Mom Lost 77 Lbs. After Getting Body Shamed by Flight Attendant: 'I Wanted to Run and Hide'

Kayla Martin, a mom of three, lost 77 lbs. after she was body shamed by a flight attendant

Five years ago, Kayla Martin “loathed” her overweight body — but she hit her breaking point when she was body shamed by a flight attendant.

Flying from her home country of New Zealand to Australia for the first time, Martin, now a mom of three, was unaware of the size restrictions for the seat or the seat belt. As they prepared for takeoff, the flight attendant started calling Martin out.

“Instead of having a quiet word to me about the issue, she raised her voice and spoke down to me,” Martin, 25, tells PEOPLE. “I was on the end of the row closest to the aisle so there was plenty chance to have a quiet word to me, but it ended up turning into a bit of a scene. I was so embarrassed and ashamed of my body. I wanted run and hide.”

The incident, along with the birth of her daughter later that year, pushed Martin to dedicate herself to a healthier lifestyle.

“I had never seen my body as doing anything positive for me, but here I was with my daughter in my arms — the most perfect human I had ever seen — and that was all thanks to my body!” she says. “From there I started my journey of self love and inner healing, and that’s where I started wanting to nourish my body with what it needed so that my body could be healthy.”

Martin started by cutting out sugar and fast food and limiting her bread intake. She also began exercising regularly, first by walking for 30 minutes a day, and eventually heading to a gym where she would do cardio and weight training three to five times a week.

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She keeps track of her weight loss on Instagram, and has steadily lost weight over the last five years, through two more pregnancies. Martin is currently 77 lbs. down, and completely changed her relationship to her body.

“I’m at a point where I wholeheartedly love and appreciate myself and my body,” she says. “I appreciate every bump, lump and stretch mark as they are all a physical testimony to the journey that I have been on.”

And Martin will continue to share that journey (she hopes to continue to get healthier and into a “medically recommended” weight range) on Instagram.

“I’m definitely no Instagram model, but I have fun with it and I appreciate that it resonates with people enough to want to reach out and comment or message me about it,” she says. “The support and love I’ve been shown by those who follow me is mind blowing. I still struggle to wrap my head around it sometimes!”

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