When I arrived at college last year I was quite underweight. The summer before coming to college was the healthiest I had ever been but it still was not sufficient. While many of my classmates tried to avoid the freshman fifteen, I fully embraced it. I did not expect to gain much weight at all because I had struggled with weight gain my entire life, however, the urban legend proved to be true and I gained the freshman fifteen.

The Process

platter, feast, spread, tea
Charlie Foster

I’m a very social person so in high school I spent most of my lunchtime chatting instead of chewing; however, in college I was able to organize my own schedule so that lunch could be both a social gathering and a feast. This change contributed to my weight gain. I also found that once I started to gain weight I did not lose it as easily. In high school, I would typically lose five pounds every time I had a cold. Although it is still not fun to get sick, it is not nearly as dangerous because it no longer changes my weight. 

I also have anxiety, which would often work its way into my eating habits. Whether I was too stressed about something to make time to eat, or I was afraid that my food could make me sick or choke I ate less than I needed to because of it. I still have anxiety but I am now able to stop channeling it into eating. I have not fully decoded why I was so underweight but the more positive changes that I make now, the better I am able to understand potential causes.  

The Result

Muffins Coming Out Of The Oven photo by Taylor Grote (@taylor_grote) on Unsplash

on unsplash

I can finally eat for enjoyment and not for calories. I do not have to choose the meal with the highest amount of calories anymore but I never have to opt for a low calorie dish either. It is important that I make healthy choices when I eat, however, these choices are for my general well-being and not my waist line. Although I did not always understand how unhealthy I was, I was always very aware that I was the skinniest person in the room because people never failed to bring it to my attention. I still find myself looking around from time to time when I’m half way through a cheeseburger to see who looks shocked; but no one does. I finally have the luxury of eating without people staring at me. I still look thin but I no longer seem unhealthy.

When I reference gaining the freshman fifteen to people who did not know me before, they are shocked because they struggle to picture me being fifteen pounds lighter. It is not easy to try to imagine your friend looking sick. What they don't know is that the summer before coming to college was the healthiest I had ever been, and that for years I was much more than just fifteen pounds underweight. Those who knew me in high school are relieved to see me finally looking healthy. For many people, pointing out weight gain is considered rude however when you used to be underweight it is a compliment. In addition to helping me physically, the freshman fifteen has also allowed me to reflect on my past. 


cake, carrot cake, cream, carrot, bread, pastry
Alexandra Clark

In high school, I knew that I was skinny and I did make an effort to gain weight however I did not fully understand the severity of my situation until I gained the weight. Recently I was flipping through old photographs which lead me to pull up old medical charts; the results were frightening. It is hard to fathom how I reached such a low weight and even had the energy and ability to still be so involved in school. I'm fortunate that I did not do serious damage to my body.

I never had a drastic weight drop so being underweight was simply my reality. Now that I'm no longer underweight I can see the danger that I was in. This does not change my past but it will help me to maintain a healthy weight for the future. I also have a greater appreciation now for my family who tried to help me gain weight. At the time it felt like a nuisance but now I know that they always had my best interest in mind. 

Since gaining the freshman fifteen, I have been happier and healthier. Being underweight was a huge weight on my shoulders; I’m relieved that after all this time my health is no longer at risk because of my weight. I’m still trying to discover exactly why I was always so skinny but for now I am going to enjoy the balance of eating cupcakes and carrots