Meet Ansu: #TeamRED’s 1st time Mom to 1st fitness show in just 9 months
While #TEAMRED ambassador Ansu Viljoen felt extremely proud that she gave birth naturally to a beautiful baby boy, she experienced conflicting emotions.
“I was also shocked at the amount of weight I gained during my pregnancy and how my body had changed,” she recalls.
And soon after falling pregnant, Ansu also lost her job as a hydrogeologist at a top engineering firm. “I always thought that was the dream job and ideal lifestyle, so when they asked me to leave the company, I initially felt lost.”
Healthy body, healthy baby
Faced with this stress and uncertainty during such a important phase in her life, Ansu worked hard to create an environment where both her body and her developing baby received the nutrition and strength needed to thrive.
“I struggled to eat certain foods due to nausea. My coach suggested numerous swaps and included more nutrient-dense foods, which allowed me to eat smaller meals more often to ensure I got sufficient calories and nutrients, which helped.”
Ansu also followed a training plan during her pregnancy, working out six days a week for one hour a day until 35 weeks. From 37 weeks, Ansu and her husband exercised at home five days a week to reduce their risk of catching Covid-19 before her due date.
Getting back to training
After Ansu gave birth, she rested for four weeks to give her body time to recover. “I started training again two months after giving birth with some low-intensity cardio for 20-30 minutes a day. A month later I started with a four-day-a-week gym programme and was back to full training four months post-partum.”
As two individuals who are committed to a healthy and active lifestyle who always trained together, it took about three months to find a suitable routine.
“My husband went to gym from 5-6am and I went from 7-8pm while he looked after the baby.”
Breastfeeding and getting to the gym were the other challenges Ansu encountered in the first three months after giving birth.
“I had to plan every gym session according to my baby’s needs. At the time, I didn’t have a nanny and had to plan our food prep and my gym routine daily to reach my weekly goals. It was very difficult to stay committed and motivated with little sleep and very limited ‘me time’,” she recalls.
Finding her inspiration
But a decision to step on stage to compete as a Bikini athlete soon reignited her motivation and fuelled the next phase of Ansu’s post-pregnancy transformation.
“Since getting married in 2020, my husband and I wanted to compete in a fitness show together as a couple. But we had to put those plans on hold when I unexpectedly fell pregnant.”
While Ansu understood the level of commitment, dedication and perseverance it takes to compete, she made the commitment to prep and step on stage nine months after she gave birth to prove to herself that she is capable of anything she puts her mind to.
“As someone who has been active my entire life, training hard and eating well to fuel my body has become a lifestyle that I genuinely love.”
A balanced approach
With the correct training and nutrition after her pregnancy, Ansu was able to transform her body under the guidance of Stephan du Toit from CBSBodyFusion.
“My husband also committed to compete and we both followed the structured weekly training and eating plans that Stephan developed,” explains Ansu.
Their diet plan included simple, easy-to-make meals that meet their nutritional and energy requirements.
“This is important as we both have limited time due to the baby. In general, we use our air fryer for every meal, and we cook without sauces, using only olive oil and spices in our food.”
The couple rewards themselves for following a clean and structured meal plan throughout the weekwith a meal at their favourite restaurant over the weekend.
“We make sure that this meal fits in with our macronutrient limits. We find this approach easy to follow and effective as we get everything we need and do not feel deprived,” she adds.
Ansu supported her balanced diet and recovery needs with a comprehensive supplement plan that includes various products from Biogen.
Ansu’s daily supplement plan:
Biogen Lean Whey Protein
Biogen Creatine Monohydrate
Biogen Vitamin C
Biogen Vitamin D
In terms of her calorie intake during her pregnancy, after giving birth and prepping until show day, Ansu never ate less that 2,400 calories in a day. And eating this way also ensured that Ansu was able to breastfeed for eight months throughout her show prep journey.
Ansu makes her stage debut
Importantly, this balanced approach meant that Ansu achieved her goal. A mere nine months after welcoming her son into this world, she stepped on stage at the Biogen-sponsored Fitness Runway Model show, which took place in October at Monte de Dios in Pretoria, where she placed second in the highly competitive Female Model category.
“While my body changed, I have also embraced my transformation for the mental and physical strength and agility it created. The experience taught me to love it for everything it offers me and embrace it for the strength it holds.”
According to Ansu, the process also helped her realise that if she commits herself to a dream, anything is possible.
“My fitness journey has given me the gift of seeing the strength, determination and passion I am capable of. Fitness has become a part of how I see myself as a wife, a mother, a business owner, and a woman ”
The next chapter
After achieving her objective, Ansu has set other goals, like becoming stronger physically and mentally, gaining muscle mass and becoming the best version of herself to be the best wife and mother to her family.
“I also want to inspire other women by showing them that if you are consistent in what you do, you will achieve your goals.”
As part of this process, Ansu entered the 2022 Biogen Face of Fitness and made the top 32. “About five years ago, I was in a shop with my mom and saw Shelby on the cover of Fitness magazine. I envisioned myself also becoming a cover girl one day, but I never felt ready to enter the competition until last year.”
Ansu says she decided to enter the 2022 Biogen Face of Fitness to show other woman that, no matter where they are from, no matter their lifestyle, if they believe in themselves, anything is possible.
“I managed to navigate pregnancy, training, nutrition and breastfeeding while keeping myself to the promise of becoming stronger, and so can you!”
Even though she did not win the title, Ansu says she became stronger and more motivated to achieve her goals and inspire and help other women.
“And we recently found out that we are expecting our second baby. I saw this development as a sign to create and launch a pregnancy guide and journal with the help of my nutritional and fitness coach Stephan Du Toit. The guide will hopefully be available from 2024.”
Ansu also hopes to repeat her amazing transformation after she welcomes her second baby by competing in her second fitness show within a year.
Beyond these immediate and medium-term goals, Ansu says her overall objective is to enjoy every moment of discovering just how powerful and capable she is in every facet of life.
“My ambition in life is to constantly progress, develop, and grow both personally and in my businesses to become financially independent. I also want to contribute towards the emotional and physical health of everybody I come in contact with.”