The Cosplay Hero: How Anne Lost 100 lbs

Anne (Hearthsinger on the NF Boards) is an artist and a nerd.

She’s an actress, singer, and writer living in New York City, working as a tour guide during the daylight hours.

Not too long ago, Anne was a slave to games like World of Warcraft, playing them in ever spare moment she had:

I would stay up all night and get very little sleep before I had to wake up for work in the morning. There were days I watched the sun rise while farming netherwing eggs and thought nothing of it. I barely left the house unless I absolutely had to and would forgo social opportunities if I had a raid scheduled that night. When it came to my acting career, I knew that my physical appearance was limiting my ability to actually find roles I could play.

Anne was stuck in a cycle. She never realized she could apply the lessons learned in World of Warcraft and level up in real life, so she never did.

Fortunately, Anne eventually discovered that the secret to getting healthy was right under her nose the entire time.

Let’s learn how Anne lost over 102 lbs by bringing her passion for gaming into the real world.

Anne’s Story

Anne Cosplay
Steve: Thanks for telling your story Anne! To start off, tell us a little about the “old you.”

My eating was out of control and I would definitely label myself as a food/sugar addict. I wouldn’t eat anything all day and then I’d eat a whole pizza, drink a few sodas, and top it off with an outrageous amount of snacks and deserts. Looking back on it, it really grosses me out.  To make matters worse, I have a history with anorexia and bulimia. Every time I experienced “success” with weight loss, I went about it in the most abusive way possible.

I hated myself.

I was just so frustrated with how awful I looked that I would push myself to extremes to get results. I was desperate for a change, but the laziness I was exhibiting in the rest of my life kept me from committing to the the hard work it would take to create lasting results.

Steve: Was there a specific moment when you decided to make a change?  What inspired you to get started?

My parents nagged me about my health for years! Family members tried to bribe me to take care of my health all the time. My doctors begged me to change my ways and kept trying to scare me with warnings about diabetes. As much as they tried, none of it really hit home for me.

Then my best friend Emily gradually dropped about 60 lbs over a period of 2 years and was successful with keeping it off, adopting positive lifestyle changes. She was starting to really enjoy cosplaying, but I felt like if I tried it the internet would call me fat. I had used my geekery as a shield to hide from my health issues and now here they were, invading the space where I’d felt safe and making me feel like I couldn’t participate in the things I was passionate about.

I decided I wouldn’t stand for it. I could bitch all I wanted about being “too fat” to be believable as a character, but at the end of the day, the cards were all in my hands. 

Steve: Wow, sounds like quite the turning point. What’s a typical day like now?

I’ve basically adopted a Paleo/Primal lifestyle. I try to get up and do my exercise first thing in the morning so I don’t have to worry about it the rest of the day. I give myself 2 days of rest during the week so I have the willpower I need to make sure I don’t miss a planned work out.  

After work, I hang out with my friends, play D&D, go to rehearsal, work on my current cosplay project, or write for my blog, Project Reroll. The blog keeps me accountable for sure, but hearing from readers about how my journey has motivated them to pursue healthier lives is what really keeps me going! If I’m at home for dinner, I cook for myself, and if I’m out with friends, I try to steer them towards a place where I know I’ll be able to make good choices. 

Steve: What has been your exercise strategy?  How has this changed?

For the first month, I focused purely on changing my diet. I didn’t worry about hitting the gym at all. In month two, I asked for a gym membership for my birthday and I went every single day to do an hour on the elliptical – no excuses. I was focusing on making it a habit. The deal I made with myself was that I couldn’t watch reruns of shows I’d already seen unless I was on the elliptical (Firefly, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Xena: Warrior Princess). After a few months, I decided I needed to spice things up and challenge myself to get over my nerves about having other people watch me exercise. I took Zumba and Yoga classes at the gym.

Even though I’d sworn I would never be a runner, I thought I’d give it a shot. I downloaded the Zombies, Run! 5k training app and I never looked back. Now, I try to do three days of cardio (with Zombies or my favorite TV) and two days of strength training. I either do a bodyweight circuit or 20-45 minutes of vinyasa yoga.

