Pre-College Weight and Body
As a kid, I was incredibly skinny, and heard a constant refrain from adults of “one day it’ll catch up to you!”
I stayed thin all through elementary school and high school, though I did gain a small amount of weight in Grade 10 when I quit phys ed class. Still, I was never concerned with weight or health and often, when my parents went on diets, they fed me all the food they wished they could eat.
I somehow managed to stave off the Freshman Fifteen (the weight part, not the grades) through university, even into my second year when I lived off-campus. I attribute it to not wanting or knowing how to cook, thus eating a lot of things like scrambled eggs and grilled chicken breasts, and living far enough away from campus both years that I was guaranteed a half-hour walk each day. I also did a lot of walking around the city, thanks to my habit of constantly missing the bus.
The summer before I moved for college was the skinniest I’ve ever been as an adult. I lived in Kitchener, and routinely missed the bus to Waterloo, thus meaning a 30-minute walk each way every time I had to go to the bus terminal.
How I Gained the College Weight (And More)
Living on my own for the first time for college, the weight stayed off. Every once in a while my dad would visit and feed me a hearty meal, but most days I just snacked or ate pre-packaged food. My workplace was a twenty-minute walk away, so I usually had daily walks working in my favour still.
My weight and health never seemed like a pressing issue to me until my second year of college, around age 20, when I gained a lot after an indulgent summer working in British Columbia. I lived on a steady diet of beer and hamburgers, and found myself overweight for the first time. When I came back to Ontario I had to go shopping with my sister for an all-new, larger wardrobe. The weight slowly came off through the year, but I spent another summer in BC the following year and wound up at my all-time highest weight.
I moved from there to northern Ontario, with a suitcase full of clothes that became too large for me in a few months, just by not being in BC anymore and laying off of the booze and bar food. But, now owning a vehicle, my walks dropped off to zero, and starting a new relationships meant a lot of late night snacking in front of the TV, cozy breakfasts, and elaborate dinners.
Worse yet, my health was falling apart (and had been for three years) with chronic, recurring stomachaches that sometimes got so bad it hurt to move. I ate indiscriminately, snacking on whatever looked good regardless of calories or nutritional content. I drank a lot of alcohol, and while I got some exercise through hikes, fishing and geocaching, I felt thoroughly out of shape trying to keep up. I realized how unhappy I was with my body while trying to find clothes for my Gramma’s funeral in November 2010 — my mother and I spent over an hour trying on dresses, and I was still displeased with how I looked in the full-length mirror the morning of the funeral.
Christmas 2010 came and went with the usual gluttony, my birthday went by with an ungodly amount of rich food and booze, and come February 2011, I was tired, sick, heavy and uncomfortable. It was time for a change.
Resources I Used for Losing the College Weight
In mid-February, I decided it was time to make a change for good, and lose that pesky college weight, plus all the additional ‘comfy relationship’ weight.
I started by simply tracking what I was eating to get a sense of how my calories and nutrition were breaking down each day. I stumbled across My Plate on livestrong.com, first by finding the iTunes app. It allowed me to punch in my weight, how much I wanted to lose per week, and gave me a caloric goal to hit each day, that changed as my weight changed. I could track the food I ate, and any fitness activity. The fitness activity negated some of the calories, which I was encouraged to eat back — the idea being that the more you exercise, the more freedom you have when it comes to food.
Initially in using this, my only goal was to lose weight. But as I tracked calories I realized I could eat a lot more and feel a lot better if I focused on fruits, vegetables, and grains and not processed foods. Gradually, as the weeks went on, I eliminated more and more processed foods and began to see a change in weight.
Subtract the Fat was also helpful. This site allows you to enter your weight (and body fat, if you measure it) each day. It creates a running average, so those 160 pound to 167 pound jumps get smoothed out into increments of a pound. You can enter a weight loss per week goal, like on My Plate, or you can enter a weight you would like to be by a certain date and it will fill in the weekly blanks. It will tell you how well you’re doing, including a projected weight.
Where I was previously discouraged by a huge fluctuation, despite weighing myself on the same scale every morning when I woke up, now I can look at it on a larger scale and see that, even if I’ve gained a pound, I’ve actually lost a bit off my average since the beginning.
As I continued making these changes I found it constantly easier. Simple, healthy eating became more natural to me. While I have changed my way of eating several times since then, from dairy-free to keto and everything in between, I am grateful for this period in my life, when I finally lost the college weight and kickstarted a healthier lifestyle.