The INSIDER Summary:
• Trainer and Instagram star Anna Victoria helps her clients transform their bodies.
• She says a lot of women still believe two big myths about getting in shape: That they should eat less and that lifting weights will make them bulky.
• For most women, she says, neither of these are true.
Personal trainer and fitness expert Anna Victoria didn’t acquire her 1.3 million Instagram followers by accident: She’s amassed an army of loyal fans by being honest about getting in shape.
She’s probably most famous for her viral Instagram posts showing that it’s totally normal for your stomach to look different when you’re sitting versus when you’re standing. (“I love both photos equally,” she wrote in the caption to the photo below. “Good or bad angles don’t change your worth.”)
But clients also love Victoria for her Fit Body Guides: 12-week programs with daily workouts and meal plans that promise to burn fat and build strength.
Victoria, who’s certified as a personal trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, recently spoke with INSIDER about body image, Instagram stardom, and her advice for people who are just starting to exercise and eat healthier. She also revealed two major myths about getting in shape that a lot of people still believe — here’s what she had to say.
First: Don’t believe that you need to eat less to get fitness results.
Victoria told INSIDER about a new client — a woman who was working out regularly and also breastfeeding — who was frustrated because she wasn’t seeing any changes in her body. The problem, it turned out, was that she was only eating 1,800 calories a day — about half of the fuel her body needed, given her height and weight, activity level, and the fact that she was breastfeeding, Victoria said.
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that you need to eat less to get results,” Victoria told INSIDER. “When you make healthy food swaps, you’re [often] going to such low-calorie foods that you need to eat a much bigger quantity to get all the nutrition that you need.”
It’s great to make a healthy swap and eat three cups of spinach instead of three cups of pasta, for example. But those three cups of spinach only have 21 calories, compared to the pasta’s 588. You’ll probably need to eat some more — especially if your stomach’s growling after a strength training session.
“A lot of times I’m working with women who are so terrified of eating more food, because they look at the quantity, [and] they’re like, ‘I’m going to gain weight, I can’t do this,'” Victoria said. “And then they do it and they say, ‘I feel amazing, I’m seeing progress. I never thought that I could eat and get results.'”
That doesn’t mean you should eat all day with abandon — consistently eating more calories than your body needs will still lead to weight gain. But militantly reducing your calories and portions in the name of a “healthy” lifestyle can hamper your progress too, Victoria explained. No surprise here: It’s about finding the right balance. (Get an estimate of how many calories you need with this handy calculator.)
Second: Don’t believe the myths about lifting weights “bulking” you up.
“A lot of women are afraid of picking up weights because they’re afraid that they are going to become muscular, but it’s absolutely not the truth,” Victoria said. “I would say 98% of women will not gain big muscles unless they are working toward that [goal] for five plus years and are on a very specific diet. It doesn’t happen on accident.”
Women naturally produce a lot less testosterone — a hormone that plays a role in muscle building — than men. So there’s no need to worry that you’ll spend a week weightlifting and end up looking like a pro bodybuilder.
Victoria herself is a great example of this: “I’ve been lifting weights for four years and I’m not big and bulky,” she said.
She also explained that strength training has helped a lot of her clients gain a fresh perspective on their weight loss efforts.
“When they start doing strength training, a lot of the girls [who use my guides] end up saying, ‘I started out by wanting to be skinny, but I’m actually loving feeling strong,'” she said. “I think that that’s a really great message.”
Me 1% of the time vs. 99% of the time. And I love both photos equally. Good or bad angles don't change your worth ❤️ I recently came across an article talking about how one woman stated she refuses to accept her flaws, because she doesn't see them as flaws at all. I LOVED that because it sends such a powerful message that our belly rolls, cellulite, stretch marks are nothing to apologize for, to be ashamed of, or to be obsessed with getting rid of! As I'm getting older, I have cellulite and stretch marks that aren't going away, and I welcome them. They represent a life fully lived (for 28 years so far :)) and a healthy life and body at that. How can I be mad at my body for perfectly normal "flaws"? This body is strong, can run miles, can lift and squat and push and pull weight around, and it's happy not just because of how it looks, but because of how it feels. So when you approach your journey, I want you to remember these things: I will not punish my body I will fuel it I will challenge it AND I will love it ??? If you're following my page, you're a part of helping me spread this message and creating this movement – thank you. #fbggirls www.annavictoria.com/guides
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