Put Aside Skinny, Stay Positive

I had never felt so disappointed and angry with myself for letting weight gain get the best of me.

The freshman 15 was real when I left my first year of college weighing 130 pounds and calorie counting as if my life depended on it.

Consuming alcohol, pizza and ice cream almost every weekend was most likely the culprit.

I had developed a sickness to calculate every crumble of food I swallowed and would not allow myself to eat more than 1,200 calories a day. It was bad.

Sophomore year rolled around and I continued with my unhealthy habits. I went to the gym every day to do at least an hour of cardio and nothing else. I would attend zumba and cardio hip-hop classes twice a week, expecting that it was enough to help me lose 15 pounds. It wasn’t.

At one point, I saw the scale slowly decreasing. By November 2015, I lost five pounds. I held up my shirt and praised myself while looking in the mirror. I told myself, ‘You have to work harder. You have to get skinnier.’

My friends noticed this and immediately expressed their concerns. They told me I should eat more than crackers and half a can of tuna fish for dinner every night. They recommended I give myself a rest day from the gym, but I couldn’t. I had set myself a goal that I wanted to achieve.

The summer going into my junior year, my father introduced me to the health benefits of weight lifting. I researched what would happen to my body and it didn’t sound too scary. Areas of my body I wanted smaller could get tighter – it was exactly what I wanted!

I felt very intimidated walking into the weight lifting section of the Wellness and Recreation center and I didn’t even know where to start. I whipped out my phone and searched lifting routines on Pinterest.

I sat down on a bench as far away from everyone as I could get and began my transformation.

Since then, I started taking progress pictures and I’ve been smiling at the results.

Most importantly, I stopped staring at the number on the scale (yes, it’s cliché) and started looking in the mirror.

I learned to discipline myself; I eat healthy 80 percent of the time and enjoy myself the other 20 percent.

Shoulders and back has become my favorite days of my week. I can see traps forming and my biceps having little bits of definition.

I will be honest, I still calorie count every now and then. My friends will catch me and tell me to stop and enjoy myself, but I haven’t been able to get over that habit.

I stare at pictures of girls with perfect hourglass bodies, wondering why I don’t look like that. However, I’ve accepted my body for what it is and will always reward it for being put through tough workouts with some chocolate.

Erica Ascher is a fourth-year journalism major and music minor. She’s an ice cream enthusiast and her flute is named Nyx. Follow her on social media @ericaascherrrrr