How I Lost Weight In College (Without Even Knowing It)

January 6, 2016

How I Lost 25lbs. in College |

This is a story of my experience.

I am in no way a professional or expert in dieting, exercising, or anything else relating to all of that biz. I’m a proud advocate of McDonald’s and Taco Bell, so that should take care of that. The purpose of this post isn’t for me to tell you how to lose weight or that you have to lose weight. Heck no! To me, talking about weight, whether it be gained or lost, was always taboo. Once I lost weight, I thought I would be open to talking about it with the people in my life because it was a positive thing, but I never had the guts to just start talking about it. I was scared. What did people think of me? Did they think I did this because I was unhappy? Because I wanted to fit in? Most people I know, know I lost weight; it’s something you can’t really hide. And every new person I meet can see the transformation through my Facebook photos, like it’s a broadcast of a 3am Weight Watchers special. If I don’t know you yet (hi! nice to meet you), or this is all just new to you, that makes this post hopefully more interesting! So here I am in all of my McDonald’s loving glory, finally releasing the elephant from the room: yes, I lost 25+ pounds in college and it was as much of a surprise to me as it may have been to you.

If you are looking for actual specific tips on how to lose weight in college, I’m sorry, but I only have one: choose the school with the hilliest campus you can find, which equals a MAJOR BUTT WORKOUT. Let me tell ya, in my freshman year I lived in the highest-positioned building on my campus; my dorm was literally attached to the side of a mountain. I was up so high, my window looked out to a hillside where wild horses would roam and there were no people or other buildings in sight. I stopped riding my bike to class because I had to push that mofo up to my dorm every single day. At least I got to work out my glutes pretty well! Thanks to all of that daily mountain climbing.

How I Lost 25lbs. in College |
*actual view from my freshman dorm* Told you. Hi horsies!

Ok, let’s really get into it.

I had always been that awkward quiet kid in school, the one you remember by name, but not by personality because I was too shy to express myself and let the goose loose! <— aaaand that is exactly why I held back, haha. But as I grew older and experienced the mother of all life changing events (at this stage in my life)—a.k.a. college, I became a heck of a lot more comfortable in my own skin. And as a result (with the added weight loss) I became happier, less stressed, and you guessed it, relaxed! But of course, college in itself was so incredible, that I would have been this same newer, more confident version of myself even if I lost 0lbs. My weight loss was just simply something that happened.

But first, the sob story: my baby fat was more stubborn than those crusting lasagna leftovers in your ungreased casserole dish.

Sadly, starting in middle school, I would constantly tell my parents that I hated the way I looked, just like any other preteen or adult having a bad day. I mean, y’all know what I’m talking about; it’s hard to escape that feeling. When your hair isn’t on point and your eyebrows ain’t on fleek, your world just crumbles right in front of you. But in reality NO ONE ELSE NOTICES (or frankly, cares; they are all worried about their own eyebrow game). Though, I was more of the “I’m chubby, no boys will ever like me” self-concious type back then. Oh, how I wish I could time travel back to those days and shake some sense into myself, and be like “girl, boys don’t rule the world, Beyoncé does! …but really, you are awesome NO MATTER WHAT.” I was actually told that I still had baby fat that would eventually shed off of me, naturally. I wished everyday that that day would come true. But time went on and I got distracted with school, friends, family blah blah blah and then suddenly I was already moved into a dorm. I still had all of my baby fat at 18 and started to believe this whole baby fat thing was an unfortunate myth. Or that I just had to wait a little bit longer until one day, everything would magically disappear and BAM! I would be that hottie with a swimmer’s body. Should’ve known that specific dream would never come true because I can’t do the backstroke if my life depended on it.

How I Lost 25lbs. in College |
This was taken during the summer right after I graduated high school. Man, has time flown by! Don’t mind my minor bedhead (definitely not on point).

The motivators: classes, no friends, and that dang tuition.

