37-year-old Hayley Mitchell had struggled with weight loss her entire life. But when she got married, her unwanted weight gain problems took a turn for the worse, and she found herself weighing 242 pounds, eating out for nearly every meal, and making no time for exercise. She was horrified.
"I was eating unhealthily and doing nothing," Hayley told Daily Mail Australia. "We lived around the corner from a takeout restaurant and we would go up the road and get something instead of cooking. Over time [the weight] crept up on me and I didn't even realize it."
She saw a photo of herself at a friend's wedding and knew it was time for a change. “I said to myself that I’m going to stop now, I’m going to do something.”
It was then she took the weight loss plunge and joined a gym.
“Walking through those doors was the hardest thing I had to do,” Mitchell said. “When you’re a big person, you think the only people going to the gym are buff muscle men or beautiful, skinny, blonde bombshells who don’t have to be there. But in reality, it’s the opposite.”
A month after joining the gym, Mitchell started to get serious about her diet. She hired a personal trainer who put her on a strict diet and exercise regimen. Egg white omelets, salads and vegetables were at the top of her grocery lists, and morning cardio workouts were at the top of her to-do lists.
In 19 months, Mitchell lost 110 pounds, completely transforming her appearance. She even had a surgery to remove the excess skin that comes with extreme weight loss.
"It wasn't until I...had lost 110 pounds that I was looking at myself and the amount of loose skin I had, and I still looked big," Hayley says. "It made such a difference mentally [to remove the excess skin and see what I really look like now]."
Once a size 24, Mitchell dropped to a size 10 — which made shopping insanely less stressful.
"I hated going shopping when I was big because I never fit into the clothes I wanted to fit into," Mitchell said. "Now I can walk into any shop, pick a size 10 off the rack and try it on."
“Two years of nothing but hard work, good diet, persistence and a lot of blood, sweat and tears. I am proof that it can be done if you want something bad enough. Nothing changes if nothing changes.” Mitchell wrote on her Facebook page.
Mitchell’s fitness journey continues even now as she sets new goals and breaks new records.
“I had no self confidence, no self belief, no self worth, just empty and just existing and I was so unhappy. It's amazing how much has changed in that short amount of time.”
Now Mitchell is running half marathons, winning awards and is even a certified personal trainer.
"Never in a million years did I think I would end up in this industry, and never has something scared me so much but feels so right," Mitchell wrote on her Facebook page. "I had to go through what I have to grow enough and 'be ready' to take on the next chapter, which I am so excited about."