Alongside Instagram's typical fare of acai bowl and avocado toast pics exists a massive subgroup of men and women coaching their followers on all things fitness. With 1.3 million followers and counting, it's safe to say that the founder of Fit Body Guides and the Body Love app, Anna Victoria, is a giant among them.
So what keeps people flocking to Victoria on a platform that boasts a whopping 57.3 million posts under the #fitspo hashtag alone? It might have to do with her relentless body positivity or her ability to be effortlessly relatable. Or maybe it's because her philosophy and programs are helping people get fit and healthy inside and out.
Our theory? It's all of the above.
LIVESTRONG.COM caught up with Victoria, who spoke about wellness and the 80/20 rule at our Stronger Weekend event in August 2018, to get her take on strength training — a fitness trend that's quickly growing in popularity among women.
How She Became Fit-stagram’s Biggest Obsession
In 2012, Victoria was 23 years old, living in China with her now-husband Luca and eating junk food for every meal. "I ate purely for enjoyment, and the fact that food was responsible for my health problems was the furthest thing from my mind," she says. During that time, her body shut down, landing her in the emergency room.
"It wasn't until another six months of taking prescription medication (from that emergency room visit) that I realized there was a deeper underlying problem, which then made me turn to my eating habits."
So she started an Instagram account to keep herself motivated. And to her surprise, she quickly gained followers from all over the world who wanted her advice. "This was the catalyst for me to begin helping other people on their journey, getting certified and eventually coming out with my Body Love app," she says.
Why Women Should Strength Train
Repeat after Victoria: Weightlifting won't make you bulky (unless you want it to, that is). "Contrary to popular belief, lifting weights is what helps give women the toned and defined look and enhances our natural curves," Victoria says.
Don't believe it? One 2017 study in Obesity Journal found that, when combined with a low-calorie diet, strength training was a more effective way to lose fat for adults with obesity than walking. Though all participants lost similar amounts of weight, those who walked lost a significant amount of lean muscle mass. On the other hand, those who did strength training maintained their muscle mass while shedding fat.
Victoria also points out that women typically have much less testosterone, meaning that they don't gain muscle as quickly and easily. "The muscle women gain is what tones and tightens their bodies," she says.
Read more: Your Guide to Strength Training for Women
What Happens to Your Body When You Start Strength Training
Gaining muscle feels like turning your body into a 24/7 calorie-torching machine. "When you add strength training to your routine, you are breaking down muscle tissue that will then repair and rebuild, which is what allows the muscle to regrow even stronger," Victoria says. As a result, your body needs more energy, aka food, to help with recovery.
In turn, that means "your body will begin to burn more calories at rest, which is why it is a more efficient form of training for long-term fat burning," she continues. In other words, strength training revs up your metabolism, allowing your body to burn the fat for you.
How to Get Started
"The workouts are 30-minute, high-intensity strength workouts that are scientifically designed to both strengthen your body and burn fat at the same time," Victoria explains. "The meal plan is fully custom to your personal caloric and macro needs as well, so all the portions are custom fit to you." She recommends incorporating strength training three to five times a week to maximize your results.
Staying on Track
You might think motivation is the key to success, but Victoria believes otherwise. "I don't stay motivated, I stay dedicated," she says. "Motivation comes and goes and is not reliable." In other words, if you wait around until you feel motivated, you might end up waiting forever. Instead, let your commitment to your goals be enough to get it done.
Another hot tip? Pay attention to the changes going on inside, not on the outside. "I don't focus on the physical aspects of the journey, I focus primarily on the nonphysical aspects — so my health, my mental health, my moods, my energy, overall how I'm feeling as opposed to how I'm looking," she explains. "And when you take care of those nonphysical aspects is when the physical will automatically follow."
Last, be mindful of how you're using social media. "There is a huge risk of the comparison game on social media, so a lot of times my response is to be patient and not to compare yourself to anyone else," Victoria says. "We are all different! What worked for someone else may not work for you, and that's OK. This journey is about going through the ups and downs so you can determine what does work for you."