Today’s post is from one of our Body Empowerment campaign partners, Andrea Bari Levine. Andrea recently left a career in corporate law to pursue a career in health and fitness. Andrea shares her fitness journey and what body empowerment means to her. Read her story below and then follow her on Instagram: @andrea_bari_levine!

Andrea will be teaching a HIIT class in New York City to raise donations for Body Empowerment. Join her here:

I cannot recall having any sort of body image, positive or negative, until I was about 15 years old. I had a very active childhood, playing soccer, tennis, and softball; going to camp in the summer; and generally running around in the cul de sac I grew up on. It was not until I quit high school soccer in the tenth grade that I thought something along the lines of: “you can’t eat that or you’ll get fat.” What I thought was a natural and healthy response to less physical activity, slowly spiraled into a full-blown eating disorder. No matter how little I ate, and how much weight I lost, I could only find my flaws in the mirror. I had to admit I needed help and be ready to accept that help. Over the subsequent 15 years, I twice put myself in outpatient care, sought help from an onslaught of therapists and nutritionists, and eventually propelled myself into a place where I feel healthy, capable, confident, strong, and able to engage with others. In hindsight, I lost a lot of who I was during this time. I refused dinners with friends, turned down every adventure that did not map out exactly what and where I would eat, and basically just said “no” a lot.

Throughout my treatment, I was taught how body image can be distorted by insecurity, anxiety, loss of control—namely, things that actually have nothing to do with what one eats or how one looks. Contrary to what many believe, eating disorders are not an exercise in vanity. Unsurprisingly, flare ups in my disordered eating habits often occurred around particularly stressful times in my life—my first Advanced Placement exam, pledging a sorority, law school, etc. By addressing these underlying issues, I could better recognize how far I had fallen and start to pull myself back together. Today, I am able to eat more intuitively (when I’m hungry, what I’m craving), leave the apartment without obsessing in front of the mirror for hours (most days anyway), and say “yes” to new friends, adventures, and opportunities. This does not mean I never struggle, I mean, everyone struggles, but more often than not I feel good, I feel happy, and, most importantly, I feel like me.

Building up this inner confidence has allowed me to recognize my real passion in life and pursue it. I recently left my career as a corporate attorney to become a wellness coach and fitness instructor. I want to show others that feeling better is never out of their reach, it just takes commitment and a conscious decision to put themselves first. I want others to realize that taking care of themselves is not selfish and does not have to feel like a punishment, it can actually be fun and empowering.


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