Why We Gain Weight in College

Yeah, I know. Talk about being blunt, right? We all know it’s true. From my experience, it happens to E V E R Y O N E. It’s unavoidable, a necessary evil, an inevitable change we all go through. Yet it’s the elephant in the room, because no one wants to talk about their weight. I know I don’t. So I won’t. We’re going to talk about weight without actually talking about weight. Let the challenge begin.

10 step

1. Time

Is it just me, or did high school not prepare us for college at all? Even the college classes we took didn’t do much for us. The work required is a lot more time-consuming now, and the motivation is slowly decreasing as time goes by. You don’t feel as excited about that Astronomy class in November as you did on the first day, and the a decrease in motivation means procrastination. You put things off and you don’t use your time wisely. Any time you do have to spare is spent hanging out with friends, going out to parties or getting drinks, or just sitting in your room gaming or watching Netflix. If you’re like me, you might use that time to catch up on some free-reading books. We do this because this free time is precious. There’s not a lot of it. I don’t think time really exists once you get to college.

2. Physical Activity

The no-brainer, but we all know it’s true. Maybe you read other blog posts about the college student’s weight loss journey, where they say that walking to class and taking the stairs makes a world of difference. So for a while you do those things, and maybe it works for you but sometimes it just doesn’t. Or maybe it would’ve worked for you, but you didn’t see results fast enough and gave up on it because, man, it’s tiring and college is tiring and, dude, I’m late for class I don’t have time to walk and take the stairs everywhere because I’m tired and woke up late because I stayed up late because I procrastinated and . . . Yeah. In my opinion, all that stuff is B.S. I walk everywhere at school and I take the stairs, mostly because it’s considered rude to use the elevator if you don’t have to go to the top floor, and it didn’t make a difference. Nope.

After a long day of walking and taking the stairs who wants to go exercise? I don’t. I want to get in bed or lay down on the couch and take a nap before I start my homework and papers. But we have to go exercise. We got a ton of exercise in high school, even people who didn’t do sports, because we had a gym teacher telling us what to do. We got our daily exercise in. That’s not happening anymore.

3. Food Consumption

The other no-brainer. Maybe you thought this list would be completely different than what everyone has been telling you (or maybe no one has been telling you, since no one wants to talk about weight), but there it is. Dining halls are nice, yeah? You can go in and eat as much as you want. You can even take some food back to your dorm with you. And maybe you have “dining dollars” or something that you can spend at certain places to get even more food. Because that’s what we need, even more food after going to that dining hall.

Dining halls are dangerous. Tired college students (who, let’s be real, are probably trying new certain things that may make them more hungry than usual) are hungry all the time. It’s common to eat when you’re bored, or when you’re trying to study. It’s part of the problem. I’ll give dining halls some credit, for the most part they have some healthy options. But if you eat too much of what they’ve got, it’s not going to be healthy anymore.

4. New-Found Freedom

The big one. We no longer have those people we subconsciously relied on. Parents or guardians, coaches, even gym teachers telling us what to eat, drink, and do. We don’t have anyone looking over our shoulder and making us a healthy dinner or saying we’re running the damn mile today *insert endless groans*.

We didn’t realize it at the time, but these people played a big role.

I don’t think any of these four things are mutually exclusive. I think they all go together, maybe not in equal parts but together nonetheless.

There’s a fifth thing, though, that I think is mutually exclusive and important for everyone to remember.

5. We’re Not Teenagers Anymore!!!!!

This is so overlooked. I didn’t even think of this until my sister pointed it out to me recently. (I think it was her anyway.)

When you turn 18, you’re (technically) an adult. I’m not talking about legal stuff, I’m talking about physically. You are physically an adult. Your body is growing still, and it’s unrealistic for us to expect our adult selves to still have the bodies of teenagers. Some people can pull this off, but they either grew early or aren’t growing yet or maybe there’s just something off with them (I don’t mean that in a rude way, just maybe their body has something different going on). We cannot expect our bodies to be the same at 20 that they were when we were 16. We’re constantly changing. We aren’t getting the same amount of physical activity in as we were when we were growing up, and we’re eating different, and our priorities have changed. There are so many factors to consider, the ones I mentioned are just the top of the list. Maybe they aren’t even the top of every list, but they’re the top of my list based on what I’ve seen and read.

The bottom-line is, it’s easy to be hard on yourself and not understand what’s totally going on when it comes to weight because it’s taboo. Who actually wants to sit there and talk to a friend or relative and say, “Wow, I’ve gained weight, I wonder why?” And who wants someone else to bring it up, either? I don’t want anyone commenting on my weight; even if I’m the one who brought it up I get uncomfortable. Just remember that there are different factors to consider, and do what you can to be your best self that you love. Because that’s what’s important; above all else, you should love yourself, because you’re the only self you’re ever going to have.


Should I do a follow-up post on how to deal with each of the items on this list in a healthy way? Leave a comment!

4 thoughts on “Why We Gain Weight in College

    1. I agree, everyone expecting to keep their teenage physique is sadly unrealistic yet such a normalized goal. We should all learn to be happy with our bodies, while striving to stay healthy of course! That’s what I’m currently working on: body positivity and fitness with healthy, realistic goals!

      Thanks for the reply, Karla!

      xoxo Hayden

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This all definitely makes sense! I didn’t go to college, but I feel like it’s important to be more conscious of your body changing as you grow older for sure, and not like having unrealistic expectations for being an adult vs a teenager. (Bye faster metabolism. 😂) Although one thing I noticed when I’m just by myself is that I’ll get caught up working and actually not bother to make food. So I don’t gain weight but it’s NOT healthy to live like that either. Being adult is hard.😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES! It’s so important to take care of our bodies, they’re the only ones we’ve got! I’ve said this before: we need to put ourselves first, because without us there can be no success. Our bodies and even our mental health can be so overlooked when it comes to trying to reach our goals!

      Your comment was such a great addition to my post, thank you!

      xoxo Hayden


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