Woman, 23, developed eating disorder after bullies called her 'whale'

Woman, 23, who was branded a ‘whale’ by bullies at size 14 unveils her impressive transformation after teaching herself how to lift weights

  • Emma Rose Doherty, 23, from Bath, Somerset, felt ashamed of her size 14 body
  • As a teenager she would hide away and developed anxiety after she was bullied
  • Developed orthorexia – eating disorder where healthy eating focus is obsessive
  • Now set up her own business empowering women to lead healthier lifestyles 

A young 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, Somerset, used to hide away from the world in her teens, feeling ashamed and insecure about her 11st 2lb weight and her UK 14 dress size. 

While she was at school, bullies would call the now fitness enthusiast a ‘whale’ and she began to cancel all social plans – developing anxiety and depression in the process. 


Emma Rose Doherty, 23, from Bath, Somerset, used to hide away in her teens because she was ashamed of how she looked and bullies called her a ‘whale’ when she weighed just 11 stone. Pictured, Emma before her weight loss, left, and now with an example of her healthy, balanced meals, right

As a result of the bullying she experienced at school, Emma started cancelling plans with friends and developed anxiety and depression in the process. Pictured, Emma showing off her impressive body transformation 

While trying to lose weight, the 23 year old, pictured enjoying a meal out, developed an eating disorder called orthorexia – an eating disorder with which a focus on healthy eating becomes obsessive – but she’s taught herself to become less analytical of food

Emma soon after turned to binge eating foods like chocolate, ice cream, and sweets to cope with how she felt.

As a young girl she hated going on holiday because she did not want to wear swimwear and she would 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.

‘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,’ she said.  

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 and decided that the pursuit of happiness was more important to her than worrying about how she looked.

To cope with the sadness and embarrassment she felt about her body, the young girl would binge eat unhealthy foods such as ice cream and chocolate to help her cope. Pictured, Emma before the weight loss  

Emma’s anxiety was so crippling she would try to psyche herself up for the gym and would back out as soon as she saw herself in the mirror – ashamed of how she looks. Pictured, posing for photographs for her popular Instagram account

She said: ‘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.

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. 

She continues to exercise with five days’ worth of strength training, one weekly boxing session and hitting her daily step count.

The way Emma felt about her body affected several areas of her life and she even felt so self-conscious that she hated going on holiday because it would make her feel anxious. Pictured, Emma has drinks with a friend after her impressive weight loss journey 

While on holiday, Emma (pictured) was so self-conscious she did not feel comfortable wearing shorts or a bikini but she now has the confidence to wear whatever she wants

The 23 year old coach (pictured) decided to make a change in her life while on holiday in Spain after watching the other girls around her having fun and decided to pursuit a life of happiness 

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.

‘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.’

After she lost all the weight and dropped down to 8st 2lb, Emma concentrated on gaining muscle and toning up her body. Pictured, a progress picture of Emma’s transformation to a toned body

Emma, pictured with her mother, decided enough is enough and joined a gym at a public hospital, and began going every day and has not stopped since

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.

‘My mental health suffered and I took antidepressants from the ages of twelve to sixteen.’ 

Emma said adapting her diet was more difficult. She 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.   

During her weight loss journey, Emma (pictured) developed orthorexia – an eating disorder in which the focus on healthy eating can become too obsessive but managed to combat it on her own


After finally feeling happy in her own skin, Emma (pictured) set up her company, Empower Online Coaching, to help other young women to be the best version of themselves

She hopes her own experiences will help her 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.’

For more information, visit Emma’s Instagram accounts @emmafituk and @empowertraining.

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