Nobody every described me as a “small” girl; I always shopped in the medium section and needed size 8 jeans to fit over my thighs. I was average. I was fit. I was confident, happy, and blissfully unaware. Being a five-letter varsity athlete, I didn’t need to think about living an active lifestyle. I was seventeen and ran two hours a day at practice. I never stopped to think about what would happen once that routine ended because I was invincible. I was 140 pounds.
My freshman year of college the weight started to creep on slowly: so slowly that I hardly even noticed. It was a ring that no longer fit. Jeans that cut into my waistline. It was in the subtle signs that I could ignore. Everyone gains a little weight when they go to college, right? I don’t have anything to worry about. I don’t need to change my life. The freshman 15 is certainly real– just look at the available food, the parties, and the activities–but by the start of my sophomore year, I was 184 pounds.
I remember looking at candid photograph a friend had taken. We were all laughing around the grill and celebrating the end of a great summer. Among the smiling faces was one girl who was so much larger than her friends and didn’t smile in her eyes. Oh gosh, who is that?? I thought to myself, and then, in horror, I realized it was me.
What had happened to me? I had let my once active, happy, healthy self disappear into a void of sedentary sadness. I wasn’t the same person– and not in a good way.
Charles Dickens was right on the money: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…
Yes, I had had amazing times with my friends eating out, going to parties and living the college experience. But in experiencing the best of times, I had let my health and body fall from the list of priorities. As I became wiser from my classes, I was acting foolish in my lifestyle choices. I had reached my tipping point, but I had a very long road ahead of me before I got back to the person I once was.
When my parents were visiting, my mom took me to my first Weight Watchers meeting. I was thankful for the help but embarrassed. I didn’t feel like I belonged with the soccer moms carefully counting their food and points. I was 20— none of my friends followed a diet plan. None of my friends had to drive to the meetings. None of my friends had to step on a scale every week and talk about their experiences to a group. None of my friends had do to that.
Turns out, being forced to swallow my pride was the changing point in my life. Today, after two and half years of effort, I am 128 pounds. I am more toned than I ever was in high school. My legs, which I once thought would never fit in anything smaller than an 8, slide effortlessly into size 4. Today, friends and family tell me how little I am. Size and weight are not the only measures of success, but living an active lifestyle makes me happier than I have ever been.
Find out next time what the journey to a healthy, happy me was really like. Keep reading every week as I give you the real talk, no bullshit version of what an active lifestyle really is.
Collegian writer Hayley Blackburn can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @hayley_blckbrn. Leave a comment!