Sometimes, all it takes is one moment to see everything in a different light. And in my case, this rings true.

In my early 20s I was fortunate to have a desirable body image. As a bikini model, I dedicated myself to a healthy and active lifestyle, ensuring I could maintain a picturesque figure. And while my livelihood depended on modelling, my fitness and health regime kept me happy and confident.

This changed when I became pregnant. By the time I gave birth to my son, I had gained nearly 70 pounds keeping it on for months after he was born.

Everyone expects pregnancy to bring an expanding waistline as well as stretch marks, heartburn and weight gain – but the added pounds did not sit well on my 5’0” frame. I was overjoyed with my healthy baby boy but the weight took a huge toll on my appearance and self confidence. I was overweight, lethargic, unmotivated and constantly depressed. I didn’t know what was wrong until I finally sought medical help and was diagnosed with postpartum depression.

Even while I received treatment for the illness, I couldn’t find the motivation to regain my healthy, active lifestyle. One day changed my life completely.

As I was cleaning my husband’s office, I noticed a photo of myself in a swimsuit calendar that was from before I was pregnant. I was shocked to see how much I had let my body go during the pregnancy and the time that followed. I hardly recognized that slim, fit woman staring back at me. Who had I become?

I wanted to be able to run around with my son and feel good about myself again. I knew that I needed to get my health back, there was no putting it off!

I thought back to my former modelling days as inspiration to get back in the saddle. I remembered my first visit to the Playboy Mansion in 2008 where the models had showed me the basics of fitness, light cardio and resistance training.

I made a conscious effort to train five times a week. I also modified my diet to include six healthy, proportioned meals a day rather than three large, unhealthy ones. Mornings consisted of oatmeal and egg whites, lunch was often veggies, potatoes, fish, chicken or turkey breast and dinner was my comfort, stir fry with a healthy serving of veggies, rice and fish.

On Sundays, as a reward for sticking to my fitness regimen and diet, I indulged in small servings of chocolate and peanut butter ice cream.

Although it was a slow transformation, I started to regain the figure and confidence I had before the pregnancy. Within a week, my clothes were getting looser and I began to see a change in my figure. I had energy and could finally keep up with my ever-active two year-old.

My post pregnancy weight was 173 pounds, but today I weigh 110, 63 pounds lighter and healthier. Though I weigh slightly more than my pre-pregnancy self, I have a better body composition, having gained lean muscle and less fat. I’ve never been in better shape!

My family has helped keep my eye on the prize throughout this battle, including the ups and the downs. I’ve also been fortunate to land opportunities such as becoming a sponsored athlete and brand ambassador for SD Pharmaceuticals, a nutritional supplement company, where I’ll be featured in their national and international print advertising campaigns. I also have several upcoming fitness photos shoots. Getting back into modelling in a different context is making me finally feel happy again.

My struggle with postpartum depression and weight is not unique. However, looking back now, I realize it was a blessing in disguise. I empathize with many mothers who are coping with the same issues and I can say that, while the situation can appear bleak, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

My battle with weight allowed me to overcome an obstacle I never thought I would be able to and has taught me a lot about myself, my family and my future. If I can do it, anyone can. Don’t give up until you achieve the lifestyle and quality of life you deserve!

More Inspiration: Check out this other inspirational story about Lyzabeth Lopez!

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