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Anna Victoria has 1.1 million followers on Instagram, a thriving fitness career and a brand new baby. Women from across the country look to her for advice, inspiration and as a “superhero” fit mom.
But you don’t always see the trials and tribulations that come before the end result. Victoria began her fitness journey in her early 20s when she was suffering through digestive issues that landed her in the ER.
“I was told to take medication to ease the pain and overall symptoms, and I knew there had to be a better way,” Victoria says. “So, I began learning how to properly fuel my body.”
This was a big departure from the fast food diet Victoria had been living on through high school and college. After she started eating right, then came the strength training.
“While the physical results I was seeing were exciting,” she says. “It was the change in my health, energy and sleep that really made this a lifestyle for me.”
Behind the Instagram Lens
Victoria is a bona fide Instagram influencer. If you click “follow” and scroll through her social media, you’ll find no shortage of athleticism, a strong figure and impressive fitness feats.
She wants to stress, however, that a lot of trial and error came before finally adopting the lifestyle that’s since earned her a formidable following.
“In the beginning, I tried to do everything I could to maintain my old habits (fast food and minimal exercise) while somehow still improving my health,” Victoria says. “… It didn’t work.”
It took about six months of doing the bare minimum before committing fully and going all-in.
“Ever since then, there have been different seasons of life — like IVF, infertility, pregnancy and postpartum — where I’ve had to re-figure out how to stay committed while balancing all the other things life has thrown at me,” Victoria says. “It hasn’t been a linear journey by any means.”
Victoria and her husband Luca decided to try to get pregnant through IVF, though nothing was guaranteed. When they found out they were having a baby, it was a wonderful blessing. After, of course, rejoicing and celebrating the moment, Victoria tried to prepare herself for pregnancy and what it would do to her body.
“I always knew I would just play it by ear, which is very much my personality,” she says. “How could I prepare for such a life and body-changing event when I haven’t been through it before?”
Pregnancy proved to be more difficult than she could ever have imagined; hormones, breastfeeding, a c-section and pelvic floor recovery all presented challenges to the first-time mom.
“I just took each day as it came, and many, many of those days I was a wreck,” Victoria says. “But I didn’t want to guilt myself or pressure myself to live in any moment other than the now.”
While some followers might assume every aspect of Victoria’s life is flawless and picturesque, her daughter’s birth was anything but that. She went through 15 hours of labor, three hours of pushing and finally, an unplanned c-section.
“I later learned the c-section is a difficult, painful and long journey,” she says. “So, my plan to return to working out postpartum looked nothing like I’d imagined.”
A Flexible Postpartum Plan
After getting clearance six weeks postpartum, Victoria began pelvic floor physical therapy. She worked with a physical therapist until 10 weeks postpartum before taking on light bodyweight exercises on her own for roughly 10 minutes a day, two to three days a week.
From 12 weeks postpartum, Victoria started using light weights and performed low-impact strength training inspired by her Fit Body app workouts — though there was absolutely no jumping or traditional core work. The Fit Body program has a Restore Your Core postpartum program designed for post c-section mothers.
“From there, I gradually increased my weights and overall workout duration as I felt ready,” Victoria says. “I had no timeline I was following and was in no rush.”
Because of some breastfeeding struggles, Victoria’s daughter was 100 percent reliant on her for milk until she was 14 months old. This meant it was actually dangerous to try to eat less calories to try to lose weight, as it would affect her supply. As all moms can attest, getting your “old body” back postpartum is nowhere near as important as the health of your baby.
“At 14 months, I finally weaned her off of breast milk — a bittersweet moment,” Vitoria says. “It was then that I finally went all-in on returning to my usual workout routine.”
So, what’s her biggest piece of advice to future moms, regardless of their pregnancy and postpartum journey?
“Don’t rush it. I hear of so many moms at three months postpartum trying to resume their pre-baby routine and level of intensity and end up having so many issues as a result,” Victoria says, “like diastases recti, prolapse, incontinence and more.”
She says the best thing you can do is to take it slow, and don’t rush it.
“Everything in life is a season, and while I’m a big believer in taking care of your physical well-being, sometimes what that looks like is actually resting and taking it slow,” Victoria says. “Soak up those precious newborn and baby moments while they last, because time flies!”
1. Favorite time to workout? Morning!
2. Favorite workout split? Chest + Shoulders.
3. Preferred choice of cardio? If I have to choose… running.
4. What are you binging on Netflix, HULU or otherwise right now? Dexter: New Blood. OBSESSED.
5. What are you doing when you’re not working out? Playing with my daughter or my Golden Retriever (Rigatoni), brainstorming with my team in Slack or editing videos!
6. Favorite mantra? Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.