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My Journey into Bodybuilding

I got interested in bodybuilding in 1983 when I was just 15 years old.  I dreamed of one day competing.  Then I got married, and had responsibilities, and of course, gained weight.  The dream was gone.  After my monumental weight loss that started in 1999 (see My Story), I realized that I was in the best shape of my life and at 37, might still be just young enough to revisit this dream to compete as a bodybuilder.

I started to train for my first show (scheduled for April) in November 2006. Ten weeks into the diet, it was clear that this was not working, so I had to ditch the idea of competing in that show. I was very depressed… I thought I had done something wrong, but my then-trainer told me that a lot of bodybuilding is eliminating as much of what doesn’t work for you as does finding what does work. And that this was NOT failure… it was a success because we found something that didn’t work for me…. Ok… so I wasn’t totally sold on that, but she wasn’t really wrong either… so I kept going.

In April 2007, I had a personal trauma that took place and again had a setback. I was thinking this was just not to be. But I had adopted the mantra “quitting is not an option” and I hit it harder than ever… just wanting to be the best me I could… and not so focused on doing a contest anymore. It was about more than that to me… it was just about feeling good. My weight dropped to an all time low of 158 pounds. I was a junior’s size 9 and had a 27-inch waist. I was 20 pounds smaller than I was in high school.

Then on August 1, 2007, on a whim, my training partner of 1.5 years turned into my trainer and got some friends to help as well... and had me prepping for a show in just 12 short weeks. I told my trainers that I would attempt this on ONE condition that if at any time in the 12 weeks I fell behind the curve, that if they didn’t feel that I had enough time, that my body was not responding, to TELL ME… and I would stop, and wait till Spring… I had waited 24 years and if I had to wait another 6 months that was okay. It was very important that if I was going to step on that stage, that I had to look like I BELONGED there. I didn’t want anyone to look at me and say ‘what is THAT girl doing up there…? she isn’t ready’… I had no expectations of winning… stepping on stage was already going to be a WIN for me.

At 6 weeks out, I nearly quit… my body wasn’t responding fast enough and it looked like it wasn’t going to happen… but instead of quitting, I started to train harder… 3 hours of cardio a day, 2 hours of weight training a day, and one hour of posing a day… 5-6 hours a day, every day when all was said and done, if I really truly gave it my all, and it wasn’t enough, I could live with that… but I couldn’t live with “well, maybe if I had done this… or that…” I had to know I did all I could…. so that is what I did… and it paid off….

2 weeks out, my trainers were astounded by the changes I had made and not only felt I was ready to compete, but that I could win… well, I wasn’t going to hope for that much, but I would certainly try…. but in those 2 weeks, I DID want to win… so I gave it my all… trained even harder….

I lost 11 pounds that last week, and came in VERY lean, VERY hard… everything fell into place when it needed to….

Anne Via Holding Two Trophies

I competed, and I won…. and then something really special happened they called me back up on stage I thought maybe they made a mistake… that they were taking back a trophy… but instead, the emcee said to relax… but that he had heard a rumor about me… that I had done something amazing that you wouldn’t know by looking at me… he turned to the audience and said “ladies and gentlemen, the heavyweight champion you see on the stage before you has lost over 120 pounds to get here today”… well, everyone went crazy… cheering loudly and applauding…. it was amazing… from that point on, I couldn’t go 2 feet without someone stopping me to tell me how proud they were of me… it was such an a special day for me… I cried so much, was just so happy and couldn’t believe that all those years of wishing, of dreaming REALLY came true… Even now, it is hard to believe that it all really happened….

I, at long last, have a photo of me…. with the black stage background, the heavily oiled, deeply tanned body, flexing on stage like a real bodybuilder…. and every time I see it, I have to remind myself that that is REALLY me… that I did it… I reached my dream… It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t fast… but I did it… and yes, like many others… I plan on doing it again! I’m hooked and will most definitely compete again!...and again, and again….

I also realize that I am very blessed to have been given the opportunity to do this…. it is not every day that an almost 40 year old can revisit a childhood dream and NOT ONLY be given the CHANCE to attempt to live the dream, but to succeed at it as well.

Contest prep for the 2007 NPC Show

The following photos show what I did in 11 weeks of contest prep. It should be noted that I lost NO WEIGHT in these photos. In both pictures, I weigh exactly the SAME. Only my body composition has changed.

Progression Shots:

Front View Before and After Back View Before and After