I'm really going out on a limb with this post. It wasn't easy to write, nor was it comfortable to make public. I debated about this post for many weeks before today.
It's no secret that college kids typically gain weight. Four years of late-night Papa John's, Keystone and jungle juice (full of who knows what), dining hall "food," fast food splurges, and local restaurant binges... combined with all-nighters, unspeakable weekend hours, and "priorities" above hitting the gym religiously will do that to ya. It's easy to gain weight if you passively allow it to happen. I certainly was guilty. Living proof:
Freshman year, December (that's my long-time friend, Will)
Sophomore year, March
Junior year, June
Senior year, September (with my sorority sisters)
First-year grad student, February!
Whether or not you can tell from the pictures, the difference is pronounced. I'm not quite back to the size I was when I entered UG school at Longwood, but the
whole point is not to focus on my weight or my size. The point is that I'm eating, exercising, and feeling better than ever! I'm also proud of my body -- I know that I don't need to be a 00 to feel good about myself or to feel comfortable in my own skin. I don't feel it necessary to be tan year-round, and I'm perfectly fine combing the beach in a one-piece. Please don't misunderstand me -- more power to you if you're naturally quite thin or if your thing is fake-baking, it's just not mine.
When I moved into my own apartment in August of 2011, I decided that things would be different. No more microwaveable Lean Cuisines -- it would take two for me to feel full, and I was convincing myself that they contained all the nutrition I needed. Done with the Toaster Strudels and eggs sunny-side up four times a week. Ban the empty calories I was consuming regularly (Doritos and queso blanco, Pop-Tarts, Smarties, frosted animal crackers, Reese's Puffs, five-cheese or sun-dried tomato alfredo sauce, premade Starbuck's frappuccinos, real Coke, weekly thin crust pizzas, weekly Ben & Jerry's Mission to Marzipan... need I go on?)... Forget the constant "BTN" workouts and the occasional fresh fruits and veggies. As a lacto-ovo pescetarian, I knew I wasn't getting everything I needed to stay healthy; I just didn't want to admit it to myself because I didn't want to give anything up.
My fridge and pantry are now stocked with fat-free Chobani Greek yogurt; fresh tomato, blueberries, bananas, cucumber, onion, and mushrooms; brown rice; Kashi cereals; Vitamin Water; Smart Balance light margarine; fat-free dairy creamer; skim milk; light salad dressings; sodium-free canned and frozen veggies; meatless chicken and burger options; wholesome, natural granola bars; and sugar-free dessert items. I don't have to swear off of dessert, or cheese, or even pizza. I just balance what I choose to put in my body, and I consume "junk" in moderation.
There will always be room for improvement, and that's what excites me most.
I promise I'm not trying to be a martyr; I'm merely speaking out about how easily I gained weight and simultaneously lost a great deal of self-esteem. I'd be lying to you if I didn't tell you that I engage myself daily in a struggle to lose weight healthily and keep it off. I waver between wanting to choose a doughnut in Ian's dining hall versus granola and skim milk. I definitely crave soda sometimes, especially when I'm looking for a little caffeine boost and that 10 a.m. cup of Joe isn't cutting it anymore. But my real, true point is that I have made these choices in my life. No one pressured me, coerced me, coaxed me, pushed me, or pulled me. I decided I wanted to look and feel different, so I did something healthy about it. I'm happy, and I'm proud.
And that's really all there is to say :)