Karen Deane never thought she would be sporting a six-pack at the age of 45.
The mother-of-two was overweight for most of her adult life to the point she would hide behind her husband and kids in fear of being judged over her appearance.
At 89kg, the Sydney local avoided looking in the mirror because she "hated what she saw" – but that soon changed.
"I hadn't been happy with my weight for as long as I can remember," she told news.com.au.
"I avoided social situations if I knew I would have to talk to people because I was ashamed and assumed that they would always judge me on my appearance."
Her confidence was at its lowest and her unhealthy lifestyle choices also prevented her from doing what she loved – swimming.
"I'd never go because I was too embarrassed to be seen in a swimming suit," Ms Deane said.
Her daily diet centred around fast food and an overload of carb dishes like pasta.
"I usually ate three times a day with snacks in between. Most of my weight was caused by snacking on chocolate and chips," she said.
But all that changed when Ms Deane joined Wimp 2 Warrior, training up to 90 minutes a day, five times a week, over 20 weeks.
"I had seen how much weight my husband had lost and knew I needed to give it a go and see how much I could lose," she said.
Ms Deane followed a strict calorie-controlled diet, with the key making sure she ate enough calories to sustain the energy to train daily.
"A lot of people don't eat enough and stop losing weight and then give up," Ms Deane explained. "I had a great coach that helped me throughout the program and gave me advice on how much to eat."
On a normal day, Ms Deane will try to eat three meals containing lean protein, lots of vegetables, a small amount of good carbs like sweet potato and healthy fats like avocado, almonds or olive oil.
It's a stark contrast to her previous three dishes a day.
"I use the hand technique to measure my portions. For example a palm of protein, a fist of vegetables, a handful of carbs and a thumb of fat," she said.
Not only did the Frenchs Forest mum transform her body, now boasting an impressive six-pack, but she also went on to discover her passion for mixed martial arts (MMA) that led her to a professional fighting career.
Ms Deane has had three MMA fights, winning all of them.
"I definitely never thought that at 45 years old I would step into the cage and fight someone," she said.
"I get a lot of looks when I walk around covered in bruises. By first appearances most people say I am a calm and quiet person, when I tell them I'm involved in martial arts they don't usually believe me and ask why I would want to do it."
Ms Deane said martial arts gave her and other women the confidence to walk around and feel safe, knowing they are able to defend themselves if needed.
"It also gives you mental strength to face day-to-day situations that you would normally try to avoid because they previously made you feel uncomfortable," she said.
Mental and physical strength
Since completing the program in 2018, Ms Deane said she could now look at herself in the mirror and be proud of what she had achieved and the strong body she had maintained.
But like most changes, Ms Deane also faced her own challenges during the program.
"Cooking healthy food that the whole family would like and not eating takeaway food when the rest of the family chose to get it was tough," she said.
"Also, dealing with people outside of my family that didn't understand what I was doing and would get upset if I chose not to eat certain foods or have a drink."
Now, Ms Deane is feeling happier, stronger and more confident than ever.
"It (program) taught me that I was able to push through any uncomfortable situations outside of the gym and has made me a stronger person," she said.
"You need to find a place that feels like home, that encourages you every step of the way and motivates and pushes you until the end.
"I learnt how much I could actually push myself out of my comfort zone, how to push past the voice that always told me to stop and that I could now chase whatever dream or goal I wanted to achieve."
From being the shy woman who once hid behind her husband and children, Ms Deane now walks in first.
"Get comfortable being uncomfortable is now my mantra," she said.