Chanel Hall looks back at photos of herself a couple of years ago and can barely recognise the face looking back at her.

She's 31.5kg lighter than she was only 10 months ago but said, in her mind, she always felt the way she looks now.

Still, after nearly one year of daily dedication to her fitness journey, she's learned a thing or two about commitment, resilience and the value of hard work.

The 25-year-old from Rotorua said she woke up on August 28 last year and decided things needed to change. As simple as that.


"Recently the scales had just hit 120kg and I had a big old slap in the face from reality," she recalls. "I knew something needed to change so having family to motivate me was the perfect time to start."

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Her mum and sister had adopted the keto diet so Hall decided she'd give it a go too. With the help of her partner (now husband) Zach, she adopted the same method of eating, with a focus on high-fat and low-carb dieting.

"My wedding was also impending but to be honest, I didn't realise how much motivation that was until after the wedding and that motivation was gone!"

Hall, who's the guidance counsellor at Rotorua Girls High School, said most of her weight loss came from adopting the keto diet but she also achieved some small victories through taking up exercise.

"Definitely 90 per cent can be attributed to following the keto way of eating," she said.

"Prior to starting keto I had used the couch to 5k app and started running - something I had never done before and having never been a runner I was ecstatic to be able to run 5k! I stopped running though, and started keto a few months later. I went back to running for a while once I had been on keto for a while and suddenly I could run 5k faster and easier off the bat than I could after months of training using the app!"

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Hall said the diet meant she had higher energy and having "less weight to lug around probably helped too".

"Now I mainly go for walks, some runs and enjoy cycling but only very casually. I'm definitely not on any strict routine or go to the gym or anything! I exercise as much for my mental health as physical."


Hall seems to have a radiant smile permanently on her face but admits the journey wasn't always easy. In fact, sometimes it was pretty difficult.

Adopting a fairly strict diet restricted some social interactions, which she quickly found was not doing any good to her wellbeing. She quickly made a point of not being a nuisance to her hosts whenever she attended family functions and credits her family with much of the success of her journey.

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"My family have been incredible and so supportive and ensured there have always been options for me. It's been made easier that a few family members have been motivated to adopt the keto way of eating so it's not just me," she said.

To hold herself accountable and keep herself motivated, she started a Facebook page, BloomingPositive, where she shares her successes and struggles as she sheds the weight.

"People's feedback from this inspired me to keep going. Every time I was struggling I created a progress picture, shared a story or shared what I was struggling with. There's a real little Keto community on Facebook and Instagram and everyone has been so, so kind and helpful," she said.

Hall said the number on the scales is actually just a side-effect of a much more powerful transformation. By taking control of herself, she's found a kind of happiness she never knew existed.

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"It's been incredible how making some positive changes in my life has lead to more and more positivity surrounding my life. I'm not just happy because I've lost weight, it's so much more than that! I'm happy because my entire life and being is just radiating positivity and I'm seeing more positive changes in my life every day."

She believes her success happened because she chose to do it for the right reasons. Hall didn't look in the mirror when she was 31.5kg heavier and not like what she saw. She says she simply saw how she could be better, but she did so from a place of love for the person she already was.

"If you're wanting to lose weight and you're being really hard on yourself, you're not going to be in the right headspace to achieve what you want to," she explained.

"You shouldn't be punishing yourself for past habits, it has to come from a place of love, then it will be easy. I've been on this journey because I have a lot of love for myself and I wanted to look after myself, not because I hated myself or the way I look."

"If you fall off, don't beat yourself up, just get back on! I've not done anything fancy, spent massive amounts of money or starved myself half to death. I've found something that works for me and I've stuck to it religiously for the betterment of my health, my life and my future."