That moment when we realise we’ve let ourselves go is different for everyone. For some, it’s a random weigh-in on the scale in the bathroom. Others catch a glimpse in the mirror when getting dressed.
For Sinalo Mcetywa, a banker from Johannesburg, it was the snugger-than-usual fit of her favourite jeans that made her take notice of her weight gain.
“It happened on one morning when I was getting ready to go out for brunch. I put on my jeans and they weren’t sitting the way that they normally do. I literally stared at myself in the mirror and couldn’t recognise who I was. That’s when I knew there was a problem.”
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The lockdown trigger
Sinalo attributes her weight gain to the Covid-19 lockdown and her lack of movement and exercise while the more stringent restrictions were in effect.
“I felt a little too comfortable wearing my PJs all day. I felt sluggish the whole time and snacked on anything and everything.”
Sinalo recalls feeling very uncomfortable with her predicament, and was genuinely worried because walking up a flight of stairs was becoming a challenge.
“I just felt so heavy. I knew I had two choices – continue to live uncomfortably in the body I had or mentally prepare myself to work my butt off for the body I wanted. I chose the latter.”
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The wrong approaches
As someone who has tried multiple fad diets and different training approaches, which delivered variable and seldom successful results, Sinalo knew she needed to find something different.
“I was a cardio junkie back in my varsity days. I did a lot of running and always shied away from weights fearing that I would look like a man.”
And Sinalo confesses that she has lost count of how many fed diets she’s followed. What she does recall is how extreme some of them were.
“I remember one called the “14-day cabbage soup” diet. That one messed me up. To this day, I cannot stand the taste of cooked celery, which was one of the ingredients – it literally makes me ill.”
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Sinalo learnt that none of these approaches were sustainable and that none worked for her. Based on her past experiences, sustainability became Sinalo’s new mantra.
“I knew I needed to find something that I could do for the rest of my life. Ultimately, I knew I had to change my lifestyle.”
Sinalo started with small changes, initially going for walks every morning to prepare her mind and body for what lay ahead.
“I then cleaned out my cupboards, removing any foods that were not going to help me achieve my goals. To get my self mentally prepared, I watched a lot of body transformation videos and saved my favourites to watch offline.”
Regular gyms sessions eventually replaced the walks as Sinalo worked to build more muscle to boost her metabolism.
“I now do less cardio, with just 2-3 sessions a week and do more strength training.”
Sinalo’s weekly workout split
- Monday: Full-body workout
- Tuesday: Lower body
- Wednesday: Upper body
- Thursday: Glutes and cardio (spinning class)
- Friday: Rest
- Saturday: Pilates and stretch
- Sunday: Depends my mood
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Finding her food fit
Sinalo initially followed a Iow-carb eating plan but subsequently switched to intermittent fasting.
“I love carbs, so I knew I needed an approach that works best for my preference. I needed a realistic approach that I could ultimately maintain going forward.”
As Sinalo progressed with her training, she decided to introduce more structure and routine into her approach as she thrives in this type of environment.
- Age: 30
- Lives: Sandton, Johannesburg
- Career: Affluent Advisor (banker)
“The USN Body Makeover Challenge offered both. I had seen other success stories from ordinary people who were not models and knew that the tried and trusted approach worked for people like me.”
The USN Body Makeover Challenge offers a complete personalised and step-by-step weight-loss solution that gives people everything they need to transform their body and your life in just 12 weeks.
Sinalo liked the simplicity of the supplied eating plan. “The food didn’t look too complicated to make and too time-consuming to prepare. I knew it was going to work well with my busy day-to-day schedule.”
And it was this structure and simplified approach that ultimate led to Sinalo’s transformation success.
“Nothing about the USN Body Makeover Challenge approach is vague or complicated. All I need to do was apply my mind and show up every day. The team at USN have put in all the work and explained everything in detail.
