‘I grew up fat. I’d gotten down to eating only 1 orange a day. Then I got the phone call. My mother had died.’: Woman overcomes eating disorder, childhood trauma, ‘Cheers to a new year and a new me’

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“I grew up fat. I am not sure when I started gaining weight and I can’t really recall the exact turning point which led me down that road, but it happened. My parents worked a lot so we had a nanny or we spent a lot of time with our grandma. I LOVED spending time with grandma. We would either get chocolate donuts with a Diet Coke for breakfast or a McDonald’s hot cakes meal every day before school. After school I had the microwave down to a science – it took exactly 3.5 minutes for my meal of 6 taquitos and a microwaveable burrito to be done. Add a dollop of sour cream and I was ready for afternoon cartoons.

Teen smiles for school picture
Courtesy of Heather Crockett Oram

I was also a nerd. I loved to read and was reading way above my grade level. I was awkward and shy and never really had any friends. I was teased and bullied and always picked last, or not at all, for activities on the playground. I faked injuries so I didn’t have to run the mile ‘Fun Run,’ which never actually was any fun. As the years went by my parents put me in fat camp. I saw a nutritionist. I tried this and that but unfortunately, I never learned another way to cope. Food was my vice. It was my comfort. It brought me fleeting feelings of euphoria quickly followed by feelings of shame and guilt. It was a perpetual cycle but nonetheless, it never stopped.

Teen who was bullied for her weight stands smiling beside donkey
Courtesy of Heather Crockett Oram

As I got older it got worse. I snuck food at night. And hid snacks away so no one could watch me eat. Then, my world got turned upside down. My mother was an addict you see, and my senior year of high school it got bad. One day she called me from rehab and told me to get out. I was 17 years old. I packed my bags and have been on my own ever since. My world spiraled out of control and I didn’t know how to cope. The only thing you can ever control in your life is what you put in your mouth. So, I went the opposite direction. Almost like an, ‘I’ll show you I am not just the nerdy fat kid anymore!’ I started watching every single thing I put in my mouth. I would see how long I could go without eating. I would then also take laxatives and Ipecac to make myself throw up if I felt like I had eaten too much. I lost 100 pounds in less 8 months. I was sick. I had gotten down to eating only one orange a day.

Woman with eating disorder smiles while sitting at table outside
Courtesy of Heather Crockett Oram

During this time I started going to the gym and would be there for at least 3 hours until I met my goal of burning a certain number of calories. I hated myself. I have never hated myself more than when I was in the depths of this eating disorder. I was never good enough. I was never thin enough. Food was the enemy and I was the pawn. It controlled me. It consumed me. It destroyed me from the inside out. One day I passed out. I could see the signs. My hair was falling out. My skin was really dry and I could never get warm. I never had energy and my headaches got worse by the day. I was working full time and putting myself through college. I knew what I was doing was wrong. I knew I couldn’t live my life that way also.

I then decided to go to counseling. To deal with my childhood and the methods I had chosen to cope with that. Food. I developed a better routine. I started eating healthier and didn’t work out excessively. I gained a healthy amount of weight back and maintained it for almost 5 years.

Woman who has seeked counsel for eating disorder takes mirror selfies of her returning to healthy weight
Courtesy of Heather Crockett Oram

Then I gained it all back. It doesn’t take very much. I gained every ounce of that 100 pounds back and possibly then some. I never had been able to find that healthy balance. I had tried every diet, shot, food plan, pill, and starvation technique you can possibly imagine. But little did I know that the fad of these diets lasts about as long as a chocolate donut. I hated being fat. But I hated being skinny even more. It was because I punished myself either way. If I ate too much then I would feel guilty. When I felt guilty, I just ate more to drown out my feelings. Again, perpetual cycle. Then I got the phone call that changed my life. My mother had died. The woman who I love dearly but had also caused a lot of emotional turmoil and insecurities throughout my childhood.

Woman who struggled with eating disorder and gained weight back smiles as she sits in folding chair beside fence
Courtesy of Heather Crockett Oram
Woman who had eating disorder and gained it back sits smiling
Courtesy of Heather Crockett Oram

After her death I dove head first into working full time as an ER nurse, full time graduate school to become a nurse practitioner, and learning how to take care of myself. It was then that a friend approached me. I was actually offended he wanted to talk about this ‘diet’ program he was on. It was a jump start to weight loss and learning how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I used a food system for a few months and started to further research proper diet and nutrition. I also went back to the gym. I wanted to do it right this time. I had to. I promised myself I would never sink into the depths of hell again like I did before when I was starving.

Collage of woman before losing weight and after wearing her old clothes that are too big on her
Courtesy of Heather Crockett Oram

Over the next year I lost 82 pounds and gained a lot of muscle. I lifted heavy weights and started doing HIIT training. I had a nutritionist and body building coach formulate a diet and workout plan for me. And I had never felt better.

Woman who had eating disorder stands in gym locker room taking mirror selfie at healthy weight
Courtesy of Heather Crockett Oram
Woman who struggled with her weight stands in wedding gown smiling
Courtesy of Heather Crockett Oram

Since losing the weight we have unexpectedly adopted 2 newborn babies and moved our youngest boy’s biological brother in with us for an undetermined amount of time. Being a working mom of 5 boys really takes a toll on my workout routine and takes a LOT of juggling. Is it hard for me to admit that I have gained some weight back? Yes. Would I take back the experiences of becoming a mother to 3 children within a 9-month period? No. I love them dearly.

Mother who used to have eating disorder stands in gym locker room taking mirror selfie holding her two kids in car seats
Courtesy of Heather Crockett Oram

So, here we are again. Starting the pathway to a better me. It is never easy. It will always take constant work. It is something I will have to deal with the rest of my life. There is no magic potion, or pill, or a special secret on how to lose weight and get healthy. It is about burning more than you take in. And what you do take in should be of substance. Completely depriving yourself of certain things will only lead to failure. So start small. Make weekly goals. Make it a lifestyle change. Because it should be manageable for the remainder of YOUR LIFE.  Cheers to a new year. And a new me. Everyone loves a good comeback, right?”

Mother who used to have eating disorder smiles in selfie with her adopted son and biological son
Courtesy of Heather Crockett Oram

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Heather Crockett Oram of Utah. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

Read about Heather’s incredible journey:

‘I stood there holding my 3-month-old baby boy as she sent me pictures of an ultrasound of the baby growing in her stomach. I was speechless. But I also knew. Deep down I knew.’

‘It was a busy day for me in the ER. I had 5 very sick patients. When I checked my phone, I had 10 missed calls. I called my dad back and he told me to sit down. My heart instantly sank.’

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