Like many parents can no doubt relate with, a large chunk of Sydney mum Maria's life revolved around raising her three kids.
"Their needs always came first," she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. "I would always put myself last."
Time for a change
By the time her youngest had flown the nest, Maria was 46-years-old and 140kg. She'd been on medication for high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes for the previous 15 years and was comfort-eating a lot.
"I stood in the middle of my hallway in an empty house and thought to myself, 'What do I do with my life now?'
"I finally stopped and looked in the mirror and I realised I didn't want to be like this anymore."
Over the next few years, Maria overhauled her eating and exercise habits to drop 12 dress sizes and embark on a whole new, healthier lifestyle that both she and her family can be proud of.
As a self-professed 'Italian mumma,' food and cooking have always played an important role in Maria's life but poor eating habits and a lack of structured exercise eventually took their toll.
"I would always eat what I cooked at home - lots of pasta of course!
"My only form of exercise was running around after the children and I would use food as a coping mechanism."
To kickstart her healthy eating journey Maria joined Lite 'N Easy and she was pleasantly surprised by the taste.
One of her favourite meals is the eggs benedict; "I never imagined that I could eat my favourite breakfast while trying to lose weight."
Within two years, Maria had shed 70kg but it wasn't through diet changes alone. She also upped her physical activity and these days she maintains her weight with a weekly workout schedule.
"Tuesday and Thursday are my boxing days. Monday and Wednesday are weight lifting days. Friday and Sunday are my rest days. Saturday is a coastal walk," she explains.
Boxing became a much-loved hobby and she's even taken part in a charity boxing match or two much to the delights of her family and friends.
"I have always had a love of life and thankfully they have always supported my craziness. So when I jumped into the boxing ring at 48 years old, they were all there cheering me on," Maria says.
"I am so lucky that my family and friends have always supported me. They are very proud of me and they appreciate the work that’s gone one behind the scenes to get to where I am today," she adds.
Now aged 51, Maria is a happy and healthy size 10 and says she hates to imagine what her life would be like if she hadn't taken that first step five years ago.
"I assume that I'd still be taking medication and possibly even more. I wouldn't be as active as I am now, I'd be missing out on so many possibilities and I certainly wouldn't have met the wonderful people I have met along the way."
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