From ballerinas to yogis, Instagram is bursting with healthy accounts. Which is why it’s super impressive when someone totally explodes on the scene with some kind of fitness/photography alchemy that people just dig.
That’s exactly what 27-year-old, self-made fitness guru Anna Victoria has managed to do, with her 820k followers—and counting. If you haven’t yet heard of her (or her 12-week Fit Body Guides), odds are you’ll start seeing them in your social media accounts soon, thanks, in no small part, to an abundance of before-and-after shots of Fit Body fans on Instagram.
We caught up with the social media phenom about her personal transformation from junk-food-eater to brand success—and get her thoughts on whether #fitspo can make women feel like, well, crap. Here’s what she said:
You haven’t always been so crazy fit. How’d you get started? In my early 20s, I had a huge reality check that I couldn’t keep eating fast food three times a day (like I had been for the past eight years) when I landed in the emergency room. My digestive system and GI tract were wrecked, and I could barely walk. The doctors didn’t even ask about my diet, they just prescribed me medicine. It helped, but I could still tell there was something else going on—you know, an actual reason why I was suffering from such serious problems at such a young age.
It wasn’t until my now-fiancé told me, “Anna, you can’t keep eating goldfish [crackers] for dinner!” that I thought about how my entire perspective, when it came to food, had been about indulgence. I had no clue food was supposed to give you energy. I look back and I just wish I had someone to tell me that food is fuel—and the quality of that fuel is what will determine how your body runs. My goal, now, is to prevent women from experiencing what I did.
Did you know from the get-go that Instagram would be huge for you? I created my Instagram account out of a need to motivate myself along my personal fitness journey. It was only after about one year of “Instagram blogging”—and getting hundreds of messages a day for advice—that I realized what an amazing opportunity I had to help people. I released my first guides in December 2013.
There are a lot of fitness guides out there, obviously, and a ton of info online for women who want to get in shape. What’s different about yours? First and foremost, the community of “FBG girls” on Instagram is what helps keep many of them on track. That component of emotional support is more important than most people realize. My door—or, really, my Instagram DM inbox—is always open. If someone asks a question on a post and I miss it, other FBG girls will tag me until I get the notification. I love that.
As for the program itself, I tell people to try it for 12 weeks and I will show you just how capable you are of getting results. I teach girls to focus on starting from the inside out. Take care of your body, and your body will take care of you.
What are your can’t-live-without-’em healthy habits? Water! I used to drink, maybe, two cups of water a day, and now I drink three liters. It wasn’t easy increasing my water intake—there was definitely a period of time I had to consciously remind myself—but now I realize how much better I feel when I’m hydrated.
I also can’t live without some form of exercise, which is still a bit strange to me, because the lifestyle I was leading before all of this was almost anti-exercise. I thought people who ate healthy, and who worked out, did it because they thought they were cool or better than other people. I was too focused on the physical aspects, and didn’t understand the internal ones.Do you ever worry that Instagram, and #fitspo, can make women feel like, well, crap? I don’t think there’s a single person who’s been on social media and not experienced some level of comparison or self-doubt. That’s why I think it’s important to be open about being human! A few days ago, I posted about how, after traveling for three weeks, I lost some of my muscle tone and progress—and was bloated and overall not looking my best. That didn’t mean I wasn’t happy; it just meant life came in and took me off track for a bit. Girls, especially young girls, need to know that’s okay. That doesn’t mean you failed.
Social media tends to create this perfect image of people’s lives, and I make an effort to show that I am not perfect. I am a normal girl from a small town, trying to make her way through life—and make a positive impact with the platform I’m given.
Inspired to shake up your workout routine? Here’s a crazy simple (but effective) 15-minute workout you can do anywhere.
(Photos: Anna Victoria/Instagram)