For five years I've had a problem. 

A problem, that, I think many of us have faced at different extremities. 

Body image. 

I can honestly tell you I don't know when it all started. I grew up a ballerina, stick skinny. I remember once, my dance teacher thought I had a problem, and I told her I had just eaten an entire pumpkin pie to myself prior to class, which, by the way, was true. 

But maybe, the fact that I remember that, is the problem in itself. I remember once when someone told me I had no boobs. I remember once when I gained weight in college and someone told me yep, that'll happen — in my mind, confirming that I had.

I think that's when it started. Prior to college, I had no idea what a calorie was. I didn't give food a second thought except to eat it when I was hungry, which by the way, was a lot. I would literally eat pancakes for breakfast, a Costco muffin for a snack, Wendy's for lunch, Swedish fish for a snack, bagel bites and Cheezits after school, and a large dinner after ballet — stick thin.

Then I got to college, started drinking alcohol (and heavily, I might add), and stopped dancing. I was never overweight, but there was definitely a difference.

I remember the first time I figured out what a calorie was. 

I had never been a gym-go-er, because I had always had ballet. I started going to the school's gym because that's what everyone else on my floor was doing, and I started to look at the calories burned count on the treadmill, not really understanding what it meant. 

After the gym session, I went and bought a poptart at the school convenience store. I turned the label around, and read, it "400 calories" it said. 

"WHAT THE FUCK," I thought. "I just burned 100 on the treadmill and nearly died (I'm often a bit dramatic)."

Maybe this is when it started, I'm not really sure. But as my body changed, I grew up, ballet became less important to me and college was in full swing — I couldn't handle it. 

Before writing this, I thought that I was fine until my senior year, but now I realize that this started much sooner than that. My sophomore year, I went on my first diet and took weight loss pills before spring break. 

Maybe that was what started the spiral, again I'm not sure. 

Luckily, college is crazy enough that I was distracted (slash intoxicated) enough of the time to not obsess too much. But as the years went by, as I stopped partying so much and started taking control of my career and future, my obsession with my weight spiraled, slowly but surely, to rock bottom. 

I talked about my weight all the time. About food all the time. I can't imagine being around me, it was as if, I was constantly talking about my weight so that someone would just reassure me that I wasn't fat, because I couldn't see correctly in my own mirror. I made myself throw up, I binged, I counted down events so I could have the perfect body by then, I did the worst things.

I remember the first time I lost a lot of weight. I basically starved myself for 6 weeks while working 16 hour days. While I didn't even necessarily mean to do this, I was also well aware of what I was doing. Guess what I did after that? Gained it all back. 

How did I do that? 


Why did I do that? 

I was scared of food. 

I was scared that if I ate anything bad, I would be fat. So therefore, I must binge to get it out of my system and then never eat it again. I followed this cycle for a couple years. Eating terrible because "I was starting the strictest diet ever tomorrow" and so on. 

Slowly, I gained weight, because, DUH. 

And I couldn't handle it. 

It got so bad that I was over-eating to the point of feeling uncomfortable on "the night before my diet," and I started seeing anxiety appear in my life in the form of unreasonable thoughts, worries, even shaking. 

Finally, I went to the ER for an anxiety attack. 

Don't get me wrong, my anxiety stemmed from many things — money, career, friends, but the root was my incessant need to be perfect, which stemmed back to my overarching need to have the perfect body, which I sabatoged daily in fear of never being able to eat good food again. 

After the ER, I realized I needed to change my ways and lessen my anxiety. I started eating healthier and working out. 

But that wasn't enough. 

I was still binging every once and awhile, giving up on being healthy if I ate one bad snack.

So, one year ago, I decided to do an NPC competition — because what better way to attain a perfect body? There literally wasn't one. 

So I did it. And guess what? I got my six pack. I got down to the smallest and fittest I had been in years. 

I stopped binging.

And guess what else? 

I still wasn't happy. 

More confident? Yes. But I still looked in the mirror when I was at my smallest, thinking I was fat. Thinking I was gross. 

So what did I do after? 

I sabatoged. 

And I sabatoged good. 

Some stuff happened toward the end of my training causing me to leave my gym and not be able to work out any longer. 

There was some feelings of embarrassment, mortification, shame, guilt, sadness, and confusion. 

So what did I do? 

I sabatoged. 

And I sabatoged good. 

I spent the next year of my life obsessing with food again. Because, I wouldn't have this six pack unless I followed this NPC eating plan, so why even bother? Because, I'm going to start back on that plan tomorrow. Because, I hate myself. 

Because I hate myself. 

Because, even though I actually did have a near perfect body, I still thought I wasn't enough. 

I spent the next year of my life hating myself, not taking care of myself, going into depression, not practicing one ounce of balance, and not wanting to be around others. 

I spent the next year of my life giving up hope. 

Giving up on myself. 

I gained it all back, and then some. I was miserable, sad, and alone. 

Food was what I turned to... even though it always made it worse in the end.

There were many other factors in this dark year such as my career, my health, friends moving, and others, but my issues with how I look were the root. 

They were always the root. 

I woke up a year later and I didn't even want to be here. I didn't want to be alive. 

And that is when I knew I must change. 

I relapsed quite a few times, because, when you deal with anxiety and depression, as I've written about before, just because you decide to change or realize what's going on— that doesn't mean you've won. Each time I relapsed I hated myself, but I realized yesterday that this is something I have dealt with for 5 years of my life. 5 whole years. This isn't something that is fixed in one day, as much as I want it to be. As much as I know that it's stupid, it makes no sense to eat badly if you care about your looks so much. None of it makes sense. And because it doesn't make sense, I feel shame. 

I felt shame. 

But I don't feel that anymore — I can't feel that anymore. 

Because when I feel shame, I turn to my old ways. 

So I started changing. Other than coming to terms with depression and anxiety and some major factors in my career and life, I started to change my relationship to food. I tried to put myself back on diets, and I reminded myself that I wasn't doing that again. This is difficult, when you are unhappy with how you look, but I knew that all I needed, was to let go.

I got a workout buddy and started again doing a balanced and healthy regimen. I was looking in the mirror, yet again mentioning my weight phishing for something, saying how gross I was and how my goal was to look much better, when my workout buddy said, "well, I guess everyone has different goals." I looked at her and asked her what she meant.

"How you look right now... that's my goal."

I realized that day that I needed to stop obsessing, stop worrying, stop unintentionally putting others down in an attempt to make myself feel better, stop seeing an illusioned version of myself in the mirror. 

I remember so many comments about weight from growing up and into adulthood. The good, and the bad. 

I know that it is time for me to stand tall regardless of the progress I have ruined, regardless of my size, my hair color, the whiteness of my teeth. 

It is time for me to stand tall, unashamed, loving the person that looks back at me in the mirror. 

It is time for me to release my fear of food, my fear of not being perfect, my fear of everything. 

It is time for me to free myself from myself. 

Because I am so tired. I am so tired of obsessing, of never being good enough, of not wanting to go do yoga because it's not the most optimal workout, of not wanting to go to events because I don't want to drink or be seen, yet eating poorly anyway, of not letting myself be loved.

I am so tired. 

So so tired.


Anastasia Warren