Sinalo’s USN transformation supplement stack
While the defined transformation blueprint made it easier to achieve her goal weight, Sinalo still needed to apply commitment and discipline. In this regard, she took a pragmatic approach to maintaining her motivation levels.
“I acknowledge that motivation is fleeting, so I erased it from my equation for success. I made a decision to keep my word to myself to achieve the goals I set for myself.”
According to Sinalo, the thought of disappointing herself had a far greater impact than any motivational quotes or videos could deliver.
“By committing to myself that I would keep my word, I knew I would show up whether it was raining or sunny outside.”
As a reward and to give herself a target date to achieve her goal, Sinalo scheduled a photoshoot for herself two months in advance.
She also found help and support from two industry professionals in personal trainers Tim and Caston.
“They gave me tips every now and again and I leaned on them to find out what works best and get advice about what adjustments I should make to my training in the gym. They were always willing to help me, and Tim helped me take my measurements every 4 weeks to track my progress.”
From a personal perspective, Sinalo’s sister Zimbini was a pillar of support throughout the process.
“She is my safe place. I live with her and she held me accountable and reminded me why I was doing this. She supported me and ensured I stuck to the plan. She also didn’t bring food to the house that could derail my eating.”
This was important to Sinalo’s ultimate success because she actively sought to avoid distractions and temptations.
“It was hard not going out as much as I would like but I did that to stay away from situations that required me to explain my reasons for avoiding certain foods or drinks.”
She also didn’t want to feel like she was slacking by missing training sessions due to socialising all the time.
And these sacrifices ultimately delivered the results she wanted, and also earned Sinalo recognition for her efforts as a finalist in the 2021 USN Body Makeover Challenge.
- Weight before: 77kg
- Weight after: 69kg
- Body fat before: 24.69%
- Body fat after: 15.73%
However, since achieving her goal, Sinalo says she is less strict in her approach.
“I stick to the basics and eat more protein but I’ll have doughnuts every now and then.”
Having learnt so much about food groups and the importance of good nutrition, Sinalo says she knows what works for her.
“I also know how much to consume. And this has become my approach to everything,”
She now views every decision about her training and nutrition through a sustainability lens.
“I always ask, ‘is this doable?’ and ‘can I keep doing it?’ That’s it. If I answer ‘yes’, then I know it will work.”
Based on her USN Body Makeover Challenge experience, Sinalo says she now believes that anything is possible.
“I can literally achieve any goal I set for myself. Keeping my word to myself has now become my approach to everything in life and the universe is rewarding me greatly for it.”
More importantly, the relationship she has with herself has changed.
“I am more aware of my thoughts and feelings now. I am gentler and kinder to myself, and I am filled with so much love because I can freely practise self-care. This allows me to give freely to others without feeling emptied because I have finally set healthy boundaries for myself.”
The next chapter
Sinalo’s transformation journey continues as she works to slowly build more lean muscle.
“I don’t only want to look good but I want to become stronger too. This is not a phase for me anymore, it’s my lifestyle and I like it a lot.”
This mindset and new-found confidence is filtering through to other areas of her life. Sinalo recently entered a three-minute plank competition and won a smartwatch.
“I never thought I’d go that far with my planks but I did it! It made me so happy.”
And she has also found the confidence to chase her ultimate dream.
“I’ve always wanted to help other people feel most confident and transform their lives, which I am slowly doing through my business Basic Healthy Meals to help others like me.”
- Favourite healthy dish? Chicken stir fry
- Favourite training routine? Leg days
- Favourite exercises? Romanian deadlifts, lateral and front raises and hill walks on the treadmill
- Least favourite exercise? Squats
- Must-use supplements? USN All9 Amino Acids and USN XTS Pump pre-workout (that boost goes a long way).
- Top diet tip? Don’t diet make adjustments and eat your greens and protein, drink your water
- Advice to others? Show up anyway. Every single effort counts because little steps daily lead to big results
Connect with Sinalo on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.