About four and a half years ago, Casey Gemmell, 37, was excited to throw her son a superhero-themed first birthday party. She ordered a plus-size Bat Girl costume from Ebay and even though it was a bit too small, she wore it with confidence.
A few days after the party, the photos were posted on Facebook.
"I thought 'That's not me, what a terrible angle,'" Gemmell, who lives in Perth, Australia, recalled. "But then another photo was posted — from a worse angle. I kept waiting for a good angle and it never arrived."
It was September 2012 and after Gemmell took some time to "feel sorry" for herself, she got serious about turning her life around. Here are the steps she took to lose 155 pounds in four years.
1. Start exercising — every day.
"I downloaded an app called 5K Runner, it specifically said it would turn anybody from a couch potato into a 5K runner in eight weeks. I thought I would prove the app wrong," she said.
Instead, the app proved her wrong and saved her life. At first, she would run for 30 seconds, and even that was a struggle.
"The app encouraged me while I was exercising, and it would beep to remind me to run or walk if the app had been inactive for a couple of days. Before I knew it, I had run a 5K without stopping!"
Gemmell had lost about 40 pounds just by accomplishing her 5K goal!
2. Cut out cheese, pasta, bread and soft drinks.
"I started to change my diet by just cutting out those four specific foods and nothing else," Gemmell said. "It was a massive challenge because at 33, I had a lot of food tendencies that were hard to break."
3. Realize that quick fixes don't work.
"As soon as you get off of whatever scheme you were on, you'll gain the weight back — and then some," Gemmell said. "I decided that if I'm going to do it, I have to do it 100 percent the right way and take my time."
4. Celebrate the small things.
For Gemmell, that meant being able to get out of the car without having to swivel her body sideways. She cried the first time she went on a plane and didn't need an extension for the seat belt. She celebrated being able to fit in what she called "normal people's clothes."
5. Don't be afraid of anything, especially the gym.
About four months into her journey, Gemmell joined a gym and started doing resistance training workouts. She started seeing definition in her body that she wasn't experiencing from just running.
Today, she runs about three or four days a week, and practices resistance training at the gym five days a week (legs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and arms on Tuesday and Thursday).
6. Remember that it's as much mental as it is physical.
Gemmell confessed there are days when she feels like throwing in the towel — at least once every two weeks, but she remembers the challenge is mental, too.
"I struggle to come to terms mentally with what's taking place in my life: My body is constantly changing and my brain is trying to keep up. I still hear the negative things people used to call me in the schoolyard and I still see that girl. But I'm no longer her," Gemmel explained.
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7. Form one habit, then add another one.
For Gemmell, changing her life wasn't overwhelming because she took it one step at a time.
"I would form one habit, like eight weeks of running, and then start working on another habit," Gemmell explained.
8. Find a support system.
For Gemmell, her husband was her No. 1 source of support.
"He supported me 110 percent. He ran beside me every day. At first, I was scared to do it by myself, and he was always by my side," Gemmell recounted.
"I hope I continue on this journey and hope to motivate others. There are so many people out there like me, and I want them to know there's hope," Gemmell said.
If you're interested in learning more about Casey Gemmell, or interested in helping her fund surgery to remove her loose skin, please visit her GoFundMe page. To read more inspirational stories, check out our My Weight-Loss Journey page.