Steve: Can you tell us a bit more about your diet strategy? I know you eventually adopted a paleo mentality, but how did you start?

When I started this journey, I was on Nutrisystem. While I honestly believe it was the right one for me at the time, I always knew that I wouldn’t be on Nutrisystem forever; the people who I saw fail on that program were the ones who just blindly followed the plan and didn’t go to the trouble of educating themselves about nutrition, just trying to learn a few healthy recipes along they way so they wouldn’t be left with their pants down when they stopped their shipments of food.

I was still on Nutrisystem when I first discovered Nerd Fitness and read about Paleo. I honestly thought it was insane and that I’d never be able to handle that kind of diet.

I was convinced that the low-fat diet model was the one for me and that I’d be perfectly satisfied switching over to Weight Watchers when I was ready. As I got to know people on the forums and I read their Paleo/Primal recipes, my mouth started watering! In my first challenge, I decided I’d learn to cook three Paleo dishes. It was really intimidating because I felt like I was a really crappy cook, but I did it and I found that the food was delicious and filling – something that my Nutrisystem food was not. That challenge filled me with the desire to eat real food. I absolutely craved it. I was always hungry on Nutrisystem! I’d be starving all the time, but now I’m always full and fueled! 

Steve: Permanent diet changes for the win! Was this toughest change for you to make?

Oddly enough, the toughest change was simply learning to accept that I wouldn’t always be perfect at executing my diet. I had to learn how to recover from setbacks and fails rather than just throwing in the towel. I had to learn to forgive myself and recommit each morning to healthy choices, no matter what happened the day before. 

Steve: I’m glad to hear you learned the secret: that failure is only a failure when you give up after!  How did you track your progress?

I took pictures, I weighed myself, and I took measurements. I’ve found that as I lose more weight and the scale slows down, I need to track other stats to keep my head in the game. The more ways I have of seeing my progress, the more opportunities I create to motivate myself to keep going.

I also keep track of my “fitness stats” like my 5k time and how many seconds I can hold a plank or various yoga poses. 

Steve: Most important change you made that helped you succeed?

Honestly, going public with what I was doing has been the most invaluable part of this whole process. My weight and my personal struggles with food addiction and eating disorders have all happened behind closed doors, leaving me incredibly alone and helpless for far too long. Opening up that door and beginning to share things about my past and about what I was currently up against felt just as vulnerable as it did rewarding.

It’s dangerous to go alone! Don’t do it if you don’t have to!

Steve: What kind of support system did you have?

I’m SO LUCKY to have an incredibly supportive family who has afforded me every opportunity to succeed and provided me with extra cash for kitchen appliances and workout gear. I have a tight knit group of friends who celebrate what I’ve accomplished and make me feel like the heroine I always wanted to be.

I’ve also made some great friends on the NF boards and reading about their six week challenges continues to inspire me every day.

Steve: What would you tell somebody in your situation right now to help them: somebody who’s tried and failed but ready to try again?

Take it one step at a time and don’t overwhelm yourself. Don’t force yourself to do things that you think you’ll hate or you’ll just give up. Find ways to make it exciting. If you hate it, do some research and try something else. Just keep an open and adventurous mind and continue to let your health plan evolve as you do.

Steve: What are you excited to do now that you weren’t physically able to do before? 

Anne climbingI’m actively into cosplay now.

I’ve done Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender and Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic so far.

Next I have my new rogue Renaissance Faire garb and then hopefully, if I still have enough money, I’ll be putting together a Xena cosplay for New York comic con.

A few months ago, I met up some Rebels from the NF community and we all went rock climbing in Brooklyn. I was terrified I wouldn’t make it up the wall because every time I’d tried it as a kid I’d failed miserably. To my surprise, I shot right up the wall without even thinking about it. I was completely shocked. I had no idea I was capable of doing that. 

Steve:  Your physical appearance has changed…what else has changed about you?

I’m more assertive about what I want. I used to let myself get pushed around a lot because I didn’t think I deserved any better, but now I’m not afraid to ask for what I want and to go after it. 

