Losing the Freshman 29

When I was younger, I was as skinny as could be. My mom always said, "Most people live to eat. Jacki eats to live." I just had no interest in food... except for M&Ms. I loved M&Ms. I remember accompanying my sister to her nutritionist once, and I came with an XXL bag of M&Ms in hand. The nutritionist told me it would catch up with me. I laughed it off, thinking the man was crazy.

Once high school hit, I started to fill out and gained some curves. I was completely comfortable with how I looked. Then I went to college. You know the Freshman 15? Well, I decided to take part in a new phenomenon, the Freshman 29. Yes, freshman year alone, I gained 29 pounds. It was too easy. My friends and I would sit in the dining hall on weekends for lunch, and gossip and laugh until dinner hit. We’d be in the dining hall for hours sometimes, not even realizing how much time had passed, or how many times we’d refilled our trays.

This continued throughout the four years of college. I didn’t know how to cook (I thought grilled cheese went in the microwave), so I either ate the packaged frozen meals from the supermarket, or food from the cafeteria, including deli sandwiches, Sbarro baked ziti and pizza.

My mom would always tell me I needed to lose weight, but since I wanted to feel in control, I’d purposely not lose weight just to show her that I could do what I wanted... not the smartest way to handle gaining weight! I did want to lose weight, I just wasn’t sure how to get started.

A few years after college, my sister, who was already tiny, joined Weight Watchers because she got a discount through work. She lost twelve pounds in about two months. A month later, I was sitting with my good friend at Starbucks, saying how badly I wanted to lose weight, but I didn’t know how. I was fed up with feeling uncomfortable. I could barely fit into my jeans, but I refused to buy a bigger size. I hated the way I looked in pictures. My friend told me that her sister went on Weight Watchers after having a baby. I had recently seen her sister, and she looked great. Maybe there was something to the Weight Watchers concept.

A light went off during that coffee date, so when my boyfriend came home that night, we sat down and I told him I needed him on board with me. There was no way I could lose weight if he’d be bringing home pizza and making risotto at night. Also wanting to lose weight, my boyfriend agreed. Believe me, neither of us were happy about it – we love yummy, unhealthy food. But, summer was coming, and we also wanted to wear our bathing suits proudly! Having his support made my decision to sign up for Weight Watchers even easier.

I learned with Weight Watchers that I could continue to eat some of my favorite foods as long as I started paying attention to portion size. When we used to make spaghetti at night, we’d make one box for the two of us... and finish it!

Learning that one cup of pasta was a full portion was shocking to me, but it really changed my eating habits. Sure, I stopped eating pasta almost every night, but when I did want it, I’d make sure I only had a container of yogurt for breakfast, a salad for lunch and then I could splurge on 1 1/2 to 2 cups of pasta that night. After I lost my first two pounds, I was so excited that I joined a gym. Prior to this, I had never been to a gym in my life, and all of a sudden I couldn’t dream of not going. I went three to five times a week... sometimes I’d even wake up early before work to go to the gym, which says a lot for someone who is not a morning person!

I started Weight Watchers in April, and by July I had lost eight pounds. The weight loss wasn’t as fast as I wanted, but I had already noticed a difference. For the first time, I fit into a size four pair of pants. I almost cried tears of happiness in the dressing room. Unfortunately, July means July Fourth, and that’s when I fell off the wagon. Every Independence Day, my boyfriend and I go to Coney Island to watch the hot dog competition. That, of course, means we have to get a hot dog at Nathan’s. I had two hot dogs that afternoon and then met up with some friends that night for wings and beer... not exactly a Weight Watchers kind of day. That same week we had a barbecue at work and I had a hot dog and a hamburger. I didn’t record those points on my Weight Watchers points tracker, and slowly I stopped recording any points at all. Luckily, the idea of portion size was still ingrained in me, so for the next few months I didn’t gain any weight back, but I didn’t lose any either. I also stopped going to the gym.

Then one day in September, I stepped on the scale and noticed I had lost a pound. It gave me the confidence that I could lose weight again, so that day I signed back onto the Weight Watchers site and started to record my points again. I haven’t been as diligent as I was in the past, and I also haven’t gone back to the gym. Last week my friend got engaged and asked me to be a bridesmaid, which apparently, is all the new motivation I needed. I’m now back on Weight Watchers full-time and plan to start going back to the gym next week. We’re going dress shopping in a month, and I hope to lose another two to four pounds by then. It’s going to be hard because of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I have to keep reminding myself that from my past experience, it’s possible!

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