How To Accept Your Happy Weight

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 Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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An Open Letter To Myself At 15

This is an open letter to myself about things I wish I had known at 15.

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Dear Hailey,

You are so loved. I know times might be hard, but it will all be okay. It's okay to ride the fence and be unsure of what you want to do with your life. You're going to change your mind 10 more times before graduation anyways. Also, don't worry about all of the things that you can't change. You can't make someone fall in love with you or make her treat you like a better friend. It's okay for people not to fit in your life. Stop bending over backward for people and live for yourself. In a few years, you will go through so much, but you come out on the better side. You are going to be successful and driven. Also, learn what the meaning of "self-care" is. You need to do a lot of that in the upcoming years. Mental health is more important than anything. Also, quit cutting your baby hairs. They will never get longer so you need to embrace and love them early on. Figure out what you can change, and what you cannot. Most importantly, accept what you cannot change. When you decide that you are ready to face the things that you can change, do it with your whole heart. That doesn't mean complete perfection. It's important to know the difference. Start by making a plan for the future. Write it down, memorize it, do whatever makes it the easiest for you. Think through your plan logically, take into consideration your strengths and weaknesses. Remember to do the hard things first once in a while, the relief is sweet in the end.

You are ready.

You are young.

You are smart.

You are beautiful.

If you ever feel that you are at your lowest point, just remember the only place that you can go is up. Find reassurance in the weakness. The best is yet to come. Don't take pity on yourself. Instead, work harder to make your situation better. Be happy. There are so many things to be thankful for. Ask when you need help. No one can read your mind. Time won't stop for you. Worrying and stressing is simply a waste of time. Be strong and know that you are in God's hands. Everything will work out. It may not be today or tomorrow, but eventually, the pieces will fall into place and you will understand why things had to happen that way.

Love,

Me

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