IT WAS the moment that changed Madonna Wex's life.
Surrounded by family and friends on a warm Christmas Day more than two years ago, Madonna discovered she had become too overweight to lift herself out of a swimming pool.
The embarrassing shock sent her on a journey to change her lifestyle and ultimately lose 65kg.
The Rockhampton woman joined Weight Watchers aiming to lose 62kg before her 50th birthday.
Madonna achieved her goal weight only one week after she celebrated her birthday this year and she has maintained it since March.
"I thought, 'that was close enough'," the notorious perfectionist joked.
"Weight Watchers teaches you how to eat properly. This is a way of life."
Her hard work has seen her selected as one of five Queensland semi-finalists for the Slimmer of the Year Award at the annual Weight Watchers Healthy Life Awards.
The Ergon Energy shift worker will fly to Brisbane next week to be interviewed before applications will be whittled down to a finalist from each state.
The five Australian finalists and two finalists from New Zealand will then join together in Sydney in September for Finals Week, where they will receive the full celebrity treatment, including a glamorous makeover.
If Madonna wins, she will receive a $5000 holiday package to a destination of her choice.
She was urged to put her name down for the inspirational award last year, but she didn't feel she had lost all the weight she had wanted.
"I think just not giving in is the most important thing," Madonna said.
"I'm a perfectionist. You really have to learn to be kinder to yourself (and) set little goals."
She said changing her lifestyle was difficult initially, and she didn't shed a lot of weight at first.
But the movie buff used phrases from popular films to inspire her to keep going.
Often when Madonna struggled, she'd push herself on by reciting "just keep swimming, just keep swimming", like the fish Dory from Finding Nemo.
Now she has gone from being inspired by other women two-and-a-half years ago, to inspiring other people herself.
Although she admits the attention has been a little overwhelming.
"Sometimes the bigger you are, the smaller you feel," Madonna said.
"You get used to hiding. (But) it's like I'm paying it forward. If I'm inspiring others, then that's good."
Benefits of exercising
Exercise improves self-esteem and counters stress and depression.
Researchers from the University of Carolina found people who exercised regularly were 23% less likely to get colds.
At least 35% of all cancer deaths may be related to being overweight or having a lack of physical activity.
Exercise enhances blood flow to the brain, which improves memory.
Tomatoes are full of lycopene, which has cancer-fighting capabilities by reducing toxins in the body.
Broccoli is packed with antioxidants to reduce stomach, lung and rectal cancers. They are also rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C and folate which boosts immunity to colds and flus.
Carrots are loaded with eye, skin and hair-enriching nutrients. They're also a rich source of antioxidants and protect from cardiovascular damage.
Sweet potato are a good source of fibre and iron, which regulates the digestive system and gives you energy.
Eggplants are believed to lower the risk of stroke and dementia because of their fibre and potassium. They also contain a unique antioxident, nasunin, that protects the brain from damage.
Capsicum is believed to lower the risk of lung, colon, bladder and pancreatic cancers.
Spinach is full of almost every vitamin and nutrient. It is believed a diet rich in spinach may prevent everything from heart disease to colon cancer, arthritis and osteoporosis.
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