Natalie James, from Pokeno, in the Waikato, embarked on a weight-loss journey that saw her lose nearly half of her body weight in under two years.

The 34-year-old mother-of-three says the days of living off pasta and ready-made meals
are long behind her as she has embraced a healthier lifestyle, both for her sake and the sake of her children.

"I always knew I had to do something about it, I've never been "small" but after having kids I was at my heaviest," she recalls.

Less than two years separate the two photos of Natalie. Photos / Facebook
Less than two years separate the two photos of Natalie. Photos / Facebook

She admits it was tricky to say goodbye to the unhealthy meals but she drew inspiration from her husband who started doing bootcamps and suggested she tried some one-on-one personal training sessions.

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"He could see I was stuck in a bit of a rut being mum of three small kids and I was losing a bit of myself, just feeling like someone's mum not my own person anymore," she says.

Natalie says having the support of her family made it all possible. Photo / Facebook
Natalie says having the support of her family made it all possible. Photo / Facebook

It's a tale many mums can relate to: "I never really prioritised what I looked like or getting into shape" after having children.

Her youngest son, Finn, was born with hereditary Spherocytosis, a blood disease that meant he was in and out of hospitals for the first year of his life.

Natalie's looks were the last thing on her mind but, deep down, she knew something had to change.

With a healthy diet and an exercise regime in place, she lost 45kg in 21 months. She went from 110kg to a healthy 65kg.

She knows her story is the same as that of a lot of mothers, in the first few years of raising children. But while she knows firsthand what it is like to feel like you can't do it, to sit on the sofa with a bowl of pasta instead of hitting the gym, the change was definitely worth it.

"You definitely need to make the time for yourself, whether it's joining a gym or just going out to catch up with friends, you need to make yourself a priority and that makes you a happy mum for the kids too," she tells other mums.