Steve: Okay, let’s get some nerdy questions in here: Jason Bourne or James Bond?

Indiana Jones. …What? Hehehe!

Steve: Favorite video game of all time?

I’m a huge Bioware fangirl. The Dragon Age series captured my imagination in a way no other game has. Those games always manage to break my heart in the best way.

Steve: Quote to live by?

“We must try not to sink beneath our anguish, Harry, but battle on.” – Albus Dumbledore, The Halfblood Prince.

Steve: Harry Potter FTW! Tell us something interesting about you!

I have no sense of smell. It’s a long story but I was on a farm as a child and I thought I saw a glass of apple juice in the barn so I drank it. Turns out I gota really bad chemical burn and they had to pump my stomach. I almost died because I refused to eat afterwards due to the pain.

Why Anne was successful

Anne’s story may sound familiar to you: stuck in the same unhealthy cycle, addicted to sugar, and retreating into the shadows when things got tough. Let’s look at why Anne was successful:

anne rainbow dash

She utilized her interests: Anne knew who she was; rather than leave behind her nerdy interests, she embraced them! She used lessons from WOW and other games and put this knowledge towards her workout. She used cosplay events as inspiration and benchmarks for progress.

Diet diet diet: Anne put the focus of her transformation on her diet. Initially she JUST focused on her diet and saw results. She realized that programs like Nutrisystem or Weight Watchers might work temporarily, but long term progress and success required a more gradual and permanent (sustainable) change in diet. After adopting the Paleo Diet she found she had TONS of energy and was having fun eating healthy.

Personal accountability: Anne tracked her results and let the world know how she was doing, regularly. She created a blog and put the energy behind it to make her story something she was proud of. Much harder to fail when the whole world is watching, right?

Support: Anne had a robust support system: Family, friends, and the awesome Rebels of the NF Message boards. Haters can weigh you down and kill your journey before you even begin. Surrounding yourself with healthy people or those looking to get healthy can make all the difference in the world.

Real goals: Anne’s fitness journey didn’t just involve a vague idea about getting healthy; she knew what she wanted. Anne wanted to be able to go to the next cosplay event with pride, she wanted join her friends and get out from behind the keyboard. Anne went in knowing that getting healthy would open doors for the rest of her life, and it did.

Baby Steps:  Anne didn’t worry about having the perfect routine and the perfect diet. She didn’t worry about setting aside hours upon hours a day to radically redesign her life. She had tried that in the past and failed.  Instead, she understood that “perfect” is the enemy of “good,” especially when starting out.  She started by just fixing her diet, then she started using an elliptical, then she mixed in some running, and then added in strength training and yoga.  She took her time in the newbie zone before venturing out into the real world. At that point she had already built up momentum, an incredibly powerful buff 🙂

Real heroes in the real world

flower

Nothing makes me happier than sharing success stories on Nerd Fitness.

Sure, it’s entertaining to read about how Gerard Butler got in shape for 300, but oftentimes it’s not practical or realistic.

Personally, I’d MUCH rather read about women like Anne, Staci, and BronwynREAL heroines that find success while also having real jobs, nerdy pursuits, and busy lives.

The same goes for guys like Joe, Saint, and Jake: nerdy dudes who love to game and also managed to level up their lives without compromising who they were.

Anne went from an unhealthy addicted gamer, spending any spare moment behind the keyboard playing World of Warcraft, to an awesomely fit and happy nerd in real life.

Sure, she still plays videogames, but now she’s a character herself!

She’s attending events, meeting up with fellow nerds, and breaking down new barriers like rock climbing. She turned her passion into her greatest motivation, using her nerd interests to get her through workouts and set long term goals.

Grats Anne, on inspiring the Nerd Fitness Rebellion; you are inspiring more people than you know!

What sort of questions do you have for Anne?

What kind of nerdy passions do you have that can be applied to living a better life?

