Why Kim K's Tweet About Weight Loss Is Problematic
Entertainment |  Source: FlockU, Twitter

Why Kim K's Tweet About Weight Loss Is Problematic

Eating disorders are not a joke.

I can't lie, I am a big fan of Keeping Up With The Kardashians and following all the drama and escapades of that outrageous family. I don't think they're always the greatest of role models, but they are entertaining and for that reason have garnered a huge following.

That said, I am incredibly disappointed in Kim's latest distasteful tweet about weight loss tips.

The tweet has since been deleted, but it said that the flu was an amazing diet, and helped her drop six pounds before the MET gala. She followed up with this:

She immediately received a ton of backlash on twitter and with reason, which we assume is why she later deleted the tweet.

For one, it's absolutely horrible to glorify getting an illness as a way to lose weight, particularly from someone who is followed by millions of young girls and women. It is very likely that girls will see this as inspiration to catch the illness themselves, following in West's footsteps and down a destructive path to eating disorders.

That may seem like an outlandish statement, but when you consider the facts it's sadly realistic. The United States has an alarming rate of eating disorders, with 20 million women and 20 million men having a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their lifetime.

These are only the reported cases, which are estimated to be much lower than the actual total. Women in particular are affected, with girls as young as age six admitting concerns about their weight or becoming fat, and up to 60 percent of all elementary school girls admitting the same.

Even if Kim wasn't directly telling her followers to "go out and get the flu", the way she casually discusses weight loss only contributes to the obsession our society and the media has with body image.

The fact that she adds "lol" to the end of the tweet shows her attempt at poking fun at the situation, but eating disorders are not a joke. An off-handed comment can be triggering to the many individuals who go to extremes and harm themselves in order to lose weight.

Despite the frequency of cases, eating disorders are in fact considered a mental illness. I can say from personal experience that having an eating disorder isn't something you can just talk yourself out of.

While it's taken me years to get to a point where I actively try to live a healthier lifestyle and am less critical of my appearance, there are still days when I hate how I look and am unkind to my body. It's impossible to know what will set off these feelings, but the media and thoughtless tweets like Kim's sure don't help.

Part of the issue is how much we've normalized these conversations focused on weight and appearance, making it seem almost customary to have an eating disorder or try out different weight loss fads.

However, as stated by Lauren Smola, director of helplines services for the National Eating Disorder Association, "Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, so unintentionally causing more suffering can have deadly results."

At the end of the day, we all have a responsibility to change the conversation surrounding weight and appearance. It should start with celebrities like Kim who have the power and following to spread these messages.

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Entertainment |  Source: livestrong.com

I Lost 15 Pounds. Here's How it Happened.

Snacks are whack.

About this time last year I was borderline overweight according to the BMI scale, and I was able to tell. I had a gut. I had a chubby face. My arms were a bit flabby, and my self-esteem wasn't too high. I looked at a picture that my mom had taken of me on a family vacation that summer and thought, I'm not okay with this. Ever since that day I've researched ways to lose weight in a healthy fashion, and proper exercises to lose fat. Since that year's journey I've lost 15 pounds. Here's what happened on that road.

A lot of my problems started with the fact that I was snacking a crap-ton because I was bored. It didn't help that the things I snacked on included Little Debbie's snacks and potato chips. Not good. I decided to at least change up what I was eating, and I started turning to crackers, pretzels, and water instead. I know, most people think carbs are gross, but carbs are a necessity for your body to function. (This is wonderful for me because I freakin' love bread). Now I eat veggies, apples, and, still, crackers. Go me.

Once I jumped over the sugary hurdle, I had to decide what exercises to do. The most exercise I would ever do would be one little walk, maybe two to three times a week. I decided to try and walk every day, and walk faster. Then I moved on to the stationary bike. About half a year later, I got a YMCA membership and took exercise classes five times a week for more variety. Seriously, variety is a wonderful thing when you are working out.

The winter was a problem. I was starting to turn back to old eating habits when I was bored, and didn't exercise too much because I was inside. I gained about five pounds back that I had lost because of that. I was so lethargic and didn't feel like doing a whole lot. My way of battling it was to restrict even more of what I was eating.

Problem with that: you should never eat less than 1,200 calories a day if you are a girl, or 1,800 if you are a guy, because it'll put your body into starvation mode, majorly slowing your metabolism. This is not good. You will gain more weight if your metabolism slows down.

