Debunking the Freshmen 15

Debunking the Freshmen 15

For some reason or the other, I’ve been in a jumble of emotions. First, I’m heading into my last year of high school (insert screaming face emoji here) and that in itself is surreal. I tell my friends this all the time, but I still very much feel like I’m a freshman.

Second, a lot of my friends are heading into their freshmen year of college. And that feels weird too. Although they’ve always been a year ahead of me, it just doesn’t seem right that they should now possess the maturity of a college student. Anyways, some of these friends told me that they were worried about getting the freshmen 15.

For those of you who don’t know, the freshmen 15 is an expression that refers to college freshmen gaining arbitrarily 15 pounds their first year of college.

And now I get it, gaining 15 pounds sounds scary. I mean in this culture gaining any little bit of weight is daunting. As a boarding school student, “freshmen 15” was already buzzing around the halls in the freshmen girls dorm. I even wrote a post two years ago about how to “avoid” the freshmen 15.


But in many ways now, I personally think the freshmen 15 phrase is dangerous. It is one more time for society to tell us that gaining weight = bad and so conversely, being skinny = good. And this black and white spectrum is a toxic mindset to adopt.

I still vividly remember freshmen year exclaiming, “There goes my freshmen 15” as they took a bite into a slice of pizza. That takes the joy out of eating. The “Freshmen 15” presents one more obstacle to something that was so natural as simply eating when we were hungry and stopping when we are full.

Eating is truly and genuinely for fuel and nourishment. It is just as much an essential, in fact a basic essential, as SLEEP. But then when we go to sleep do we worry about not getting enough sleep? (Actually maybe that might be a concern for some, but it’s not as raved about as the Freshmen 15, no?

Why do we have to create certain limits and fears and “rules” to an essential? If you are hungry eat! If you have a craving, respond to that craving. I’ve talked about this many times on the blog before, but our bodies are a lot smarter than we think.

Respect. Listen. And Honor your body. Don’t shy away from getting to know your new dorm mates because you know there’s going to be Chinese take out. Don’t ignore a text to go out to dinner at a restaurant you know is “Freshmen 15 conducive.” Live life. Enjoy life. Understand that food can be a very social thing and that yeah, you might gain weight. But that shouldn’t be your biggest worry. It’s just not worth your time. I promise.

Have you heard of the Freshmen 15?




Weekly Roundup

Weekly Roundup

First off, I would like to thank those with the immense support and love from my most recent post. When I started this blog with Serena 3 years ago and even today, my hope for this blog is not to gain a large following – rather, if I can influence and help one reader from my ever-growing journey towards health and happiness, then I believe I have done my part. Each and every well-wishes and encouraging messages motivates me to not lose hope in my journey to recovery and I wanted to say a huge thank you that.

Away from all the cheesy-ness (is that even a word?), here a few snaps from the past week.

@Cloud Gate in Downtown Chicago

My mom and I took a quick two-day trip to Chicago and New York for college tours (cue in the sad faces….). Most of the trip involved taking red-eye flights, checking into hotels after midnight, sleeping for less than 6 hours, running around catching Ubers, trying to stay awake during the college information sessions, and shivering from the frigid Chicago and New York City weather. To be honest, I’m surprised at how much my mom and I fit in 48 hours.

So there was not much time to find yummy places to eat as my mom and I had to deal with the short time we had.


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Besides the frigid cold weather, Chicago was amazing – it was one of the cleanest and nicest cities I’ve been to!

But while in NYC, my mom and I had enough time to stop by by Chloe, a vegan restaurant that serves burgers, salads, pastas and also pastries! We ordered the guac burger, quinoa taco salad and the artichoke dip. My mom, who usually is not a big fan of modified food (aka veggie burgers), put a big thumbs up for this meal – so that’s saying something!



The following weekend, I went out with my childhood best friends for an early birthday lunch. We went to Brio (my first time!) and it was so good! I ordered the grilled salmon with sweet potatoes on the sides.


It was a pretty quick week, especially with the whirlwind two day trip. I’m ready to enjoy the last week of my spring break by sleeping in and eating lots of good homemade foods!

How was your week?



What I Eat in a Day – College Dining Hall Edition

What I Eat in a Day – College Dining Hall Edition

I am … a creature of habit


Even when it comes to food.

So that means my menu day to day is exactly the same. In a way, it’s good because my stomach doesn’t get upset and my energy levels are consistent. Being a runner but also just generally a student, I demand a lot of energy to function.

Of course, as seasons come and go, my meals may look sort of different, but as of right now, this is what my three square meals + snack are looking while at boarding school (aka college dining hall).


BREAKFAST// I mentioned this in last week’s post, but I bring granola from home as it is less sugary than the ones served in the dining hall. My breakfast is probably the one that stays the most static as my main priority in the morning is about getting my homework done not what I’m eating.

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So here’s ¾ cup of granola (Nature’s Path Pumpkin Flax Granola) and lots and lots of almond milk (you’ll see soon that I love my almond milk. With banana sliced on top and some fruit on the side.


LUNCH// My lunch is my “carb-y” meal. This meal is what fuels me for my cross country practice later in the day. The combination is always a sandwich plus a side salad. However, there’s some variation as the salad bar toppings can vary.

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Here’s is a sandwich with two pieces of multi-grain bread with either a basil pesto or roasted red pepper spread with tomatoes and spinach. And salads … the combinations are just too much.


