But for the first time, I had freedom and no rules and I had no experience or idea what to do with that. I lived in an apartment, went to school, and cheered. Well, I took advantage of everything I never did growing up. I made friends, and A LOT of them. At the ripe age of 17 I had hit puberty and grown up but on a college campus I was “illegal” making me that much more desirable. I got to admit, looking back on photos now, I looked perfect. I had shape to my body and I had a glow to my skin, a head full of thick hair, and a tan to die for. Every single person on that campus knew who I was, and besides a few choice girls, I wasn’t hated by many at all. There was a huge hoop-rah when I showed up to parties- I loved it. However, I was also going through a case of beer a night or a handle of Bacardi every 2 nights. I was happy, and I ate and ate and ate. That’s what people did when they were drunk, so that’s what I did. Hanging around guys the majority of your time will cause you to eat, hungry or not, all the time. Fast food, late night cafeteria runs, unlimited supply on food was at college. I was loving life and I was being accepted by people without trying at all. I didn’t have to life my finger for anything!

After a semester, I had lost control of everything in my life besides partying hard and making myself well- known on campus. I hated the teaching major and I had gained some 40lbs between August and December. I had a 1.8 GPA. I even went as far as to blame my clothes dryer at my apartment on my shrinking clothes and for my birthday made my mom take me clothes shopping. Still, even at this time, jean size and appearance didn’t strike me as something I needed to worry about or take care of. I was in a total loss of control everywhere else. I couldn’t even get my hung over ass out of bed for class.

The end of one semester away from home left me with a lot of confusion. Academic probation? This girl? That was so unacceptable. I spent the entire winter break freaking out at home as people commented on my “freshmen weight” and looked at me like a stranger. None of my clothes fit and I became so embarrassed with myself. Well, like my childhood, I had no real opinion besides what others had to say, and I did what everyone was telling me. They comment on my weight and grades then they will change. “I needed to lose weight” they say, “I picked up a lot.” Talk about whip-lash if I had ever experienced it. My body image and my grades were on the line. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. I panicked.

I would like to think I am a Type A person, because I take things to the extreme. I am either ALL in or all out. I either follow steps perfectly, or I don’t do it at all. It is black and white. That’s where my weight came in. I refused to let myself go, so I threw my energy full force into dieting. Whilst dieting I started up an intense exercise routine. Mind you, I was cheerleading full time in college as well. We had 6am practices and 3-6pm practices daily. In between this I had class full time, and a job. I started running 6-10 miles a day. After that, I lifted weights. I had this little voice in my head telling me I was undeserving of anything to eat if I did not earn it. That little voice is still there, but now is just a casted shadow on my thoughts.

I dropped the weight rather easily and compliments flourished in, in copious amounts. I got a boyfriend, an asshole of a boyfriend, but I was head over heels at the time. I was 18 and he was a 22 year old big time frat guy. I controlled my food to a tee and I was good at it. I had the control over myself for once. It was made that much easier with amazing compliments coming my way, I wanted it to keep up. I needed to keep my control. People liked this? People like my body and admired my willpower? KEEP IT UP I said to myself. Slowly but surely I began to feed off other peoples comments and opinions. I looked so great. I was lean and strong and attractive. So I had to do better, take it to an extreme. I had to perfect my grades, nothing shy of a 4.0 would do, and I had to make the perfect cheerleader both physically and visually, and I had to have a perfect diet and body. I was controlling everything I thought I had power in controlling.

I started circling repetitive thoughts in my mind and counting and tallying. I worked on my cheerleading like a freak of nature. My jumps, cheers and dancing had to be perfect. I started waking up before my 8am class to run. I then went to work; cheer practice, gymnastics practice, then to the gym to lift weights. Such a busy schedule kept food out of site but always on my mind. I spent my time in class writing down what I was allowed to eat, and calculating and recalculating a million times, all over my class notes, what my consumption would be. I have old notebooks FULL of calorie counts, and ideas for the smallest meals I could create. Then in the rituals started. I would not eat around my roommates; every meal came to my room to be eaten because I was “studying.” I wouldn’t touch beer because its calories and carbohydrates- carbohydrates were the devil.

I couldn’t miss a run, a workout, and surely had a list 5 miles long of food I would not touch. Strange though, this list was always changing and my rituals were always being twisted. Calories circled my thoughts 24/7; I couldn’t get my mind off of anything but food. I was spending night after night in my bed wide awake because I could not calm down my mind. I was anxious, needed to know what I was going to eat for my next meal, then calorie count and tally it a million times. I had to think about what other people ate that day, how much exercise I did, and how I can get around skipping meals. I researched dieting, pro-ana websites, got tips, and became a walking twig in a matter of months. I started coming home on the weekends because I was so high strung at college. Home made me comfortable but it didn’t last long. I soon regretted that because each time I came home I was wearing smaller clothes, and comments were now coming in about putting a stop to the weight loss, “I had achieved it” and “I was getting to skinny”. There could be nothing more I wanted to hear. That was perfect. My mind LOVED that. You think I can’t be the best at this and prove you wrong?

All this time I was still acting normal and trying to live the college life…

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