Unathi Nkayi is weeks away from her fortieth birthday. But you’d never guess it looking at the October cover of Women’s Health. The singer/songwriter, Idols judge and mom of two is looking hot!

“My body is the best it’s ever looked,” she says. “It looks better than when I played hockey for South Africa.” And that was in her twenties. So how has this fierce woman managed to get even hotter with age?

She took it slowly

Unathi hasn’t always been in the shape she’s in now – she’s been playing the long game, putting in the work consistently and persistently and it’s paid off. “It’s taken me seven years to get in this shape,” she says. That might seem like an eternity in today’s fast-paced world where we want everything right now. But science has proved that, when it comes to weight loss, slow and steady wins the scale.

READ MORE: 3 legit weightloss programmes to try before summer

When you lose a drastic amount of weight, fast, your body thinks something’s wrong and it will do its best to get you back to where you were before. Plus, changing your lifestyle so suddenly in such a big way makes you you feel deprived and, so, more likely to slip back into old habits.

But if you follow Unathi’s lead and make healthy changes little by little, over time, your body and mind have time to get used to your new healthy habits. The result: You’ll find it much easier to keep the weight off because it’s no longer a struggle, it’s who you are.

She gets her tribe in on the action

No one wants to be Diet Friend – that sad girl in the group who orders a salad when everyone else is eating steak and water when everyone around you is onto their second glass of wine. Unathi, on the other hand, gets her mates in on the action! “I’d rather help get my friends healthy and train with them and get them started,” she says.

READ MORE: 5 scary things that can happen to you when you lose weight too fast

Part of her birthday celebrations this year will involve the Soweto Marathon – with her friends. Unathi is tackling the 21km, others are doing the 10km and a couple are doing the full 42. “They’re amazing!” she says. Most importantly, though, they’re all getting fit together.

She's up for a challenge

Exercising without a goal can get monotonous. So Unathi sets herself targets. Right now, she has that half-marathon in her near future. But she’s also climbed Kilimanjaro and completed the Dusi Canoe Marathon. “Kili was challenging. It was more challenging than being in labour for four days,” she admits. But, hell, she did it.

READ MORE: 5 homegrown SA workouts that will score you amazing results

Your challenge doesn’t have to be climbing a mountain – you could aim for something as simple as conquering a hill sprint in your neighbourhood or doing kettlebell swings with the 12kg bell. Set yourself a goal and go for it.

She keeps it simple

You might expect Unathi to train at some private gym with an exclusive celeb trainer. But her training routine is refreshingly simple and totally accessible: Rumble boxing classes at Virgin Active and running up the Westcliff stairs. “That literally snatched my waist in,” she says. And if you’ve ever done the Westcliff stairs, you better believe it!

She's not extreme

Healthy food choices are key for weightloss success, but woman cannot live on lettuce leaves alone. “I take care of my body,” says Unathi. “And we talk. If she wants a sandwich with cheese and bacon, that’s what we do.

If it’s a whole pizza with a bottle of Champagne, we have it.” Her philosophy is, have it if you crave it, but all in moderation. “Don’t like, three days later, still be giving in to the craving.”

Find out more about Unathi Nkayi in the October issue of Women’s Health, on sale now!

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