The prospect of an early death hit Lorraine King when she weighed 120kg and was diagnosed with high blood pressure. She knew she had to act.
With a combination of gym exercise and changes to her diet, she lost more than 34kg.
Her weight now fluctuates between 80kg and 86kg.
An intermediate school teacher from Otahuhu in South Auckland, Ms King, who is 47 and the mother of three adult children, said heart disease had taken a heavy toll on her extended family.
Ms King, who is of Maori and Cook Islands ethnicity, said she looked at her family history and saw how many aunties and uncles had passed away because of heart disease.
"That was a wake-up call ... the eldest male didn't even reach 70," she said.
She began going to the gym three years ago and did a course on healthy eating run by nutritionist David Hill, of the Otahuhu Recreation and Youth Centre, which helped her change her diet and made her study nutrition labels at the supermarket.
She began to enjoy the gym and became motivated to exercise and eat well.
"My daughter comes to the gym regularly and my partner as well, it's really become very family-oriented."
But she acknowledged that maintaining her weight loss had been difficult and said she had made it her goal "that I won't go back to that weight again".
Ms King said that as well as reducing the amount she ate, including fat, she now ate lots of vegetables and fruit.
She also reduced her salt intake because of her high blood pressure. Cholesterol hasn't been a problem for her but she switched to healthier spreads: from butter to margarine and now hummus. And she enjoys nuts and seeds in salads.
But she emphasised that her dietary changes had been gradual.
"I'm not on a strict diet. I do have treats once in a while."