Second Time Around

Featured Article, Weight Loss
on December 14, 2011
Thinkstock editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes—and has kept it off for 20 years.

DEAR FFG: I'm a college student and I've hit a peak weight of around 210 (I'm 5'4"). I have been overweight since I can remember, except during my freshman year of high school, when I was playing on the volleyball team and doing Weight Watchers. I ended up getting myself down to a healthy 134, but when volleyball ended I gained back far more than I lost. The hardest thing for me is to go through this process again and try to keep it a secret from my roommates while dealing with homework and trying to have some sort of college social life. What are your suggestions? — Sandy

DEAR SANDY: Talk about swimming upstream: College is typically the time when women put on weight, not take it off. For some reason (the liberation from parental control, maybe?) excess seems to define many college students’ experiences. It did mine, at least when it came to food and drink. So what you’re experiencing isn’t unusual. And if you’re saying “Duh!” right now, hear me out: The fact that there are other students in your same boat means that you may be able to find a buddy on the same road as you are to support you in your efforts. Now, part of what I learned during my journey was that keeping my diet a secret from those around me was a good thing—it helped insulate me from well-meaning but ultimately sabotaging questions, criticism and scrutiny. (You know, comments like “Are you sure you should eat that?” and “My friend lost 50 pounds on that diet, but gained it all back a few months later.” Completely unhelpful.) But part B of that advice was to seek support if you need it, whether you join an online support group (like’s Dream It Do It Diary), or find an in-the-flesh buddy, someone who is TRULY supportive, not competitive, not preachy or critical. Finding that person can be tricky. Try taking a fitness class in your student center or at least becoming a regular at the gym. I promise you: The clientele will not be just a bunch of jocks and zero-body-fat babes. Not only may you find a weight-loss buddy there, but you could also discover a new, healthier social life. The fact is, your social life doesn’t have to revolve around drinking and eating. I admit—it takes a bit of creativity. But there are lots of no-calorie things you can do on campus and off. Volunteering. The arts. The outdoors. There are plenty of women on campus who are struggling with this, just as you are. It may mean you have to take some risks, reach out, show some leadership. Give it some time, and you will find your spot—or make it yourself.