At 21 years of age, Anne Hatchard is in the best shape of her life, but the journey hasn’t always been easy for the young Crow.

When she first arrived at West Lakes for the inaugural AFLW season in 2017, she struggled to adapt to an elite sporting environment.

A self-confessed lover all things fast food, conquering her new meal plans was no easy feat.

“Back in 2017, I was quite big, my diet wasn’t great, I ate KFC often,” Hatchard told AFC Media.

“I struggled to do a warm up lap without being puffed.

“I didn’t eat salads, when we’d all go out for a meal, I'd get the schnitty and chips and just leave the salad on the plate.”

Unaware of just how much her diet was impacting her output on field, it took until the end of season two for Hatchard to make a drastic change.

“I thought I felt alright, because that was what I was used to eating and how I was used to feeling out on the field,” Hatchard said.

“But I definitely struggled to find form in the first two seasons and thought I was on the verge of not getting another contract.

“After season two, I improved my diet and started doing a lot more exercise.”

The hard work paid dividends for Hatchard - in her third season with the Crows she averaged a career-best of 18.9 disposals, compared to 7.5 in 2018.

She finished the year with her first selection in the All-Australian side and a podium finish in Adelaide’s best and fairest.

“Now that I’ve stopped eating like that, I’ve realised how much impact it does have on my performance on the field,” Hatchard said.

“I have so much more energy and can run out a whole game now.

“You don’t see results straight away and it’s really tough to stick to it, but once I started seeing the results, it pushed me to keep going.

“Coming back into pre-season for season three, some of the girls couldn’t really recognise me.”

So, how did she do it? Smaller portions, natural foods and cutting out unhealthy snacks.

A testament to her dedication, the former KFC lover has even cut all meat from her diet.

“I’ve cut out all the crap, I try to only eat natural foods, nothing artificial,” Hatchard said.

“In my off-season, I would also get at least 45 minutes of exercise a day of cross-training, plus three or four weights sessions a week.

“I’ve cut down a bit now that we’re back training, but I still do a few extra weight sessions and maybe one or two cross-training sessions as well.”

Hatchard will return to the field this Saturday as the Crows take on Greater Western Sydney in a trial game at Richmond Oval.

DETAILS: Crows v Giants trial game