When Skei Hanlon looked at pictures from her 40th birthday celebrations last year, she was not happy with what she saw.
"I thought I looked horrible in the photos," the now 41-year-old mother told news.com.au.
"I thought, 'This is not who I am'. I've always been fit and healthy, always been into sport. I was just uncomfortable with myself and not happy," she said.
Skei had spent months recovering from major spinal surgery and multiple back injuries, meaning she was unable to train.
But after getting the all-clear from her doctor, she decided to join her local gym's 12-week challenge and get back into shape.
"I started with four training sessions a week and ended up loving it so much I did 10 sessions a week," Skei said.
"I was doing strength training three times a week and the rest of it was pretty much cardio so running, cross training, cycling on the bike and we'd have running sessions at the gym. Also I did interval training with weights, just getting the heart rate up."
Skei knew if she wanted to see significant changes in such a short time frame, she'd need to be very disciplined.
"I was extremely strict. For that 12 weeks I just had to commit to 100 per cent and it worked because I was losing a kilo a week, sometimes more," she said.
"Meal portions were a huge thing for me and making sure I had plenty of greens, a good mix of salad and vegetables.
"I used to enjoy drinks during the week and have a couple of glasses of wine at dinner. So I had to stop that.
"When you're cooking for the kids and cooking for yourself and your partner too, you kind of snack and take little bits of food for yourself, or you'll finish their leftovers."
But Skei made sure she didn't eliminate all the fun out of her diet.
"If my partner or kids wanted to have a pizza that's fine, but I would make my own healthy pizza," she said.
"It's all right to have some lollies and snacks but to make sure you're not overindulging.
"Once I was happy with my weight, I could eat more broadly and just maintain it. I keep it strict during the week and then more relaxed on the weekends."
At the end of the 12 weeks, Skei had lost 15kg, dropped 12 per cent off her body fat percentage and slashed 100cm total measurement off her figure.
Skei's biggest achievement was running a half marathon after recovering from her back issues.
"I was told I would never be able to run again after my back injury, but I ended up doing a half marathon in September," she said.
"The half marathon was what I was most excited about. I was like, 'Wow, yes I can do this.'
"I definitely increased my strength too. I'm not allowed to lift heavy weights above my head but I'm back to doing full chin-ups again which is great."
Skei says having children can make it close to impossible to find a time to exercise, so she does it in the mornings and will tag along to her kid's sport training and exercise at the same venue.
"When the kids had sport on after school, I made sure I trained where their sport was being held. So when they were at boxing, I would just do some training at their boxing gym," she said.
While it's a lot of hard work and sacrifice, Skei says the effort is worth it.
"I worked really hard in a really short time frame and now I'm going to have long-term benefits," she said.
"If you want to do it, you can make it happen or you can come up with an excuse."