GROWING up, Jennifer Besser said she was always "a bit heavier" than her peers.
As a teenager, she slowly piled on the pounds - tipping the scales at 19.5st, despite being active and loving playing sport at high school.
The now 24-year-old said it took her years before she realised it was her diet that was to blame.
She had spent years thinking her active lifestyle could offset eating double servings of fast food, washed down with sugary frappuccinos most days.
"I was plenty active as a child," she said. "I wasn't lazy and played tennis, volleyball, softball, took part in track and field and ski club as well as weight training.
"But my eating habits were definitely poor.
"I ate a lot of fast food and used to drink plenty of high-calorie drinks.
"But I never thought that played a role in my weight gain."
Like many people, Jennifer didn't think anything of the added calories she was drinking each day - in the form of sugary coffees, chocolate milk and other calorie-laden beverages.
"On a typical day, I would have eaten a medium frappuccino with a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast," she said.
"Lunch would consist of the usually two servings of a usual lunch - two pieces of pizza or two burgers.
“Dinner was always homemade but I was never good with portions and would often eat until I felt uncomfortable.
"I also drank chocolate milk, a lot! I usually had one to two snacks a day, sometimes they were fruit, other times they were chips or crackers.”
As her weight spiralled, Jennifer said she suffered from low self-esteem, and would hide herself away in photos.
It was on New Year's Day in 2015 that she realised something had to change.
Standing on the bathroom scales, she was shocked to see the number starring back at her - 19.5st (274 pounds).
It was the wake up call she needed, and from that moment Jennifer vowed to change her eating habits.
She's since shed a staggering 8st, after changing up her exercise routine and downloading a tracking app.
"After years and years of having no control, I finally stepped on the scales," Jennifer said.
"I saw a number I never thought I'd see.
"I cried in the bathroom, looked at myself in the mirror and told myself I wasn't going to live this way anymore. That's what truly motivated me to do something.
"I was stress eating, emotional eating and had no form of keeping track of what I was eating at all."
Jennifer, who was an avid weight trainer, decided to focus more on cardio workouts, in a bid to burn more calories.
She would set her alarm for 3.30am to get to the gym before school started, and would do cardio workouts three to four times a week.
After about five months, she introduced strength training and increased her gym sessions to six a week.
And with the help of the My Fitness Pal app, she began counting all her calories and as a result overhauled her diet.
Swapping sugary coffees for green tea and Americanos, and piling her plate high with fruit and veggies she was mindful to only eat around 75g of carbs a day.
And Jennifer said she kept her protein intake high, swapping cream cheese breakfast bagels for eggs and switching burgers for salads at lunch.
In the space of two years, Jennifer shed 8st and dropped from a size 18 to a 6.
Her advice to others wanting to do the same is to keep yourself accountable, and maintain a positive mindset - the secrets to her weight loss success.
"I have an entirely different outlook on life because I kept myself accountable during the journey," she said.
“Through the good days and the bad days, at the end of the day it was always myself in the end making my own choices.
"You deserve to reach your goals, the only one stopping yourself from that is you!”
After reaching her goals, Jennifer said she is much more flexible - and allows herself the odd treat while making sure she eats a balanced diet.
She still counts her calories, but let's herself have the odd day off and has reduced her gym sessions to three a week.
"After experimenting for the past four years, I know what healthy foods fuel my body and what don't," she said.
"I now know what my body needs and how many calories are in the foods I'm eating.
"I definitely still read every label, something that I don't think I'll ever grow out of because I like to know exactly what's in my foods."
Jennifer now credits her healthier lifestyle with her boost in confidence, and said she has vowed to live life to the full.
"I love the skin I am in now, and anyone that has known me throughout my journey would tell you the same," she said.
"When I meet people now, they are surprised I've lost 100lbs.
"There's just something about crushing your own weight loss goal, and then finding your true self.
“I feel more physically, socially, mentally, and emotionally stable than I ever have in my life, and I owe it all to myself.
“There are many things in my life that I know would have never happened if I would have never lost the weight, and for that I will be forever grateful!”