When Victoria Brady learned her son’s weight was in the 97th percentile for his age, she knew she had to make a change for her family, but she didn’t know where to start.
The 33-year-old marketing consultant from Atlanta always struggled with weight — she entered college weighing 250 pounds — and comes from a self-described unhealthy family who had no idea how to eat right.
“It just gave me flashbacks to myself. I was always heavy, and I saw the cycle repeating itself,” she says. “My son’s pediatrician was giving me tips for his diet, and I realized I didn’t know how to eat healthy because I grew up with everything fried. We ate lots of sugar and seasoning, pork, beef — you name it.”
Brady reached her heaviest weight of 275 pounds and, at the time, her kids were both under the age of two. She struggled to keep up with two little boys while working full-time.
She started small in June 2017 and set a goal to just try to lose her baby weight. Research is a big part of her job responsibilities as a marketing consultant, so diving in and learning more about diet and healthy eating was naturally her first step.
“It was all self-taught and it was important for me to look up the right information and learn what works and what doesn’t, and what’s a fad and what isn’t,” she says. “Through trial and error I really figured out what worked for my body.“
A low-carb, high-protein diet worked best for her, and she switched from drinking lots of sugary juices to strictly water. She also chose baked turkey, fish and chicken for her main protein sources, instead of the beef and pork she often ate in the past. Because Brady doesn’t enjoy raw veggies (including salads), she steamed her vegetables and started getting creative with green smoothies with fruit to make veggies more digestible and appealing.
To hold herself even more accountable, she started using MyFitnessPal to track everything: meal choices, weight, measurements and her physical activity. She says the app gave her a complete picture of her day, including when she was consuming too many calories based on her goals.
“Another thing that kept me encouraged and motivated was that every time I submitted my diary at the end of the day, the app told me if you maintain this, you’ll weigh this amount in a few weeks,” she says. “It gave me something to look forward to.”
After Brady lost the baby weight, she was motivated to see how far she could go — and ultimately reached her lowest weight of 145 pounds, 130 pounds lighter than her heaviest weight. She wasn’t just dieting, though. For the first time in her life, she was exercising regularly, and that helped physically and mentally. She started walking a mile a day at first, then briefly worked with a personal trainer in her office’s gym, where she learned how to use the machines and how to properly do certain exercises.
“My trainer and I focused mostly on interval training to lose weight through activity,” she says. “I started doing it on my own and using these new tools and learning more online. Eventually I fell in love with it so much, I got certified in [personal training]. It helps me relieve stress. It’s more than weight loss; it’s a part of my lifestyle because I suffer from anxiety and depression.”
Brady now trains about 10 clients in-person and online (and boasts an Instagram following of more than 40,000), and she balances this with her full-time job, responsibilities as a parent, and her new goal of training for her first bodybuilding competition in November 2021.
“It’s me going out and showing my physique, walking on the stage,” she says. “But for me, I’m doing it because it’s something I never thought I could do before, and it keeps me encouraged and motivated.”
She’s learned keeping a schedule is key when balancing so many obligations. She’s now able to work from home, which saves a few hours in her commute each day, and she wakes up an hour earlier to give herself time to work out or check in with clients.
“By the time I get the kids, hopefully I’m at the point where I’m free and can spend time with them,” she says. “If they want to unwind and watch TV, that gives me time to clean, cook and get them ready for bed. If I’m really busy earlier in the day, I take them to the park and I do my workout outside there.”
Besides being inspired to make a change for her kids and her clients, Brady’s journey has helped her discover a new way of thinking about health, fitness and dieting. She’s found it’s important to show yourself grace along the way, and how you speak to yourself makes a big difference.
“I have to always focus on being positive even on the hard days and focus on what I’m doing without comparing myself to others,” she says. “I still have my moments, but the biggest thing I remind myself is that this is my journey for me, and it’s not supposed to look the same as anyone else’s. Every day isn’t perfect, and if you know that, you can achieve anything.”
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