Name: Anna Bryukhanova
Location: Moscow, Russia
Age: 41 Height: 5'4" (161 cm)
Weight: 119 lbs (54 kg)
Years Bodybuilding: 5
I was skinny fat during my youth and ate and drank everything no matter the time of day. I was never on a diet or gained weight that bothered me. My weight was between 110-115 pounds (50-52 kg).
At age 33, I started to gain weight, but not enough to change my lifestyle. Two years later, I gained more weight and couldn't ignore it anymore. I tried fad diets, but still gained weight and retained water. I went to a doctor who said I have a thyroid problem and was told to take medication. A year later, nothing changed. I felt horrible: sick, tired, unhappy, and depressed. I avoided meeting friends who knew me as thin. In January 2008, I weighed my heaviest ever at 165 pounds (75 kg). People said that patients with hypothyroidism hardly lose weight and I was terrified.
I couldn't look in the mirror. I went to my favorite store and discovered my favorite brand didn't produce bigger jean sizes than my current size. My ex-coworker didn't recognize me on the street, which was devastating.
Following my doctor's advice, I found a gym to try something new (I was never a fan of exercise). So my first words to my future coach in the gym were, "I don't want muscles, I want just lose weight." I didn't believe I could lose weight, even at the gym. I started exercising in 2008. The first six months was mostly cardio and swimming. Then I got a coach and lifted weights to enhance my metabolism. I started a six-day training plan (three days weight training with my coach and three days doing cardio and swimming). I followed a diet plan that I got from my gym designed for my needs. I also read online articles about exercising and nutrition.
I lost 33 pounds (15 kg) in two years, but couldn't get back to my previous state. 132 pounds (60 kg) was still too much for me and I wasn't satisfied with my shape. I got much stronger, lifted heavier, and my mood got better when I finally saw results. I followed a clean and healthy eating regimen, but realized I was overeating. I also drank alcohol on weekends. It was a stagnation period and I didn't understand where to go.
In January 2012, I revised my diet, reduced my calorie intake, excluded all alcohol, stopped eating red meat, calculated everything I ate, and reduced carbs. It worked great. I saw muscle definition in a couple months and lifted heavier.
From 2007-2013, my jeans size went from 36 to 25. My 40-year-old body looks better than it did in my 20s. I'm stronger and have more balance. I weigh 117-121 pounds (53-55 kg). There's room for self-improvement. Now I want more muscles; only shape, volume, and definition matters.
I'm much stronger than I was before physically and mentally because I accomplished something I used to think was impossible. The feeling of accomplishment is great, but you need to set new goals to maintain it. To see how much a simple change can alter your body and mind is fascinating.
I get motivation from progress, friends' reactions, my post-workout mood, and my new look. I admire some fitness models and bodybuilders and started to follow a few blogs and social networks. It's an incredible source of everyday inspiration.
I think about where I came from and don't want to go back to those unhappy days. If I look at an overweight picture of my past, I jump in my car quickly and get to the gym. I travel far away a few times per year and take breaks from training during this time. The time off allows me to rest, but I still maintain my progress and motivation. I come back with enormous drive.
I compete with myself every day. I'm not sure if my future plans include competitions or bodybuilding/fitness-related job, but you never know. I'm in my best shape ever, but still see many areas to improve on and realize it requires lots of efforts and time. I consider myself a beginner and don't think about competing.
Don't wait too long to start. Have patience and be stubborn to reach your goals. Don't wait for change or give up if you're not satisfied. Give your body and mind time to adapt to the changes.
Some people will discourage your progress and say you look tired, small, soft, or muscular. You will hear lots of strange things. Ignore them and keep moving. It's your body and nobody but you should decide how it looks.
I enjoy watching wonderful women like Pauline Nordin, Sophie Guidolin, Erin Stern, Julie Bonnett, and Nicole Wilkins. They are different and wonderful in their passion and dedication. I read about their workouts, food, and supplements. I follow their blogs and stay motivated constantly.
I love Bodybuilding.com. The articles, transformations, photos, and videos are amazing, as are the before and after photos of ordinary people doing amazing things because they want to change their life.
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