The proverbial “freshman 15” weight gain may not be a one-size-fits-all phenomenon for those learning how to balance academics, work, a social life and living alone simultaneously.
Tina Stone, psychology junior, attested to these obstacles, calling them a “rude awakening” that may have contributed to her freshman year weight loss.
Stone said she is now better able to cope with stress but floundered freshman year because of persistent family and work problems.
“I get stressed thinking about how it used to be so stressful,” Stone said.
The often-discussed “freshman 15” phrase, which first appeared on Seventeen Magazine’s August 1989 cover, has little scientific evidence, according to recent research. A 2011 Ohio State University study measured weight data from 7,418 young adults across the nation. The study found women gained an average of 2.4 pounds their freshman year of college, while men gained an average of 3.4.
Jay Zagorsky, co-author of the study, reported one in four people surveyed actually lost weight their freshman year.
Stone remembered coming home during winter break her freshman year to compliments from friends about her weight loss. The Nacogdoches native said she did not notice the significance of her weight loss until people pointed it out.
“If I ate (on campus) it was at the Harris buffet,” Stone said, a former San Marcos Hall resident. “Jones was like the weight-gainer hall.”
According to the Texas State Dine on Campus website, the chili cheese fries at Route 90 Grill have the highest calorie count, 930, in Jones Dining Hall.
Emily Downs, English sophomore, succumbed to the prepackaged snacks of her residence hall vending machine last year because of its convenience.
As the school year wore on, Downs said she noticed a friend struggling to maintain her weight after quitting the on-campus lacrosse team where they met. That is when she became aware of her own physical changes and was reminded of her first experiences on campus seeing physically healthy people.
“Seeing people like that makes you want to be like that,” Downs said, who works toward a healthy lifestyle by continuing to play on the lacrosse team and exercising with friends.
Being in school and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle proved to be difficult for Vincen Vann, nutrition and foods junior.
Vann said his tendency to eat processed foods stemmed from a lack of healthy on-campus menu items.
“You have to take time and effort,” Vann said. “It’s almost like another job.”
Vann said he prepares his meals ahead of time once or twice a week in an effort to stay healthy and save money.
Sylvia Crixell, family and consumer sciences professor, said there are a variety of reasons why people choose to eat or not eat certain foods.
“How to nourish yourself is not a trivial thing,” Crixell said.
Stone said she has become happier since she put on some weight her sophomore year. At close to 5 feet and 6 inches, Stone said she now weighs about 130 pounds and is more comfortable in her skin.
“I call them love pounds because I’m surrounded by love,” Stone said.