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Karen Gauvreau was unhappy, overweight, uncomfortable, and unmotivated to do anything while going through postpartum depression.

Karen Gauvreau

29, Vancouver

Pounds dropped: 63

My turning point: After giving birth to my son two years ago, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. I was unhappy, overweight, uncomfortable, unmotivated to do anything and lacked energy. I battled with it for a year and even when I was slowly getting better, I was constantly down.

Doing simple chores around the house was exhausting for me. Chasing my son in the park was huge challenge as well.

One day in the summer of 2011, I was cleaning out the garbage can in my husband's office. On the wall by his desk there was a swimsuit calendar that I was featured in just before I got pregnant. I stared at it for a few minutes, looked down at myself and wondered how my life had changed so much in just two years. I went from an internationally published bikini model to overweight, out-of-shape couch potato.

That day, I resolved to make positive changes in my life. I decided to work towards what used to make me happy: modelling.

My method: I started going to the gym doing light cardio and resistance exercise five days a week and cleaned up my food choices. I went from not exercising at all to making physical activity my comfort zone and a place to burn through my depression.

When I started this journey, I really struggled to do just 15 minutes of light exercise. Now I regularly exercise five days a week and enjoy every minute of it.

I went from eating three large meals a day of mainly unhealthy choices to six healthy, proportioned meals and snacks each day. After just one week of healthy eating and exercise, I noticed my clothes were getting loose and I started seeing the changes in my body on a weekly basis. I noticed I had a lot more energy than I used to and I was able to run after my son in the park without having to stop and catch my breath.

Establishing a healthy daily routine was the key. I start my mornings off with cinnamon oatmeal and egg whites to fuel my body before I exercise. For lunch, I usually have fish, chicken or turkey breast, vegetables and potatoes. Dinner is my favourite meal of the day when I prefer more comforting foods. I usually make a healthy stir fry with rice, fish and veggies.

I weighed 173 pounds post pregnancy and today I am 110 pounds. I have gained some lean muscle and I'm in the best shape of my life.

It's not a radical regime, which is why it's so doable for me: I exercise for about one hour each day and simply make healthier food choices. I've made a significant lifestyle change but I haven't allowed this to take over my life – and that's what allows me to keep going.

I've returned to the fitness modelling world and I am now a brand ambassador and sponsored athlete for a nutritional supplement company – I am even being featured in their national print advertising campaign in fitness magazines across Canada.

My kryptonite: I allow myself one reward meal each week, usually every Sunday. This gives me something to look forward to every weekend. I can't resist anything with chocolate and peanut butter!

This interview has been condensed.

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