She overate to cope with husband’s passing. But one day she notices something in her photo

September 25, 2017 6:02 pm Last Updated: October 20, 2017 5:34 pm

We all have different ways of coping after a tragedy—but some are less healthy than others.

Justine McCabe, a 31-year-old mother and hair stylist from Burbank, California, was reeling from two major losses in her life. In 2013, she lost her mother due to complications due to chemotherapy and obesity.

Justine began coping by overeating. She rapidly gained weight, hitting 285 pounds, according to Today.

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But things got even worse: less than two years later, her husband committed suicide after only six months of marriage, after a long battle with depression. Justine was devastated—and turned even further to food to ease the pain.

“This just destroyed me,” she told Today. “I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

Soon, her weight had increased to 313 pounds.

(Caters TV/Screenshot)

According to Us Weekly, her regular diet consisted of five slices of pizza, ice cream, cheeseburgers and breakfast tacos.

“I would say I consumed anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 calories on a daily basis,” she told Us Weekly.

“I was completely broken and grieving. I had no desire to live life.”

(Caters TV/Screenshot)

She hit rock bottom—and only realized it one day when she took a photo of herself.

“I didn’t recognize myself in it,” Justine recalled to Us about the photo. “I looked lost, broken and full of darkness.”

She knew she had to turn her life around and start going to the gym—and the photo inadvertently gave her the perfect inspiration to do it.

She decided to take a selfie every day to document her weight loss.

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“Every day from there on out, I took a selfie with the hope that I would start to see myself again and reclaim my light,” she told Us.

“Taking pictures every day and comparing them to other ones I had taken gave me the desire to keep pushing forward and fight to become the person I knew I was deep down.”

She also admits she also did it to prove all the naysayers wrong.

“I did it out of spite,” she told Today. “I wanted them to just shut up.”

“I made the choice. I have to do something different.”

(Caters TV/Screenshot)

Justine said the path to weight loss wasn’t always easy.

“There were a few times I cried on that elliptical,” she told Today.

But she stuck with it, and as visits to the gym became more and more routine, she began seeing great results. She made sure to keep active—especially during times of potential relapse. As what would’ve been her anniversary with her husband approached, she went on a trip to Hawaii with her sisters.

“I was doing anything I could to beat that depression,” she told Today.

Truth be told after a long weekend of volunteering and back to back brutal races…going to the gym today was the last thing I wanted to do. As I was working through a completely new, challenging leg day routine…I was reminded to never fear failure and rather place my focus on giving 100% effort. That is where change occurs! 💪🏻 Legs and 55 mins of cardio later….I feel better than when I started. No regrets! _____________________________________ #IChooseToLive ##KeepGoing #Happiness #Gym #Change #Weightloss #FitFam #Transformation #BodyPositive #Strong #SelfLove #fitspo #girlswithmuscle #fitness #realtalk #BoPo #SelfConfidence #newpath #TeamJustine #mondaymotivation #iamallwoman #soretodaystrongtomorrow #nopainnogain #beastmode

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But soon enough, Justine learned to love the gym. She described it to Us as “the best form of therapy.” She started seeing a personal trainer and dropped another 65 pounds.

Justine tracked her progress on Instagram, where people became inspired by her story.

She shared before-and-after photos—and the side-by-side results are inspiring.

