How To Accept Your 'Happy Weight' In 2019

How To Accept Your 'Happy Weight' In 2019

Happy Weight (noun): Weight you gain from actively living your best life.

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I've long been told the horror stories of the Freshman 15. The age-old advice of, "Take the stairs" echoes through my mind when I think of the concept. Graduates from my high school would frequently return with terrifying tales about the weight they'd gained during their first year of college, so I was trained to perceive the "15" as a depressing measure of the stress-induced binge eating caused by the toughness of University life. Though this may be the experience for some I find that after my first quarter of college, the 15 pounds I've put on that keeps me from easing into what were my most favorite dresses is comprised of the "happy weight" I've gained from making the most of a new way of life.

"Happy weight" is a new term for me. Though many would call it the weight someone gains after being in a great relationship, I choose to see it as the weight someone gains from maximizing their life experiences; literally living life to the fullest- which is what I tried my best to do this quarter. After late nights out, my friends and I would laugh about our funniest moments over the ever-delectable De Neve Late Night chicken tenders (and milkshakes, if the machine was working). We huddled around a small laptop, wolfing down popcorn as Sandra Bullock described her master plan in Ocean's 8. We celebrated birthdays with cannolis, finished midterms with chocolate, and treated ourselves to ice cream in the dining hall (especially if it was a hard day).

The paragraphs above make it seem like I welcomed this weight, but this perspective only comes after forcing myself to rebrand the traditional resentment I usually have toward my weight gain. Growing up in a culture defined by food, I was always a little bigger. I've felt insecure about my body for as long as I can remember. As early as fifth grade I found myself tearing out the workout routines of Seventeen Magazine, desperately trying to minimize my food while maximizing my exhaustion after exercising. I condemned myself for loving food, which I usually ate surrounded by family and friends laughing until my stomach hurt. Looking back, my "skinniest" times were when I felt extreme pain; I saw exercise as a means of distracting myself from rejection or heartache, only turning to food once more when I felt happy enough to enjoy myself.

For someone with this past, accepting my weight gain after my first quarter has been a challenge, to say the least, but I've decided to reframe my perception of this weight and accept myself in a two-step process.

1. Realize that my weight gain is from "happy" weight, and instead see it as a positive relic of the awesome first quarter I created for myself.

2. Treat it with a growth mindset.

Stanford University's Carol Dweck has popularized this mindset in the classroom by stating that teachers should use "yet" statements for their students. For example, if students don't pass a test for the next level of the class, they do not fail but are told they are "not yet" ready for the remainder of the course and encouraged to try again. I choose to use this mindset to accept my "happy weight" by telling myself that it is not that I have failed in becoming the ideal body type, but that I have work to do in reaching my ideal self. Working out or making an effort to live a healthier lifestyle is then not an effort to escape a body I loathe but contributing to the evolution of my best self.

My Freshman 15 is nothing to be ashamed of but something to be proud of, for it means I'm truly living my best life.

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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To The High School Counselor I Wouldn't Have Made It To College Without

I couldn't have made it through high school without her and now even college.

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Dear best counselor ever,

When I came into Blake High School I had no idea what to expect. I was a scared, confused, lost freshman. Coming into a school that my sister had just graduated from there were some familiar faces, yours being one of them. You were my sister's high school counselor for four years and then mine. But, you weren't just a counselor you were a friend.

Anytime I came into to your office you were there for me. You became more of a mother figure to me than a staff member. The endless times I came into your office with endless problems you were always there to help. When we lost two seniors my junior year your door was open for me and the rest of your students when we couldn't bear to go to class. When I couldn't handle my biology teacher anymore you were there for me to vent to. When I had testing anxiety you opened up a quiet space for me to take my tests. When I didn't know how to apply for colleges or what I even wanted in a college you were there for me. When they tried to switch my last name to a different counselor you kept me.

You were truly the role model, friend, mom, staff member I needed at Blake. I loved coming into your office and just talking to you about everything. I don't know how I would've survived four years without you and even survive college now. Every time I come home which isn't often your door is still open. I come home you ask how college is going and you're proud. You expect the best out of me and it makes me expect the best out of myself. I know how hard you work and I just want you to know that I couldn't have done it without you. When I was scared to go to a school fourteen hours away, away from my family and everyone I knew, you told me to follow my heart. My heart led me to Alabama and I couldn't be happier.

As you go back to school from winter break I want you to know how appreciated you are because I really don't know where I would be without a great friend like you. I walked across the stage at graduation looking at all the faces I would be leaving as I took the journey to Alabama. When you called my name I knew that was where my journey started. They handed me a red rose at the end of the stage. We were told to give it to someone who made a difference in our four years at Blake. I gave it to you not only because you made a difference in those four years, but because you made a difference in my whole life and taught me so many lessons that I couldn't have taught myself. I am stilling learning so much and I can't wait to tell you all about it the next time I come to your office.

Love,

Your favorite student (hopefully)

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