The Girl Who Tried to Control Everything

Every time Cory and I go on a road trip and we pass a sign that indicates what restaurants are on each exit, Cory never fails to point out a STEAK ‘n SHAKE!!


I always roll my eyes and making vomiting nosies to convey my feelings about Steak ‘n Shakes in a mature fashion.

Each time, Cory is let down.

So when he told me that a NEW STEAK ‘n SHAKE!! opened not far from us, I decided, “Oh, what the hell? Let’s go.”

And so we did.

While we were sitting at the table eating overly-greasy burgers and shoestring fries, I couldn’t help but realize how far we’d come.

When I was a Junior in college, I genuinely struggled with food. And it almost ruined our relationship. 

I was so obsessed and focused on “not eating bad foods” that it got to the point when Cory and I often chose to eat apart, because if we tried to eat together, I couldn’t handle it. That has too much fat. Think about all those calories. Sodium, sodium, sodium. Think about how fat that will make me. 

Going out for a meal or drinks with friends quickly turned me into an anxious mess. I couldn’t relax, and I definitely could not enjoy myself. It was as if a giant boulder was placed on my chest and I couldn’t breathe.

Finally, on some random Sunday when I was berating myself over everything I ate and drank the night before, Cory told me I had to quit it. He told me that my food anxiety was affecting him, and that it was affecting us. If I didn’t figure it out soon, he didn’t know how much longer we could be together.

It was the first time I realized that my issues had the ability to seep outside of my own self and touch someone else.

I sought help. I talked things out with a professional, and she helped me put things into perspective. I had to shift my perspective on what deserved more attention; my dinner or my boyfriend of three years?

Things changed. Slowly at first, but I was making progress.

After a while, I didn’t have a boulder on my chest each time we went out for pizza. I could go to bar nights and not keep a running calories tab in my mind. I was able to relax.

 And now? I hardly remember that scared girl. The Girl Who Tried to Control Everything nearly ruined the best thing in my life.

I’m healthier and happier than I’ve ever been, and I’m comfortable in my own skin. The sense of accomplishment that lies within that fact is insanely liberating.

I’m sharing this with you because I know that someone reading this can relate. Maybe she’s where I was and she just needs help realizing that her perspective needs to change. Or maybe she’s better now and needs to be reminded of how far she’s come.

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52 Responses to The Girl Who Tried to Control Everything

  1. Colleen you have no idea how similar of an experience we’ve had. Thank you for sharing, I’m sure someone who is going through this right now will be helped so much by this post…. Your awesome!!!

  2. Great post! I think it affects (or has affected) a lot of us, so I’m sure a lot of readers can relate. We’re happy for how far you’ve come – Congrats!

  3. Gabby @ Gabby's Gluten-Free says:

    Great post! I’ve struggled with the same thing in the past and it’s hard not to let those thoughts creep back up. I’m a total control freak but am slowly learning to let go and just enjoy the moment.

  4. Melissa says:

    How did you get yourself to sop worrying about calories?

  5. Hannah says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have recently lost a lot of weight and now struggle with severe food anxiety. If I consume anything too caloric I beat myself up over it. It is really hard to enjoy anything dealing with food, and I can tell that my friends and family are annoyed by it. It is nice to know that I am not the only one who is dealing/dealt with this. I am trying to relax and stop stressing over food since it is so minuscule in the scheme of things. It is reassuring to know that people can overcome food anxiety.

    Love your blog by the way!!

    • Colleen says:

      Hi, Hannah! Major props to you for losing weight! I appreciate how insanely difficult that can be. It’s all about balance, and you might not feel like you have it today, but because you’re aware of it, you’re well on you’re way! All the best! :)

  6. Susan says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. I am glad Cory said what he said because you guys may not be together today and I love you guys. Tell Cory Hi and visit Longwood soon.

    • Colleen says:

      Oh, thanks, Susan! Yeah, Cory is the best thing ever. I’m so glad he told me to get over myself! He and I need to take a day to play hookie and come spend it at Longwood! :)

  7. Sarah says:

    Beautifully written. Congrats to you for making the change, seeing progess, and recognizing how far you’ve come. (and high five to Cory for saying what he did, and being there for you!).You are both VERY lucky.

  8. Lauren says:

    Thanks for writing this, Colleen!!! That was (and sometimes still is) me. You’re so right though, it’s tough to break out of that anxiety-ridden shell related to food and alcohol. I definitely thought things like, “you lost 20 pounds because you quit binge drinking, so you better not even have one beer you fatass”. UGH. Thanks again!!

    • Colleen says:

      Thanks, Lauren!! I know exactly what you mean about “you lost this, so don’t have another beer!!” There is a constant quest to find balance – these days it’s just a little easier. Now, go have a beer! ;)

  9. Rach says:

    I feel like you were reading my memories when you wrote this. I went through the exact same situation my junior/senior years of college. It nearly lost me all my friends and completely destroyed my relationship with my boyfriend. I’m still not sure that I havfe gotten over losing him. But, shout out and major props to Cory for bringing it to your attention and having the strength to stick it out with you. It takes a pretty special guy to stay around through all the hard stuff and have faith that things will get better. If only my guy had been able to do the same. I’m still working on letting go of some of the control, but you are definitely an example of where I want to get myself to asap. You rock, lady!

    • Colleen says:

      Hey, Rach! I’m sad to hear you lost friends over this. I know I missed out on many fun times because I was so wrapped up in my own problems. Just know that everything happens for a reason! I hope tons of happiness (and good food!) come your way today!

      PS – Yes, MAJOR props to Cory. He’s pretty amazing!

  10. Def can totally relate to this!

  11. Elle says:

    I adore this post. You are so honest and it’s very appreciated. Big smiles :)

  12. I loved this post! I can relate to so many aspects of this…plus, eating separately is a lot of work! I’m trying to let myself be okay with Andy choosing a restaurant or what we have for dinner–even if it’s not something I’d typically choose.

    Thank you for your honest in this–I know a lot of us can relate!

  13. i can absolutely relate to this – i’m one of those that needed to be reminded of how far i’ve come. ;) thanks for sharing!

  14. This is a great post. I think that a lot of people, females in particular, have this happen to them at some point in their life. I know I did. It’s easy to let staying fit, counting calories, and feeling pressure to look a certain way take over your life. But in the end, we are who we are and the most important thing is that we’re happy. Because life is TOO SHORT to worry about a damn cheeseburger :) Thanks for sharing!

    • Colleen says:

      TOO SHORT. Too, too short. And honestly, no one knows if I’ve gained or lost 2 pounds. It felt good to get over that.

  15. I think I’m somewhere between knowing I need to change, and being proud of having changed my mentality thus far. Your story is a great reminder that one day, hopefully soon, I won’t have to picture food as calories, but instead as fuel. Thank you.

    • Colleen says:

      Exactly. Seeing food as fuel (and as fun) is amazing. I’m glad you are doing better, and I’m cheering you on to being totally food anxiety free!

  16. This was such a great post. I’m sure a lot of people can relate. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Reading blogs is actually what has made me realize how many of us girls have all gone through similar body image issues. Glad you’re in a better place :)

  18. mary says:

    Thank you SO much for posting this!! I can’t tell you how inspiring it is to read that you have overcome this. I constantly battle with food anxiety and I am now hopeful that with time I will be able to get over it!

  19. I just found this post through the “healthy living blogs” twitter feed and I’m so glad I did! I know I can drive my boyfriend crazy sometimes by over-analyzing everything we eat and it’s comforting to know that it doesn’t always have to be that way. So, thanks for writing this post!

    • Colleen says:

      So glad you stopped by, Megan! You’re so right – it doesn’t always have to be so stressful to eat a meal. Enjoy your day! :)

  20. Mary Beth says:

    Agreed, life is too short to worry all the time about something as small as a piece of cake (or the occasional steakburger). Thanks for sharing!

  21. Thank you so much for sharing! I did this my freshman year of college, along with obsessing over working out 7 days a week, and it drove me crazy. Today, I don’t count calories or weigh myself, and I’m fine with it!

  22. The more I read your blog the more I love you and feel like we could be best friends. I literally had the same feeling about my food/healthy eating life when I first began my weight loss journey. I was obsessive. I wouldn’t go out with friends because I didn’t want to miss a WW meeting. I ate like a rabbit. And then, I made a life decision to stop being owned by my eats. Come a loooong way, but it is touch and go. I’m sure you can relate:)

  23. Allison says:

    This was exactly what I needed to read. I have been struggling with eating anxiety/ obsessive exercise for sometime now. Luckily my boyfriend has helped me through the process or I would be much worst off. I needed to hear about what the anxiety did to your relationship, bc I can now see how much it really affects mine. I have made much progress, but still have a long way to go. This post just reinforces that I can eventually get over this!!!!

