As a South African hockey and first-team squash player,
Unathi Msengana had no weight problems when she was growing up. But
fast-forward a few years, add a busy work schedule and two babies, and weight
management was no longer easy. Today she’s trimmed 28kg off her frame and once
again has the athletic body she had at varsity.
After her sons were born, Unathi realised the extra
centimetres weren’t going away. “I tend to gain a lot of weight during
pregnancy,” she says. She packed on the kilos during her first pregnancy and it
took more than a year to lose the weight. When she fell pregnant again, Unathi
hit an all-time high on the scale, having given in to her body’s carb cravings:
toasted sandwiches and potatoes washed down with chocolate milk.
The extra weight started affecting how she felt about her
body and she desperately wanted to reclaim the figure she once had. “I didn’t
want to look like my husband’s aunty – I wanted to go back to being his sexy
It was a nudge from a pal that gave Unathi the motivation
she needed. “Last year a colleague challenged me to do the Unlimited Dusi canoe
marathon. I decided to do it. I never back down from a challenge.”
Unathi realised that exercise alone wasn’t going to help her
reach her goal weight, but she also knew quick-fix diets had failed her in the
past. So she swapped extra helpings of carbs for veggies, included healthy
proteins and banished chocolate milk in favour of water.
“I felt much healthier and had more energy. Had I not
started this weight-loss regime, I’d never have been able to take on the Unlimited
Dusi. I probably wouldn’t even have been able to fit into the canoe!”
Her training was intense: “I paddled for an hour and a half
every day – which works out to about 10km per day – and straight after that I’d
hit the road for a six-kay jog.”
Within nine months Unathi had regained the athletic build
she knew and loved. In fact, she’s so proud of her new fit figure, she tries on
clothes just for fun.
This is an edited version of this article. The full version
can be found in Women’s Health’s
“All Stars Issue” (May issue, now on sale).