You call it a picture of success…I call it a picture of struggle. It was struggling through life that led to me being overweight and unhappy. Now, I have struggled to become a different person. I have succumb to my own vulnerability and was forced to discover my true self. I can look back now and admire the strength it took to endure those struggles. We often hear self worth, self love, self value, self respect….but how often do we really practice it? Changing your life will open your eyes. It won't just be the aesthetics that change… but who you are, how you think and what you value. Many ask, "how can I do the same?". There are simple answers out there…. Drink more water Don't eat past 8pm Cut out fast/overly processed food Keep your body moving But what is beyond the simple changes you can make? How can one really develop a true life style change? The answer can be simple. ✨Reconnect with yourself✨. I had to go through horrific tragedy to come to the deep realization that there was no other option. I could lay down and die….or I could stop being a bystander of life and become a participant. We bury ourselves in our addictions and yet we are the resistance to our own excuses. Strip away the aesthetics and ego aspects of why you want your life to be different and you will open yourself up to discovering your why, your real purpose. When you are truly vulnerable… you will do what you've dreamt of doing, be who you dreamt of being. Most change is uncomfortable and it is going to be a struggle. Choose your vessel to this new lifestyle…and if it doesn't work…try again, make a different choice….evolve. What do you have to lose? Let's get vulnerable. This is real health. Real wellness. ❤️❤️❤️ • • • • • #TransformationTuesday #BestSelf #IChooseToLive #LiveInspired #KeepGoing #Happiness #Love #Life #Change #Weightloss #FitFam #Transformation #BodyPositive #Strong #SelfLove #fitspo #girlswithmuscle #fitness #realtalk #BoPo #SelfConfidence #newpath #TeamJustine #Vulnerability #instagood #iamallwoman #health #beyou #body4me #worthy

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I remember a time…before losing weight where I was afraid of loose skin, smaller boobs and stretch marks. I was afraid of anything but perfection. I realized quickly…those were the loud whispers of insecurity. For years my mind held me back from doing the work. Today…my body is anything but perfection…but I keep on keeping on. Sure I've lost a lot of weight…but I what I've truly gained are my wildest dreams, self love and real happiness! 💖#ichoosetolive #keepgoing #limitless #happiness #progressnotperfection #bebrave #teamjonnystraws #neverfail #weightloss #weightlosstransformation #beforeandafter #fitspiration #fitness #fitmom #mystrongmoment #bestself #chicksthatlift #strong #limitless #girlswithmuscle #gymlife #fitlife #selfconfidence #transformation #weightlifting #cardiocatastrophe

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Someone asked me recently what advice do I wish someone had given me before my weight loss journey. It's no secret I was at the wheel of the struggle bus for a portion of the last year…. I wish someone had warned me about being too restrictive and the obsession that can come with that. When creating new habits and making healthier choices, it's so easy to get carried away and listen all the voices telling you what not to do and eat. Implementing such rigid dietary restrictions at one point…led to debilitating binge eating. I wasn't aware how easily you could swap one eating disorder for another. I spent most of fall taking the time to "heal" myself and use the right tools within nutrition to let go of my fear of food and in turn help me focus on self acceptance. Many people tend to focus on a number, a goal weight or magic amount they need to lose. That number doesn't translate into happiness. Don't get so caught up with an end result that you neglect to appreciate your success as it's happening. Take this time to explore inner reflection and ask yourself your "whys"; why am I overweight? Why am I unhappy? Why am I making these changes? Why am I struggling to change my life? It's ok to fail, to have setbacks. No one gets into this kind of lifestyle change without struggling at certain times; it's never a straight trajectory to success. Its important to listen to your own body and needs. Don't compare yourself to the unrealistic. There is really no universal diet or work out plan, make sure to accommodate yourself as an individual. I have started and stopped more times than I can count….it wasn't until I had to confront myself and my unhappiness…that I was able to truly connect with my "why". That alone helped me push past my comfort zone and surpass my previous stopping points. It really is possible to change your life. We all have the power to create something different. I have fought tooth and nail to get to where I am standing today. The best part….I've done it listening to my own intuition and aligning myself with real inspiration and motivation. This is what real sustainability looks like! And the best is yet to come💜

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Justine has reportedly dropped all the way down to 189 pounds, and that includes increased muscle mass. But it wasn’t just a physical change for her—working out made her feel better inside, too.

“I have the power to control my life,” she told Today. “I truly have healed my self-esteem, my self love.”

“I finally learned how to create happiness within myself first and not be seeking that in an outside source.”