We all say it won’t happen, but then it does. The Freshman 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30…etc. Going away to school presents all kinds of new challenges, most of which are unseen. I remember before I set off to university, I told myself, I certainly won’t be part of the Freshman 15 statistic. But, barely 2 terms into my schooling, I most certainly was.
I hit my highest weight in university, I remember the day. I was at the doctor’s office complaining about the birth control pill that I was on. I was convinced that it had made me gain all this horrible weight. I stepped on the scale and it read 147 pounds. I was shocked, embarrassed, and wondered how this all happened.
I asked the doctor what he thought, and if switching to a new pill might magically help me shed this weight that I carried from class to class.
His reply was honest and blunt.
“The birth control pill you have been on is actually marketed for being one of the only birth control pills that doesn’t lead to weight gain…..” He paused.
“Often, in university, it is very easy to consume extra calories without even knowing it…”
He trailed off.
Oh. I thought. Shit.
I was mad at him. How the hell does he know if I have been overeating!
But the truth was, I was mad at myself. I knew that my habits weren’t the best in recent months and I often engaged in emotional binge eating, followed by restricting my intake in a desperate attempt to lose weight.
Seeing my weight hit 147 pounds was a huge wake up call for me.
Eric and I met in grade 12 and we were happy in love. I was doing well with my course work and meeting new people.
But I knew something was missing.
I knew that I was cheating myself out of living life to the fullest.
I was often self-conscious of my appearance and my self-esteem was non-existant. I would often comfort my feelings and insecurities with food.
Eric was the best thing that has ever happened to me and I guess I was afraid of losing him. Little did I know that he felt the same way about me.
Feeling unhappy in your skin can cause many irrational thoughts! Now, looking back at my pictures from different weights, I realized that he didn’t care about any of that. He loved me at all of them. Just like I loved him through his various weights.
However, as we all know, no matter what anyone else says to you, if YOU aren’t happy in your skin, there is nothing anyone else can say to you to make you think otherwise.
I knew I had to get healthier, and slowly, I did. But boy was it a long journey filled with ups and downs. I sometimes feel that if I knew then what I know now…..
Well, you know how it goes anyway.
It is just my hope that by sharing my own experiences, I can help others that may be going down a similar path.
What contributed to my weight gain in university?
Virtually 24 hour access to junk food (dining halls, vending machine down the hall). We had a swipe card to our food, so all we had to do is swipe the card in the vending machine- we didn’t even need money! Food was way too accessible. For a while I was in a habit of getting a Chunky Kit Kat bar from the vending machine every single night! Why? Because I could. It was steps away from my dorm room. *Swwwwipe*
Alcohol. I didn’t drink too often, but when I did it was always a lot.
Emotional Stress eating. It was quite stressful in university for many reasons. Being away from home and family is not as easy as one anticipates. The challenges of an increased workload and stress over grades make emotional eating very easy. It is also very accepted in university to eat junk food late at night to ‘help’ stay awake and study. Looking back, I don’t think it was necessary. Eating junk while studying was more of a crutch and a bad habit after a while- not something that helped me study. In fact, I usually felt worse after eating junk while I studied.
Lack of sleep schedule. My body was not on a great sleep schedule while I was in university. I tended to stay up late and I would either sleep in or I would have to get up early for class. My body was constantly being pulled in both directions. Eventually, something has to give! Looking back, I probably would have benefited a lot if I had stuck to a sleep schedule. Going to bed around the same time each night and getting up around the same time each day will do wonders for your energy levels. Of course, there will be nights that you go out and stay up late, but try the best you can on those nights where you aren’t out with friends.
Comfort eating at home. When Eric and I would go home on some weekends, I tended to comfort eat (and occasionally binge eat as a result of stress). I felt safe at home and content to be away from the stress at school. So I gave myself a free pass to sort of eat whatever I wanted when I went home. My palate was often hungry for new foods, as the monotony of university food can get really boring!
Extreme dieting. In a desperate attempt to lose the weight I had gained, I would try to slash my food intake. This always backfired and led to binges and it created a vicious cycle of restricting and binging that was very hard to break away from. I might lose a couple pounds from cutting my intake drastically, but I would gain it all back, and more, from a binge, usually on the weekend.
It is with disease of the mind, as with those of the body; we are half dead before we understand our disorder, and half cured when we do.~Clergy Caleb Cotton