By Martin Ruffell
TROLLS called this woman a WHALE because of her huge frame resulting from a bad diet that included doughnuts for breakfast – but now she’s turning heads after losing an incredible TWELVE STONE.
Middle school teacher Casey Canaday (25) from Iowa, USA, grew up with food at the centre of her life. Whether it was for a celebration, a way to deal with boredom or a way to cope with difficult moments in her life, Casey would always turn to food.
Neither Casey or her mum Monica Yori (55) had the energy or desire to cook so she lived off huge portions of takeaway food and even ate doughnuts for breakfast which inevitably led to further weight gain.
Snacks including tacos, crisps and sweets dominated Casey’s diet and by the time she was 11-years-old, she weighed over 14st and at 5ft 7ins, she was often mistaken for being a teacher by other children at school.
Bullies called Casey a ‘whale’ and a ‘pig’, however the comments that upset her the most were from those who told her that she was pretty for her size.
Casey was diagnosed with having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at age 14, a condition that can lead to hormone imbalances, resulting in uncontrollable weight gain.
Casey weighed 27 stone and struggled to fit a UK dress size 30 but a trip to Mexico in January 2020 proved to be a turning point for her. Struggling to fit into her seatbelt on the plane, Casey had to endure a horribly uncomfortable four hour flight.
With Casey also finding it difficult to walk up the three flights of stairs to the couple’s hotel room, she realised that her weight was ruining the couple’s holiday. Casey knew she had to make immediate changes to her life.
In July 2020, after losing an initial 4st, 4lbs through diet and exercise, Casey underwent a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, in which the size of the stomach is reduced to that of an egg to minimise a patient’s appetite.
During her weight loss journey, Casey lost 12st 7lb and now fits a UK dress size 10 and weighs 14st 7lbs.
Since losing weight, Casey has more confidence and energy than ever before in her life and receives plenty of positive messages from strangers online who say she looks like a different person.
“I believe that my life had always been centred around food,” said Casey.
“Whether it was a celebration, a way to cope, or something to turn to when bored, food was always my first go-to.
“My mum has never enjoyed or been very talented in the kitchen, so the majority of my meals growing up were from restaurants.
“This led to eating portion sizes that were too big, often not the most nutritious choices, and ultimately made me addicted to food.
“I also have polycystic ovary syndrome, which causes women to have a hormone imbalance that leads to rapid weight gain.
“By the time I was eleven I weighed over fourteen stone and was often mistaken for an adult.
“Despite this, I have always been confident about myself. I have truly loved myself at all weights and sizes.
“However I reached a point where I felt like I didn’t recognise the body I was in.
“It felt like my outward appearance did not match how I was feeling on the inside and I knew it was time for a change.
“I have been called many derogatory names over the years, such as whale, pig, but, the comment that always bothered me the most was when people would tell me that I was ‘pretty for my size’ or ‘had a pretty face’.
“It was as if I was in a different category of beauty compared to others that weighed less than me.
“I was able to outwardly brush off these comments for the most part, but they always stuck with me in the back of my mind.
“The true breaking point was when my husband and I took a trip to Mexico in January 2020.
“On every single flight, I had to ask for seat belt extenders and I was incredibly uncomfortable on the planes
“At our resort, we were on the third floor and had to walk upstairs to our room.
“I was hardly able to breathe after climbing the stairs each time.
“I felt my weight taking over that trip and stealing away much of the joy I should have been feeling.
“I had my first bariatric consultation in February of 2020 and had surgery in July of 2020.
“In the preoperative period, I had to meet with dieticians, psychologists, surgeons, and doctors to prepare for surgery and the many life changes that come along with it.
“Since my weight loss, my life has drastically changed for the better.
“I plan all of my meals for the week ahead of time to ensure that I get the proper nutrients and can stay in a calorie deficit.
“I also have more energy than ever before and I love to be active.
“I just have a new-found love of life and I feel so lucky to be healthy enough to enjoy it.
“I am so proud of the body I have worked so hard for and how healthy I feel daily.
“I love shopping for new clothes and continually seeing the sizes get smaller and smaller.
“The non-scale victories are my absolute favourites: a bath towel wrapping around my whole body and being able to cross my legs.
“Many people have told me that they don’t recognise me or that I look like a whole new person
“My students have been the funniest about my weight loss so far, telling me that I look better and that I don’t look so big anymore.
“The best compliments I have received about my weight loss focus more on my health and less on ‘beauty’.
“I love when people tell me how healthy, strong, or fit I look or that I look happier.
“Health and happiness are the most important things in life and I feel I have got back both.”
Before her weight loss transformation, Casey would eat doughnuts, pre-made breakfast sandwiches and fast food for breakfast, fast food for lunch and huge portions of pasta or tacos for dinner, totalling over 3,000 calories per day. She struggled to do any exercise.
Since losing weight, Casey now has a protein shake with either fruit or eggs for breakfast, a chicken or tuna salad for lunch and turkey or pork with vegetables for dinner, totalling 1,000 calories per day. She now goes to a cycling class five days per week with sessions lasting 45 minutes.
Despite her success, Casey says that her weight loss journey hasn’t been without its challenges.
“The hardest part about losing weight is the mental side of it all,” said Casey.
“It takes a lot of self-discipline and dedication to stay motivated and consistent in making the right choices.
“Unfortunately, there are days when I still see myself as the nearly four-hundred-pound woman I was before.
“That is something that I am still working on, and I try to only use positive self-talk on days when I find myself struggling.
“I would say to anyone trying to lose weight that a great first step is to meet with a dietician.
“They have the best ideas about making food enjoyable but still nutritious.
“Many dieticians will recommend tracking food as well, which is an easy way to begin holding yourself accountable when it comes to weight loss success.
“Most of all if you want to lose weight you have to do it for you.
“Prioritise yourself and your health, be patient, and be proud of every success that comes your way.”