Aussie model and influencer Laura Dundovic looks like the picture of perfect health on Instagram.
But the former I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here contestant says behind the chiselled abs and toned limbs you see on the 'gram, is a frustrating health battle she's lived with since she was a teenager.
The 32-year-old has Hashimito's disease, an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid. She also suffers from chronic fatigue.
Laura was just 21 years old when she was crowned Miss Universe Australia, while also working as a model and studying at the same time, when her health started to spiral.
"I got told I should try out [for Miss Universe] on a Wednesday, did it on the Thursday and by the following Tuesday I had won [the title]," Laura told Now To Love.
"Three weeks later I was doing the pageant in the US, while I was in my third year of uni trying to get into psychology and I needed a distinction GPA. Then my throat ended up closing over," she revealed.
Doctors thought she might have Hodgkin's disease, a cancer in the immune system, but she was later diagnosed with hemochromatosis, a disease where too much iron builds up in the body.
Laura's symptoms manifested mainly as extreme tiredness. It got so bad that she had to drastically rethink her lifestyle.
"I've had times where I had [modelling] a shoot down the [NSW] south coast and I had to pull over on the side of the road and sleep on the side of the road," Laura explained.
"It's so debilitating. You can't go and get yourself a tablet to fix it. You're exhausted," she said.
"Whenever I tell people I'm exhausted and they're like 'me too', it's frustrating, because this is on another level.
"When I'm tired, I get sick. I get anxious if I know I'm not going to get sleep. If I'm shooting early in the morning, I make sure I'm going to bed early."
Now, she's learned to prioritise getting eight hours of shut-eye a night.
"Sleep is really important. I've learned to look after myself I don't let myself get sick anymore," she said.
Laura has chosen to share her health battles with her Instagram followers, to try and help people suffering from similar conditions feel a little less lonely.
"I get so many messages from people who are just really lost. I get a lot of messages saying 'How do you train? How do you have time and energy to do this, because I'm so exhausted?'."
Laura says her strategy is to always put her health first, often before her social life.
"I was a people pleaser. If I had a dinner on and I had a big day at work, I'd still go to the dinner and I've learnt now it's much better me saying 'I'm exhausted tonight, can we do tomorrow and I'll give you 100 per cent of my energy?" she said.
"I try and see it as a blessing."
The stunning blonde, who is dating rugby star Quade Cooper, says she maintains her enviable figure by sticking to a super clean diet and exercising most days of the week.
"My body is a temple. I'm so aware of what I feed myself with and what I put into it," Laura explained.
"I do eat really clean food, but I never ever could diet or cut anything what I eat. I listen to my body and see what it needs. 'Does it need more carbs? Does it need more protein'. That's how I decide what to eat."
As well as eating a healthy diet, Laura exercises most days of the week. She loves to mix up her training and does a combination of weight training, cardio and stretching.
"I love all kinds of fitness. I'll try to go to the gym four times a week and I run when I need it," Laura says.
"I love running. I could not run for a year and then run a marathon. I love that it does for you mentally," she said, adding it's great for when she's travelling because "it's an easy thing you can get it done in 20 minutes."
If you're wondering how she gets those killer abs though, it's through resistance training.
"I do a lot of weights. The thing I love about weights is the way you can shape your body," she said.
"My goal this year hasn't been about how I physically look. It's been about balance. You know how people have a stronger leg or arm? I've been trying to even that out and fix things that I'm not good at.
"For example, because I've spent years in high heels and I'm tall and I run, my squat was not good. I have really bad Achilles tendons, so they got me to start using a weight plate when I squat. But I want to be able to stop doing that," she said.
WATCH BELOW: Olympia Valance's exercise routine. Story continues after video.
Laura is the face of the Dyson Pure Cool Me personal purifying fan and says the device is just another small way she can ensure she always put her health first.
"I'm all about the little things you can do to improve your health, and this was just a small simple thing I could do," Laura said.
That, combined with meditation, has helped relieve much of the stress-induced health problems Laura has experienced for years.
"Stress is pretty much what brings auto immune disease on," she said.
"So it's good to get into positive mental habits and patterns. It's not worth your health otherwise."
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Now To LoveJul 26, 2021