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Social media photos often inspire people to change their hair color or buy a new outfit, but in this case, they motivated 37-year-old Australian-native Casey Gemmell to shed some serious pounds.

Four years ago, Gemmell ordered a plus-size Bat Girl costume online to dress up for her son’s first birthday party—a superhero theme—as originally reported by TODAY. A few days after the party, photos of the event were posted to Facebook, revealing an image of Gemmell that she had a difficult time looking at. “I thought, ‘That’s not me, what a terrible angle,'” Gemmell said. “But then another photo was posted—from a worse angle. I kept waiting for a good angle and it never arrived.”

At first she felt sorry for herself, but that didn’t last long. The scale showed 353 pounds, and she knew she needed to make a change. Now, she’s down 155 pounds and looks better than ever. Here’s how she did it:

She exercised 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,” she told TODAY. “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!” And in addition to running, she did daily resistance training workouts.

She made cuts to her diet.
Cheese, pasta, bread and soft drinks had to go. “I started to change my diet by just cutting out those four specific foods and nothing else,” she said. “It was a massive challenge because at 33, I had a lot of food tendencies that were hard to break.”

She used the buddy system to stay on track.
“In the beginning, it was difficult to stay motivated and get to the gym or run every day,” said Gemmell. To keep her on track, her husband of 20 years offered to run beside her every day.

Her next step: undergoing surgery to have the excess skin removed that’s left behind after her incredible weight loss, for which she’s set up a GoFundMe page. “I struggle to come to terms mentally with what’s taking place in my life,” Gemmell said. “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. 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.”

 

 
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