When entering my first year of college... I never would have guessed the most common thought in my head would be - "You can get stretch marks there?!"
You may be laughing, but I am dead serious! Before beginning college, no one told me the hardest thing I would have to learn is that you will gain weight and...duh duh duh...stretch marks appear out of nowhere!
A little back story before I get into the point of this blog ( it does have a point I promise). My whole life I was the tiny little blonde. I had beautiful features, that were often noticed and commented on. I had a petite body even though I could eat a cheeseburger, fries, and a milkshake all in one sitting and be hungry two hours later. Then of course, this lifestyle eventually caught up to me. Junior year of High School... I finally started gaining weight. However, it was still not an issue, some will even say I actually looked healthier. Then came Senior year... before I knew it, I put on about ten pounds just in the first semester! (Yes, early college freshman 15 is a thing). So that January, I decided to invest in myself in order to tryout for my College Dance Team. I started running every day, I was dancing four nights a week, and changed my diet. In a little under four months I lost the extra weight and then some, and was almost back down to my original weight! So, keep all of this in mind as I begin my story about the hardest lesson I learned in college.
Moving to a new place is hard. Now add the stress of living with a complete stranger and being thrown out on your own for the first time. Talk about change! Even though I knew this experience was going to come with a lot of firsts and hard lessons, I couldn't have been more excited to start this new chapter in my life. I still remember my first week on campus like it was yesterday. I arrived a week early to go through Sorority recruitment and boy... was I in for a rude awakening! I am not lying when I tell you this - every single girl I saw was GORGEOUS. It was one of the most intimidating things I have ever experienced. Now fast forward to my first day on campus and guess what? The beautiful girls multiply!
It didn't take long for me to notice my reality was about to change drastically and not in the most pleasant way. I had gone from the pageant girl that every knew... to a nobody. And I mean nobody. No one cared who I was. They didn't care where I was from or why I was there. Let alone did they care to compliment me! So again, I went from someone who was noticed... to the girl that wasn't noticed even with full hair and makeup. Now that is a reality check if there ever was one!
Experiencing all of this and a multitude of other things led me to gain 20 pounds my first semester of Freshman year (Mizzou 22 is a thing)! Of course I didn't realize it at first, but once I returned home for Christmas break reality set in. I was on a very slippery slope. I am not just talking about the physical weight gain. Yes, that can be dangerous but let's be realistic here... we all get older and bigger. It's a part of life! No, I was on an even worse slope. My confidence had taken about 10 hits down and I was not emotionally healthy. I started getting stretch marks in places I never thought possible. None of my clothes fit anymore. I was constantly looking at myself in the mirror and weighing myself. It even got to where I didn't want to go anywhere because why would anyone want to notice me anyway?
This is the harsh reality no one warns you about.
They tell you you'll be stressed and classes will be hard. They tell you you'll lose friends and gain new ones. You'll fail and fail again. But they NEVER tell you that you'll battle your confidence and body image more than you ever have.
Did you know 40% of female college students have an eating disorder? Even worse, 91% of us will try to control our weight through dieting. You are not alone! I guarantee almost any girl you encounter will have something they hate about their body (shocker) and these statistics are proof. Everyone handles it in different ways and we don't all have the same insecurities. My biggest one was the stretch marks. I have them everywhere! Last summer I was embarrassed to even wear a swimsuit because I thought that's all anyone would see. To my surprise after a trip to the pool, I realized almost every girl has them at least somewhere. Better yet, unless they tell you, you can't even notice them! I hate that it took me a trip to the pool to finally realize it... but that was the turning point for me.
Shortly after returning for second semester, I began working out and making a change. I started running every day and watching my intake. No - I did not cut out all junk food because let's face it, I'm a broke college kid. But I did learn to take things in moderation. I once saw this quote that said,
"Workout because you love your body, not because you hate it."
Beauty is NOT how you look on the outside. However, it is ok to invest in yourself. Stay healthy because you love yourself. Stay healthy because you value you body. Be healthy for YOU!
Ladies, our body is a sacred temple to do God's work. Take care of it. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Though you may not get complimented as much as you used to... and you may have stretch marks in places you wish you didn't... or may not fit in that size 2 dress anymore... do not doubt that you are beautiful!
This may have been one the hardest things I have had to learn, but it has been one of the most rewarding.
I have learned to love my body no matter what the scale says or the tag on my clothes. I even love to run (who knew)! Experiencing battles with my weight and body image in college has allowed me to invest in myself and the person I hope to be!
So instead of hating college and all the girls that can eat a whole pizza and still fit their old clothes... I choose to see it as motivation.
Walking by faith with grace,
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”