My body image demons found me when I was 18 years old. I was on the brink of change, bracing myself for college and coming to terms with the fact that my high school sweetheart had trumped our innocent love with an older, more sophisticated new girlfriend.
Too naïve to grasp the real root of my worries, I concentrated on the more quantifiable issue: My ex's new girlfriend was far skinnier than I was. My short, frumpy body paled in comparison to her long legs and magazine-worthy abs. I became determined to reshape my body. Maybe if I weighed less, I could avoid future heartbreak. Every day became a battle between my natural urges to eat and the guilt that immediately followed.
In the end, my family and friends intervened before my obsession became an actual eating disorder, but the real damage was already done. I ate because people were watching but the taste of my meals often lingered in my mind.
My college years came and went and my relationship with my body slowly improved. I began to understand my fixation with my weight was not actually about my body at all. I was by all professional accounts a healthy weight, but I needed to control the numbers on the scale when I felt I could not control anything else. If I was capable of losing three pounds, then surely I could secure my dream job or graduate with honors, right? But every time I suffered heartache, I felt it in my gut.
Due to family genes, my mid-section would never be flat and I passionately loathed my stomach — convinced it was the cause of my inadequacy. As graduation approached and my future became a clear question mark, my obsession with my body weight reared its misguided head again.
I decided to pursue a career in the counseling profession. The degree required a great deal of personal reflection and I delved into my psyche at an all-encompassing pace. I explored therapy myself, determined to understand my own issues before joining a profession that helps others. Keep reading ...
More wellness advice from YourTango: