Instead of Gaining the Freshman 15, Aimée Actually Lost Weight Her First Semester
College life often doesn't seem compatible with weight loss. Between the stress, the new schedules and living arrangements, and the potentially limited options for eating and cooking, it's no wonder so many students gain what's become known as the freshman 15. But that wasn't the case for Aimée La Fountain. In fact, it was the exact opposite.
When Aimée headed to college in the Fall of 2005, she'd been struggling to lose weight for a while without much success. The new habits and attitudes she formed during those first few months changed everything. She lost nearly 20 pounds during that time, and while some may not consider that a dramatic weight loss, it made a big difference. "I'm only 5'0" tall, so in my case, it was significant and noticeable to people who knew me before college," she told POPSUGAR.
A couple months into her first semester, Aimée noticed her weight loss the same way many of us do: by the fit of her clothes. "I dropped at least three pant sizes, depending on the brand," she said. "I also lost about five inches in my chest." Aimée's weight loss didn't involve any fad diets or unhealthy practices, nor was it a fluke. Nearly 15 years later, she has kept most of the weight off and continued living a healthy and active lifestyle. "The jeans in the photo [above] are a tad tight on me now, but I can still wear them!" she said. Read on to learn how her weight-loss journey started, one hike to class at a time.
She Naturally Became More Active
Instead of falling into the usual traps of poor eating and little exercise, Aimée developed a lot of healthy habits as she settled into college life, intentionally or not. "To be honest, I wasn't actively trying to lose weight at the time," she told POPSUGAR. "I went from driving to high school in the suburbs to walking to class in college. My walk to college was a mile each way, so I was walking two to six miles each day, depending on my class schedule."
She added, "My situation with losing weight is kind of like how people talk about finding someone — it happened when I stopped trying," though she did go to the gym in her dorm semiregularly.
She Tried to Be Conscious of What She Was Eating
Aimée's food decisions were a mixed bag of the healthy and the not-so-healthy, largely because of her schedule. Still, she tried to make healthy choices whenever possible.
"One of my top priorities was to have meals that were convenient and complied with my class schedule," she explained, "which resulted in positive and negative food decisions." She added: "I usually chose pretty healthy options from what was available in the dining hall at school. For example, my go-to lunch was a wrap with turkey, lettuce, tomato, pepper jack cheese, and dressing." When she ate in her room, she usually turned to lighter frozen meals because "they were quick and compatible with the limited kitchen amenities dorms provide."
Even so, she indulged in takeout and "plenty of diet soda" while working on projects late into the night. Sticking to a strict diet wasn't exactly feasible, nor was it a priority — which is why she largely credits walking for her weight loss.
She Felt Peer Pressure . . . in a Good Way
The culture at college can vary widely from campus to campus, and Aimée feels lucky that she and her friends experienced such a healthy, positive one.
"A couple of my close friends were more conscious of what they ate than I was, and I think being around them led me to become more aware of what I was eating," she said. "I also went to Marymount Manhattan College, which is a liberal arts school. I was a communications major, but the school is known for its theater and dance programs, so there was always a certain dietary mindfulness in the air on campus. However, none of those influences went to extremes, and I'm glad that food was a fun component of many of our routines in college."
Her relationship with food remained largely positive and forgiving, rather than guilt-ridden or strict. "The best summation of my diet in college might be the night a friend and I raced across town to self-deliver food — I love a good food adventure — from a favorite Chinese restaurant just before closing time," Aimée said. "Keeping active and regularly making good food choices balanced out the times I ate questionable food."