Throughout the entire trial of losing weight, I had to battle the constant need to eat, even if I wasn't hungry. To make sure I didn't give in, I would wait until my stomach started growling, or if I couldn't wait that long, I'd get out of the house and go for a walk far away from the sugary temptations. I started to plan what snacks I would allow myself to eat, allowing only green beans, apples, turkey, and tea. I have not regretted making that list.

If I had to chock this all up to a few key nuggets of wisdom, I would probably say: only eat if you are genuinely hungry, diet is way more important than you think, exercise is fun once you find the right routines for yourself, and beware of winter. But since I have lost this weight my self-esteem has sky-rocketed upward, I've become a much healthier eater, and I feel sexier. The path is a bit grueling, but I can certainly tell you it's very worth it.

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Entertainment |  Source: @rohane

How to Lose Weight Without Really Trying

You probably don't even realize all of the bad decisions you're making.

As noted in this post's predecessor, it's not easy being a college student. You're supposed to get good grades, rage constantly, and look good while doing it all.

But unless you're one of those super-human creatures who can somehow devour cheap pizza following a night of drunken debauchery courtesy of your favorite shitty beer while still fitting into all your favorite clothes from high school, you've probably noticed that you're not exactly looking your best. At all.

In fact, you could say you've gotten pretty fat. And the worst part is that despite the fact that you're aware you look like a cross between a sea cow and an unwashed potato, you just are ready to make the strenuous and time-consuming commitment to lose weight.

My calorically irresponsible lifestyle caught up with me even faster than my fiscally irresponsible one. The freshmen 15 is real. The sophomore 16 isn't far behind. And as noted before, I am entirely unmotivated, so I devised a few methods to lose weight quickly and with minimal to no effort on my behalf.

Walk to Class
You're talking to Uber royalty, here. I spent so much money Ubering to classes just so I could leave five to 10 minutes later. When I finally realized this wasn't a sustainable model of transportation, I started walking.

Within a week I noticed a difference in my legs and my overall shape. Skip the Ubers, skip the bus, skip the pledge rides to class. Take the long way to your classes. Hit all the hills. And if you're habitually late like me, you're about to become a really good runner.

Drink Up
I know that every article telling you how to lose weight stresses that you should load up on the agua, but seriously. Drink hella water. If you aren't about to pee yourself in every single class, you're doing it wrong.

Not only will it fill you up so you're less likely to binge eat Chipotle twice in one day, but it'll also help you de-bloat. Say goodbye to your carbonation-induced love handles and hello to clear skin, less cravings, and probably fewer instances of blacking out.

Pack Snacks
Day after day I'd tell myself that I don't need to bring snacks to have throughout the day. Day after day in between my classes I'd end up in a hunger-driven rage, buying candy, Jimmy Johns, an entire pizza for myself, whatever.

So I started packing almonds, hummus, fruit. Things that would fill me up but not leave me regretting every food-related life choice I'd ever made. Plus, you save money. Win-win.

Get Involved
It sucks motivating yourself to go get on the stair master for an hour. It sucks even to go to one of those cardio hip-hop classes that always over-exaggerate the amount of fun you'll have and under-exaggerate the awkwardness in the room.

But some of the best ways to get cardio can actually be fun as hell. Play basketball, volleyball, tennis, racquetball, or even an enthusiastic ping pong will do more for you than falling asleep on the elliptical, and you can do it with all your friends who also gained ten pounds in breadsticks during Welcome Week.

Dress Like You Don't Want to Crawl in a Hole and Die
There's nothing wrong with occasionally wearing sweatpants, leggings, baggy shirts, basketball shorts, etc to class every once in a while. But when you're constantly wearing loose, comfy clothes, you might not even realize you've gained weight until you try to squeeze yourself into a pair of jeans. Or really anything that isn't composed of at least 5 percent Spandex.

Not to mention, you're gonna feel so much better about yourself when you see your reflection in the library bathroom and don't have the thought "why is this Beluga looking at me?"

You're welcome. Now go break in that crop top.

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Entertainment |  Source: @daphneemarie

Five Ways to Avoid the Freshman 15

How to fight off the weight and feel good.

We have all heard the dreaded words upon entering college: the freshman 15, the transfer 20, the list goes on. Seldom do we realize when we have become victims to this monster ourselves.

Can you really blame us? All you can eat cafeterias, late night cafes with excellent chocolate croissants, and ungodly amounts of alcohol on the weekends are some of the most enjoyable parts about being in college!