-Steve

###

photo source: flower

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  • Athena AndPerseus

    Congratulations, Anne! What a fantastic change! Also, I really, really love your Rainbow Dash cosplay. 😀
    – Bronwyn/Athena

  • Anne, I know the feeling, I have been sick for most of my life with headache’s that would knock me flat on my back. While I might still eat fast food every now and then, i either cook it or have someone cook it for me. I love zombie run both the normal story mode’s and the 5k runs, I still have not bought the dlc for the game yet for season two. Building up your township is a blast, the story mode is well written as well just fun all the way around.

  • Project Reroll

    Hell yes! Our heroes can be such good inspiration and it’s the best reward when you get to inhabit them for a day! Today’s run made me want to die but there was a point at which I was just like… Do it, Anne! Do it for BronyCon! Hahah! I know you can do this, Katie! Make a list of the characters you want to attempt and get down to business! <3

  • Project Reroll

    Thanks Bronwyn! <3 Your success story was such a big inspiration to me!

  • Project Reroll

    You gotta get season two! It’s different than one but it’s pretty great!

  • Project Reroll

    Thanks so much! Putting it out there keeps me accountable to myself! Plus if I promise I’ll do something for the blog, I feel like I’m letting down my readers if I don’t follow through. HA. That’s how I ended up running my first 20k WAY before I was technically ready for it.

  • Kecia

    A very motivating story, Anne. Congratulations and thank you for sharing with us!

  • Sarah Bates

    Great post Steve and thanks so much to Anne for sharing! I’ve done a bit of cosplaying in the past but have used the “I’m too fat” too. Now I guess I don’t have an excuse, I need to get healthy!

  • Teresa

    I have been hoping for a success story from a woman who lost so much weight and you are it! You are an amazing inspiration! Thank you!

  • Katie Heston

    Fan-stinking-TASTIC! I love the story, the pics and HER BLOG! I’ve been reading it since you posted her story, and can’t stop!

  • Alessandro Calvo

    crazy weight loss! I love her music as well as her diet, even if it looks quite hard. If you want, check http://read2fit.blogspot.it/2013/07/summer-diet-tip-fruit.html for 5 fun activities to do at sea.

  • Debra

    Simone, you’ll love ZR! I never, ever ran until I got that stupid game. Now 3 days a week, rain or shine, I’m out there running because “I only need 2 more missions to upgrade my hospital” or whatever. It is addicting! 🙂

    BTW, I’m also Crossfit (3x/week) and Krav Maga (weekly class)!

  • Simone

    Omg, hi, new fitness buddy! We WOD 2x a week out of our garage and just got into Krav 2-3x/week. Also attempting parkour, which is pretty much composed of everything I struggle with. 😀

    Sounds like ZR is just what I need to add to my schedule. A bunch of my friends and I are doing the Tough Mudder in Sept (omg), and I think zombies are the perfect motivation to get out there!

  • Korth

    Way to go! That’s just amazing. I just started my work out routine only one week ago and seeing how great it worked out for you, I am pushing for the same thing. I built a fitness tracker in spreadsheets (IE exel) to track my workouts and chart my improvements. It helps me see it as a real video game when I can watch my rep count go up little by little until I meet my goal and … LEVEL UP! lol

    My big goal is to do parkour. I am sick of seeing other people do cool stuff and wishing I could do it too but I am to fat, or people will think I am not serious about it, or just being too lazy to really go do it. So now I am going to strive to do it too.

    Thanks for the inspirational story.

  • Anne, thanks so much for sharing your success! I am just barely starting out on my weight loss journey in a healthy way. I’ve been bulimic for the last 10 years and it’s so hard to lose weight the right way when you can do it the bad way more easily. (I hope that makes sense.) I didn’t think there was anyone else like me out there so your story gives me hope. Thank you so much. I love your Rainbow Dash costume btw – my 5 year old son LOVES Rainbow Dash (I’m definitely more of a Twilight Sparkle girl myself!)

  • Project Reroll

    Of course! If I can give back even a part of the motivation NF gives me, then I’m happy!

  • Project Reroll

    Don’t let yourself get in the way of your fun! If it’s something you want, getting to the point where you feel comfortable doing it can be its own reward! Get out there and make it happen! <3

  • Project Reroll

    Aw thanks! Looking at the previous stories, I was looking for that too. I never thought it would be me! Ha!

