Dangers in searching for perfect beach bod

It’s that time of the year again. Bikini season is looming, and I panic as I look at myself in the mirror. Every summer I dread the thought of putting on a string bikini, so all of my flesh can be fully exposed for everyone to see. Every inch, every unflattering curve will be out, bare and waiting to be scrutinized by onlookers.

In order to ease my insecurities I make sure that I head to the gym and stay active on a regular basis, just to keep everything aligned.

But still, it’s never enough. I never feel like I’m at that stage where I’m just completely content and ready to slip on that bikini.

I train a total of 8-10 hours a week. It’s not a secret that I just can’t get enough.

But there was once a time when I would have literally done anything to attain that “perfect” beach bod.

Before I was where I am today — 125 pounds, healthy and strong — I was once anorexic. I starved myself to 105 pounds, and obsessed about what I ate and how much I worked out. The only thoughts that ran through my head were about food, how little I could get by eating, and how much I could sweat, so that inches could be shed.

Jennifer Koziel works on her fitness for the summer at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

Jennifer Koziel works on her fitness for the summer at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.  (photo: Nicole Witkowski/Ryersonian Staff)



Uneducated and dangerously experimental in my ways, these are some of the crazy, nonsensical things that I would do to lose weight for the summer.The strict, regimented diet

I began to limit what, when and how I ate. Unadvised, I assumed 1,000 calories a day would suffice.

All I would consume in a day was a salad and black coffee. Salads didn’t have more than 200 calories and the cups of java I drank solely as a natural laxative to suppress my appetite. I would obsess, much like a lot of people I know at the gym, about attaining a bikini-ready body.

But I took my goal to the extreme. I wanted to be super thin. I wanted to see bones.

My restricted diet and my persistent workouts at the gym left me feeling weak and tired.

At first the idea of my slim self coming to life excited me, but then it quickly depressed me. I began to feel the pit of my stomach every day. It felt hollow and ached in pain as I starved myself.

Eventually, I caved. I rushed to the fridge, ravenous, and began to binge on whatever I could get my hands on. There was once a time when I ate an entire litre of ice cream.

After I binged, it was time for self-punishment. I would go up to my room and start working out. I once heard if you did 1,000 crunches a day you would get a six-pack. Naturally I thought if I did the same, I would see results. But it never happened.

Instead I began to balloon. Terrified by my binge-induced weight gains it was time to take my habits into the real extremes.

The liquid diet

I tried every diet I could. The liquid diet led to eating nothing at all. I drank seven to eight litres of water a day.

I tried to flush the fat out of my body. As a result, I was cold all the time, and could not control my bladder. I always had the shakes. But I saw drastic results. I dropped approximately 30 pounds in one summer.


I would use laxatives to speed up the digestive process of everything I ate in a day. It started as one pill, and then I prescribed myself four. But since results weren’t fast enough I doubled the dose to eight pills a day.

I was malnourished, weak and drained of all nutrients and electrolytes. I had depleted my body of all the essential salts, potassium and calcium necessary for normal muscle, nerve and brain function. I was always nauseous. What I didn’t realize was that I was doing a lot of damage to my body.


I didn’t get on the right track until my mother, who is a registered nurse, noticed my habits. She stressed, with the utmost urgency in her voice, that my bad habits could kill me. I must say the process to recovery was not an easy one. I strayed one too many times, but finally realized that  the severe fluctuations in my weight were not worth it.

I no longer wanted to unleash that girl. That girl who would stand for hours in front of the mirror pinching, sucking in and scrutinizing every inch of her body. This summer, I’m determined to go down the right path as I get myself into shape for the beach. There will be times when I feel more insecure than others, but what is most important is that I’m healthy.

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