“This Is How I Gained Back Muscle Mass After Survivor SA: Philippines”

Would you do Survivor SA again? "In a heartbeat."


Cally Silberbauer |

The grand finale of Survivor SA is upon us: 39 days of fierce competition, scheming, intense workouts and very little food. Character-building stuff with the ability to bring out the best and worst in anyone. Toni Tebbutt managed to hang on for 30 days. Survivor was tough, but the return to reality is a challenge in itself…

Image supplied by Toni

Toni Tebbutt

Toni Tebbutt, aged 38, is a content developer in Johannesburg. “I was one of the older women,” she says. But with a background in CrossFit and religious gymming, she was by no means at any disadvantage.

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“I have always been someone dedicated to fitness and eating well, but as we get older it does get harder!” Toni adds. Before Survivor SA, she added some cardio to the mix to prepare for the challenges.

“We didn’t have much time to prep for Survivor,” she explains, “luckily I was already a regular at the gym.”

I’m A Survivor…

“I have been a massive Survivor fan for 18 years,” Toni begins, “and it was a dream of mine to participate. I hoped to win, to be frank.”

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Toni and her husband have been wanting to start a family for a while now. “I found out in June last year that I am infertile,” she adds. “I have damaged Fallopian tubes due to severe endometriosis.” This opportunity presented itself at the perfect time – the cash prize of R1 million would be used to start a family of their own.

“I had it in my head that if I won the money we could set ourselves up and maybe do IVF or adopt,” Toni admits. Unfortunately, that dream didn’t play out – but Toni got very close. She may not have walked away with the cash reward, but the experience still rewarded her in other ways.

Image supplied by MNet

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“[Survivor taught me that] when you think you have nothing left in the tank, you do!” Toni says. “The petrol light might have gone off, but there is still fuel – we just need to dig deep to find it.” This is an outlook she will be taking from the island and back to reality.

Back To Life, Back To Reality

“When I got on the island, I weighed 60kg, which is what I normally weigh, with 23 percent body fat,” Toni says. She lost a total of seven kilos in those 30 days of Survivor SA.

“I’m embarrassed to say it, but I made my husband buy me a milk tart and a can of condensed milk, which I threw on top of the milk tart and ate. Oh, and a massive bag of fatty wet biltong,” Toni admits. But then who wouldn’t treat themselves after a month of barely anything…

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Returning to normal life was “overwhelming”. “It was very noisy,” says Toni, “and it didn’t seem ‘normal’ to be stressing the way we do every day!” The other difficulty was getting back to eating a normal diet and back into the gymming routine. “Survivor broke me a little and ate away at my muscle mass. I found that I had to work out with lighter weights to regain my muscle strength.”

“I think I am in better shape now than I was a year ago,” Toni exclaims. “I got back to gym, trained hard and I’ve been eating well (protein and veggies), and I now weigh 58kg with a body fat percentage of 20.”

Image supplied by MNet

Advice From Toni

We’ve all heard the golden rule before, what you put in is what you get out. Toni backs this rule all the way.

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“It really does start with what you put into your vessel,” she begins. “Eat right and drink right. Make sure you get enough protein and good carbs to give you fuel for your workouts.” Watch what food you put into your body as it will determine the physical results and your appearance. But what you do with your body is also key.

“Secondly, get on those weights, even if you start light. Do more reps,” she adds. But Toni’s last rule is probably the most vital of them all.

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“Discipline!” she exclaims. “Everyone says they are not ‘motivated’ to work out. Man, I am not motivated to come to work every day, but I do it anyway. Put that word ‘motivation’ aside and start using the word ‘discipline’. Commit and be disciplined, find the time to work out.” #noexcuses.

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