Charlotte FitzPatrick has been on a rewarding weight loss journey.
The 32-year-old started her new lifestyle of healthy eating and regular exercise in September last year and has lost 28kg in less than eight months.
"I was tipping the scales at 111kg, it was the unhealthiest I had ever been in my life and I am pleased to now be at 83kg," said FitzPatrick, who is preparing to run in next weekend's Taupo Half Marathon.
"Last year I wouldn't have been able to run to the letterbox, so the fact that I am already running 10km nonstop is awesome."
The senior communications account manager from Cambridge was working for a health company at the time of her inspiration.
On a daily basis she would hear the burden that diabetes and cardiovascular disease was placing on New Zealand's health system.
"I knew that I was at high risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease if I didn't start eating healthier and exercising. Once I started to think about my lifestyle more seriously, I realised I wasn't in good shape physically or mentally and that it was time to change."
FitzPatrick started a 12 week programme with Les Mills and began documenting her energy intake and out-take. She lost almost 28kg between late September and April and wants to lose another 10kg.
She admitted that she found losing weight hard work. Her philosophy around weight loss is 40:30:30 - 40 per cent mental, 30 per cent physical exercise and 30 per cent healthy eating.
"There is no simple way out of being overweight or obese - you have to eat healthy and exercise."
FitzPatrick uses MyFitnessPal and Runkeeper - applications on her smart phone that have audio feedback - to make sure she eats healthily and exercises. She said the most important part of the turnaround was mental strength.
"You have to firstly want to change, then you need to keep focused on your goals and have the mental strength to keep motivated. People can give you the tools, say all the right things, coach you, but in the end, it's all up to you. People are often quite surprised that I have lost this weight on my own."
FitzPatrick said weight loss is not as important to her as being physically fit and feeling healthy.
"I feel really happy about losing 28kg but I feel so much happier that for the first time in my life, I can run long distances and feel good while I'm doing it. Now I can sign up for events that I would have never ever imagined I would do before!"
She runs three times a week and plays squash three times a week. She says running is great because it's a scenic way of exercising and escape.
"It takes away a lot of the stress of my daily life.
"My endorphins start working and I completely switch off from the problems of my day. I used to have terrible insomnia and I haven't experienced that for a long time."
FitzPatrick has been working towards a goal like the Taupo Half Marathon for some time.
The 21.1km route is a run worth training for with stunning views. It is a loop course, mostly on a flat scenic road on the edge of Lake Taupo. The course runs along Lake Terrace and the highway out to Mahuta Rd and returns along the lake edge pavements to the Tongariro Domain.
FitzPatrick is up for the challenge of her first half marathon. "I used to hate running!" she said.
"Completing this half marathon will validate all of the hard work I have already done. If I can run a half marathon, something I thought was impossible for me, I can pretty much do any event."
FitzPatrick said without the support of her husband, family and her friends - especially Jo who joins her on the cold evening runs - her weight loss would not have happened. "If you want to change your life, change your life. Don't make excuses - there are no good excuses," she said.