Fitness Chat with Tercia Dawes

At 45 years of age, she has a smoking hot physique that will give most 20-year-olds a run for their money!

Tercia Dawes is extremely passionate about living a fit, healthy lifestyle and is motivated by knowing that her journey inspires others. For Tercia, her lifestyle is about being healthy on the inside, as well as the outside. And that is why she is incredibly passionate about building muscle in the healthiest way possible and she has managed to achieve her current results 100% naturally, relying on wholesome nutrition and consistently training hard and pushing the limits. 

This Fitness Chat with Tercia is confirmation that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. Read on and be inspired.

If someone was to ask you ‘who is Tercia Dawes’ what would be your quick answer?

I would say Tercia Dawes is an executive assistant and maintenance Manager at a publishing company but her first love, her passion is fitness.

I would also say that I was also a single mom to my gorgeous 20-year-old son for 17 years before he sadly passed away in his sleep just three days before Christmas in 2016. We were incredibly close and while I continue to grieve his loss, fitness has been my therapy through many challenges in my life including this.

post-comp Tercia Dawes

I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your son Tercia. What is your fitness background?

I have always been very active during my childhood and teen years as I participated in several sporting activities which included athletics, tennis, softball, table tennis and dancing. At the age of 16, I decided to join a gym as I was very underweight due to having a very fast metabolism. After I became a mom I was no longer as active with regard to sport, but I went to the gym whenever I could.

However, it was only until about 4 years ago that I decided to change my lifestyle and my goal was to get into the best shape of my life. I went from having unhealthy eating habits, chronic migraines, and tiredness and bloated tummy, to healthy eating habits; being physically stronger, looking better, feeling confident about myself and feeling more energised.

Can you take me through your weekly training split?

My weekly split changes every 4-6 weeks. Currently, my program involves training 6 days per week. I work all day, so I train at night during the week and on weekends I train in the morning.


Day 1 – Chest and back including calves

Day 2 – Leg day – Quads, hamstrings, and glutes, including 15 minutes cardio

Day 3 – Shoulders including abs and calves

Day 4 – Back and biceps including calves, 15 minutes cardio, and abs

Day 5 – Rest

Day 6 – From the beginning

Tercia Dawes gym workout

I do cardio every second workout and abs twice a week and I train calves with every upper body workout as it is a weakness and needs more work. Whenever I do cardio I alternate so I will do treadmill on a steep incline on day 2 and then the next time I do cardio I will use the elliptical, the next time I will use the spinning bike.

What is your 1RPM for squats and deadlifts?

I have a hiatus hernia so my focus is never on how heavy I lift but on my form and intensity with each rep. I believe in training smartly. This has ensured that I don’t injure myself but still get results in the safest and most effective way possible.

Let’s talk food. What do you and don’t eat?

Because this is a lifestyle I believe it needs to be sustainable and that discipline and consistency are key. I eat foods that fuel my body and avoid foods that add no value. I avoid all forms of wheat and refined sugar and stick to lactose-free products as much as possible.

I eat clean from Monday to Friday and then I allow myself a “cheat/reward” meal that I wouldn’t usually eat and have this on a Saturday or Sunday but it will still be wheat free.

I also carb cycle according to the muscle groups I am training as this seems to work best for my body and I increase my carbs when training bigger muscle groups and stick to lean protein like egg whites, hake, ostrich, and chicken.

I avoid alcohol and coffee and drink at least 3 litres of water a day and lots of herbal teas.

Do you ever have cravings? How do you deal with them?

My weakness is chocolate but thankfully dark chocolate.  I have to practice serious self-discipline. When I have cravings I usually remind myself about my goals and it really is about mind talk and commitment to your goals. I very rarely give in to my cravings. If I do give in, I make sure I get back on track immediately.

Do you currently use any supplements? If so, what do you use and why?

I use a whey isolate protein and amino acids as they assist in muscle growth and repair and whey is also easily digestible especially right after a workout.

The amino acids also provide me with energy during training. In addition to this, I take CLA 1000, multivitamins, and Flaxseed for Omega 3 daily.

Have you taken part in any contest? What did you learn from the experience?

I competed in my first contest Fitness/Model SA on the 11th of March 2017 in Cape Town and was placed 1st.

I learned that discipline and commitment during your comp prep are key and that a little support goes a long way. You are constantly learning in this industry and having a good trainer/training program and guidance with regard to your diet prep is key. Without the support and guidance I had, I would not have achieved my goals.
My main motivation for entering this contest was my son, who made me promise before he passed away, that I would get on stage one day to showcase my hard work and my passion for this lifestyle and because I wanted to inspire other women my age to never give up on their dreams and goals irrespective of age or circumstances.

Winning was unexpected but it was the most incredible feeling of achievement. I wish I had been less nervous as I was an absolute wreck but I learned that no matter how much you prepare for something you will never know the outcome so you need to go into these things with an open mind, use every experience to grow and learn.

Tercia Dawes fitness model south africa

Is there any upcoming contest you are or will be prepping for?

As a result of winning Fitness/Model SA, I have been chosen to represent SA in in Las Vegas in November. I may also be participating in Diva Extravaganza in July this year to gain more experience before my contest in Vegas.

Are you sponsored by any brand?

I am not, but wish I was, as competing and prepping is very expensive.

What keeps you motivated, do you have athletes that inspire you?

What keeps me motivated is my love and passion for this sport, the way in which my journey has changed my life and my health; seeing the changes in my body and how my journey has inspired others and continues to do so and realising after my son passed away that this is my purpose God wishes me to fulfil.

What fitness advice would you have for someone who wants to be cut and jacked?

Don’t expect change overnight. Transforming your body naturally takes time…it took me years.

There are no shortcuts in this journey…it is a journey that requires dedication, a strong will, 100% commitment to your diet and training, consistency and determination to achieve those goals. Once you have the right mindset you will achieve your goals.

What is your ultimate goal in fitness?

My ultimate goal is to continue motivating and inspiring as many people as possible to live a healthy lifestyle and continue becoming the best possible version of myself. I also hope to get sponsorship and work in the fitness industry one day soon.

Tercia Dawes fitness south africa
Tercia Dawes and her late son


24 thoughts on “Fitness Chat with Tercia Dawes”

  1. So sad to hear about her son that breaks my heart. It is amazing that fitness has been there to help her through her grief and channel it into something that she is passionate about x

  2. I am so proud of my friend and colleague. Tercia is really and truly an inspiration to so many. Always willing to give advise and motivation. I wish her the very best for all the exciting opportunities that are to come on this amazing journey! Zach is your special angel in Heaven Tercia, watching over you and so proud of his beautiful mother! xx

  3. She is in incredible shape and has worked very hard to get to this point. She is certainly an inspiration to those who are trying to get in shape and become healthier. I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of her son x

  4. What a great interview, I really enjoyed reading about such an interesting and motivational lady. Wish her all the best of luck with her next competition!

  5. So much respect for athletes like this! My sister used to be really into body building so I might send her this blog post! I’d be interested to hear more about what she specifically changed to get rid of her migraines too.

    • Hi Jess. Thank you so much for your response. I eliminated wheat and sugar from my diet and increased my water intake and found that by eliminating sugar from my diet that my headaches and migraines disappeared.

  6. So much respect for athletes like this! My sister used to be really into body building so I might send her this blog post! I’d be interested to hear more about what she specifically changed to get rid of her migraines too.


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