But then it hits you: you can no longer fit into your favorite jeans, you're out of breath just by walking to class, and if you can't see it, you feel it on the inside by experiencing terrible acid reflux.

That was how I experienced it, at least. But I changed all of that my senior year.

Had I known what I know now, I would have avoided the freshman 15 all together (I actually gained the freshman 50). I guess you live and you learn. I can at least show some of you how you can fight off this extra weight, and how to lose it if you want to. I hope this article helps anyone struggling with weight loss, body image, or an eating disorder.

Number one: don't justify eating whatever you want with your studies or stress level
You won't feel any better by eating terrible food late at night. In fact, you will feel less stressed if you choose to eat fruits and veggies over muffins and mocha fraps.

Number two: cafeterias are great, but super markets are better
Granted, you might have purchased a meal card and that's fine. But take some time to go to your local farmer's market on the weekends and purchase some real food. You will not regret it.

Number three: cut back on the alcohol
This might be the hardest one to do for many of you. Give it a shot (literally and figuratively) and see how you feel after cutting back.

Number four: use your school gym
Even if you don't like going to the gym (I personally didn't) your school probably has an outdoor track, and numerous exercises clubs like boxing, jiu jitsu, and rock climbing. Utilize them! Not only will you stay active, but you will also make friends in the process.

Number five: love yourself
I don't want to get all lovey dovey, but too many college students rate themselves by the grades they get or how many times they go out on successful dates. This results in how we treat our bodies. If you want to feel good, you need to make sure you're treating your body right, and you treat your body right when you love yourself.

It's not about looking good; it's about feeling good.

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Entertainment |  Source: livescience.com

A Discussion on Eating Disorders and Athletics

Sports hurt--and helped--my health.

FlockU Presents is a new vertical we've launched for longform pieces about topics you care about - everything from sex and body shaming to the history of beer pong to how terrorism affects you as a college student.

Sports have always been an incredibly important part of my life. They've provided an outlet for my stress and helped me form so many lifelong relationships and memories. But because sports are sports, competition is fierce, and sometimes the pressure to perform and succeed takes a severe toll on personal health. It happened to me (and many others).

What started as a watchful diet turned into a life-consuming eating disorder, and I'm sadly not alone in this experience. According to a 2006 survey by the National Eating Disorders Association, 20% of college students said they have or have previously had an eating disorder. Eating disorders and subclinical symptoms are most prevalent among female college students, with 91% of female students surveyed saying that they have tried to control their weight through dieting, and 25% stating that they've binged and purged.

Female athletes in particular are at some of the highest risks for developing eating disorders due to the "perfection" we seek in our sport. A study by the NCAA found 33% of Division 1 female athletes have symptoms that place them in the high-risk category for anorexia. In sports that have a higher emphasis on appearance, such as gymnastics and figure skating, 62 percent of female athletes were reported to have eating disorders. These numbers are alarming, but from personal experience I can attest that these documented cases are only a fraction of the reality.

In high school I was in field hockey, swimming, and track, but focused primarily on the two individual endurance sports (both high-risk categories). I excelled at swimming at a young age and was regionally ranked by the time I was 12, but began lagging behind when I started playing multiple sports. I distinctly remember one of my coaches telling me "You just need to practice more," as the cure-all solution.

It was a seemingly basic comment, but one that piled on to all of my other anxieties. I was obese in elementary school, something that contributed to my parents' fighting and their eventual divorce. I began losing weight in middle school by avoiding sugar and fat, and counting calories--habits that grew exponentially worse in high school. I was also a straight-A student and academic perfectionist, a characteristic that put me at risk. I never partied because I always had practice or games. I just wanted to keep improving, and I thought training and watching my diet would do the trick.

I remember starting every morning by stepping on the scale. It was my own little competition that I thought would improve my appearance and athletics. I prized myself for shrinking down to 107 lbs. For breakfast I only allowed myself a bowl of plain oatmeal and one cup of coffee; for lunch, some raw veggies, two slices of turkey, and an apple (300 calories max). I would be exhausted by the end of the day, my stomach groaning and head spinning, but once my body adjusted it seemed normal. Occasionally I would ask to eat my friends' leftovers, only to feel guilty later.

During hockey and track, I trained directly after school on an empty stomach. I would leave my hockey practices and games only to go run another two to four miles. Bear in mind that I was a midfielder, already running upwards of four miles in a game.

During winter when I went home before swim practice, I always checked the scale first. Depending on the number, I would scarf down entire bags of chips and pots of stew only to force myself to puke them up before practice.

