Summer was coming to a close, and I spent those fast-paced last three months at home exercising, working at a day camp, going on weekend getaways with my friends to the beach, and most importantly preparing myself mentally and physically for college. All the registering, shopping, and packing was the easy part for my mom and me. The real challenge came with my actually being able to go away for college. My mom kept reminding me throughout the summer that she was not 100% comfortable with me going to a university a plane ride away and that I had to spend the summer proving to her that I could go and successfully stay there. So I set out to do exactly that, to prove to my mom that I was an adult who could go to college far away without having to come home due to disordered eating, excessive working out, unstable mental thoughts, and in sum weight loss.
Other than working from 9-4 at the JCC summer camp, I had a bunch of free time and that meant finding ways of branching out from my normal activities of working out and eating cleanly. I went to multiple new restaurants with my friends and family, trying new foods, and explored parts of New Jersey that I had never seen before. I let myself enjoy the weekends with my friends, spending days at the beach without working out every morning and eating things that I previously would have categorized as “off limits.” To say that I was doing all of these things without constant thoughts of guilt is a lie, but what distinguished my mindset from before treatment compared to then is that I could feel these thoughts but allow them to pass.
In the beginning of September, I would be attending the University of Michigan, a school that I had been visiting for a few years before because my older brother went there. Even if I did not know it, everybody else knew that I was going to end up there. And inevitably they were right. As my passion for the school grew and grew, and it got closer to the day I would leave, I knew I had to do anything within my power to make sure that I would be getting on that plane to Ann Arbor and not coming home other than for planned breaks. I am sure that there are several other girls and guys out there that were in the same position as I was, but every road is different. As I got off the plane and arrived at my dorm, I realized how big of a change this would be. I knew so many other students coming ,but many did not know of my complex past. Would their naivety be a good or bad thing? Should I be completely honest with my new friends or keep it to myself? My eating disorder is something that really shapes who I am and how I would approach my life in college, so it is important for those close to me to really understand where I have come from.
After days of organizing my room alongside my family, roommate and her family, I sat on my bed wondering about all the unknown that was coming towards me with the beginning of my freshman year of college. I knew that being unstructured and not having a routine right away had hurt me in the past and had ultimately led me to the past year of medical treatment. So how could I combat these pressures in order to live a balanced lifestyle away from home? I knew I would just have to face the first day of classes with a lot of uncertainty and use all the tools that I had gained from a year of treatment to figure out what I was going to do. The first few days, I had slipped back a little bit into trying to fit in two workouts a day. Although I saw this as a perfect situation, I did not realize how much walking I would be doing on such a large campus and how much time I would have to dedicate to homework. Ideally, I would pass up any work to go to do a workout, but I knew that I had to prioritize my studies and do what I really was here, at the University of Michigan, to do. Thus, I spent the first few weeks trying out different dining halls and restaurants around campus, and figuring out the ways of the CCRB (Michigan gym) and a few other fitness studios in Ann Arbor.
So now that I have almost completed my first year of college, where are my favorite places in Ann Arbor? Current and incoming University of Michigan students listen up! When the weather is nice, run outside and in the Arb. I am a treadmill junkie so you’ll see me in the CCRB every other day and the other days at Orange Theory. I also love Center for Yoga. Their hot yoga classes are killer. Of course with my new found balance it’s not just workouts. I suggest going to Pizza House and NYPD. Also checkout the sushi places like Sadako and Totoro. I am known for ordering the chicken teriyaki without the sauce and extra veggies, and it is unreal! New to South U is Fred’s! For someone like me, this place is absolutely perfect. Go there if you’re into acai bowls, avocado toast, or anything of that sort. I just got back from a dinner at Isalita, and you have to check it out. I got cauliflower tacos. For those people that think you cannot eat clean when going out to dinner, you are wrong.
Here are my orders for a few of my favorite restaurants in Ann Arbor:
Amers- Grilled Chicken Salad without the cheddar and add avocado
– Finish the meal off with some of their froyo and amazing cookie dough!
Babo- basically anything they have is great! Cool market that you can food shop as well!
Angelos- perfect place for brunch with your friends. Egg white omelet with turkey (protein!), spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, extra well done and try with fruit on the side
Sava’s- ask anyone where to go when you’re in town, and it’s here. Greek Salad without olives and add a black bean burger is unreal!
Pizza House- when you’re not enjoying a feta bread or chipati, get a turkey salad!
Given that this is the last installment of my story, I wanted to end with a few thoughts. Am I cured? It is 100% safe to say that I will be dealing with this mental battle for the rest of my life, but my ability to overpower these thoughts and feelings is really the test to how healthy I am and will continue to be. The balancing process is still ongoing and may always be, but I think that I have personally done the smoothest and healthiest transition I could have done to going to college, and I am determined to keep it going as I continue my years in college.