Hannah Barnes from Ashhurst, Manawatū is happily married with three young children, and has been overweight most of her life.

"I ate whatever I wanted, I didn't pay attention to what I was eating," Barnes said.

That changed when she had a life-changing experience and caught the fitness bug. She's since shredded more than 40 kilograms in just over a year.

But that remarkable result is from a long and sometimes painful process.

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After years of trying fad diets and exercise regimes, Hannah decided it was time to hold herself accountable.

"I'm getting on. I'm getting into my mid to late 30s and I want to see my children and I want to be around for them when they're older. I want to see my grandchildren," Barnes said.

"So many people in New Zealand are dying of heart disease.

"I read that 50 New Zealand woman are dying a week from heart disease and these things can be preventable, just by losing weight and being healthy.

"I knew that I was overweight. I knew I was obese, according to the doctor, and I needed to do something about it."

Her weight loss journey began when a friend roped her into a Mother's Day fun run.

"The first time I ran 20 minutes straight, I came home and I was bouncing off the walls. It was just this high, this adrenaline rush," she said.

"I couldn't run for more than 60 seconds when I started and then I could run for 20 minutes."

After that first runners' high, she was addicted.

Losing weight and getting fit has allowed Barnes to fulfill another dream.

She's trained to be a volunteer firefighter, following in the footsteps of her father who died four years ago.

"You can't be over 100 kilos and be a firefighter! So that was a big motivator for me. It was like 'it's time to get fit, get healthy'. I can give something back to my community of Ashhurst which I love," Barnes said.

Losing more than 40 kilograms in just over a year might seem impossible, but Hannah said anyone can do it.

"Set a goal and go for it. Find something that you can work towards that will motivate you to make those changes, and then keep focusing on that goal until you achieve it."

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