One thing my life has never been? Ordinary. At 2 years old, my courageous parents risked everything moved from Russia to the United States, the land of opportunity. A young couple with no money, they had just given birth to me and had no idea what the future held. Their courage and sacrifice are what have inspired me since I was a little kid.
People always ask me how I can dream so BIG. Well, I like to think I have some big shoes to fill. My mom, Diana, and my father, Sasha, taught me at a young age that hard work pays off. In order to succeed, you have to work harder than those around you. Determination, strength, and courage are values that have been rooted in me since childhood.
Brilliant engineers by trade, my parents started their dream of success in a very humble way. My father was a Pizza Hut delivery guy, and my mom worked at a shoe warehouse. Sure, life wasn’t easy at first, but my parents never gave up. They tried their best to give me everything they could. My mom has always said that even at a young age, even during the hardest times, I was always bursting with energy. I think on every home video we own, I’m putting on a show. I loved to pretend that I was on stage, and I would sing and dance for hours. Yeah, I was little diva sometimes, but not in a selfish way. My parents taught me to be selfless, and I was filled with so much love.
After a few years, my parents transitioned into their desired careers as engineers. Things were looking up, and we slowly were able to live a more comfortable life. We moved to Sugar Land, Texas when I was in first grade and bought our first house. It was like we finally made it – a house was part of the dream. The next goal was to become US Citizens. If you’ve ever gone through the naturalization process, you know it’s hard work. I was under eighteen, so I didn’t have to do all the testing. I will never forget how proud I felt finishing my paperwork and saying the pledge of allegiance. We were officially citizens of the United States of America. Are you starting to understand my ability to dream BIG?
My whole life I was considered overweight, according to the doctor charts. I lived in the L or XL world. That was the only world I knew. Strangely enough, we never had soda or junk food growing up. But because I had two parents who worked full-time to make a better life for our family, I found myself eating school lunches and going out to eat often. Although I felt like the “bigger” girl, I always had a vibrant and bold personality. I was not the girl that boys liked. I was not the girl who could wear all the cute Limited Too outfits. However, I was the girl who knew she was going to do something big with her life. I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT! My parents got me involved in everything. At one point, I was signed up for soccer, horseback riding, dancing, singing, volleyball and basketball! WOWZA. I’m so grateful for my parents’ dedication. I would never know the life I have today if it wasn’t for them.
Then, there were the middle school days. Oh, middle school days. The days when bullies start roaming the halls, when gossip and name-calling become the norm. We all know it is the reality. All the sudden the “popular” crowd developed and leaders of the pack became clear. I remember crying because I didn’t think I was pretty. I didn’t like my body. I thought my hair was ugly and puffy. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t like everyone else. Why did I have to be so different? Why wasn’t I the leader of the pack? Why was I so curvy? Why didn’t I live in the XS or small world?
I never showed how I felt. If you had known me then, you would consider me a normal, fun, active girl with a huge personality!
Well hello, high school years. Four full years of trying to be… someone. Let’s be real, we were all just trying to survive and stay up to date with the latest Abercrombie outfits (GAH!). It was during my high school years that I really started understanding what healthy eating was, and how it affected by body.
I started bringing my own lunch to school and working out every day. Of course, I only did cardio because the weight room was a foreign thing to me. I was involved in student council and became Lieutenant Cornel of the Dance Team. I was dancing about 20 hours a week and eating minimal amounts of carbs. At that time, I wanted to be skinny. What was I thinking? I’ll never be stick-figure skinny, and that’s ok! Have you seen my curves? When I graduated I was 160 lbs and no muscle. I was nominated for “Most Outgoing” for senior favorites, so the bold personality was still alive and well!
Next stop: college! Four years of freedom! Yes! I was off to Texas Tech University. I went through rush and became a Kappa Kappa Gamma – BLUE ON BLUE lovin. I was in love with the freedom of college! I joined Student Government, Business Ambassadors… you name it, and I was a member! I started college in the best shape of my life. Unlike most college students I did everything backwards. Instead of the freshman 15, I lost weight. I was focused on beating the odds, so I worked out and ate healthy every day. I looked and felt the best I ever had in my whole life.
