Shredding the Freshman 15

This month’s blog is provided by Riley McInnis, daughter of Windham Pilates’ owner Susan McInnis and currently a Sophomore at Elon University. She gives an insight on how she became confident in her body again after taking group exercise classes at Windham Pilates and focusing on healthy eating after she returned from her first year at college.


Before entering college, I told myself that I would never gain the dreaded “freshman 15.” I made a promise to myself I would never be that college kid to come back from college saturated in pizza grease.

I have always considered myself to make healthy choices and enjoy everyday fitness, but for some reason when I entered the college dorm, everything changed.

My love for health and fitness never changed, but my habits completed spiraled downward. Like my fellow dorm mates, I would eat Dominos at 3am because I felt like that, which was something I would never do while at home.

Every single time I would eat I would think to myself, how many calories is this meal? Is it healthy? Am I eating too little or too much? I was lost without my mom helping me make my portion sizes or nutritious meals.

My problem lay in my relationship to food. I was never able to fully enjoy a meal because I was always self-conscious. I would begin to binge eat because food was constantly on my mind.

So, you may be wondering how did I fix my relationship with food?

When I returned to New Hampshire after my freshman year of college, I sat down with my mom and told her I wanted to change. I never cared about the weight, but I cared about the way I looked.

I decided to start with gradual changes to habits and continue to tell myself that I would eventually see change in my body. My biggest progression was when I stopped using a scale. The numbers I was seeing was only turning me away from food and working out, which are two aspects of my life that are vital.

I decided to work out 3-4 times a week attending classes at Windham Pilates. I would come to the studio and use the cardio and weight room for 30-45 minutes at a time. I wanted to increase my cardiovascular endurance to shed the extra pounds. I mixed in Pilates and yoga classes to tighten up my muscles and regain the strength I had lost.

When I started to incorporate both Pilates classes and cardio, I began to see my body change drastically. I started to notice a change in my mental health and confidence as well. Each class I took was a struggle, but began to get easier and more enjoyable when I noticed my body changing.

Simultaneously while working on my fitness regime, I was focusing on my diet. I was diagnosed with gluten, dairy, and soy allergies while at college.  My focus was to revamp my diet and find the foods that agreed with my body. I met with Noreen Gallo, R.D., who helped me create a realistic and enjoyable diet that I could stick to.

I focused my daily foods on eggs, chicken, leafy greens, avocado, legumes, and loads of vegetables. I learned to listen to my body, and ultimately that led me to have the capability of fueling my body with foods that gave me the energy and satisfaction I had been searching for.

The Freshman 15 may seem inevitable for some people. I think that the problem in my instance was that I went into college with the wrong mindset.  I didn’t understand that when you change environments and eat completely new foods, your body is naturally going to change. Learning the right habits and attitudes before you leave for college can help combat the Freshman 15, but if you’ve already gained it, summer is a great time to take back control.

My biggest advice is to go into college or even your next phase of your life with a clear mindset ready for change. It is inevitable that your body is going to react to a new environment and new food. But with the right attitude, you can manage it.

Written by Riley McInnis

Riley McInnis