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Laura Hearn never felt she fit in. Bullied, pushed out by her stepmother and grieving the loss of her stepfather, an eating disorder consumed her life. Her only refuge was working with horses — but one day she was too weak to ride.

When she was young, Laura Hearn found she felt safest at the horse stable with her horse, Coco. She tells Tony Chapman her time with Coco was ‘the most beautiful friendship,’ in this episode of Chatter That Matters.

Her early life was turbulent — her parents divorced when she was young and she felt pushed out by her stepmother. She was bullied at school for being a ‘chubby’ kid. She loved her stepfather but when he died in a car crash during her teen years, his death became a catalyst for an eating disorder she struggled with for years.

Laura opens up to Tony about her years in and out of treatment, the way her family treated her with wariness, and the loneliness of living with an eating disorder. “You can’t properly connect with people when you have an eating disorder because it generally involves having a drink or a meal,” she shares with Tony. “You’re always on the periphery.”

She tells Tony about the day when she went to the stables and was too weak and dizzy to pull herself up on a horse. It was the day she realized her eating disorder had robbed her of her sanctuary.

When a therapist gave her a book written by Carolyn Costin — a clinician, author and speaker acclaimed for her expertise in the eating disorder field, Laura finally felt someone understood what she was going through. She went to Costin’s treatment centre in California where she could see how life was better without an eating disorder.

Laura walks Tony and listeners through her difficult journey, her contribution to a ground-breaking campaign that changed the narrative around mental health at the BBC, and the tools she has developed to work through life’s challenges.

Today, Laura is a certified Eating Disorder Recovery coach with the Carolyn Costin Institute, demonstrating the importance of support, treatment and personal sources of strength.

Tony Chapman created the Chatter That Matters podcast to counter the storm of negativity and impossibility with true stories of ordinary people who do extraordinary things. He chats with Olympians, Advocates, Celebrities, Leaders, and people who battled what seemed like insurmountable odds.

In doing, listeners find life lessons that inspire all of us to do more and to be more, to help us get to where we need, want and deserve to go. RBC is the presenting sponsor.

To listen to this show, go to, download Chatter That Matters at I Heart Radio (or wherever you get your podcasts), or tune in Fridays at noon to these radio stations:

  • Newstalk 1010, Toronto
  • CFRA 580 Ottawa
  • CJAD 800 Montreal
  • CJBK 1290 London
  • Newstalk 610 St. Catharine’s
  • CKLW 800 Windsor
  • CKFR 1150 Kelowna
  • CFAX 1070 AM Victoria
  • Or Fridays at 8 p.m. on BNN Bloomberg CFTE 1410 Vancouver