During my first two years I experienced my first love, and by junior year I felt my first heartbreak. That is where my downward spiral began. My last two years I gained about 40 pounds. Yikes, are you kidding me? I was drinking and/or eating fast food everyday. It was bad. I mean, I was a regular at Taco Bell and they knew me by name. It was like I was making up for the “real” college experience. Little did I know I was destroying my body.
I was the queen of flowy tops and tights. Why? Because they always fit! One thing I will give myself credit for: I never tried to squeeze into a size that didn’t fit. I wore what flattered my body at the time. GET rid of your flowy tops, TRUST ME! You are using them to hide. I was in hiding for two years and didn’t even realize how bad it had gotten until I stepped on the scale my senior year before graduation. 198 pounds. Wait, what? I broke down as I was getting ready to put my graduation gown on.
On May 19, 2012, I had my AHA moment. At 22, I was getting ready to head back to Houston and start a career making six figures. You would have thought I was on top of the world. On the outside I was accomplished, vibrant, kind hearted, energetic and ready for anything. But on the inside I was insecure about my body image and felt like the golden chubby friend. Now this is where the story gets good, JUST wait!
REAL world where have you been all my life? No homework, no tests, and no library nights till the break of dawn. I was already loving this life. Here is how it all went down. On August 7, 2012, I moved to Houston, Texas and started my career as an Oil and Gas Negotiator. I moved into my one bedroom apartment, and like every young professional, was excited to have income and live on my own! YES! Finally I had money to shop, and eat out A LOT. Happy hour, every night. What are they called these days? Thirsty Thursdays?
Eventually, my parents had to take a moment to bring me back to reality. I still wasn’t taking care of myself, and I kept focusing on a lifestyle that was not healthy. I decided it was time for a change! I finally joined a gym. Little did I know this would become my home away from home where I would change my life. My first day in the gym was nothing short of a disaster full of anxiety. I wore a sloppy XL T-shirt and huge baggy pants. I believe dressing right for the gym is crucial, although I didn’t follow my own advice at that time. When you look good, you feel good!
Of course I picked the most athletic gym to join. It was filled with bikini competitors, athletes, and top trainers in the area. That was the best decision I ever made! I had role models right in front of me, who inspired me to push harder. Slowly but surely, I reverted back to my healthy eating ways. For about six months, I was as strict as it gets! I started to learn about portion control. In the gym I was still focusing on cardio. No weights yet – I had no idea what I was doing! NO idea. All I saw were a bunch of super shredded guys and girls. Intimidation extreme.
However, I still managed to lose about 25 pounds strictly through cardio and healthy eating. In January 2013, I decided it was time to step it up! I hired a trainer three times a week who only focused on weightlifting with me. For a year I learned so much from Chad. He taught me all the basics and challenged me. However, I was still responsible for maintaining my nutrition and cardio workouts. The result? I lost another 25 pounds. 50 pounds, GONE!! By January of 2014, I developed solid habits and was able to maintain my new, healthy lifestyle all on my own. I never stop challenging myself!
When you start a weight loss journey, you will realize it becomes a huge priority in your life, and it might even seem like a minor obsession. Naturally, at the beginning of my journey I began sharing my success via social media on Instagram and Facebook. After a few months, my friends suggested that I start another account to focus only on the transformation pictures, food choices, and workout posts. This is how the original FITista was created! Can you believe I came up with the name in about 10 minutes? Who knew TheFITista would soon change my life in such a drastic way! What began as a personal way to track my journey has become a destination for thousands to receive motivation, tips, and inspiration! Over the last few years, TheFITista has grown tremendously. I am just a normal working girl who has learned what works. I am ready to share everything I learned with YOU. My motto YOUCAN&YOUWILL was developed and promoted from day one! The difference between me and other lifestyle coaches/trainers is plain and simple: I have been through it all. I know what it takes, and I know the frustrations you will face. I know how bad you want it! Are you with me?!
And that’s how my story goes. I am ready to spread the love and knowledge. My goal is to motivate and inspire thousands all over the world!