I thought it was a myth. I thought it was something people say to scare us newbies, freshmen, but it is real. My bony chicken legs started to look like jumbo carnival size turkey legs. My flat as a table tummy deformed into a Kangaroo pouch. I am appalled at myself. I gained weight. I let the savory, succulent, southern food transform me into Shamu the whale. I saw all the signs. So I should not be surprised, right? Wrong. Hopefully, my testimony will keep you from enduring the insufferable 15 pounds that haunts me now.
As my parents were leaving the dorm after Freshman Orientation, my mom warned me, “Rachel, do not get fat down here.” I was not worried about that because my metabolism was my holy grail. I went through eating spurts, but never gained weight. I was always the tall skinny girl. I was the same size throughout high school. However, by the end of my freshman year of college, I gained 25 pounds! Forget the Freshman 15.
The delicious dangers of attending an HBCU (historically black college university) were too much for me to deny. Just as the character Mr. Gaines in A Different World kept Hillman students fed on down home goodness, so too my HBCU feed me with soul food. I was swept off my feet by Fried Chicken Wednesdays, Catfish Fridays, peach cobbler, and any other southern delicacies my university offered. The dining hall was not the only source I relied on to keep me satisfied. There was a smorgasbord of take-out menus at the front desk of my dorm, where I was more than welcome to indulge in Italian, Chinese, and Mexican dishes.
My real enemy that destroyed me was boredom. I grew up in a big city and was always out and about. In college, I was in a small town with an disproportionate amount of time and nothing to do. To overcome that boredom, I ate. The only thing I did was eat, go to class, and binge watch endless Netflix series. I was knee deep in a medium Domino’s pizza and nine seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. I would wake up in the middle of the night and finish eating the pizza. I was obsessed with the food cocoon I had wrapped myself in. Reality did not start creeping at my door until I started to see my double chin. Even then I ignored it. By the time I realized what I had done, I could not fit any of my clothes from the summer prior. It felt like my life had fallen in shambles. I had never been over weight before. I was always the tall skinny girl. Now I was the double chin tall girl with a kangaroo pouch who could not fit her clothes. I immediately headed toward the gym.
I avoided face-timing my friends and family so they could not see me. I figured I had enough time to work some of the fat off before school was over. I was like a criminal trying cover my tracks. Unfortunately, like most criminals, I was caught. My mother was not bullying me over my weight, just more concerned about the long-term effects on my health because a family member recently had a health scare caused by weight gain.
Now that I aware of my habits, I have begun to change. Eating three times a day on a schedule is a big way to help prevent extra weight gain. For me that meant no eating at late hours while I watched Netflix. I could not eat just because I was bored. My health became a family affair with my sisters encouraging me to work out with them. My mom made a habit of not buying any junk food, only fruit and veggies and making smoothies. Being in the city for the summer helps because I am busy with internships, hanging out with friends, and enjoying the city.
For sophomore year, I must find other activities that will keep me active and an exercise buddy. When I return to campus, food will not be my extracurricular activity. Good bye extra chin and hello to a new healthy me.
Editor’s note: If you are struggling with weight issues, please consult your doctor and/or a therapist. Seek help, start by understanding HERE.