Four years ago, Casey Gemmell was planning her 1-year-old son's superhero-themed birthday party. The plan included the 37-year-old mom dressing up as Bat Girl, so she ordered a plus-size costume online. When the shipment arrived, the costume was a bit too small, but Gemmell decided to go with it.
The party was a success. But within a few days of the event, photos were posted on Facebook — and that's when Gemmell knew something had to change.
"I thought, 'That's not me, what a terrible angle,'" Gemmell told TODAY. "But then another photo was posted — from a worse angle. I kept waiting for a good angle and it never arrived."
As the Facebook photos circulated online, Gemmell says she felt sorry for herself, but gradually realized she needed to get serious. At 353 pounds, she could barely change her son's diaper over her belly.
Four years later, Gemmell, who lives in Perth, Australia, has lost 155 pounds. Talk about an amazing accomplishment!
To get her new lifestyle going, she began 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," she said. "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!"
Because losing weight is never just about exercise, Gemmell amended her diet and 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," she said. "It was a massive challenge because at 33, I had a lot of food tendencies that were hard to break."
Her hard work was paying off: She could get out of the car without having to swivel her body sideways, she no longer needed a seatbelt extender on airplanes, and she could fit into what she called "normal people clothes."
In addition to running, Gemmell found success with daily resistance training workouts. That's right: every single day. While that may seem like a lot (it did to Gemmell, too), she said she reminds herself that reaching her goal will be worth all the effort and time she's put in.
"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."
Those first steps are often the hardest, Gemmell admitted. In the beginning, it was difficult to stay motivated and get to the gym or run every day. She said the scariest part is starting this new journey on your own, which is why her husband of 20 years offered to assist, running beside her every day.
Her plan of taking it one day at a time has clearly worked, but now she has a lot of loose skin as a result of her dramatic weight loss, so she's set up a GoFundMe page to try to raise money to have the excess skin removed.
In the meantime, she wants everyone to know that they're not alone in their weight-loss journey.
"I hope I continue on this journey and hope to motivate others," Gemmell said. "There are so many people out there like me, and I want them to know there's hope."