By Nathalie Bonney @NathalieBonney
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Videographer / director: Marcus Cooper
Producer: Nathalie Bonney, James Thorne
Editor: James Thorne
Just as the colour of her eyes and hair have always been the same shade of brown, Corey Hyland says she can only ever remember being overweight. Describing her pattern of overeating as being “hardwired differently”, Corey recalls eating whole loaves of bread as a child but still wanting more to eat.
By the time she was a teenager Corey had been declared morbidly obese by doctors and she stopped looking at the weighing scales. As a result, Corey doesn’t know her heaviest weight, other than it was in the 400lb range.
A decade ago, without ever imagining she would be able to transform her body, Corey decided to make changes to her diet to try and lose some weight. But it was only after she started working with a personal trainer that she saw the weight really fly off. In total Corey has lost 250lbs. The dramatic weight loss also resulted in her needing excess skin removal surgery, with approximately 10lbs of skin removed.
Corey told Barcroft TV: “I always thought that it would be impossible for me to lose any weight, I just thought that that was my life, being morbidly obese.
“Pretty much every morning before I get dressed, I will look at myself in the mirror because it's just such a strange thing for me to see that I just don't have all of that stuff hanging there anymore.”
For as long as she can remember, Corey says she was overweight and describes her relationship to food and overeating as abnormal.
Corey, 34 from New York, said: “There's never not been a time when I wasn't overweight.
“I definitely think that I am hardwired differently from how normal people eat.
“When I was a child, I would eat an entire loaf of store-bought bread and then I would eat something after that.
“I do think that sometimes my overeating was just a way to comfort myself.
“I think it was kind of like a cycle, I was eating because I was overweight and I was overweight because I was eating so much.”
By the time she was a teenager, doctors had already told Corey she was morbidly obese and that’s when she stopped wanting to know her weight.
She said: “I was told that I was morbidly obese in high school.
“I remember going to the doctor and the doctor weighing me, I know it began with a four but after that, I just never kept track.
“It's possible that I avoided knowing how much I weighed because even though I just thought that it would be my life being that heavy, it's not something that you want to hear, like you know it's not good for you.
“I think my obesity definitely held me back. I spent a lot of my formative years alone, so when people are out dating or having any sort of romantic life, flirting, any of that, I wasn’t the type of person who was proud to be overweight.
“I know that there are people out there who are totally confident in their bodies and in their skins and that’s completely fine but I wasn’t one of those people, so it definitely held me back.”
10 years ago, Corey decided to try and break the cycle, without ever imagining she would make the dramatic transformation she eventually did.
She said: “I was in my early 20s, about 23 or 24. I started making changes to my diet, not to lose weight, but just to be a bit more healthy because I always thought that it would be impossible for me to lose any weight, I just thought that that was my life, being morbidly obese.”
Despite dropping some pounds, Corey had setbacks along the way and says the big change only happened a few years ago, when she started working out with a personal trainer.
Corey said: “The big dramatic turning point, was when I started working with my personal trainer, Nansi.
“In the last 18 months I lost the last 100lbs.”
Personal trainer Nansi says Corey’s transformation hasn’t just been physical.
Nansi said: “So when I first started training Corey, Corey was really shy. And we would train one on one in a place that there weren't other people around. And that made a huge difference. And now we train in a space that has loads of people, and it's amazing to see the confidence change in her.
“I’m so proud of her and what she's done. It's really amazing.”
But in spite of Corey’s incredible weight loss, she was left feeling underwhelmed by the results because of the large amount of excess skin she was left with.
Corey said: “I think I always knew that I was going to have excess skin but I didn’t know the extent that it would affect me. There was a particular moment where I just realized that this was not the feeling I expected to have.
“I realised that this was actually making me feel worse because I had envisioned what I would look like in my head and I did not look like that.”
Even as she tried on new clothes in smaller sizes, the excess skin that she had to tuck in was a constant reminder of what her body had been through. Realising that no amount of push ups was going to get rid of her excess skin, at the end of 2019, Corey flew to Atlanta to have excess skin removed from her arms and abdomen area.
She said: “The surgeon estimated that he removed approximately 10lbs of skin.
“When the bandages first came off, the first thing that I noticed was how completely flat my stomach was. After all the years of having all the excess skin there, just seeing nothing there was going to take a moment for me to get used to.”
Admitting she still forgets she can now wear size small clothing, Corey says it will take a while for it to sink in just how far she has come.
She said: “It is just kind of like a surreal thing for me to have none of that excess skin just folded over.
“It's going to take quite a bit of time for me to use the fact that it's just not there. My mind and my body are not really matched up with each other yet.”