  24. This is happiest story. Thank you for sharing. I think it’s great Cory was able to say something to you because so often people just let things like this fester under the surface which would be both a disservice to your relationship, and to you, who needed help. You guys make a great team. :)

  25. maria says:


    Love you! I went through the same thing with my boyfriend (almost 8 years now) and still are sometimes.

    How did you manage to relax?

  26. I can definitely relate to this, Colleen. I was in those very shoes when Vishnu and I first started dating, and it affected our relationship a lot. Luckily, he was my strength and voice of reason at the time (and continues to be!) and was able to slowly show me that regardless of how my outer self looked, I had to focus on what’s on the inside. Being healthy is as much about the mind and soul as it is about the body – we just have to continue reminding ourselves that!

  27. Brittnye says:

    You seriously just made my preggo self crave a snack pack from Steak N’ Shake. *le sigh*

    I think every woman in some way has an inner struggle with food. Whether it’s not being able to stop eating, over analizing every ingredient to counting EVERY calorie. I know for me, I have come a LONG way in my Healthy Living lifestyle and have learned it’s not so much what you eat or how much but by finding a balance and options to enjoy what you eat and making it count in a positive way for YOU.

  28. Loved this post! And if you think about it, Cory saved your life. :)

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  30. kristen @ livinlifeinlouie says:

    I cancompletely relate to this. I use to be this way, even with my own family at family dinners! Eventually I had to enjoy the COMPANY and not about “oh no I can’t have ice cream”. Now I enjoy the ice cream!

  31. ugh, Colleen, I have SO been there. That was me in college… and isn’t it so liberating to no longer feel that restricting guilt?

  32. This is a great post! Congrats on how far you have come and props to Cory for trying to make it work!
    I have been there and done that in high school, during my sophomore and junior year. Luckily my friends pointed it out to me that I did not need to freak out about everything.
    We are both lucky for having people who watch out over us!

  33. Jessica C. says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I have really been thinking about this topic recently. I feel like I am constantly terrorizing my sweet supportive husband with over analyzing food. Not so much in the moment while eating it, but more like obsessing over what to eat and when or what new diet to try. My hubby is a very intuitive eater and relys on his natural hungry/full cues of when to eat and how much. Since I try to control everything and eat in a very regimented fashion, it drives me nuts! This can lead to very many arguements or hurt feelings on the weekends when I don’t want to go with the flow.

    I have been thinking about it a lot lately and realize I want to change this. I am not enjoying living this way and I don’t think I am being fair to my hubby who only supports me in all of my crazy food related antics. I need to find ways to work on changing my habits and behavior because I think my relationship and really happiness are way more important than eating on a certain schedule. Because, to be honest being this way isn’t making ME happy. It makes me anxious and miserable.

    Thanks for sharing! Very inspiring to see all of the comments and know there are very many of us who have the same struggles.!

  34. thanks so much for sharing this. I can relate to this in more than one aspect ..unfortunately! but I am working on it :)

  35. cait says:

    love this darling! im so glad you’re doing better and chose to get healthy for yourself and for the ones you love! you’re always inspiring! xo

  36. Caryln says:

    love this post! i feel like every girl (well i know i have) has struggled with a similar situation.

  37. Geraldine says:

    This kind of thinking affected me in my previous job and I’m sure it distanced me from my colleagues. I worked as a journalist and a lot of the time, at work or after work, we were expected to socialise with publicists and other journos. That meant going to PR events and eating canapes and making the most of free alcohol. As a result I became a bit obsessive about the gym and then began to turn down invitations from my co-workers because I knew I’d have to eat and have a drink. Not to mention that the food provided wouldn’t be healthy and I wouldn’t know how it was cooked. That lack of control made me so anxious. I’m not in that job anymore but I like to think i would be able to handle the situation better now. It’s reassuring to read about other people having similar struggles. Thank you!

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  39. lindsay says:

    AMEN AMEN AMEN! Way to share this. Such a journey to true health !

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