Life, Death and the Freshman 15

Life, Death and the Freshman 15

Shaindle Schmuckler

Shaindle Schmuckler spreads her energy and humor as a regular contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Surely you’ve heard of the dreaded freshman 15. You haven’t? Come out from under that rock.

Ask college freshmen. If they have experienced this phenomenon, they will explain it to you without pleasure. If they have not experienced this phenomenon, you will hear the joy in their voice.

Upon graduating from high school, most of my friends attended one of the New York state colleges or universities in the city. Chasing down the buses needed to transport us to the train station, then running up the stairs to chase down the train headed for our institution of higher learning pretty much guaranteed the freshman 15 would be the least of our worries.

We were schlepping books — so many books that it felt as if we were carrying bricks to a construction site. (This reminds me of how we schlepped stones to Pharaoh’s construction site in Egypt.)

We also were protecting our purses from sticky-fingered passengers. If exams were theorder of the day, we desperately tried to memorize the assigned information, hanging on to the straps provided, rocking to the rhythm of the train, all while pushed every which way by passengers pretending they are the only ones riding.

And let us not forget those male passenger who were never taught to keep their hands to themselves.

Shaindle Schmuckler
Shaindle Schmuckler

So when my sweet friend shared the reason for her gaining 15 pounds, I laughed and said to myself: “Self, this has the makings of a Shaindle’s Shpiel.”

Let’s talk a little more about the dreaded freshman 15.

You do not have to be a freshman of any sort to pick up the 15.

The world has created hundreds of ways, and thousands of reasons, to escape from, run from, exercise from or drop those 15 pounds. I chose not to mention any numbers above 15; you can do that for yourselves.

A few regimens we’ve tried, hoping for miracles, include juice, shakes, grapefruit, point or calorie counting, all protein, and, last but not least, all carbs. There are programs for weight loss over 40, weight loss over 50 and weight loss over 60.

I think these mavens think that if you are over 60, just forget about it. They obviously have not heard the news: 70 is the new 60, which is the new 50, which is the new 40. I think you get the picture.

My sisters will gleefully share with you that whenever there was a simcha to which we were all invited, most female friends or relatives would respond with “What are you wearing?” or “What shall I wear?” My standard response: “I have to lose weight!”

Stop snickering; most of you worry about this same challenge.

Back to how this shpiel got started.

My friend was experiencing double vision. Not too intensely and not all the time. Being a mom, she had long ago discovered that moms don’t get sick and definitely do not make sick-mommy visits to the doctor.

However, the doubles did not go away. Finally, a doctor visit was planned. It was at this visit the doctor, in all his wisdom, said don’t worry about the double vision. Let’s do some tests.

Allow me to digress with a question.

Why is it, although we moms are finished with our formal schooling, doctors are forever telling us “Let’s take some tests”? First of all, they are not taking the tests; we are. Second of all, what would happen if we said: “You take some tests.”

Enough of that; on with the shpiel.

So my friend takes some tests, only to discover she has not one, not two, but three aneurisms. These, by the way, have nothing to do with the doubles, even though the doubles sent her to the doctor, who sent her for tests, which discovered the three aneurisms.

Everything happens for a reason.

Suddenly, she feels hungry all the time. You guessed it: Here comes her freshman 15. Jokingly she tells me, “Who knows how long we will live? Might as well eat and be happy.”

Fifteen, shmifteen — in the end, who really cares?

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