Free from diabetes
She used to be dependent on diabetes medication and had to swallow pills to lower her blood sugar level twice a day.
But Miss Junita Rodrigues' pill-popping days may be over, thanks to the Get Lean, Get Strong Challenge 2016.
After spending the last four months exercising and watching her diet as part of the challenge, the 56-year-old nursing teacher's health has improved so much that she doesn't need her diabetes pills any more.
She tells The New Paper on Sunday: "To be free of the medicine is such a blessing for me. It's a thing of the past now, and I'm getting back my health."
The challenge is jointly presented by The New Paper and fitness equipment specialist AIBI.
In April, Miss Rodrigues and nine other contestants were selected from a pool of more than 80 applicants to take part in the challenge. (See report at right.)
The path to ditching her medication was difficult for Miss Rodrigues.
Since the start of the competition, she has made sure that she attended as many sessions with the challenge's trainer, Mr David Devito, as she could.
After her work ends around 7pm, Miss Rodrigues drives from her workplace at Glenagles Hospital to the gym in Geylang for training.
Contestants are expected to attend at least two sessions per week. She attends at least four.
"It was only due to the push factor from the challenge and David that I've got to where I am now," she says.
In addition to the training sessions, Miss Rodrigues also works out at home.
She focuses on cardiovascular exercises at home and sweats it out at least thrice a week.
As part of the competition, AIBI has also lent her a recumbent bicycle to use at home.
According to Mr Devito, the bicycle is good for Miss Rodrigues because it does not damage her knees.
Says Mr Devito: "Recumbent bicycles are designed so you sit lower to the ground with your legs out in front of you rather than sitting up with your legs below you.
"Working out on a stationary recumbent bike or riding a recumbent bicycle on the road have similar health benefits as regular bicycles."
Her efforts both in and out of the gym have really paid off and Miss Rodrigues says she is very satisfied with the results.
"The medications used to have bad side effects, making me swell and my joints would hurt," she says.
"Now that I don't have to take them any more, it makes me so happy."
About the challenge
The Get Lean, Get Strong Challenge 2016 is a fitness competition that challenges 10 participants to lose as much weight as they can.
Under the supervision of noted local trainer David Devito, contestants undergo an intensive six-month training regime worth $5,000.
This consists of one-hour classes at least twice a week at Mr Devito's gym, The Fitness Protocol.
Rather than focus solely on cardiovascular exercises like running, Mr Devito's methods have a strong emphasis on technique.
The exercises also feature the use of a kettlebell.
Participants will have to watch what they eat and adhere to a strict diet that Mr Devito and his team will plan and monitor.
The winning participant will get prizes worth more than $6,000.
There are also prizes for the second- and third-placed contestants and consolation prizes for the other seven.