Brazil and browsing a shop. I was almost instantly drawn to a red bikini with a floral pattern. Never in my life had I been so tempted to buy something I knew I couldn’t wear. When I convinced myself to get it, I swore I would wear it one day.
My weight problems started my sophomore year of high school as I was finishing developing, but it really became a major issue for me in college. Most freshman fear gaining the infamous “freshman 15”, I outdid it, by a lot. I started college at about 190 lbs. While I was overweight, I didn’t consider myself fat. By the end of the year I weighed about 210 lbs. and it didn’t end there. When I returned my sophomore year I continued to make all the wrong choices and ballooned up to 225 lbs. Possibly more, I went into denial about my weight and avoided weighing myself from winter break until late August when I realized hiding from the truth would only allow me to continue to gain weight.
College is not the easiest place to be healthy. There is unlimited amount of delicious junk food in the dining hall, and less appetizing health options. Not to mention all of the weekend consumption. I would often drink 4+ drink on a give weekend night, I didn’t get drunk from it, but it certainly had an impact on my waistline. I would often consume 700 calories in alcohol alone, not to mention the pizza/ nachos/ Chinese food I would get with friends afterwards. Add on the stress of classes, endless amount of papers and finals and you have a high-fat recipe for disaster.
The summer before my junior year I landed an on-campus apartment for the fall. That’s when I knew things would change. Gone were the days of unlimited soda and all-you-can-eat junk food. It was the first time I ever felt in complete control of my diet.
The first thing I did when I arrived on campus was go to the grocery store. I made a point of planning my shopping list ahead of time. For the first month or so I was very strict about what I allowed in my diet. I allowed unlimited fruits and vegetables, ate plenty of lean fish and poultry as well as high amounts of whole grains. I cut out soda, fast food, chips, candy, ice cream and anything else that is extremely delicious and extremely unhealthy. I also significantly reduced my alcohol intake, which wasn’t easy as a 21-year-old college student. The one thing in my diet that I refused to change (and still won’t) is my morning coffee.
Another important factor in my weight loss was exercise. Throughout my first two years of college I played on some intramural teams and used the elliptical for about 30 minutes, 3 times a week. I had a decent amount of activity, but in high school I was playing varsity sports throughout the year, so I was exercising much less than before. Over the summer of 2011 I ran a 5k “fun run” in about 38 minutes, a 12:40 mile, which was embarrassingly bad for me. I decided to start running more, at first it was on the treadmill so I could control my pace more easily. As it became easier I moved to the indoor track, using an iPhone app, 10k runner, I have built up from barely running for 2 minutes to enjoyably running over 30 minutes at around a 10 min./ mile pace. I am still working on improving my running. I have also done a lot of strength and core training. I started struggling to do 15 girl pushups to now being able to do 20 regular pushups. I am hoping to run a 10k when the weather improves in the spring, and who knows after that!
When I returned to campus for my junior year in late August of 2011 I weighed 225 lbs. At 5’10 I had a BMI of 32.5. At the time I was squeezing myself in to my too tight size 16 jeans and was wearing XL tops. I decided to hang my red bikini in a prominent part of my closet as motivation. By Halloween of 2011 I was down to 205 lbs. and could comfortably wear a size 14. However, holidays and finals took their toll and when I returned from winter break in mid-January I weighed 209 lbs. Seeing the weight creep back up helped motivate me to get back on track. By the end of spring semester in May of 2012, I was down to 183 lbs. But I got comfortable and by the 4th of July I had stayed at the same weight for 2 months. I changed my mentality when I realized I was going to the beach in a little over a month. I worked harder than ever up until mid-August when I left for vacation. I was going to the beach and I was wearing a bikini! I weighed 175 lbs. the day I left for the beach. I was 1.1 lbs. overweight, but I honestly didn’t care. I had worked hard to lose 50 lbs. and felt good about my body. I wasn’t quite ready for the red bikini, but I found a more forgiving one. Still I was pretty happy about where I was. I ended up gaining weight during vacation and returned for my senior year at 185 lbs. I found it difficult with the temptations from eating out frequently, the urge to have ice cream in the heat and being with my family and not having complete control of my diet. I was quickly able to lose it when I returned to a healthy diet and exercising daily.
One of the keys to my success up until this point is realizing that this is a lifestyle change. They way I eat now is pretty much the way I plan on continuing to eat when I maintain my weight. Although I will get to add about 500 calories to my 1800 calorie per day diet.
I currently weigh 160 lbs. and weigh the same as when I was a freshman in high school. I fit into size 8 jeans and size M tops. I plan on losing another 10 lbs. where I will maintain my weight at 150 lbs. I’m hoping to get there when I graduate from Boston University in May where I am majoring in health sciences and minoring in public health. I have all intentions of wearing the red bikini once I get there!