They say a picture paints a thousand words but for Annestia Steyn, a group picture from a family braai didn’t make for happy ‘reading’.
“When looking at the photo, I couldn’t see myself in it because I didn’t recognise myself at all. That was the moment I realised that I needed to save myself because I was living in denial.”
Annestia scheduled a general check-up with her GP in December 2019. The consultation revealed some concerning findings, particularly Annestia’s weight.
“I weighed 130 kilos. I was in absolute shock. I thought I weighed 40 kilos less because I avoided stepping on a scale.”
Annestia’s doctor expressed concern for her health, and emphasised the effects that her condition could have on her joints and reproductive system, especially for someone her age – she was 25 years old at the time.
Curvy girl is born!
“I was offended because I was living in denial. I initially rebelled against her advice but by October 2020 I could no longer ignore my reality.”
Annestia stepped back on the scale and started her now popular @the_curvygirl_sa Instagram account by posting a picture of her weight – 120.20kg.
“I knew that I had to keep myself accountable by acknowledging where I was in life and facing my deepest insecurity head-on, which I did by sharing my weight with the ‘world’. My sole mission became reducing that number.”
Annestia uploaded a photo of the scale every Sunday to keep herself accountable, and her honesty and bravery began to resonate with her growing list of followers.
READ MORE | Mom loses 10 kilos in 12 weeks to earn top spot in transformation challenge
Enter the gym
When Annestia’s partner, Jaco Oosthuizen signed up at Planet Fitness, the sales consultant tried his very best to convince Annestia to also join.
“I refused but the sales rep convinced Jaco to get a black tag membership, which allowed him to bring a friend.”
That masterstroke spurred on Annestia’s transformation efforts.
“To this day, I still don’t have a membership because I believe that going together has kept me accountable,” shares Annestia.
Annestia’s first foray into the gym environment followed the stereotypical approach many women take.
“I felt uncomfortable in the weights section so only did cardio in the beginning. But I wish I started weight training sooner.”
Annestia shares an important tip based on her experience: “If you initially feel uncomfortable in the weights section, go on weekends when there are fewer people training to build your confidence.”
READ MORE | Emil lost 25kg in the USN Body Makeover Challenge
A new challenge
After changing her programme to predominantly include weight training and only 20 minutes of cardio in her usual 90-minute session, Annestia started to see results! However, she soon hit a plateau and felt stuck in her routine.
“I knew I had to challenge myself to break through my plateau and came across the USN Body Makeover Challenge.”
Annestia liked the fact that the challenge provides a complete step-by-step weight-loss solution, from the eating and training plans to the supplement suggestions.
“The challenge changed my mindset towards living a healthy lifestyle. The tried-and-tested approach sets you up for success.”
Annestia’s weekly workout split
- Monday (Push): Triceps, chest, and shoulders + cardio
- Tuesday (Pull): Back and biceps + abdominal exercises
- Wednesday: Legs
- Thursday: Rest day
- Friday (Push): Triceps, chest, and shoulders + cardio
- Saturday (Pull): Back and biceps + abdominal exercises
- Sunday: Legs
Annestia first entered the USN Body Makeover Challenge in March 2021, initially following the ketogenic approach and using the recommended supplements, which Annestia believes accelerated her results.
“I chose to first follow a low-carb diet due to my carb addiction – I could not control myself when I was around carbs, so I made the conscious choice to follow this dietary approach.”
Annestia lost 8kg on the keto plan.
“When I started the journey, I wanted to weigh a certain number on the scale. However, as time progressed, I realised that this journey is about being healthy, active, eating the right foods and using the right supplements to support your goals.”
Following this initial success, Annestia again entered the USN Body Makeover Challenge in September 2021. This time she opted to follow the low-calorie diet.
“I switched over to the calorie-counting approach and incorporated carbs back into my diet because I learned how to control myself mentally when I am around carbs.”
Annestia’s USN supplement stack
Accountability and discipline
Annestia kept posting pictures to her Instagram account throughout the challenge, which helped to maintain her motivation.
“Seeing your progress and comparing each week to where I started clearly showed the small changes taking place, which helped carry me through.”
Annestia adds that the support she received from her followers was another powerful source of inspiration.
“All my followers shared their love and support with me through it all. I am humbled by their love and I will forever be grateful to them for being my accountability partners.”
One follower – Elizabeth Coetzee – told Annestia that “motivation is fleeting, warriors don’t rely on motivation, they use discipline”.
“That simple truth but has stuck with me,” she says.
READ MORE | Hein becomes a new man in 12 weeks thanks to USN
Annestia adds that her soulmate and partner Jaco continues to help and support her on a daily basis. And she also draws inspiration from her transformation hero, Ilani Lochner.
“Ilani also had the most beautiful transformation journey, which resonates with my experience. Her story keeps me believing in the process because today she is a fitness and bikini model. She also guides me and gives me pep talks when I need them most.”
But it is the USN Body Makeover Challenge that Annestia credits for her ultimate success.
“I am forever grateful to this challenge for delivering the life-altering results that ultimately made me believe in myself. I was filled with self-doubt before starting the process, but the plan sets you up for success as you learn to trust the process and, through that, you learn to trust and believe in yourself.”
Annestia believes that this transformation process has changed her as a person, from the inside out.
“The visible changes might be on the exterior but the interior changes had a ripple effect on all aspects of my life, especially the way I look at challenges in life and deal with them. I am also a happier and more confident person, and I am content with who I am.”
In fact, Annestia is so confident that she plans to enter a Fitness Bikini competition. “When I look at how far I have come in one year under the guidance of USN, I truly believe that this goal is possible.”
READ MORE | Tales of transformation success: Loretta’s 12-week journey to a new life
Annestia also learned that she has a passion and platform to inspire other people to become the best versions of themselves.
“I am creating an accountability plan to help others because I know all the struggles and roadblocks that you experience on this beautiful journey.”
If you’re struggling to get started, as Annestia did, she suggests that you start working on your inner drive.
“You need to decide within yourself that you want to change. No amount of talk from others will get you there. Once you decide to commit, you will succeed. This journey is not easy, but the life-changing effect that it has on you is priceless.”
And the best place to start is with the USN Body Makeover Challenge, says Annestia. “Enter and stick with it! You will forever be thankful that you invested in yourself.”
- Favourite workout? Lifting heavy weights and doing a spinning class
- Favourite healthy dish: Cauliflower mash made with fat-free cottage cheese and ostrich mince
- Favourite training routine: Anything in the weights section
- Top diet tip: Meal prep is the secret to success