The Freshman Fifteen

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

I don’t know what to think about the Freshman Fifteen. I’m seeing lots of articles about how to avoid them, but I’m wondering how helpful they are.

When I started college, I had already been trained to obsess about my weight. Not only had I been starved every summer by my grandparents, I was the friend of a cheerleader. I learned about worshipping the porcelain goddess and no matter how many times Seventeen magazine told me it wasn’t healthy, I wished that I could have an eating disorder that would make me thin.

I dieted throughout my Freshman year. I started running programs; running programs with too much running and not enough walking. I ate only salads at the cafeteria; salads with lots of ranch dressing and those yummy rolls that came with them, sopping up every drop of dressing. I still have the food journals from that time period. Once I went four days without eating anything but water with lemon juice and Diet Coke. On the fifth day, I ate an entire box of Twinkies. They weren’t even fresh Twinkies. They were the stale ones that you buy at the day-old bread store.

Did I gain weight Freshman year? Yes. Did I gain fifteen pounds? No. Did I learn any healthy habits during that year? Not a chance. What would I tell a Freshman about the Freshman Fifteen? I don’t have a clue. If I could go back in time and give myself some advice, what would it be? That’s a question I can answer:

  • Don’t obsess about it: Forget about dieting this year. Just stop it. You’re good enough the way you are and you don’t need to starve yourself or exercise to extremes. Here’s the big secret that you never learned in high school: Dieting makes you feel deprived, which makes you overeat. If you stop dieting, you’ll have a happier year. You might still gain weight, but at least you’ll be happier.

  • Make sure you don’t get too hungry: You need to eat every two hours. I know Grandma thinks that it’s better to only eat three meals a day, but really, if you eat every two hours, you will feel much better. Pack some fruit and veggies in your backpack and chomp them between classes. That way, you won’t be starved when you get to lunch.

  • Listen to your body: Exercising too hard hurts. Try exercising a little bit every day instead a huge amount once and hurting the rest of the week. Also, don’t eat when you think you “should.” Eat when you’re hungry. If that means that you’re eating at a time that’s inconvenient to everyone else, that’s ok. You’re body is more important than your buddies.

  • Let yourself eat in front of the boys: They think you’re weird when you pretend not to eat in front of them. They worry that you’re stuffing your face the minute they leave, and it’s the truth. Forget about what they think about you and concentrate on whether you’re hungry or not.

I guess that’s all. I don’t even know if that advice would have helped me back then. I’m sure that if I saw this in Seventeen magazine my Freshman year, I would have read that advice and nodded. I would have agreed with every word, but would I have been able to follow it? I don’t know.


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