Victoria Bowen started her weight-loss journey around four years ago, but it wasn't until January 2017 that she really got serious. Victoria says, "I wasn't living life. I was barely existing. I hid away, I stayed in my home."
The thing that really kick-started her journey was one afternoon when she was at the park with her husband and two kids. "My husband was running around, going down the slides, and having tons of fun with the boys, and I was just sitting on the picnic rug watching. I was missing out on it all!"
Victoria, now a size 10, captioned the above Instagram photo, "Looking back on this photo actually makes me sad! It brings back all those feelings that came with being unhappy in myself. How could some body wholeheartedly love me if I didn't love myself?!" She went on, "I remember when I was putting my dress on I just wanted to cry because I was so unhappy with the way I looked I could see my fat in the mirror hanging over the side of my size 24 dress."
She thinks her starting weight was around 120 kg (265 lbs). This is a guess because she had been actively losing weight for around a month before she officially got the courage to step on the scale. "It read 116 kg (256 lbs), I instantly started crying. I knew I was big, but in my head I'd told myself I wasn't that big."
It was time for some lifestyle changes. "When I first began, I just walked daily for 20 to 30 minutes. I would strap the kids in to the pram and go!" She used an app to track her pace and distance walked, and it gave her the inspiration to push herself that little bit further each time.
"I soon came across a local personal trainer who was running bootcamp classes a five-minute drive from my house. So I joined and started going once a week. I really loved it and soon added in a one-on-one session. I now train five times a week with two one-on-one sessions, two bootcamp classes, and one all-female strength training class, where we focus on big lifts. I can now squat 110 kg (243 lb), and deadlift 107.5 kg (237 lb), which just honestly blows my mind." Um, our minds are blown away, too. Those are some superimpressive heavy lifts!
Victoria also fills her day with clean, whole foods. "I follow If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) so we count the carbs, fats, and proteins within our foods." She says her diet is really flexible, and she's able to enjoy all foods — even takeout! "There are no restrictions. If the food fits you eat it!"
Victoria's current calorie intake is around 2,500 per day. Here's what a typical day of eating would be:
Breakfast: overnight chocolate chia oats topped with banana, Nutella, and peanut butter.
Morning snack: small skinny cappuccino, an apple with some peanut butter, and two squares of 90-percent dark chocolate
Lunch: poached chicken and sweet potato salad with baby spinach, tomatoes, cheese, pickles, beetroot, and Thai-style dressing
Afternoon snack: Two slices of toast with honey and peanut butter
Dinner: chicken thigh, salad with potato and sweet potato, baby spinach, tomatoes, olives, pickles, cheese, and Thai dressing
Dessert: YoPRO protein yogurt with some sugar-free drinking chocolate mixed in to make a chocolate mousse, topped with peanut butter
Now 26 years old, Victoria's total weight loss is 50 kg (110 lb) so far, but she says, "I'm not done yet! I lost the first 25 kg (55 lb) quite quickly, then kind of got satisfied. I still kept working out and eating healthy and the weight was still coming off slowly." She was happier, and able to enjoy her two kids, and enjoy her life again. "Then at the start of 2017 I kicked it up a notch and joined a four-week challenge my personal trainer (rowena_smart) was running. It was the push I needed to get that fire back in my belly."
Victoria shares, "My most recent nonscale victory was stepping on to a stage in a bodybuilding/bikini competition. I'd never worn a bikini in my adult life, so this was a huge fear and a massive accomplishment for me." She's ready for more and says that she's "currently working towards stepping on stage in July for the WBFF Sydney show in the transformation division, which I am super excited about."
"I'm motivated by the results I see in my body. I'm motivated by the beautiful women around me. But I think it comes down to discipline too. I don't bounce out of bed every morning and go, 'Yay, let's work out.' I know it has to be done. Sometimes I rock up to a session just feeling completely unmotivated but once I start, the motivation comes and I always leave the session feeling amazing. As long as you show up, the motivation will come."
If you're just beginning your weight-loss journey, Victoria suggests making small, simple daily changes. Don't overcommit or overdo it in the beginning. You'll just burn yourself out, you won't enjoy the process, and you'll most likely give up. "Take each day as it comes. Commit to yourself but also don't beat yourself up if you slip up. Accept it and get back on the wagon the next day."