And so it begins: Why? Feat Svetlana
October 3, 2017

We got talking with Svetlana(@stemyanko), And she had so much to share about fitness, diet, lifestyle, and all the challenges she overcame to get here! Here’s our latest QnA with her! Get Stuck In! 

So tell us a little about yourself, who are you? What do you do?

Hello! My name is Svetlana and I work as a registered behavior technician to help kids with autism. I love my job and am pursuing my masters currently through the University of Arizona in Behavioral Support. I am dating the most wonderful man and moved up to Colorado in June with him. I love the outdoors, enjoy going swing dancing, and love jigsaw puzzles.

Alright so when did you begin your fitness journey? What made you decide to start?

I officially began my fitness journey on May 31,, 2017. I decided to start because I was so tired of feeling tired ALL the time. I never had energy to do anything I liked to do for fun such as go dancing or hang out with friends. I also felt sick to my stomach daily because of the amount of stress I was in and that I wasn’t putting healthy ingredients into my body. I hated my body, was extremely self-conscious, and had no confidence in my body at all. I have tried many different types of diets, different types of protein shakes, going to the gym, and just trying workouts off the internet to do at home. However, I never lasted long with any option. I didn’t have accountability or motivation to continue anything and I was not seeing results. I started because I was desperate for change. I wanted to stop feeling like I needed to hurt myself to feel better and I wanted to get off my anti-depressants. I had hope that this time it would be different because I would have a coach and support from a community of like-minded women.

What was your lifestyle like (Before embarking on your fitness journey)?

I have always been passionate about health and fitness. As a child I was a figure skater and grew up as a ballroom dancer. I was always what you would call a “normal” weight, but I certainly started struggling with my body image in high school. So I got a gym membership. However, I was not consistent with going to the gym. I was like a yo-yo, where I would go to the gym a few days and My nutrition has never been good. Growing up I loved fastfood and eating anything but vegetables. The microwave, chips, and easymac n cheese were my best friends. My parents had to really push for me to eat anything that was good for me. I only wanted to eat what tasted good to me and I thought that all vegetables tasted horrible. I continued this lifestyle all the way through college and just continued to complain about the way I looked and felt. Once I graduated college I moved to Phoenix from Tucson. I moved for a job. This job was very stressful and overwhelming. I tried to do my masters on top of it during the fall semester of 2016, but I was barely able to keep up and felt overwhelmed, so in the spring I took a break from my masters program. However, work only got more stressful for me. I felt like I had no time for anything, including myself. I had lost a lot of weight because I stopped taking care of myself. I was so into my work as a special education teacher that I did not eat breakfast in the morning because I left for work at 5 am, stopped bringing lunch with me to school so I did not eat, and then when I would come home I would keep working and would skip dinner. My clothes were too big, so I had to spend a lot of money that I didn’t have on clothes that would fit me. I realized that this was not healthy, but work was my priority and I struggled to prioritize my life and my time. Before I knew it, I was missing work constantly because of how sick I started to get both physically and mentally. I ended up going to the emergency room one night because my body was in that much pain. The doctors told me it was all stress induced. Mentally, I would cry every day at home. I exhibited behaviors where I would cut myself or drink alcohol so that I could just get one nights of sleep. I kept telling my family that I wanted to check myself into a mental institution because I wanted to escape life and was so miserable and unhappy. I ended up reaching out to a counselor to deal with everything. All during this time, my mom was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, which changed everything for me. She fought hard and completely changed her entire diet and lifestyle to try and beat the cancer in a natural way. To support her, I got a juicer and started drinking a lot of juices and brought them to work with me. I lasted a week. This got me eating again, but I started eating out of control. I would eat all the cupcakes at work. I had chips that I brought for my students to earn as prizes and I would keep eating them while at work. Before I knew it, I had gained all of the weight I had lost originally plus a few more pounds. Now I couldn’t fit in any of my jeans and a lot of my clothes again. I sank deeper into depression and before I knew it I was back at the doctors office and was prescribed anti-depressants. All during this time I saw a girl who was working out every day and eating healthy. When my job ended in May, I still felt extremely self-conscious, depressed, and I realized enough was enough. Getting out of this job was not going to fix my mental state like I hoped it would. I reached out to her, drove to Tucson to meet her and she convinced me to start my fitness journey with her in her accountability group. My life has never been the same since then.

