At the time I graduated high school in 2009, I was much thinner than I had been during previous high school years. I was excited to start college, but the “Freshman 15” were already haunting me.
Extra weight had been a problem for me throughout high school, but I was determined to stay healthy in college.
With a gym membership and sack lunches from home, I managed to remain at a steady weight for my entire freshman year at UH.
But then classes started to overwhelm me when I enrolled in summer courses to jump-start my sophomore year.
In order to focus on my studies, I quit going to the gym. That’s when the infamous ‘Freshman 15’ finally got a hold of me.
My summer courses were fast-paced and left me little to no time to exercise at all. With so much homework due by the next morning, my only food options were Wendy’s or Dairy Queen, since I couldn’t prepare my own meals and write an essay at the same time.
I ended the summer of 2010 nine credit hours ahead, a 3.7 GPA, but also with a larger waistline. In only one year, I gained 30 pounds and two sizes.
When my sophomore year began, I found myself wheezing after going up a few steps for a class and my feet aching after walking around campus. I visited the Health Center and weighed in at 156 pounds, which is technically obese for a 5-foot-tall woman. I knew something had to be done.
During my sophomore year at UH, I was enrolled in an introductory genetics class with professor Dan Wells and had to make a mini-documentary on a genetic condition as part of my grade.
I chose to study the “thrifty gene”, a gene found in Native American and Hispanic populations that causes the body to store extra fat.
Since Native Americans went through periods of starvation in the days of hunting and gathering, extra fat was necessary to survive. Nowadays, the extra fat produces diabetes and other health issues because the thrifty gene is still present.
As I completed my project, I interviewed multiple people with weight issues/diabetes. When I heard of their experiences, I officially decided I was going to lose weight right away.
At the end of the Fall 2010 semester, I kicked off my winter vacation by joining a 24 Hour Fitness club near my home. My first workouts were hard and I felt like giving up after a few days. Whenever I wanted to quit, I thought of my project in Wells’ class and gathered the energy to keep going.
The New Year showed up soon after that, and though I had dropped six pounds, there was still a long way to go.