Dieting fads come and go, but there are certain staples to losing weight – go to the gym or do any kind of workout, eat appropriate portions of sensible healthy food, drink lots of water, and get lots of sleep.
But losing weight is never easy, and it’s best to settle on a weight-loss routine that works for you. A young single mother of two, however, used technology to her advantage, and as it turns out – a selfie a day kept the weight at bay!
Two tragedies would lead to Justine McCabe’s massive weight gain. In 2013, her mother passed away from complications of cancer. And then in 2015, her husband decided to end his life following a lifelong struggle with depression. McCabe was devastated. “This just destroyed me. I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
She found comfort in food. Concerned family and friends noticed her weight gain and unhappiness, and urged her to exercise. Tired of all the well-meaning words of advice, she decided to go to the gym simply out of spite, and took a selfie. Without meaning to, that first photo would actually trigger an inspiring habit and lifestyle.
Surprising herself, McCabe decided to go to the gym again the next day, and started posting daily selfies on Instagram. Facing herself in those selfies didn’t come easy, though. “I didn’t like what I saw. I feel like I look so broken and lost and sad and that’s the reason why I started taking a picture a day. I wanted to see myself change, see if my expression would change.” She persisted and soon transformed from obese to fit, eventually losing 124 pounds!
Shedding the weight was a life changer. It drew McCabe out of her misery. She traveled and went on amazing adventures. And rather than just go to the gym, she embraced obstacle course racing, snorkeling, cliff diving, sky diving, and other vigorous activities.
She went horseback riding, a hobby she had enjoyed since childhood. Unfortunately, she sustained an injury in 2018, when she fell off as her horse reared up. She blew out her knee, but she didn’t let it stop her from pursuing her high-energy interests.
Eventually her body decided she needed a break. “I kept saying, ‘No I’m fine. Keep pushing. This is what I do,’” McCabe explained. “I still wanted to seem like I was the same and I was so great.” She continued to push herself through the pain, until she needed to see a doctor.
A torn meniscus and ACL required surgery, but she resisted. Against her doctor’s advice, McCabe continued her intense workouts, until she once again fell ill, and was found to have fibromyalgia. She had been on a frenetic pace since her weight loss journey began at 313 pounds.
Now she was forced to slow down and take stock of her situation. “I learned a very valuable lesson. You have to listen to your body, what it’s telling you. I was never really letting my body have time to heal and recover.”
She decided to focus on her health. “It’s so important to not sit and pretend that we are perfect, that we always have that same motivation and energy because it’s not (sustainable). Things in life happen and we have to accept that.”
You don’t have to go to the gym and work out constantly to stay healthy. McCabe adapted and used low impact exercises, including swimming, to burn calories and prevent injuries. “It’s really easy to modify. It just helps me stay in shape.”
She also changed her eating habits, focusing on moderation to prevent binge eating. “I definitely try to stick more towards intuitive eating. Listening to your body truly is the best way to maintain your loss because your body’s going to tell you what it needs.”
She has stayed fit since, despite the pressures of opening a new business and taking care of two teen-aged boys. She stressed that losing the weight is more than just a number on a scale.
“A little ‘secret’ I’ve come to realize. It’s NOT about losing the weight. It’s about truly transforming your life. Take risks. Do the work. Gain self-love and respect yourself to make better life choices. The time is now, our tomorrow is not promised.”
McCabe’s incredible weight loss is truly inspiring. Rising from grief through fitness, listening to her body, and using a mindful approach to health and weight maintenance, along with the regular selfies for motivation, are helping her stay focused on a more balanced lifestyle.