Obese widow transforms her life – by taking selfies of weight loss transformation
An obese widow has transformed her life by literally facing her fears – taking selfies every day for a year to help her shed nine stone.
Justine McCabe, 31, was gorging on fast food and barely left the house after hitting rock bottom following the death of her husband John Paul last February.
Three months into mourning she was coaxed into going to the gym by family and friends to perk her up and encourage her to lose some of her hefty 22st3 (313lbs) frame.
After feeling uplifted from exercising the mum-of-two realised she needed to change her life and started by taking a selfie every day for a year to document her weight loss journey.
She swapped high calorie snacks for clean eating and her gluttonous portions for a gym membership where she worked out six times a week.
At the same time Justine decided to set herself challenges based on things she was scared of such as skydiving, travelling abroad alone, exercise, climbing the Eiffel Tower and more.
Now a year on from her challenges she’s unrecognisable after losing a whopping nine-stone (124lbs) and dropping from a dress size US-24 to 10 (UK-26 to 12).
Justine, from Los Angeles, California, said: “My husband’s death was a really heavy and horrible time, it was worsened because my mum had died not long before too.
“Having a loved one commit suicide and being in the aftermath of that is one of the most fearful, awful things you can go through.
“The death of my husband shook me awake and made me realise I needed to make a lot of changes.
“After having time to re-evaluate my life while working out, I came to the conclusion I needed to pursue my dreams and tackle my fears – I needed to truly live.
“I knew if I could survive living without my husband and mum then I should push my boundaries and limits to face all fears I had, to live a life they would be proud of.
“The 365 days of selfies was one of the first things I did, it started during my mourning period – the first one was horrible I looked so lost and broken.”
Justine revealed as she began to shed weight she became more adventurous.
Despite a number of crippling fears including heights and flying, she was able to conquer parasailing, cliff jumping and flying to Paris.
She added: “Before, someone couldn’t have paid me to go skydiving or any of those things, but after my husband died I wanted to face these fears.
“Every challenge I tackled made me feel more alive and brought me back it life, it kept me fuelled to keep going on and living.
“Losing weight was part of that lifestyle change for me, I’d been overweight since I was 18 and was always trying the latest fad diets to get the weight off but it never worked.
“Whenever I’d go on a plane I used to need a seatbelt extender which was embarrassing and I was always ‘the big girl’ to everyone.
“The selfies were a massive encouragement for me, whenever I didn’t want to go to the gym I’d skim through them and realise why I was doing it all.
“Looking back over the selfies gives me goose bumps, I can’t believe I’ve come so far and accomplished goals that once seemed unreachable.
“I now feel like I’m a different person. I chase my dreams and am truly living.”
Justine started to balloon at the age of 18, when she put on more than six stone (80lbs) during pregnancy.
From there her weight spiralled out of control as she would eat large portions and countless convenience store snacks, eventually hitting 22st3 (313lb) at her heaviest.
She said: “Before I used to eat very big portions, then lots of fried food and sometimes at dinner I’d go back for three servings.
“I was always snacking between meals, I used to eat a lot of processed food like candy, donuts, cookies, anything quick and convenient.
“It really affected my confidence, I was known as ‘the big giant girl’ because of my height and weight, and to deal with that embarrassment I comfort ate more, it was a vicious cycle.”
Seven months into her healthy life she had lost 100lbs, which was a big milestone for Justine as she was finally able to fit in a pair of jeans she kept since the age of 18.
While losing weight she took on a series of challenges including obstacle assault course, surfing, walking up the Eiffel Tower and more.
Now weighing just 13stone 5 (189lbs) she says she’s determined to keep up the challenges as they’re enriching her life.
She added: “Weighing less than 200lbs was amazing, it was like saying goodbye to the ‘big girl’ that I was before.
“Now people who have known me for years don’t recognise me and their minds are blown by how much weight I’ve lost.
“The challenges won’t stop here, this year I’ve got four more obstacle races, hiking up mountains, more skydiving, bungee jumping and travelling, now I’m just trying to live a limitless life.”
Justine attributes her weight loss success to her personal determination and also to her online coach.
Jonny Straws, personal trainer, said: “From the very beginning Justine had a goal in mind and would seek the most challenging route to increase her success.
“We shifted a cardio based mentality to implementing weights and a variety HIIT training, also our meal plans adjust monthly with a focus on finding the enjoyment in healthy foods.
“I can’t wait to help her as she continues to elevate her fitness and health to new heights.”
You can follow her on Instagram @hairstargetsfit
HOW JUSTINE’S DIET CHANGED
JUSTINE DIET BEFORE
Breakfast – Three waffles with maple syrup
Lunch – BBQ chick takeaway pizza
Snacks – chocolate, donuts, cookies, crisps
Dinner – Three portions of pasta meals with lots of bread
Dessert – Bowls of ice cream and a chocolate snack
JUSTINE DIET AFTER (Six small meals a day)
Meal one – Egg whites with avocado
Meal two – quinoa, chicken and asparagus
Meal three – Banana
Meal four – Lean fish and spinach
Meal five – Chicken with brown rice and broccoli
Meal six – Protein Shake
CHALLENGES JUSTINE MCCABE SET HERSELF
First time hiked a six mile, 1500ft mountain – Echo Mountain, USA, May 2015
Kayaking – La Jolla, USA, May 2015
Learned to play polo on horseback – USA, June 2015
Parasailing, Cliff Jumping and Surfing – Hawaii, July 2015
First fitness bootcamp by a famous instagramer – Lake Forest, USA, September 2015
Paddle Boarding – Malibu, USA, October 2015
Surfing (with a broken foot) – Santa Monica, USA, October 2015
First solo trip and climbed stairs of Eiffel Tower (with a broken foot) – Paris, November 2015
Motivation bootcamp – USA, December 2015
Rock climbed for first time since the weight loss – Manhattan Beach, USA, January 2016
6 mile Tough Mudder event, her long-term goal for the weight loss was to be fit enough for this – USA, April 2016
First time Skydiving – Perris, USA, February 2016
Future challenges for 2016: four more obstacle races, more hiking, skydiving, bungee jumping and more