Life can be tough for all of us at times, be it physically, emotionally or even spiritually. But others go through it all – sometimes simultaneously. Amanda Mbongwa – popularly known as Fitfanatic on the gram – is one of those people.

She’s suffered from low self-esteem, lack of confidence in her body – even abuse (which she recently opened up about on social media). But she found fitness, found herself, and soldiered her way to greatness.

Life before exercising

While Amanda never really led an unhealthy lifestyle, she wasn’t the fit woman she is today. “I lived the typical life of any ‘normal’ young person, never overindulged – it was just pizzas here and a few hot wings there,” she admits. Though she did have a weakness when it came to sugar… “I have the sweetest tooth ever – I don’t look twice at a slab of chocolate!”

IN MY PREVIOUS LIFE, I lived a life MANY women are still living??, some don’t know how to get out, some will leave in a corpse like the recent women I have been reading about. Our mothers “ tolerated” it n were told “ bekezela” or asked “ umenzeni” ??‍????‍????‍?? Where do I start?? Gosh leave! girl LEAVE! No church , no prayer no intervention will change a man with a loose violent hand! Like everyone I am UPSET bout what is happening but mostly I am sad n pained by the fact that we speak bout it but nothing changes... a friend is in an abusive relationship we say “ indaba yababili ayingenwa” ???????????? Can we get involved now please! If it were not for my friends I too , could have been far worse, but they tirelessly spoke to me and made me see the light n I walked away eventually. “He won’t kill you but you will kill him and your life will be over” If I had told anybody n had no scars everybody would have said I was lying bcoz abusers are very calculating and manipulative.... how could such a handsome, respectful, charming man do that ??? It must be you ( our society????) The shame! Ppl will think I am weak. The embarrassment! Me being beaten?? He will change! NOOOO!!! He won’t Maybe if I stop doing this or that ! It’s never about you! I am certain there are many other cases that don’t make it to the media but stats reveal about +-100000 applications for protection orders from abusers in a year!!! We are sleeping with enemies IN OUR BEDS! giving them pleasure, letting them into our inner most sacred spaces meanwhile in the blink of an eye they attack us n take our lives!!! That is not love! (Pics not recent, I am MORE than ok, but if you in a similar situation it’s hard I know but leaving is your ONLY, ONLY solution) #stopfemicide #loveusbetter #protectus #choosetowalkaway

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Then fitness happened...

“My fitness journey started back in varsity. I was in search of something to help me face the challenges I had at that time,” she says. To Amanda, fitness was the only thing that made sense. She dived head-first into it and has never looked back. In the process and quite unintentionally, she lost weight too.

READ MORE: 10 signs you’re in a toxic relationship 

She fell in love with being strong!

Through fitness, Amanda discovered things she never knew her body was capable of. She’s fitter, stronger, super-defined and has arrived in a very good personal space. But that’s not all: Amanda has also started her own fitness clothing label, FitFanatic Active – a baby she’s currently nurturing and trying to grow as a brand.

READ MORE: 7 ways to find the motivation to exercise when the struggle is real 

How exactly does she keep fit?

Amanda does the most – and by that we mean almost everything fitness-related. “I do a lot of hiking. I love the endurance involved in climbing high peaks with my own two feet and about 70kg on my back – it’s literally the coolest thing about being fit,” she says.

She’s also into boxing, gym, long-distance running – and she tosses in something adventurous every once in a while, like hiking expeditions in the Drakensburg Mountains.

And what's on the menu? 

In recent months Amanda has begun intermittent fasting. “I fast for 14 hours. I have two meals in a day, the first one being anytime after 10am.” The first meal might include egg whites, avo, salmon, greek yoghurt and sugar-free muesli.

Later on, she’ll enjoy chicken or fish and veggies. She chases both meals with a glass of warm lemon water.

READ MORE:  Becoming a mom kick-started Becky’s fitness journey — and she lost 36kg in the process 

5 things you didn't know about Amanda

  • On cheat days she enjoys an Oreo MacFlurry and popcorn.
  • Results are the one thing that keep her going.
  • She always has running shoes in her make-up bag.
  • Her favourite workout gear includes items from FitFanatic Active. Obvs!
  • She’s inspired by people from different walks of life, those who get out and build their dreams and are committed to living beyond themselves.

This article was first published on Women's Health SA.