  • Project Reroll

    Thanks for reading! I post something new every Monday and Thursday.

  • Project Reroll

    Thanks for listening to the demo! I put it up there on a whim but I didn’t think anyone would check it out. Hehe 🙂

  • Project Reroll

    I can totally relate to what you’re going through. I’d like to parkour as well, but I’m still a ways off. I’ve been working on a bodyweight routine to try to up my coordination and of course my upper body strength. My endurance is pretty ok at this point, but I still have puny arm strength in comparison with what you need to, you know, NOT DIE doing freerunning. I think the tracking will work well for you. I know it did for me. It’s important not to become SUPER obsessed with it or it will drive you crazy, but staying accountable is very important and it will definitely do that. Plus, when the scale doesn’t show the number you want, you can always look at your sheets and be proud of where you are physically.

  • Project Reroll

    Hey Kris. I totally here you on that. For me, it wasn’t only feeling like I could do it easier if I did it wrong, but also that I had a fear of attempting to do it healthy and then falling into my old disorders along the way. I didn’t talk about this in the interview, but there was a point (while I was still on Nutrisystem), where I cut out all the food you’re supposed to add in and I was eating less than 1000 calories a day at points. I managed to pull myself out of it via some support from the forums at NF, but it’s not something that will go away. You have to fight your tendencies and your habits. Make sure you have people around you who know about that aspect and ask them to look out for you. My friends and my boyfriend are all there to call me out on stuff if it gets bad and just knowing that makes it easier to stay on the right track. I know you can do it! If you’re on the forums and you need to chat, feel free to PM me (hearthsinger).

    Twilight is pretty cool 🙂 I’m a fan of Pinkie Pie as well! Maybe one day I’ll do a Pinkie costume, but there are so many others on my list!

  • Huge congrats Anne! Super proud of you! I think the key was to make the lifestyle change a habit. way to go!

  • musajen

    Your Rainbow Dash costume is amazing and you look stunning. I’ve been wanting to get into cosplay but my current body is not friendly to most of my options. But I’m gonna get there. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Project Reroll

    I 100% Agree! Thanks 🙂

  • Project Reroll

    Thanks so much! I can’t wait to wear it again at BronyCon. 🙂 I know you’ll get there! Don’t let anything stand in the way of your goals! 🙂

  • NK

    Congratulations!!! I love the idea of learning to cook 3 paleo meals! I have been considering switching, but the thought of learning an entirely new way to cook seemed very overwhelming. Maybe if I try a little at a time I will be able to stick to it. Thanks 🙂

  • Roman Stirskiy

    I wanna share my App for Android, FitnessDROID, with you and your readers, and to know your expert opinion. I think this app is one of the best personal fitness trainer for all:
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  • Project Reroll

    It’s really a good idea to ease into that stuff. It can be REALLY overwhelming to go (pardon the term) balls deep and force yourself into it too soon. Gradual changes are the way to go, EVEN though it might take a little longer to get to your ultimate goal. 🙂 That’s how you make habits you can stick to!

  • Jakeulas (Jake Scofield)

    You look great! Congrats on your progress. 😉

  • ObsidianSkin

    Very inspiring story. I have a friend just like you, but I do not know how to convince her to change her ways without offending her. I mean, she doesn’t seem self conscious, but a lot of people at school pick on her, and I feel bad. It’s not like I don’t threaten to eat their babies when they do try to hurt her feelings, but I want her to feel good about herself without pushing her to where we’re not friends anymore. Any ideas? Thanks. ;D

  • raspberry ketones

    wao, great effort ….i am impressed.
    http://www.thinslimrx.com

  • Kay

    This is so amazing that I wanted to cry. My body is very similar to the ‘before’ body type, and people always tell me that there is no point in me even trying to lose weight because I will always be big no matter what and that someone my size will always remain this way. It’s so wonderful to see a story like this. It inspires me to keep fighting.

  • Cassandra D

    Thanks for this story. I just stumbled upon this site yesterday and joined up. Going through similar issues but I have been taking baby steps to achieve my fitness goals. I found that as I started to make changes many of my fellow cosfluffy peers have been resistant, unsupportive or outright catty. It’s sad to see that happen within the cosplay community. But reading and re-reading your story has strengthened my resolve to stick with my goals.

