What Happened When I Gained the Freshman 15

If you google “freshman 15” some of the top articles are advice on how to “avoid” or “beat” the common experience of gaining weight in your first year of college. However, I’m glad I gained the freshman 15. As a result of this feared phenomena I have had noticeable benefits in my mental and physical health. 

My experience certainly isn’t universal. To give some context, when I was in high school I was working out 6 days a week and would generally do 2 workouts 3 days a week because I did multiple sports. I ate a ton, but since I was working out so much I was always hungry. During my first semester in college, I didn’t have time to work out as much as I used to, and on top of that, I got mono so I was sleeping most of the day for months. In other words, I was a lot less active. To be clear, while I was gaining most of the weight I was absolutely miserable since I was sick, so this article is about the differences I’ve seen between before and after. 

The biggest change in how I feel afterward is that I’m not as cold all of the time. Before, I would need a coat most of the year and was constantly turning up the heat. Now that I have more fat on my body, I enjoy the winter more because I’m not always cold. This was definitely the most unexpected benefit of the freshman 15. 

person kneels to tie their running shoes. they are wearing a coat and a hat and appear to be on a bridge  

Before I started college, I had started learning about intuitive eating. When I started college I tried to follow this approach as closely as possible, so I’m not sure if being less preoccupied with food was a result of intuitive eating or gaining some weight. Either way, since I’m not always hungry and always trying to eat as many calories as possible, food is not on my mind all the time. This has allowed me to focus my energy on things that are more important. 


After gaining the freshman 15, I have also noticed that my clothes fit and look better on me. I now have hips— at least more than I used to. I don’t need a belt as often. I fill out bras better. I look less angular; Instead, I look and feel more comfortable in everything I wear. I'm more confident in my appearance!

Two Hanged Blue Stonewash And Blue Jeans  

Finally, after I recovered from mono, I started getting active again. I had a way easier time gaining muscle than I ever had, despite the fact that I don’t work out as much as I did in the past. I have seen so much progress that I didn’t before. Again, (after I recovered) I have been sick way less than before. Overall, my physical health has not declined in the way I had feared it would.

This article is not going to tell you everything that will happen if you gain weight in your freshman year. But it is here to show that there are benefits from any change. Gaining weight (as long as you and your doctor consider you healthy) is not something to be feared. Many people, especially women, will gain weight in college due to many different reasons and its time to destigmatize that.