Owner and Lead Trainer (8+ Years)
A year after my mom passed away I came to the United States, in June of 2004. I had exactly $300 in my pocket. The company that sent us here had arrangements for us to work at McDonald’s. Given my “perfect” English, I was put on a french fry machine where I was making fries for 6 hrs a day. They tried to have me at the cash register but I simply did not understand a word of English. For a week that I worked there, I ate chicken nuggets for breakfast lunch and dinner. I have never eaten fries from McDonalds since.
We didn’t start to date right away, but I will fast forward and make my story a little shorter, because this is where it takes a very interesting turn.
My husband and I had our first son in January of 2010. We called him Ivan. He was perfect, and I loved being a mom even though a year prior to getting pregnant I didn’t have any urge to become a mother and never even wanted to have kids at all. Incredible how your life changes in an instant, and you just get used to the changes and adjust.
Having a baby, especially the first one, is very new and challenging. You shift all of your focus from yourself onto this little human that you carried inside of your body for nearly 10 months and then spent almost two days trying to kick him out. It is worth mentioning that I did not take very good care of myself during the pregnancy simply because there weren’t that many resources back then and I did not have a mother- person in my life who could give me advice, so I ate all I wanted and didn’t exercise at all. Which caused me to weigh 190 pounds on the day my son was born. I quickly lost about 30 pounds after the birth, and it was only natural that I wanted to lose more so I started to try diets. It is now I know that diets don’t work, and the reason I know is because I have tried them all. Like seriously ALL of them. I would lose 5 lbs and then give up and gain 10. Lose 5 more but gain 10 more. By the end of 2012 I was wearing pants in size 16 and they were becoming too small for me.
I got myself together, got up and said: “I promise that by the next New year’s eve I will weigh no more than 165 lbs”. I had no idea how much I weighed then, but for some reason I had that “magic” number in my head. He looked at me and said ok great. But his eyes said it all. He did not believe the word I said because I had said it so many times before. After I saw that look, I swore to myself that I would keep my word and do anything in my power to reach that goal.
Next day I stepped on the scale, and the number I saw was nothing I expected to see. 217 lbs. I could not believe I was over 200 pounds. I wiped the tears away, took all the bread and threw it away. Got on the computer and searched for the best fast diet. This is how my weight loss journey really started.
Over the next 6 months I tried about a hundred diets and even more workouts. I tried low carb and low fat. I tried a soup diet and a cabbage diet. Kefir diet didn’t work and neither did the keto.
What kept me sticking to the goal was a friend of mine, Irina. Right on the day, January first, when I weighed myself, she sent me a message and offered me to be in it together and to check in on each other every single day. We exchanged messages every day, telling each other about what we ate and what type of a workout we completed. After about a month, she brought me to the Total Woman gym she belonged to. To this day, I am still friends with people from that gym. I felt like I was a part of something bigger there rather than just going in, doing a workout and leaving. What was different there, was a community of women who supported each other and treated each other as family. It was a big family of women of all different sizes, shapes, colors and backgrounds, but what united us was the commitment and support.
As I already mentioned above, I had tried many different diets, but I never went off track because I had a friend for accountability, and then I became a part of an amazing fitness community for women. About three-four months into my weight loss journey I realized that the mainstream diets and their restrictions did not work for me and that I needed to find my own way to get rid of fat without saying goodbye to my favorite foods that were the part of my culture and that I grew up on. This is how I started learning about macros and flexible eating.
At the end of July, I went to Russia for almost two months, and shortly after my return to the States I became pregnant with our second son.
What I did not mention anywhere was that my husband and I really wanted to have a second baby, and we tried for about a year without success. This was when I was still considered obese with a body fat percentage of 42%, high cholesterol levels, high blood sugar levels and low progesterone. Finally we gave up and stopped trying. I made peace with the realization I would never become a mom once again.
I came back from my trip, and was running with the girls from our gym running group (we started to train for a half marathon) when I felt pain in my lower back and had to stop my running workout. I blamed it on the period that was supposed to come sometime that week and moved on with my life.
So it was a huge surprise when the period never came and I took a pregnancy test just because, without any hopes. And then I saw two lines. I could not believe my eyes. I was pregnant again, and I am convinced that the huge shift in my lifestyle played an important role in it. At my first doctor’s check up my cholesterol levels were normal, and so was the blood sugar level. I was shocked. I learned that losing body fat not only helped me look and feel better, but it also improved my health and helped me conceive a baby. That was another reason I decided to learn more about nutrition and fitness. I made a promise to myself that I would have a very healthy pregnancy and would take care of myself and my new child the best I could. I kept that promise and ended up gaining only about 20 pounds. I chose the healthiest foods and stayed very active. I Continued to go to the gym and take the classes I liked and completing 2-3 strength workouts per week. I also kept running (or jogging) when I felt like without having a very strict running schedule.
I delivered my second son on Aug 8th of 2013 without a single drug. No anesthesia, no pain killers, nothing. It was a very happy natural birth, and the recovery was incredibly fast. My efforts in sticking to good nutrition and exercising paid off 100%. My body was strong enough to support a natural birth. It was an eye opening experience.
On the New Year’s of 2014 I made a New Year’s resolution – to study and learn everything about personal training. I read the book 4 times, and in June of 2014 I passed the test. It was super easy. Because I knew EVERYTHING I needed. Because it was important to me.
And then I got pregnant AGAIN! On June 13th (EXACTLY one year later on the same day after my CPT test) of 2015, I delivered a healthy tiny little girl we named Olivia in honor of my mother. It was a beautiful natural birth, no drugs again. My body handled everything perfectly, and I was home the next day. Staying fit and active and nourishing my body with healthy foods paid off once again. My family was complete now, and so was my life. Everything was falling right into its place.