When Justine McCabe lost her mom and husband within the space of two years, she found it hard to cope with the heartbreak. She sought comfort in food, but her eating habits eventually led her to gain over 100 pounds. Then, when she looked in the mirror, she didn’t recognize the woman staring back at her. So she devised a unique way claim her life back.
McCabe’s mom passed away in 2013. She had been undergoing chemotherapy, but there were complications compounded by her excess weight. Shortly after, in February 2015, McCabe lost her husband to suicide after he lost his lifelong battle with depression. They had only been married six months. “This just destroyed me,” McCabe told Today in July 2016. “I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
However, McCabe found comfort in food, and started eating as a way to deal with her grief. The hairstylist from Burbank, California already weighed 285 pounds in the wake of her mom’s death. But after losing her husband her weight ballooned to 313. While her best friend and sisters encouraged McCabe to go to the gym, it was only after seeing herself that she knew something had to change.
The person McCabe saw in the mirror wasn’t the person she felt like on the inside. Going to the gym became her therapy, giving her time to reflect on everything she had been through with the loss of her husband and mom. On her initial trip to the gym, McCabe took a selfie to prove to her friend she was doing it. And, despite her initial resistance, she found that exercise became a daily habit.
In addition to visiting the gym, McCabe would take selfie every day to try and find the woman she once knew. Although she never imagined sharing her pictures with anyone, she now has an Instagram account with more than 89,000 followers who have tracked her transformation in losing 124 pounds. But, perhaps more importantly, the 34-year-old mom-of-two say that she’s regained her self-esteem, “I finally learned how to create happiness within myself first and not be seeking that in an outside source.”