From superskinny to fit and confident – Anna’s inspiring story

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Having gained weight from 39 kg to a comfortable 54 kg, Anna feels fitter & stronger today than ever before. Her story is inspirational: just a few years ago, Anna considered a skinny, thin body to be the absolute ideal of beauty. She did a lot of cardio training and ate hardly any carbs or fat. She was on a strict diet and had no zest for life. Today everything is completely different: she’s strong and self-confident. Anna’s transformation story shows that you can do anything with the right mindset.

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Anna’s path to healthy body image: Experiences & Insights

Your story is simultaneously inspiring and motivational. Just a few years ago you were starving yourself down to 39kg. And then you realized you couldn’t keep going on like that. Was there a key moment for you that opened your eyes?

Even before my first functioning training session, I knew I was unhappy with how things were progressing. But it was my trial training session that gave me the final “kick in the ass”. I took one look at these strong women and at that moment just felt weak. I thought – I want that, too!

What’s changed in your life since that moment?

You know, all those years I was exercising just focusing on changing my body. I wanted to be skinny, to be thin. I wanted to look like all those fitness models you see on Instagram every day. But suddenly, I realized that functional training wasn’t about what I looked like, and I had to accept that as a thin, weak girl, I didn’t stand a chance of surviving all those hard workouts.

Today, performance is paramount, and I know that I have to eat enough to perform well! I accept and like my body just the way it is – and to be honest I’m even a bit proud of it – for what it does every day.

Before and after images of Anna's transformation from too-skinny in a glamour gown to fit in a gym and workout outfit
©Anna Engelschall

A balanced and healthy diet is what drives our bodies. To what extent have you changed your diet?

Even back then, at 39 kg, I was firmly convinced that I was already eating a very healthy diet. I made sure to eat lots of vegetables, protein-rich foods and little fat. Unfortunately these rules were very “forced” and I’d made many things forbidden. No carbohydrates in the evening. No sweets. No eating out. When I was invited to parties, I brought my own food or looked for an excuse not to come.

I ate very little, far below my daily calorie requirement, often couldn’t sleep and was often very stressed. And when all this became too much for my body, I would have overeating episodes. Even when that happened, I tried to eat only healthy foods. But too much is still too much. Sometimes I would lie in bed afterward and could hardly move. The next morning, I’d be completely desperate, would grab my running shoes and try to burn off all the calories I had eaten.

Today, I try to eat healthily and, importantly, enough. I make sure I eat enough carbohydrates, enough protein, and healthy fats. There are days when my body needs more energy, when I have this feeling I give it a little bit more. I have no more munchies, sleep better again and rarely feel stressed.

Which products do you find particularly supportive in everyday life and training?

I take 5g of creatine, Omega 3 capsules, zinc and magnesium, and vitamin D every day.


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Do you have any favorite foods that you just cannot live without?

A few years ago, I discovered a Protein Pizza recipe: a base of cottage cheese, eggs, and tuna fish, and topped with tomato sauce, fresh herbs, and veggies! It’s my absolute favorite. It’s also great served cold in summer!


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What does a cheat day look like for you? Do you indulge in anything unhealthy from time to time?

No, I don’t do cheat days, never have. I don’t really see it as an option to eat healthy for 5-6 days and then “treat” myself to anything I want all at once. I’d rather go to eat with friends from time to time and treat myself to something that I normally wouldn’t eat, and that’s great.

Two selfies of Anna's transformation showing a white, blonde woman with a fit body
©Anna Engelschall

Exercising, particularly Functional Training, has become an integral part of your life. How do you manage to stay motivated on your most stressful days?

I have my training calendar (or rather, my little training diary!) and I keep my goals right at the front. When I am having a somewhat unmotivated day, I really like to look at these first pages. I have goals that I can reach – and will reach if I am ready to keep going.

My ultimate goal is to become the absolutely fittest version of myself. And no matter what challenges will come, I want to be the one who knows that she can do it. Not too weak for anything. Not too slow for anything. I want to be the girl who’s ready for any challenge.

What’s a typical workout for you?

I’ve focused on strength training for a long time now because that’s still my biggest weakness. But at the moment I’m adding some other elements – more bodyweight exercises, and endurance training. On a typical training day I work out 1 – 2 times a day. Heavy squats, deadlifts, a lot of hard bodyweight exercises (like muscle-ups), handstands, some bodybuilding, and the odd functional training workout.

©Anna Engelschall

What tips would you like to leave us with?

Find something that you really enjoy. Then set some realistic goals and work towards achieving them. Find friends, a trainer, or a group that motivates you when you can’t find any motivation yourself. And last but not least: Never compare yourself with others. Everyone writes his own story, everyone follows his own path. Always focus on yourself and “be the best version of yourself!”

Know your limits. And overcome them.

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Sources for this article

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