When Siphosethu Class transitioned from high school to varsity, her health took a bit of a backseat.

Not happy with how her unhealthy habits left her feeling, this student took to fitness to change her body and mind. Through hard work and determination, she lost weight, gained muscle and bettered her mental health.

Siphosethu Class

City: Cape Town

Age: 21

Occupation: UCT chemical engineering student

Weight before: 65 kg

Weight after: 60 kg

Time required to reach goal: 6 months to see the muscle gains come to life.

Secret weapon to your fitness journey: self-discipline

READ MORE: “I started weight training and it totally changed my body”

The gain

“Growing up I’ve always been athletic. I used to play various sports both in primary and high school, but that’s where it stopped. During my time at university, I started picking up weight. I had stopped exercising and developed bad eating habits.

I remember how I would always stress eat or binge, because I somehow found comfort in unhealthy foods. Afterwards I would feel sick and guilty that I had stuffed myself with food”.

Siphosethu says that her daily routine involved attending classes or going to work, she’d then come back home to take a nap. After her nap, she would wake up, eat, study… then sleep again.

“I knew I was doing something wrong because I was not happy. I did not feel purpose driven and I lacked motivation,” she explains.

READ MORE:Here’s how to make weight loss goals that will actually stick

The change

Not liking the slump she found herself in, Siphosethu decided that fitness might just be the answer and give her some motivation. She started by jogging 4km each day, and slowly worked her way up to a 10km.

After her jog, she would do a home workout that mainly consisted of body weight work, conditioning and functional training.

“Ab exercises and a variety of squats and lunges were always my go-to. At first, I didn’t really know that many different exercises, so I would just watch a number of workout videos on Youtube and follow along,” she explains.

When Siphosethu felt ready to take the next step in her journey, she joined the gym. But like anyone who is new in the gym, she felt a bit apprehensive.

“I did feel nervous and felt like everyone was watching me do something wrong, especially because I had never used gym equipment before. I had to adjust my mindset and find a way to move past the fear and anxiety of being in the gym.

Everyone was a beginner at some point, right? I’d ask the gym staff and some of the gym-goers for assistance, however, most of the time I’d do some research and review the exercises before going to the gym.”

READ MORE: “I lost 64 kilos by using this well-known weight loss method”

The lifestyle

When it comes to her current fitness regime, Siphosethu trains twice a day. In the mornings to focus on cardio, while the afternoons are reserved for strength training using both heavy and light weights.

She does this four to six times a week, depending on her schedule.

”My training schedule has became more refined. I divide my week into training legs and abs, biceps and shoulders, triceps and back and then HIIT cardio and abs. Of course, I also factor in rest days,” she says.

She’s also upped her nutrition game. “I’ve lost the desire to eat junk food. I cut out things like sugar, butter, soft drinks,  and opt for low-fat milk instead of full cream and whole-wheat instead of refined carbs,” she says.

READ MORE: “I gained 13 kilos of muscle by tracking my calories”

The results

Siphosethu says that fitness has given her more than just abs, it’s helped her mental health too.

“I’ve become more self-aware and fallen in love with myself even more. Fitness has had such a remarkable effect on my physical and emotional self-esteem. I feel healthier and always ready to take on whatever comes my way.

It really helps me to dig deep and uncover my true potential. I would not trade it for anything in the world,” she exclaims.

She goes on to say that fitness has given her the power to take control of her life, “instead of letting external factors and situations have dominion over me, especially when it comes to my emotional, physical and mental health”.

Her advice to anyone who is looking to get fit is to not solely focus on that number on the scale.

“Losing or gaining weight should not be your only goal. Results don’t show up overnight and it’s easy to get demotivated if that’s the only thing you’re working towards.

Focus more on how exercising makes you feel: does it eliminate your stress, make you feel stronger or boost your energy levels?

And be aware of how it makes you feel emotionally. If you shift your focus towards that, then you’ll have even more reason to keep coming back,” she explains.

READ MORE: This is why ‘comfort eating’ is a bad idea for your mental health

Siphosethu’s tips

Don’t give up: “I’ve developed the ability to trust myself and believe that I can achieve whatever I set my mind to. It has taught me patience, but most importantly how to love myself more and more every day”.

Don’t weigh yourself after every gym session: “scales tend to misread the work and efforts you’ve put into your workout routines and can easily demotivate you, which is why I seldom use them”.

You are your own competition: “do not compare yourself with others as that can be very toxic. Focus on becoming the best version of yourself”.

This article was originally published on Women's Health