  • Cass

    I Love that you use Xena re-runs as motivation! Im going to start doing this! Great job girl!

  • Project Reroll

    Thanks so much!

  • Project Reroll

    Sadly, we can’t want health for other people in a way that makes them want it too. They have to want it for themselves. The only thing I can suggest is to try to get her involved in things you’ll know she’ll love, but can’t participate in adequately because of her weight (whether it’s LARP or cosplay- I don’t know you’d have to figure out what interests she has). It’s painful to watch other people suffer when you think you have the answers, but it has to be personal in order for them to WANT to change. It could happen tomorrow and it could happen years from now, but when she feels like she’s missing out on her own life, that’s when I think it will click. I do think you’re right to worry about pushing her away. She’ll need her friends to confide in. I couldn’t have done this without my “fellowship” of friends to keep me going when I was weak. The best thing you can do is be there for her so that when she’s ready, she won’t have to face it alone.

  • Project Reroll

    Thanks! It’s hard work, but it’s worth it!

  • Project Reroll

    Don’t let people tell you that! That’s just complete bullshit. I do have a low metabolism, so yeah, sometimes I have to work harder than other people because my body is affected both positively and negatively very quickly. Keep fighting. You’ll find success if you can find a program that you can stick to for long enough. Make small habits and eventually you’ll find your whole life is changing. If I saw my future a year ago, I wouldn’t recognize myself.

  • Project Reroll

    Cosfluffy? I’ve never heard that term before. Interesting! I think you need to do what makes you happy! I know for me, I felt severely limited by my weight. I wasn’t confident enough to go out an work on a costume for a thin character when I wasn’t. I just knew I’d be mocked when I hit the show floor and I couldn’t handle that. The fact is, it’s not just your passion, it’s your health. If your friends don’t support that choice, then I have to wonder if they’re the friends you should surround yourself with as you tackle this challenge. <3 I know you can get the body you want and the healthy lifestyle will affect not just your cosplay but everything else! If you ever want to chat, you can always PM me on the forums. I support your choices and I know you can do it!

  • Project Reroll

    It’s the greatest! I love Xena 🙂 I’m almost done with season five and I’m probably gonna move on to Buffy when I’m done!

  • Cassandra D

    It’s a term used a lot in anime cosplay circles. It started about 5 or 6 years ago. I support their cause but I have personal limitations I place on myself because even if I do alter a costume to my body I want it to flatter me. IMO sometime it is not possible so I would rather put it off until I am at a level of physical fitness that I think works best. Cosfluff does have a Facebook and Tumblr page: https://www.facebook.com/Cosfluff101?fref=ts

    Thanks for your words. It has been hard weeding the dead weight from the supportive friends. I am getting there one day at a time and making decent progress. It was nice to read your story to see that “hey someone went through exactly what I am going through too.”

  • Eve

    Wow, what a remarkable change, congratulations! Thanks for sharing your story with us, it’s great to read how other geek girls combine their hobbies and maintain a healthy life style 🙂 I found your article so inspiring that I went to the nerd fitness forum afterwards and registered myself right away, here I go! ^^ And I also love the zombie running app, it’s the reason I started to run 🙂

  • Vaishnavi Ayyar

    amazing…u are an inspiration

  • Project Reroll

    I’m sure I wouldn’t have had the will to persevere if it hadn’t been for that app, no lie! So glad you joined the forums! I know you’ll find a lot of great support there!

  • Project Reroll

    Thanks so much! The people here at Nerd Fitness inspire me every day, so that’s a huge compliment!

  • Annie Singer

    What an amazing story! I went through a 70-lbs weigh loss journey several years back but just now am gaining an interest in cosplay. Would never have had the confidence before.

  • michelle olley

    Great job Anne! Awesome story – I feel inspired to keep going after reading that! Am deffo gonna check out yr blog 🙂

  • Kate.C

    Fantastic story, I love the motivation, and that RainbowDash Cosplay!

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