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.

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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?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

Cooking is my therapy

Cooking is my therapy

To me, summer means the time for cooking, the time to explore all of my culinary ambitions that have accumulated throughout the school year.

So, everyday, I cook dinner for my family, and there are always a couple of essentials (ingredients, kitchen tools, etc.) and things I keep in mind.

When I first step into the kitchen, I always venture into the fridge to figure out what it is that I want to cook. My dinners typically consist of some kind of soup, starch (usually rice), and two main/side dishes: veggies and protein or sometimes more veggies. So, I’ll make the rice first in a rice cooker (takes about an hour) so that the rice will be finished when I’m finished cooking.

Then, with the veggies and/or protein that I’ve selected for the meal, I search for recipes. My go-to resources have been The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen, New York Times Cooking, and Food and Wine. If there’s a recipe that I love, I’ll remember it and make slight modifications to ingredients if necessary. I love going to the farmer’s market and buying exotic vegetables so that I can try out recipes on my family!

My favorite recipes have been these caramelized broccoli “steaks” (so soft and delicious!), brocollini, veggie gratin (minus the cheese, I used nutritional yeast instead), and mashed potatoes with root vegetables.

I find that searching for new recipes every night actually helps me be more adventurous in the kitchen. Now, I’m less intimidated by baking vegetables instead of stir frying, broiling instead of baking, and using a variety of spices.

By the time I’m done with my main dishes, the rice is ready. I simply heat up the soup that my dad makes every weekend for the week, and dinner is done! Cooking every night is the most therapeutic part of the day for me, and I can’t wait to try more cooking techniques for the rest of the summer! I’m thinking of experimenting with more beans and grains.

What are YOU cooking??

Love,

Serena

 

What are you hungry for? It might not be food

What are you hungry for? It might not be food

I have a lot of things that I’m not especially proud about. However, there is particularly one big problem that I want to fix because it’s bad for both my physical and mental health.

This big problem is my stress-eating.

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Literally me…no joke 

Especially during the final season, my eating habits just crumble. I gravitate towards sweet, oily, savory foods that I know should only be eaten as indulgences, but soon become regulars. It’s a vicious cycle – I surrender to stress eat, then when I come back home for break, I get mad at myself for stress eating from all the weight I gained. And then I try to lose some of the weight while I’m back home, but because I get so easily stressed, I easily gain all that weight back.

However, I realized that when I was stress-eating, I was stress-eating because I was trying to cope with my stress. But I was trying to cope with my stress by eating – and eating too much and eating not well. Other people cope with stress and challenging emotions in different ways. Some through drinking, some through exercising (I wish right?), some through getting cranky and venting their anger at their friends, some through shopping (aka retail therapy). It just happens to me that I cope with stress through food.

It might be because I had so much control over food when I had my eating disorder. During those (miserable and dark) days, I religiously counted every morsel and calories. 1,200 calories to be exact. I exercised every day or else I felt guilty. And when I mean exercise, it was mostly running and cardio as I was worried I would “bulk up.” I had so much control over my food and my exercise.

But once I realized that I couldn’t live like this through a number of events and close family and friends, I suddenly lost all that control. I ate so much. I gained back the weight I lost and then some more. I continually kept on eating because I had restricted my body for so long.

So maybe it’s because of this history and background that when I undergo stress or unwelcome feelings, when I feel like I’ve lost control of my day and my life, I continue to lose control by eating.

But this is bad. And I’m not proud of it.

These days, as I’m studying for SATs (as that is the high school life haha), my mind often times wander and starts craving food. But I stop myself and think:

“Stephanie, what do you really want?”

“I want food.”

“Are you sure? But you’re not hungry…”

“I just want something else to do. Something else other than studying. I’m getting so bored just studying so I want to do something else. And that something else is food.”

That’s the key. It’s not that I want to eat because I’m hungry. I want to eat because currently, at the present, I don’t want to do the thing I’m doing. I want to go away from it. I want to take a little breather, a little break, go away from studying. But guess what? As soon as I’m done eating, studying is going to be still there.

Or sometimes, I want to eat because I’m tired. So when I really need to sleep and relax, I want to eat.

While I haven’t figured out the magical key to stop stress eating, I’ve realized that it’s so important to LISTEN to your body. It takes lots of practice. But when your mind wants to eat, wants to do _____, stop and ask yourself: what do you really want right now?

Your body is your temple. If you don’t listen and respect it, nobody else will.

So what are you hungry for? Comfort? A place to hide? Something enjoyable?

Well you can find this without having to eat food. You can find comfort by hugging a close family or friend and telling them your current mood and thoughts. Need a place to hide? I find that a lot of times when I’m in this situation, I like to listen to my favorite music and take an hour long nap. Just to take a break and a breather from life. Something enjoyable? Go watch some YouTube videos, go hang out with friends, go do what you actually enjoy!

What are you hungry for?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Relax & Refresh

Relax & Refresh

Sometimes, you just need a couple hours to yourself. School or work might have been overwhelming, you might have issues occurring in your relationships, or maybe you just had a grueling week and want to reward yourself. Regardless, in my experience, relaxing and refreshing can be very effective in productivity and feeling a sense of well being. Here are some of the things that I have done in the past to pamper myself!

1.) Hike or take a walk in nature. Even sitting in nature and taking it all in clears my head and makes me feel better.

Views from an awesome hike
Acai Pomegranate Bubble tea

2.) Go out to eat. Yes, sometimes food can be a wonderful reward! This past weekend, I went to a restaurant called Asian Bistro to have delicious hot stone bibimbap, and then I also had lunch at a Japanese restaurant where I had avocado sushi. For snack, I got myself a raisin croissant and an acai pomegranate bubble tea. Everything was so delicious and I felt so happy afterwards!

Vegetarian bibimbap

3.) Go on a run. I’m not a big runner (especially compared to Stephanie), but running helps me “run off my stresses” and “run away from my problems”!

Views from a recent run
Custard pudding- almondy and delicious!

4.) Cook and try out a new recipe. My friend and I made egg custards together, and we had an amazing time bonding and cooking. Even if you’re cooking by yourself (as I often am), cooking is a great way to relax. Seeing and eating the final product gives me an amazing feeling. See my first ever blog post on Why I Love to Cook 🙂

5.) Hang out with your family and/or friends. Whether it’s playing board games together, watching a movie, walking around town, or just talking, being with other people makes me feel happier.

6.) Take a long shower, put on a face mask, and listen to music. Your skin will thank you and you’ll feel super refreshed!

7.) Take a half-day trip by visiting a farm, going to the city (if there’s a city near you), visiting a museum, going to a flea market, or something else.

Farm trip
KALE Heaven

8.) Try something thrilling-like white-water kayaking, or rock climbing 🙂

9.) Take a nap-cause sleep is amazing and I can never get enough of it!

Now that I’ve shared my tips, I hope you feel super inspired.

In the words of my mom: “Work hard, play hard!”

Love,

Serena

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.

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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.
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On the left: raw tofu, broccoli, roasted carrots. Center: corn with beans, and fish (likely flounder). On the right: veggie wrap with spinach cream.
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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:))
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Not only does this dining hall offer VEGAN desserts, but they also list calorie counts and nutrition facts! I’m impressed.

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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 🙂

Love,

Serena