The NCAA reported that 45 percent of swimmers surveyed felt that the revealing nature of a swimsuit created an additional stressor in the sport. I would constantly check myself in the mirror from all angles, over-analyzing every bulge and bump that my tight suit seemed to highlight, jealous of the "perfect" bodies that some of my competitors had.

My body and weight soon became a widely discussed topic. I constantly received mixed comments from everyone-- friends, family, teachers, coaches, even strangers. I was either "gorgeous and strong" or "so skinny." It messed with my head, but ultimately I remember being proud of my smaller size. And for track, I was performing too. I won races, went to states, and ran a 5:25 mile. But my body was breaking down-- literally.

Eating disorders deny your body the nutrients it needs to function properly, and as a result your body responds by slowing down to conserve energy, leading to fatigue, muscle loss, irregular heartbeats, hormonal imbalances, and numerous other health consequences. I began losing my hair in chunks and had two stress fractures in high school from over-training. That's eight to twelve weeks each time that I wasn't allowed to do anything. For someone who lives to compete and was afraid to gain a pound, this was devastating. I also stopped having my period. That's when my parents stepped in and forced me to see a doctor.

I was diagnosed only as "high risk," because I lied answering a majority of the questions. "Have you ever forced yourself to purge?" "No." "How many calories do you eat in a day?" "Over three thousand".

Denial with eating disorders is extremely common for athletes, who often deny physical pain and injuries in order to continue competing (been there, tons of times). Ever heard of "No pain, no gain"? I would chant that to myself as I ran on stress fractures and pulled muscles, popping everything from ibuprofen to oxycodone before competition. My parents made me quit swimming for a while until I gained weight. Swimming used to be the one thing that got me through each day. Being forced to quit was miserable.

But during this time, I learned about the female athlete triad, which includes three distinct, interrelated health concerns: eating disorder, amenorrhea (irregular or no menstruation), and osteoporosis (low bone density from lack of nutrients and over-exercise). 25% of female athletes have at least one of these symptoms, but I had all three, and even bragged to my friends that I never got my period.

While initial improvement occurs for many athletes with eating disorders, they don't last long. Turns out, not having your period negatively affects your athletic performance and bone growth. One study found female athletes with ovarian suppression performed 9.8% worse than their peers with normal menstrual cycles. Amenorrhea also directly causes an irreversible reduction in Bone Mineral Density, a serious concern considering 90% of our bone growth occurs before we turn 18, putting us at a higher risk for stress fractures, osteopenia, and osteoporosis. With five stress fractures and counting, it pains me to know I will forever live with the consequences of my unhealthy past.


A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@tayraeswift) on

I started gaining weight the end of my senior year and into college, but still had relapses. I remember my freshman year when I joined Oberlin track and everyone asked me if I ran the 400m. Their faces were shocked when I told them I ran distance, because "I didn't look like it." I was too big for their category, and it made me feel awful. I had another stress fracture that year, and that's when I quit track to pick up lacrosse.

When I switched to focusing on field hockey and lacrosse, two team sports, that's when I officially became healthier. I had to shower naked with my teammates every day, and their supportive words and emphasis on body positivity stuck with me. My coaches no longer forgot about or ignored me if I didn't perform as well. The individual pressures were gone, and It was the first time I felt beautiful and proud of my body for all of its athletic strength.

I'm proud to say that I now weigh around the 140s (I don't step on scales), and can almost bench my weight and squat well over it. I still have days when I overly criticize my body--things like this don't just go away. But it's nothing like it was before. I'm determined to keep healthy so I can compete and be an athlete for the rest of my life. I'm done with the damn boot.

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Entertainment |  Source: thetenmost.com

Our Obsession With Weight Loss

There's healthy weight loss, and then there's unhealthy.

"This Is How To Lose Weight and Keep It Off!"

"Lose Weight In Your Sleep - Seriously!"

"17 Days to Significant Weight Loss."

"26 Tips to Help You Lose Weight and Feel Great."

I browsed Shape.com for fitness and health articles, and these are the titles and headlines that I found. Noticing a trend? I do too, one that isn't unique to this one fitness news outlet. Our society has become obsessed with the idea of losing weight.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Weight loss can be empowering, rewarding, and healthy, of course. Bodybuilding.com has an incredible section on their website dedicated to people transforming their bodies. Being a dedicated follower of the bodybuilding and fitness industry, I love reading this page. These stories, like this one I read recently, are motivational and uplifting.

