.  I’m not saying that every now and then your favorite treat is a bad thing- I’m saying that you know when it gets out of control, yet we tend to ignore it.

As humans, when we are stressed, upset or even just bored, we like what tastes good and what gives us pleasure in that moment. And because we live in the world where high calorie and delicious foods are in reach, we have the mentality that “if I eat this then maybe what I’m thinking about will go away”, and it may… yet only for the moment .

The cold hard truth is that changing these eating habits are not easy. Being prepared each week with healthy food options is a great start to a better lifestyle, yet what happens when you crave one of the brownies your roommate brought from home? Again, letting yourself indulge isn’t the problem- it’s the mentality that you have afterwards. It can go a few ways: you could either feel that your health plans are ruined for the day and slip back into old habits, you go back for seconds because you think that it will taste better the second time around (it doesn’t), or you enjoy one brownie yet continue with your healthy lifestyle. You don’t punish yourself, you don’t make yourself feel that you have to exercise every ounce of that brownie off- you just let it be another decision you have made in your life for that one day. This is usually where many of us fail to stick to a healthy lifestyle; we beat ourselves up over things that shouldn’t really be that big of an issue. We start bad habits through our thinking and we continue them when we feel as though there is nothing we can do to help ourselves up from the ground.

The eating habits we succumb to sometimes have a greater meaning. Getting to the root of your stressors in your life and finding out new ways to cope with them that doesn’t involve food is never easy. There are a few tips that can help this:

  • Write down what you are feeling at that moment and what is happening in that particular time in your life
  • Wait for 15 minutes. Just set a timer and just give yourself those 15 minutes to really just think about why you want this food so badly. If those 15 minutes are up and you are still hungry for whatever you are craving, then let yourself indulge in a small portion. The main idea of this exercise is that (usually) cravings are just that- cravings. You need to realize that those cravings and a need for a certain food does not exist.
  • Test your trivia knowledge, read up on interesting articles, or watch a show that will take all of your focus. 
  • Take a long shower or turn on your favorite music that makes you feel genuinely happy

Remember that most of this life is encased in a balancing act, and gaining weight in college is not an exception.  The habits that we create in college will follow us into greater adulthood whether we want them to or not. Knowing how to deal with these issues and help ourselves is the greatest part of the battle. 

You got this, girl.