As someone who grew up as an overweight kid, Andrew Masilo was used to being bigger than his friends and peers.

“My childhood nickname was the ‘Big Show’,” he recalls. But it wasn’t until university that he started to take more notice of his weight.

“My weight ballooned so much during my first two years at university that I had to buy a new pair of jeans every other month because the old ones wouldn’t fit anymore.”

Andrew attributes the weight gain to poor eating habits and a lack of physical activity.

“When I got to university, it was a struggle managing the high workload of my engineering studies and the duties I had as a member of my student residence committee.”

Andrew started making food choices based on convenience, opting to eat out almost every day rather than cooking more healthful options.

“Whenever I ate out, I always chose comfort food rather than healthier options, and I consumed more alcoholic beverages.”

Quick stats

  • Age: 26
  • Lives: Pretoria, Gauteng
  • Career: Business Process Engineer
  • IG: @dru.beast

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A health hazard

Then Andrew started to experience shortness of breath when doing light physical activities such as riding his bicycle to class or fast-paced walking. That’s when he realised that his weight gain was getting out of control and that he needed to do something.

“As someone that grew up with a stutter, I struggled with anxiety and being overweight compounded this condition, causing low self-confidence, especially in public settings. I also had a poor body image.”

This lack of self-esteem meant Andrew often withdrew from socially activities. He also started using food as a form of emotional comfort.

“Whenever I felt sad, I used food to make myself feel better. And when I was happy, I used food to celebrate. Eating became a central part of my life.”

With a family history of diabetes, Andrew also knew that his lifestyle and eating habits placed at him at significantly higher risk for developing this condition at a very young age.

But it wasn’t until Andrew received a poor grade for a mid-year exam that he decided it was time to take action.

“It was 11 June 2015 when I finally decided to make drastic lifestyles changes to improve my life and part of that was doing something about my weight.”

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A crash course in bad approaches

Following some intensive research on the fastest ways to lose weight, Andrew went on a few crash diets to achieve quick results.

“The first crash diet I did was a purely liquid-based juicing diet. I bought a juicer and made juices using vegetables and fruits for an entire month during the 2015 June recess. I drank only juice and did a 30-minute jog every day.”

Andrew lost a lot of weight following this extreme approach, dropping from 120kg to 89kg in just six weeks.

“Even when I knew that I was starving myself, I was happy that the weight was coming off so quickly. However, I didn’t realise that I was losing muscle in the process.”

And, as often happens following extreme crash diets, Andrew gained back all the weight within three months after stopping the juicing diet. A succession of crashing diets followed but all had the same result.

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Finding a sustainable plan

“I eventually realised that I needed a more sustainable plan that I can use as part of a lifestyle to maintain it for my entire life, not just for a month.”

After realising that devastating impact his dietary approach had on his muscle mass, Andrew joined a gym in 2016 and started weight training.

“I included a bit of cardio to build my endurance but I still didn’t have a good nutritional plan so my weight continued to fluctuate.”

Following more research to help him regain some muscle, Andrew started using USN products in 2019.

Andrew’s USN supplement stack

  1. USN XTS Pump N.O. Pre-workout
  2. USN BlueLab 100% Premium Whey, Vanilla flavour
  3. USN Creatine Monohydrate

He also saw a USN Body Makeover Challenge poster at his local Dis-Chem in Hatfield and decided he would enter.

“After a few years of procrastinating, I made a New Year’s resolution this year to sign up for the 2022 challenge. And I am glad I did because the challenge gave me the kickstart I needed to improve my overall fitness and lifestyle choices.

Andrew earned the People’s Choice Award after entering the challenge and is now a USN ambassador.

He says the comprehensive 12-week plan taught him how to set up his own eating plan and properly calculate his daily calorie requirements.

“I also learnt about the smarter food choices I can make to get all the micronutrients my body needs while maintaining a calorie deficit. As someone who has been overweight for so long, the BMC guide finally helped me understand how to create a sustainable daily eating plan to achieve my weight-loss goals without compromising on my nutrition.”

Andrew’s family now call him the ‘Tupperware king’ because he always prepares his food in advance and stores his meals in Tupperware containers in the freezer.

“I only eat out once a week but learning how to track calories changed my life because I don’t even need to have cheat days anymore! I can still feed my peanut butter and chocolate cravings without exceeding my daily maintenance calorie target.”

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Lifting his way to success

In the same way, the USN Body Makeover Challenge guide helped Andrew set up his weekly training plan.

“Based on the training tips, I learned how best to incorporate cardio sessions into my routine to burn more fat and improve my cardiovascular health. And it established a habit of tracking my daily workouts because we had to log our weekly progress on the USN website.”

Andrew now also wakes up every day at 5 am for a walk or do cardio for an hour. He also does strength training at least five times a week, following a 6 day push-pull-legs workout routine with a rest day in between three consecutive days.

“I love this routine because it allows me to increase my training frequency, which leads to more opportunities for my muscles to grow, without compromising on recovery for each muscle group.”

He continues to hit the daily step goal he sets for himself. “Reaching 15,000 steps daily helps me maintain a daily routine – I was on an 80-day goal streak when I completed the challenge.”

And he still tracks his progress by taking pictures, body measurements and checking his weight on a weekly basis.

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About more than weight

And it is these healthful habits that Andrew credits to his sustained success. The major challenge he faced through this process was realising that not every week will be the same.

“The progress you make on a weekly basis will always fluctuate. Sometimes your progress will plateau, even if you’re doing everything right. But once I understood that progress doesn’t just happen on the scale, I stopped worrying.”

Andrew now tracks his progress based on the improvement in his daily mood and energy, how certain task become easier, and with other measurements.

“Seeing progress in the other aspects of my life kept me motivated during my journey. And when I needed an extra boost, I received loads of support from my family, especially my mother, and from the Body Makeover Challenge community. Seeing all the social media posts from people from all walks of life participating in the challenge motivated me to keep going!”

By following the tried-and-tested USN Body Makeover Challenge approach, the guide helped Andrew achieve the best shape of his life, both mentally and physically. Since completing the challenge, Andrew has maintained his goal weight at around 93 kg.

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Geared for future success

“I plan to slowly work towards increasing my muscle mass through strength training and keep on improving my cardiovascular endurance.”

Andrew also achieved his dream of competing in his first natural bodybuilding show after stepping on stage at the ICN African Naturals Bodybuilding Show hosted in Durban in August 2022.

“I placed first in the Novice Bodybuilding division, third in the Open Bodybuilding division and won the Mr Model Search 2022 prize.”

Andrew’s next goal is to learn how to swim and ultimately compete in his first triathlon.

“My long-term goal is to become a qualified fitness coach and set up a fitness centre in my hometown of Mabopane and similar disadvantaged communities. I want to provide a safe environment for exercise and offer different kinds of fitness activities to ordinary South Africans to help them meet their personal fitness goals.”

  • Favourite workout: Leg day
  • Favourite exercise: Front squats
  • Favourite healthy dish: 200g of lean mince, 100g green peas, 100g mixed frozen vegetables and 200g brown rice.
  • Favourite snack: Butter flavoured air popped popcorn
  • Top diet tip: Don’t consume what you can’t track and don’t drink your calories unless it’s a protein shake.