Student Experience Blog

Freshmen Fifteen and Advice from my Mom

“Be kind and take care of yourself.” -Kat’s Mom.

The freshmen fifteen is defined as a rite of passage. It’s not necessarily a product of overeating or even the binge drinking but sometimes a combination of the two, stress, and the shock of a brand-new environment. Everyone has a different combination of causes, but whatever they turn out to be, the freshmen fifteen is kind of a natural happening.

For me, the combination fell in the medical field. Turns out, my freshmen year a benign brain tumor started forming somewhere in between my pituitary gland and optic nerves. It grows and pushes against my pituitary gland (the gland responsible for producing and regulating hormones) and confuses my entire body. This causes spikes in hormone levels, along with a number of other side effects.

But one of the biggest ones is it made me gain weight. Quite suddenly, too.

The medicine doesn’t help in this department, either. But after a couple years of taming and controlling the now harmless tumor, I am left with twenty pounds of flab. And I have no idea how to get rid of it.

In high school, I was quite active. Multiple sports, a fancy for frequent running, and a fast metabolism left me skinny as a twig, weighing in at a solid 110 pounds. I’m pretty short, but according to my doctor, that size to weight ratio was pretty healthy. But since coming to college, I had to completely reinvent my routines (I couldn’t eat every two hours like I was used to, because the café was only open certain hours. I couldn’t go to bed early and wake up early because of homework. I couldn’t run around the neighborhood because I had no idea where I was). Stress from difficult classes was not helping, either.

Long story short: I let myself go.

The worst part was trying to start back up again after losing all of my fitness. Every. Last. Bit. I would start a workout plan, eat healthy, but always get discouraged after the first two days because “I’ve let it get this far.”

Even my grandmother said my face had “rounded out” since I started college.

So. After a fair amount of going back and forth between getting worse and starting to work out, I realized it wasn’t about my size or how I looked or how much I gained--it was how much I started to hate myself.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve always hated myself. But that was because I was weird in high school, or that I didn’t have cool shoes, or I forgot to record Master Chef for the third Wednesday in a freaking row. But I was starting to actually hate myself. I was hard on my mistakes, and never cut myself any slack.

Please be kind to yourselves. College is a messy time for everyone, and we all will receive it differently. For many, it’s gaining fifteen pounds during freshmen year. Just keep in mind: you are young. Your body is still developing. There is still time to change things, and if you decide to, it won’t be easy. But you can do it.

It’s been nearly four weeks and I’m back to working out regularly. I’m trying to cut sugar from my diet, as well as eat, sleep, and be healthier. It was really hard starting again, but I’m starting to feel good again. The twenty pounds of flab isn’t going away any time soon, but hey. I’m actually doing it. And that’s something to be proud of.

Kat Lizarraga is a senior creative writing major from Los Angeles, California.