So college arrived. I was afraid of gaining the infamous “freshman 15,” but as you know, that would have a total opposite meaning for me. Freshman year was tough nonetheless. I was all kinds of homesick and my only friends were my three roommates (and later, my three future roommates). I would hang out with them in our dorm and we went out occasionally, but most of the time I was out in class or studying in the library. No parties, no kick-backs, no boys, no booze, no university clubs, no sororities, no sports, and I don’t know why I didn’t jump on the Netflix train back then. Super exciting life, right? I remember I had a class from 8–10am and another class at 12pm, with a kind of awkward-ish break in between; do I go back to my dorm? do I eat lunch for two hours? do I sleep on the grass? Nope, while all of those things sound so much better than sweating in a stuffy building with a million other sweaty people, I chose sweat over sleep for some ridiculous reason. And that was the beginning of my “gym era.” And the rest was history. The end.

Just kidding! But that was basically the major change in my life. Plus it took me a while to become good friends with my roommates because I was just learning how to make new ones. As a result, my only reasons for going to the gym were to take up the time between classes and to replace the time I could have spent with my (nonexistent) friends… It sounds sad, but don’t worry! I liked having my alone time (I still do!). I ended up going to the gym five to six days a week, for up to two hours each day. Each session I would run on the treadmill for 10–20mins plus go on the elliptical for 30–50mins. Eventually I added cycling, and a whole bunch of weight lifting and strength training routines to the mix.

Oh, and the fee it costs to go to the campus gym was automatically added onto everyone’s tuition, so I felt like I might as well get my gym on if we were all forced to pay for it anyway…


Now exercise wasn’t all that contributed to this change in my body. As we all know, what you eat affects your weight as well. During the beginning of this “gym era” I was actually really swamped with schoolwork and the stress of being in a new place, which 100% without a doubt affected what I fed my body. Most days I would only eat lunch and dinner. No breakfast, no snacks. For lunch I usually ate a hummus pita wrap with like two slices of tomato and some itty bitty cucumbers made-to-order at our campus’s Sandwich joint and sometimes a package of sliced apples with peanut butter. Later, my roommate told me those precut apples took months to turn brown!! Scary stuff. For dinner I ate classic college food: ramen, microwavable mac and cheese, or a small plate of whatever they served at our dining hall buffet. And who knows what all that crap is made out of. You do you, but my only suggestion is PLEASE DON’T DO WHAT I DID!! I basically unintentionally starved myself for a while. If I could do it all again, I would definitely go about my eating habits differently. A balanced healthy diet is always a smart decision when you are trying to lose weight. But back then, it was constantly work before food, which is completely opposite of my mindset now: I’m craving Costco hotdogs as I write this. Those onions though.

If my life was the game of Clue, I would still lose even if I was the one who did it. Candlestick in hand, and all.

Maybe I was just dumb, but I literally had no idea I was losing any of this weight during the first half of the school year. My clothes fit a little differently, but that didn’t faze me. I think looking in a mirror every single day made the progression of the change in my appearance so minute to me, that when I saw any reflection of myself I didn’t think twice. The sole fact that my body would most likely be affected by the 10 hours a week I dedicated to working out—which was 10 hours more than I’ve ever worked out in my entire life—didn’t cross my mind. It wasn’t until my family came to visit me for my birthday, that I realized the difference. Someone had to literally TELL ME that I was thinner!! Sheesh, I really was dumb, lol. I remember looking at myself in the full body mirror in the art building bathroom on campus almost everyday and noticing that my reflection looked slimmer, but I seriously thought that the mirror was cheap and just warped everyone’s appearance. No joke. I don’t know how many months I wrongly accused that poor mirror! Even my roommate told me that she thought I was being so nonchalant about it all. It took me a while to fully notice and embrace my new-ish image. I finally lost all of my baby fat!

How I Lost 25lbs. in College |
This was taken during that visit when my family noticed the big difference. I mean look at that baggy top—scandalous. I hope that strand of hair isn’t bothering you as much as it’s bothering me right now.

