Reworking our ideas around the ‘freshman 15’

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Though I understood that the intention of the article “How to avoid the freshman 15” in last week’s paper was good-natured, I felt as though it missed its mark.

Many scholars have studied the phenomenon of the freshman 15, and the results of their research have overwhelmingly disproved the existence of the freshman 15.

Scholars attribute weight gain at college more to the continuous development and changing of our bodies rather than our eating habits.

Regardless of that, however, if I were to express my advice to incoming first-years about how to maintain their health and wellness, talking about weight would not be my highest priority.

Instead of focusing on losing weight (which can be shaming and dehumanizing), I would like to share with you a list of tips compiled by La Respuesta, an online magazine, in a ’zine titled “A Resource for Fighting Fatphobia.”

Ten Steps to Health at Every Size:

Think of these as a dance rather than a linear progression. Move from one to another and back again as fits your personal style and journey.

1. Stop weighing yourself. Shift your focus from weight and body fat to healthy behaviors and fitness.

2. Live now, not in the past or future. Live your life as if you were at your desired weight – including wearing beautiful, comfortable clothing in your present size.

3. Eat well and mindfully. Enjoy your food. Let nothing be off-limits—there are not forbidden foods.

4. Listen to your body and give yourself and your body what you need to thrive: balanced nutrition, adequate sleep, and regular exercise.

5. Love and accept your body as you are, & others as they are. Refuse to engage in fat prejudice toward yourself and others.

6. Feed your soul with meaningful and enjoyable recreation, relationships, work, and spirituality. Clear out toxic environments/relationships/behaviors patterns. Build a nourishing community: surrounding yourself with size-friendly people (friends, therapists, doctors) and images of happy, successful people of all sizes.

7. Connect mind and body. Increase body awareness through yoga, walking meditation, tai chi, qi gong, massage, & movement therapy. Focus on what your body CAN do and how good it can feel.

8. Decrease self-criticism and body judgment, increase positive, supportive self-talk. Talk to yourself and your body the way you would a cherished friend or loved one.

9. Address any emotional eating or body image issues independent of weight change. Attitudes and opinions are easier (and healthier) to change than body size.

10. Invest time and money in yourself rather than the diet industry.

We deserve better than to limit our views of our bodies to the weight loss conversation. All of our bodies, with or without the “freshman 15,” are deserving of love and respect.

This piece was submitted by a member of the Simmons community who wishes to remain anonymous.