The facts and sources don't lie. The CDC notes the numerous health risks associated with being overweight or obese, including hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, and the CDC reports that 38 percent of adults and 17 percent of teenagers are obese.

Now why would I have a problem with our society's weight loss craze after reading these scary numbers? It would certainly seem that America needs to lose weight. But my problem with the weight loss craze doesn't have to do with physical health. I'm not discouraging people who have weight to lose from pursuing weight loss plans and diets in a safe way. My big issue with our society's obsession deals with the effects of body weight struggles that are invisible but very real: the mental and emotional aspects.

We associate weight loss with success. Fitness. Happiness. Beauty. Power. Weight gain, on the other hand, is rarely ever something to be celebrated. It's inherently a bad, negative, stigmatized concept (refer again to those scary statistics above). I'm horrified that things such as fat shaming and body shaming exist nowadays, and are accepted. Perfectly normal, beautiful women are labeled as "plus-size" and "unhealthy" simply because they don't match society's definition of fitness and typical body shape (slay, Ashley Graham, slayyyyyy).

I have witnessed firsthand the growing stigma surrounding weight gain, especially among young women. For a long time, I was blinded by the tempting headlines and weight loss articles. I drove myself mad stepping on the scale each morning until I became a slave to the practice. I worshipped my mirror. I ate less and less each day, striving to make that accursed little number shrink. My calorie intake was likely close to or even less than 1100 per day. I justified my obsession with becoming skinny and thin by promising myself I'd be a happier, more athletic, fit version of myself. This was going to make me amazing. Pretty. Strong. Confident. But I was I wrong.

I eventually met with a dietitian and was talked into sanity...a sanity that unfortunately did not last long. I traded starvation for the pursuit of a very strictly healthy diet, to the point where I completely swore off certain foods. No eggs. No red meat. Definitely no sugar. I couldn't eat out at restaurants and would fall into panic mode if I couldn't get out of the situation. I had to cook everything for myself, because there was no way I'd really know what other people put into my food. I fell back into the pattern of weighing myself until the scale became my captor again.

These thought patterns crept into my exercise habits as well, until I hated myself on days I didn't work out. I lost 11 pounds from freshman to sophomore year of college, and in the summer of 2014, I was diagnosed with orthorexia nervosa and OCD. Orthorexia is, quite simply, the unhealthy obsession with a "healthy" lifestyle and diet, to the point where everyday life is disrupted. I correlated my diet and weight to my emotional well-being; if I was skinny and eating a perfect diet, then I was happy.

I was involuntarily sidelined from playing college volleyball in the spring of 2015. The sports physicians discovered that I had a dangerous iron deficiency, one that would have required an emergency blood transfusion had my levels been any lower. I wasn't allowed to practice. Lift. Run. For two and a half weeks. Even when I returned to practice, I wasn't allowed to jump, power lift, or sprint. On top of that, I weighed 139 pounds, which, for a 6-foot Division I athlete, is severely underweight. I had a choice. I could sit the bench, or I could gain weight and play. For me, there wasn't a choice. This was the sport and the team that I loved.

So, the campus dietitians put me on a 3,000 calorie-a-day diet, which horrified me at first. At our weekly team weigh-ins, I had to watch all my teammates smile proudly if their weights had dropped, or roll their eyes and mutter "damn!" if they'd gone up. I felt incredibly self-conscious and odd stepping on the scale, seeing a three-pound increase, and having to remind myself that this was good. This was making me strong. This was making me better.

In all, I gained 11 pounds, and I now sit comfortably at 150. I've finally learned to love myself and my body, and I could not be happier. I'll say it again...I'm the happiest and healthiest I've ever been in my life, and this was only after I'd gained 11 pounds. I lift heavier and run faster than I ever thought I could. I found the stronger, happier, more confident, vibrant version of myself at 150 pounds, and looking back, I know now that the 139-pound girl was a skeleton, a ghost, unhappy and sick. I had to reverse my way of thinking and separate what society thought about weight gain from what was actually true for my health. And I am so glad that I did, for the mental and emotional reasons, as well as the physical.

Lose weight if you need to, or most importantly, if you want to. Gain weight if you want to. Do it because you want to, not because you feel forced to by others or by an ideal image of fitness or beauty. You and only you get to decide what makes you happy. Take it from someone who had to make the journey and break away from a misconstrued view of fitness. Loving yourself and being healthy - truly healthy - is more important than any health craze.