The dreaded Freshman 15, the term coined for the weight gained after enjoying the new-found freedoms of university life. The focal point of almost all conversations taking place in the caf. The reason girls would pile in a dorm room and weigh themselves directly after a visit to the MAC. In response to all of this, what follows is my handy-dandy guide to never have the Freshman 15 happen to you.
The first step is to not acknowledge the concept to begin with. The freshman 15 is just another unneeded voice plaguing the minds of college women reinforcing that their looks are more important than their mental health. Take it from me, a college woman recovering from an eating disorder that stemmed from needing to look perfect going into my freshman year.
I spent every Thursday morning of my first semester at Rockhurst trekking a total of 40 minutes to my therapist and dietician for help. At my appointments I was told to not weigh myself, look at calories, and portion my servings. Immediately upon return to campus, girls would yell down the hall asking who had a scale because they felt piggy that day. It was patronizing to be learning the ins and outs of calculus while simultaneously re-learning how to eat. Eventually, I got the hang of eating well, but the constant reminder of the freshman 15 set back my recovery tenfold. And the hardest part about recovery was acknowledging that those pounds were desperately needed.
Instead of offering weight loss tips, I will leave what I found most helpful to my recovery as a freshman in college. Humans naturally gain weight during times when their lifestyle changes. Starting college is one of the most drastic (and fun) lifestyle changes that one can experience. No one is meant to be the weight they were at 15 while also having internships, classes and clubs.
I thought of it like this: would I rather be 15, skinnier, and getting picked up by my mom after cross country, or 19 with a job, friends, independence, and a college life? College is exciting and new, and bodily changes are typical and miniscule in comparison to the amount of joy and fun that accompanies a new life at a new school.
While the Freshman 15 is a catchy phrase heard in the dorms, don’t make it a big deal. Your brain will be challenged enough with finding your new classes, and it doesn’t need the anxiety that surrounds natural weight fluctuations. Be kind to yourself and your body, because if not, you can quickly spiral yourself into a dieticians office when you should be sleeping in.