Gaining Weight in College Made Me so Much Happier

I Gained 30 Pounds My Freshman Year Of College, And It Taught Me How To Truly Love My Body

Gaining weight isn't always a bad thing.

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For as long as I can remember, I have been cursed with the desire to be thin.

I, like too many other people in the world, decided my beauty was dependent on my weight. Even though I felt this way, I never did anything about it. I never went on a diet. I never made a habit of going to the gym. I just let myself be sad about my weight all the time and built up a terrible body image. Then, my senior year of high school happened.

I have always struggled with anxiety issues, but my senior year of high school everything got worse. I was having panic attacks every day and felt more depressed than ever, so of course, eating felt completely unnecessary. I didn't stop eating on purpose, it just kind of happened as a result of my poor mental health. While it wasn't the desire to be thin that drove my eating disorder, I certainly was not upset when I stepped up on the scale at the doctor's office and weighed less than I did for most of middle school. Even though I had lost a good amount of weight, I still thought I was pretty chubby. That's just how it is when you have a distorted body image and don't realize it.

When college started in the fall, I was the happiest I had ever been. My anxiety was under control, I had a great summer, and I was ready for a new chapter in life. I got so busy being happy and distracted that my eating disorder just went away. Poof, gone, just like that. While life did its thing, I ate more, I ate worse, and I exercised a lot less. Worst of all was the dining hall, fully equipped with a dessert table and a soft serve machine. After all of that, I was somehow still surprised when my pants got tighter and eventually didn't fit at all.

Of course, I went through a "mourning period" and cried when I tried to squeeze into a pair of jean shorts on a warm day, but after that, it was like a switch flipped in my brain. After looking back at all the pictures I had taken over summer, I had a big realization that I had been thin. My whole family told me how skinny I was that summer, but I never really believed them. Looking back, 30 pounds heavier, I gained some serious insight on how messed up my body image was.

If I had been thin, what I always wanted, and didn't even realize it, I knew my brain was lying to me about plenty of other things.

After that, I gained some real gratitude for my body and for myself in general. Now, when I look at myself in the mirror, I am not a judge, but an appreciator. My need to be skinny has vanished and the only thing I want now is to feel good about myself, and I do.

I am aware now more than ever that my beauty is not defined by my weight.

Through all this, the best thing I gained is being able to talk about my body and my weight without shame. I am technically overweight now and I have plenty of fat on my body. Yes, you read that correctly. Fat! It is not a bad word, so stop treating it like that. I still have a goal to lose weight, but this goal is pushed by a desire to be healthy and to feel good. This goal is not all about the numbers, but about how I feel. I want to go to the gym and eat healthily, and this time it has NOTHING to do with getting a flat stomach or the perfect booty.

The point is, gaining weight in college wasn't the healthiest thing I've ever done, but it has led me to understand what actually matters. If you feel good and you are healthy, it doesn't matter if you are a size 2, a size 10, or anything in between. I know that getting here is a lot easier said than done — it took me almost 19 years to build a positive body image.

I know this article won't solve all of your problems, but I do hope it gives you a little inspiration on your journey to true happiness.

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Life Is So Much More Than Ourselves

The lives we live are really so much bigger than just ourselves.

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I hope people hear this loud and clear when I say that this generation of people and quite frankly our society as a whole has become one of the most selfish to date. I really hope people reading this don't take it as me calling people out, "throwing shade" or bashing humanity, I'm just trying to put out a call to action but in a more blunt way.

This generation subconsciously lives by the "me, my, mine" lifestyle. Everything is all about us, and what we want and immediate satisfaction or gratification from the things that we do in life. We always want someone to notice what we are doing, that we did it and we want to be acknowledged for it. Our wants and desires power so much of what we do and how we react to what others do and so on and so forth. Also, kind of piggybacking on that, we tend to believe or live by the idea that, "yeah it happens, but it's never gonna happen to me" which can be a major issue when it comes to decision making. This is because we don't think about how it affects anyone but ourselves, usually in the immediate sense rather than the long term.

With that being said it can become an issue when we choose to ignore the other things going on around us like, "oh, someone else will get it." and then things like the trash epidemic and the state at which our planet and country is in now. We have become so self-absorbed that it's to hell with everything else. The places that we call home and the world that we know is falling apart and we are all just gonna sit by and watch like nothing is happening.

I am tired of the mentality that we as a society live in, and how we try to desperately to look great on social media but do nothing about it in real life. It is time that things change and we are the ones changing it.

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