Standing at the top of Porirua's Colonial Knob Walkway, Kit Quin stretches her legs and takes a moment to inhale the fresh air before starting the steep hike back down to the base.
Two years ago, weighing 115kg, the Wellingtonian wouldn't have made it past 20 of the 800 stairs on the hiking track and, admittedly, she wouldn't have even tried.
But after a drastic lifestyle change that saw her shed a whopping 51kg in 15 months, now this is the 31-year-old's favourite exercise spot.
Sipping on her usual long black morning coffee, Kit talks to us about the extraordinary health and body transformation she's captured on Instagram, which triggered a passion for marathons and helped her find love.
The office administrator says, "In November 2016, everything kind of came to a head in my life. I didn't have any goals and I was a grumpy, sad person who displayed that demeanour all the time."
Kit relied heavily on antidepressants and comfort food, spending all of her weekends indoors.
"When you're that unhappy, you think it's everyone else around you and I started bringing people down," she admits. "My work and my relationships with family and friends were all up the creek."
After a confrontation at work, Kit took a three-day break and enrolled in workshops on managing stress and anxiety, before signing up to a weight-loss programme.
She explains, "I wasn't happy with myself or my weight for a long time, but I tried to pretend that I was. I'd overeat and think, 'I'll deal with it tomorrow.'"
During the workshops, she learnt that her journey would require more than exercise and healthy eating. "It was across the board," she says.
"I ended up talking through problems I hadn't addressed in years and it became clear pretty quickly that my unhappiness was the result of a lack of self-love. I needed to learn acceptance of myself and respect for my body.
"I was taught that 80% of a person's journey is in their mind. That's where self-determination, discipline and motivation come from."
Told she needed to pinpoint her goals, Kit decided she wanted to drop 30kg as well as open herself up to the possibility of finding love after 10 years of not dating.
"It's important that your goals are realistic, so I started aiming to lose five kilos at a time. I began walking five kilometres each day around a lagoon near my house and walked the block on my lunch break, which really helped clear my head."
Adopting a healthy diet meant learning to cook high-protein meals from scratch, replacing takeaways with chicken, tuna, salads and vegetables. And as her body became healthier, Kit craved salt less, using garlic and chillies to add flavour to her meals instead. She also learned to love cooking.
Self-discipline was the biggest lesson for Kit, who cut out sugar and heavy carbohydrates, including rice and pasta, and didn't drink alcohol for a year and a half.
"I only ate something sweet on a Saturday, and switched all soft drinks for black coffee and water," she says.
Five months after starting, Kit celebrated losing 16.5kg by digging into her first Big Mac.
As her weight continued falling and her fitness levels increased, walks around the block became too easy, so she introduced stairs and hills to keep her heart rate up.
After nine months – and a second celebratory Big Mac – Kit reached her initial weight- loss goal of 30kg.
Happily settled into her new routine, she then ditched walking for jogging and joined an indoor netball team, surprising herself as she ran rings around competitors.
On weekends, she tested herself on treks, including the Colonial Knob Walkway, as friends struggled to keep up.
Joining half-marathons including Wellington's Round the Bays, Kit jogged five kilometres and helped raise money for children with cerebral palsy as part of last year's September event.
Weeks later, she celebrated an incredible overall weight loss of 51kg.
Eight months on, the bubbly blonde remains at a steady weight and completed her first 10km run during this month's Christchurch Marathon, raising money for the Life Flight Trust.
Kit explains, "The marathon went really well, even though it was a wet morning. I'm so proud of myself!"
And she has also started dating, confessing, "I have a boyfriend. He's someone I've known for eight years and we recently reconnected. It has been really refreshing to find someone who I can totally be myself with. I'm very happy!"
She's quick to add, "But 15 months ago, how could I have made someone happy if I wasn't happy with myself?"
Kit's adamant she never wants to return to that sad place. "Your happiness is the biggest factor because if you're good with yourself, other stuff just kind of falls into place," she says.
"It's been fricking tough! But now I literally climb mountains."