By Kate Harrold
THIS WOMAN developed an eating disorder that caused her to OBSESS over healthy eating after bullies called her a ‘WHALE’.
Business director and coach, Emma Rose Doherty (23) from Bath, UK, hasn’t always been a fitness enthusiast. During her teens, Emma hid away from the world feeling ashamed and insecure about her 11st 2lb weight and her UK 14 dress size.
Bullies at school would call Emma a ‘whale,’ and she began to cancel all social plans – developing anxiety and depression in the process. Emma soon after turned to binge eating foods like chocolate, ice cream, and sweets to cope.
Emma hated going on holiday because she didn’t want to wear swimwear and she’d often send her sister into clothing stores because she was too embarrassed to speak to cashiers. Determined to change, Emma would psyche herself up to go to the gym before looking in the mirror and backing out.
Despite the anxiety holidays would cause her, it was in Spain that Emma eventually decided that she couldn’t maintain this way of living. Glancing at the other girls around her, Emma noticed that she was the only one not having fun. She soon decided that the pursuit of happiness was more important to her than worrying about how she looked.
One day after sixth form, Emma went to a small gym in a public hospital and started to teach herself how to use the weights equipment. One trip turned into working out every day and things started to change.
Over the course of five years, Emma’s weight dropped down to 8st 2lb and she now wears a UK size six. Emma continues to exercise with five days’ worth of strength training, one weekly boxing session, and hitting her daily step count.
Opting to replace binge eating with healthy eating, Emma did develop orthorexia – an eating disorder in which the focus on healthy eating can become too obsessive but after three years of journaling and educating herself, Emma has erased the categories of ‘good foods’ and ‘bad foods’ in her mind.
Happier than she’s ever been in her body, Emma set up her company, Empower Online Coaching, to help other young women. With so many reaching out on social media, Emma is determined to spread the message that everyone deserves to be the best version of themselves.
“I used to be extremely shy and insecure. I got called a ‘whale’ at school so I would emotionally eat,” Emma said.
“I was on medication to treat anxiety and depression and I would dread going on holiday – I wouldn’t even go in clothing stores. My mental health suffered and I took antidepressants from the ages of twelve to sixteen.
“I wanted things to change so I’d think about going to the gym then look in the mirror and cry. I felt inferior, alone, and worthless.
“I remember being on holiday with my mum and sister and I felt so insecure I didn’t want to wear shorts – let alone a bikini.
“I saw other girls enjoying themselves and it made me wonder why I spent my whole life worrying about how I looked instead of enjoying myself.
“I got home and joined a small gym at the public hospital. I started going every day after school.
“Flash forward to now and I strength train five times a week, hit a daily step count and do a boxing session once a week. I love the focus it gives me.”
Adapting her diet was more difficult. Emma previously would eat a bagel for breakfast, pasta for lunch, and a large home-cooked meal for dinner followed by sugary snacks.
Now, she eats fruit and yoghurt for breakfast, chicken flatbreads for lunch, and stir fry for dinner.
“For a while I developed orthorexia. I was under-eating, over-restricting and not fuelling my body correctly,” Emma said.
“I invested all of my time into education and learning and trained to be a personal trainer alongside my full time job.
“I studied nutrition and body composition and I managed to overcome my eating disorder by myself.
“This journey has changed my life and my career. I feel happier, healthier, and I have more energy. Every day, I wake up excited to exercise.”
Now, Emma hopes to inspire other young women to kick start their wellbeing journeys.
“Ditch the all or nothing approach. People with a healthy lifestyle have developed ingrained and permanent healthy habits,” Emma said.
“With Empower Coaching Online, I help other females unlock their full potential; enabling them to get strong, look their best and eat foods they love.
“My passion is to guide other women through this process – avoiding the mistakes I made – so they can be the best version of themselves.
“Everyone deserves to feel happy and confident in their body. It’s just as much a mental transformation as it is a physical one.”