What kind of programs did you start off with? How many days a week did you have to work out?

I started off with the program 21 Day Fix through Beachbody. I worked out 6 days a week with one rest day.

And what kind of program are you doing now? How much different is it from when you just started?

I am still with Beachbody. I recently completed the new program Shift Shop and am currently doing 21 Day Fix Extreme. I feel so much different than when I started. I feel more confident and feel stronger! I remember the first day of starting my workouts and just being unable to get up the stairs because I was so sore. I was in shock that home workouts were kicking my butt this much!

Did you acquire the services of a coach/Work buddy? If yes, a brief description of how they managed your workout programs and days. 

I had a coach who ran monthly accountability groups. My workouts plans and meals were all laid out for me, so she did not manage anything for me. Instead she mentored me, was there for support and questions I had, suggested what programs for me to do based on what fitness and nutrition goals I had.

What kind, if any, type of diet/eating habits did you develop? What kind are you currently practicing?

I have developed habits of clean eating. What I do is not just some diet, but is a LIFESTYLE change. I’m doing this for life. I am currently doing portion controlled clean eating with a daily dose of superfoods shakes.

Did/do you supplement? If yes, what supplements do you use? And how effective have they been?

I am drinking a superfoods shake. This provides me with a dose of dense nutrition full of ingredients that you can’t find at your local grocery store. This shake has changed everything for me in my nutrition. I feel amazing and have energy that I never had in the past.

What’s been the major challenge? Before starting, when you first started and Right now? How have you been able to overcome these challenges?

The biggest challenge for me has been time and my battle with my mind. When I first started, it was really hard to make time for myself and force myself to eat because I was used to not eating. What helped was being in an accountability group. When I saw other women who were just as busy as me and even busier than me making time to make their superfoods shakes and making time to do their workouts every single day, it motivated me to keep going. To overcome a lot of the challenges, I read a lot of books and did personal development to help myself with my emotional difficulties. I realized that everyone has the same 24 hours in a day and that successful people prioritized their time and that that was exactly what I needed to do as well.

We’ve had in some cases people say they’ve had to let go of people close to them, even family, was this the case with you? Or were you always supported by those close to you?

My friends were very supportive and my family was supportive of me starting as well. However, my family did not think that I would last long. When I decided to become a fitness and health coach myself, they thought I would quit, and would not have enough time to do it. These are valid arguments because that was the old me. But there were people I didn’t know that were negative, and I would cut them out and anyone who was negative because if I was to be successful, I needed to surround myself with positivity and not with people who would send me negative messages.

What would you say you have gained the most from living a healthier lifestyle and your journey all together?

I have gained my life back! I am no longer on anti-depressants and make time for things and people that are important to me. The BEST part though, is that I get to make a living paying the gift that was given to me forward and can help others who have or have had similar struggles as me.

What was the biggest lesson/advice you were given?

The biggest advice I was given was to keep going. Even when things are hard or when you feel like you’re not getting any results, keep going because it’s worth it. Another advice is to take PICTURES of yourself. Even though you don’t see a number on the scale, you can see a difference in the pictures you take!

Have you any advice/tips for those reading this, especially those who are yet to begin?

My advice is don’t put this off. There are hundreds of excuses why not to start, but if you want change you need to set those aside and just do it! Motivation will not always be there, but it is a daily choice to put healthy nutrition into your body and to work out every day.

Knowing the journey is an ongoing one, what’s next for you?  

My journey is never over. What’s next is for me to keep going with what I am doing because as I have mentioned previously, this is a lifestyle change and I do not intend on going back to the way I was before. I will continue to be a coach and will provide monthly and themed accountability groups to offer support for those who want to start their journeys and need help.

Thank you for sharing so much. We will continue to follow your journey, and hopefully do this again!

You can follow her on facebook or Instagram @stemyanko. Leave your comments and questions and she’d make sure to reply. Thanks for reading


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