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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Miami chapter.

Diet culture in college is rampant and takes over the lives of many students, both boys and girls. Whether it be girls limiting their calories before going out, or guys obsessing over their gym routine, college students everywhere face body image struggles due to the intense pressure created by social media and by the environment as well.

Unfortunately, I’ve experienced some of the worst of this.

As a freshman in college, I struggled to find a balance between school and exercise after playing sports all throughout high school. I found myself extremely unmotivated, and as a result was more inactive than I had ever been in my life. By the end of the year I was out of shape and unhappy. 

As anyone else in this situation would, I found myself determined to lose weight and eat healthier. I spent that entire summer working on myself, both physically and mentally. 

When I got back to Miami for my sophomore year, my eating habits turned unhealthy quickly. I was constantly comparing myself to those around me, counting calories, suppressing my appetite with gum and water, and hesitant to join my friends in late night eats and nice dinners.

Luckily, I was able to realize the adverse effects this was having on my personal life after a few months– low energy, missed plans and opportunities, and most importantly, I missed the foods I used to love. 

I began to incorporate these foods back into my diet- burgers, pizza, cookies, ice cream, and all the other foods I pretended to not care for during my disordered eating state are now a part of my life again. 

I now know how to properly nourish my body before going out, and I understand that the memories I’ll create having late night Domino’s with my friends are irreplaceable, no matter what sort of ideal body size I was striving for.

While this has benefited me socially, it has also made a clear difference in my academics. I’m more attentive during class and can focus on my schoolwork better than I did in the past. I spend my time studying and actually focusing on the material, rather than being fixated on my hunger or what my next meal will be.

Our bodies are the least important thing about us, and a number on a scale does not define us. Learning to accept this has allowed me to thrive in college. I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world; without going through all this I don’t believe I would be where I am today.

I'm a junior studying Sport Administration at the University of Miami. I want to shine as a woman in the sport industry, as I've been an athlete my whole life and I'm really passionate about baseball and football. I love fitness and am a huge advocate for wellness and finding a good balance of everything while at school.