How I Lost 25lbs. in College |
This was the first photo I posted on Facebook “debuting” my sudden weight loss. And that’s my bro. And that’s his cool purple shirt. And that’s my long dark hair I miss.

Today, I weigh 148lbs.

You may be thinking “uh, that still doesn’t quite sound like a ‘goal’ weight, Madison.” And yes, I’m still considered ‘overweight’ because of my short 5′3″ height according to that ultra-scientifically-accurate BMI system, but who cares. I feel great!!! In all honesty, I wouldn’t mind being lighter than I am now, but who doesn’t think about that now and then. I’m definitely not a toned size 2, but I learned so much from this accidental experience. Exhibit A: I’m sharing my literal weight in numbers with the world and my past self would be peeing her pants if she tried to do that. For me, such a big change in my body and health happened so quickly and unexpectedly because the switch in my lifestyle was extremely drastic. I didn’t play any sports in high school (except one measly match of doubles tennis—go Bulldogs!), I was a lazy couch potato who watched Disney Channel all day, and I ate a box of taquitos while I did my homework. But that’s what I love about this whole thing. I still do all of that! Minus the Disney Channel and homework. But I binge watch TV, eat whatever I crave, and I’m still so lazy as f***. I gained weight since I lost those 25+lbs. in college, but I’m ok with that because I had no intentions of losing the weight in the first place. Working out constantly, helped as a stress releaser and my only goal was to maybe get a little healthier in the process. Once I started college, I never told myself, “I need to get skinny right now.” If my intention was to lose weight, I would have definitely focused on doing it in a safer, thought out, and more healthy way. I’ll admit it though, I became one of those annoying people that loved going to the gym all. the. time. I continued to workout hardcore up until graduation. With fewer classes and all of those extra hours during senior year, I lost a little more weight and toned up a bit. But most importantly, I gained confidence, which I’m thankful for everyday, because as my interest in working out is slowly fading away, my confidence is something that I get to keep. Maybe I will start a “gym era II” in my future, but right now I’m perfectly fine with getting in whatever physical activity my body is up to doing. Which is almost nothing, ha!

That leads me to the conclusion of this ramble session: in the very near future, I want to share some exercises and things I do (and am planning to do) to help semi-keep up my physical activity level and boost my workout motivation this year! So be sure to look out for that. And thank you to those of you who made it to the end. That was a lot longer than I expected this post to be, but I’m glad I finally got to share my story with you!!

How I Lost 25lbs. in College |

How I Lost 25lbs. in College |
Oh and in addition to losing weight, I lost my glasses too… Go contacts! Though, I’m on the hunt for cooler looking specs. Just putting that out there; so if anyone knows of a good place to look, let me know!


Happy 2016 and I hope the rest of your week is stress-free!


p.s. Let me know if this is something you would like to read more of in the future. It was an experience in itself just to sit down for a few days and write this. I would love to share more personal stories with you guys. But only if it’s worthwhile for you!!


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  • Addison O’Loughlin

    Haven’t talked to you in I don’t know how long, but I have been reading your blog and thought I should let you know I love it!!! Your stories are awesome to read and they always make me smile and laugh. I am so lucky to have lived with such an amazing individual such as yourself for that short first year of college! Keep up the great writing and I hope you are doing outstanding in every other aspect of life!

    • Thanks Addie!!! You are too too sweet. I miss those days way back when haha. We had some of the best laughs, even if it was about nothing! Good times 🙂 And I hope you are doing well too with everything in your life!!

  • Yarn

    Ahhh I love this! and I love you! You go girl. Taking me back to those gym days man, that was intense.

    For real though, I loved reading this. Also, I do believe dancing until 2am totally counts as working out so uh, we should totes work out more this year.

    • Thank you Amanda!!! Love you too. YOU were the intense gym one! lol. And yes, we definitely have to do our workout at the clubs! hahaha I was actually going to include that in my next post. So, get ready for that!

      • Yarn

        YAS I’m so excited for the next one. Omg for real though I’ve been having intense nostalgia for the rec. I miss my body combat and pilates man.