updated 05/25/2012 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 05/25/2012 AT 6:05 PM ET
As a former competitive swimmer and now a plus-sized model, Kaela Humphries is used to having her professional life linked to her body.
Unfortunately, as an athlete in high school and college, her eating and exercising regimen was much different than it is now that she’s stopped swimming.
“You are sort of used to living and eating a certain way, and then you are like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t eat 10 meals a day and 10,000 calories anymore,’ ” Humphries, 29, tells PEOPLE about having to alter her routine. “On top of that, I’m approaching 30 and it gets harder to lose weight the older you get.”