DINNER// Dinner is my salad and green meal. I go straight to dinner right after my cross-country practice so I’m definitely craving for something lighter and not too heavy.

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SNACK// This was discussed in more detail in last week’s post, but I usually snack on a granola bar and a handful of almonds in between my meals.

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HYDRATE// And of course! I gug at least 3 of my 32 fl.oz HydroFlasks on a daily basis. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!!!


What is your go-to meal for the school year?



My Experience with College Dining Halls

My Experience with College Dining Halls

Since I am at a sleep away summer camp on a college campus, I have been able to experience eating at a college dining hall. Lucky for me, the college that I am staying at (Georgia Tech) has an excellent dining hall with a lot of vegetarian, gluten free, and vegan options.

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There’s a gluten free fridge with cookies, muffins, and bread. There even is a Silk dispenser with vanilla and chocolate soy milk.

IMG_2526My typical breakfast is made up of oatmeal (with honey and soy milk), some fruit (pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, banana) and a boiled egg. Sometimes I will add in some potatoes. The breakfast at this dining hall is actually very similar to what I eat during the school year. Unfortunately, there’s no almond butter because they only serve nut-free foods, but coming here, I was pleasantly surprised by the many options!

As for lunch and dinner, the dining hall offers a variety of vegetables, but also a fair share of fries and pizza. Below is a couple of meals I’ve eaten.

On the left plate, I have carrots, orzo-rice, cauliflower, and spaghetti squash with beans. On the right, there are peas, fish (likely flounder), potatoes, and yellow squash. This was the day that I understood the “freshmen 15”! The food was absolutely amazing.
On the left: raw tofu, broccoli, roasted carrots. Center: corn with beans, and fish (likely flounder). On the right: veggie wrap with spinach cream.
On the left: corn, wild rice, peas, fried tofu with onions and carrots. On the right: grilled cheese (which had a very fake-tasting, yellow cheese…but what can you expect, its a college cafeteria:))
Not only does this dining hall offer VEGAN desserts, but they also list calorie counts and nutrition facts! I’m impressed.


I also have been running regularly in the mornings. Of course, I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t pack a plethora of healthy snacks! After a run, I usually eat some dried fruit and nuts to refuel.

What are your experiences with college dining halls? Share in the comments 🙂



Tips and Tricks for College Dining Halls

Tips and Tricks for College Dining Halls

One to the most defining factors of boarding school is eating at school. Home cooked meals become a rare commodity, a serious treasure. Me and my fellow boarding school friends have the “honor” of being able to experience college-style dining halls four years EARLIER than most. Whether you’re a boarding school student like me or college student, I hope these tips and tricks will help you be smart and eat healthy in the dining halls! Remember, nothing can get in the way of eating healthy!

Instead of putting these in cups, use Tupperware/Ziplocs! It’s a lot easier!

TRICK #1: Tupperwares and ziploc bags are your saviors.

One of the cons about dining halls is that they only open on certain hours. But, I’m sure a lot of you can relate, I need to snack and my hungry times don’t match up with the dining hall operating hours! 

These are where tupperwares/ziploc bags come in the save the day. Bring a tupperware and a pack of ziplocs from home. I use my tupperware to put yogurt from the yogurt bar. This is especially helpful on Sunday mornings (where no breakfast is served but brunch at 11) when I can have yogurt to hold me over until brunch.

I use my ziplock bags to hold another breakfast item. During breaks or whenever I go back home, I put nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans) plus my favorite granola (Love Crunch Granola) into small ziplock baggies. These daily servings are convenient because the granola in the dining halls are okay, but sugar laden, and they never have my favorite nuts. Also, these daily servings of nuts/granola is helpful or else I would be eating too many!

I personally don’t do this, but I know several friends do, which is packing dry cereal in ziploc bags. If you’re a cereal lover, than why not do this instead of spending money on cereal?


TRICK #2: Stock up on apples/bananas

Or this really goes with any food that are easily portable. Pretty much everyone I know always leaves breakfast with a banana in their hand. Why? Because they know they are going to get hungry mid-way through the day and a banana is a perfect mid-day pick me up snack.

TIP #1: Do what you would do at home

 I think the main reason why it’s so easy to gain weight is because of the plethora of food but no one to stop you from it. At home, you had your parents to stop you or not allow you to have dessert every day for lunch and dinner. So why not do that at school too?


TIP #2: Go with the water

Going along with the above tip, you wouldn’t drink soft drinks or juices every day right? As tempting it is to have soft drinks, just go with the water. Your body will thank you (and me) later.

Doesn’t it look as appetizing as ice cream?

TIP #3: Healthy substitutes

I know, I know, you have a sweet tooth. So instead of suppressing or restricting that, get in the know of some healthy substitutes. Such as yogurt and granola instead of ice cream. 

This is an actual picture of my breakfast everyday. I know, ice cream for breakfast? Lucky me…

TIP #4: Use your creativity hat

Realize that you don’t have to resort to just standing line in the hot bar to get your food. I usually get most of my food at other places in the dining hall (sandwich bar, salad bar, omelette bar) while only a small portion of my plate is from the hot bar. 

For example, I don’t like omelettes (egg in the morning don’t work for me), but I use the omelette bar to make sautéed spinach.

Who says I have to make an omelette at the omelette bar?

Also, I know for people who live by protein shakes : use chocolate milk: great recovery drink!!!

Do you have any tips and tricks to share from your college dining hall experience?