In late 2016 Helen Crewe weighed 79kg, had high blood pressure, was facing type 2 diabetes and a hip replacement and was fearful of walking for over ten minutes at a time.
Fast-forward to 2018 and the Kerikeri 79-year-old is 25kg lighter and holds the title of Senior Curvette of the Year.
A move across the Tasman prompted a vicious cycle for Helen.
"We rented a small home while we were looking to settle, so takeout meals were the answer most of the time. Being retired, I woke up late most days. Instead of walking, I'd drive into town and a get a coffee with several slices of thick buttered toast or a muffin. I'd get a curry for lunchtime and share a couple of glasses of wine. I kept adding to it because emotionally I was vulnerable and I didn't care."
As time went by, Helen was mentally and physically debilitated by the aches in her hips and knees, coupled with no exercise. Finally, after alarm bells started ringing, she worked up the courage to visit Curves in Kerikeri.
"I knew I had to do something to improve my health. I met Marie, my Curves Coach, who helped me discover a love I never knew was there for exercise, together with diet advice."
Today Helen is fighting fit with no pain in her hips and knees, she's halved her blood pressure tablets and reached her goal weight of 54kg. What's more, she was crowned Senior Curvette of the Year 2017, an award that is given to an active member 60 years or over across 150 clubs in New Zealand and Australia.
Helen is now a mirror of wellbeing with many of the Curves members approaching her during class for advice and even her husband has benefited from her overhaul, losing 7kg.
She stresses the importance of regular exercise and healthy eating, especially for seniors.
"Exercise, together with a nutritious diet, is the most important thing you can do for yourself with advancing years. Besides the physical benefits, you are only as old as you think you are. Mentally it has given me the drive to be social, take on new projects and add new interests to my life. Sitting around ensures you become old in mind and spirit!"
Helen has a new lease on life and is now motivated to do what she loves; be actively involved in the local theatre group, Kerikeri Theatre Company.
"I've seen a huge improvement in my muscle, balance and mobility. As I got physically stronger, I was happier and more confident to be part of the community. What I've learnt is that it's your life, not a rehearsal, and no second chances. My passions are definitely a reason for living. Now I've been involved in two shows, with another two on the way."
Says Curves marketing manager Jacqui Bialocki: "The Senior Curvette of the Year is inspiring to women of all ages. Helen has jumped through many hurdles, but age is not one of them. She serves as an encouraging reminder to never say never. You can reach your goals if you are dedicated and find the right support. At Curves we are designed to improve the quality of women's lives, no matter what your situation we will support your health goals through."