Sweet & Sexy Interview with Amanda Russell

Kelsey: Hey hey! I’m with Amanda Russell today, and this is something of a dream come true for me—I get to talk to someone who is making a difference through fitness and being recognized for it. Amanda, thank you so very much for joining me.

Amanda Russell: Aw, you’re so sweet! Well thank you! I’m such a big fan of you! When I came across your website I was so excited because you speak in just a no-BS, this-is-what-I-think kind of way.

K: Well thank you! I really try to be real with everyone. Okay, so first, I want to tell everyone how and why we’re doing this talk. I need to apologize to you, Amanda, because in the first review I did of your workouts, I said you were “too skinny for my taste,” which was out of line, completely rude, and a straight-up judgment call. I am truly sorry about that.

AR: It was actually a good thing that happened. It brought attention to the subject and resonated. It’s something I’ve often been criticized for and deal with on a daily basis, especially now that I’m on YouTube. You put yourself out there and people love to go crazy with the judgments as they sit behind their anonymous computer screens, it’s very sad. Some people even take the liberty of diagnosing me!

K: Holy cow! How do you deal with that?

AR: I’ve heard it all my life. It used to really bother me. I’ve always been very small. When I got into high school and everyone was growing and filling out, I would wear two pairs of jeans. It wasn’t until the high school running coach told me that I had a runner’s body and that I should use it did I start to feel more comfortable. That’s how I got into running. And I did so well that I got a scholarship and went really far all because of that. I got to college and the training was SERIOUS, we were running twice a day, 60-80-mile weeks, and the weight proceeded to fall as the negative comments soared. I was really self-conscious about it. I felt like I always had to prove that I ate. I would order tons of food. It was a vicious cycle. Finally, I started to own the fact that I was healthy and strong and what other girl was capable of running 6-minute mile after mile for over an hour!?

It was when I finally accepted my body for what it was and what it was capable of doing that I knew I was onto something. My production company warned me about the comments I would get once I went on YouTube—the YouTube audience can be cruel, but my core following has become my community, they are loyal and they actually defend me, it’s incredible. I know I’m not the average-size girl. I’m not the BodyRock girl. Do I sometimes wish I had a C-cup and some curvy hips? Hell YES!  But at the end of the day I love my body, I accept it, and embrace it, if we were all the same it would be so boring!

K: It’s sad, though, because I said something based on appearance when I had no reason to. My mom is about 5’1” and 92 pounds. In fact, she’s looking to gain weight!

AR: Yes, just as there is a struggle to lose weight, there is a minority out there who deals with the struggle to maintain or gain weight. Everyone has something and nobody is perfect!

K: That is so true! How do balance activity and nutrition to stay at a healthy weight or even gain weight?

AR: I have to take my cardio level way down. I use protein powder and supplements and smoothies. High-calorie liquids all day long. You don’t feel like you’re eating as much and they don’t make you as bloated, but usually add up calorie-wise. I eat dried fruit. Whole-wheat bagels. A lot of nut butters. I have a major sweet tooth! And I think that sometimes because I know I can, I seriously indulge.

K: Due to your size, what have people said about or to you?

AR: That I could use a sandwich, assuming I have an eating disorder, too skinny to look at, you name it, they’ve probably said it!

K: One thing people don’t often take into account when they look at someone is how hard they truly work in and out of the gym. What was your training schedule like when you were competing to be an Olympian? Were you pressured to look a certain way then?

AR: I used to practice 3-4 hours a morning. Running, drills, and strength training on certain days. And again another hour in the afternoon, but all the hours in between are training too; it was my life. All the mental aspects, physical therapy…. It’s pretty much a full-time job. So when people called me anorexic, it wasn’t physically possible for me to do what I did on nothing. If nothing’s going in, nothing’s coming out.

I knew there was pressure to stay within a certain weight range. For me that wasn’t as big of a deal, but we used to get weighed in weekly. It’s funny how every girl can do everything the same—training and eating—and how each girl’s weight and shape can vary so much. It really is a testament to how every woman needs to find her own beautiful and happy weight. We need to embrace our own differences and not focus on looking so big or so small.

Yes, Amanda does have a great body, but her confidence and strength is what really makes her strong and sexy!

K: Very true. And it often feels so hard to find that happy place, especially as a woman. What’s your training schedule like now?

AR: I don’t run anymore. Maybe one or two miles a week, but it’ll set me back for a week. It causes too much stress on my back and hips. That’s why I developed my program. I know my body better than anyone else. Bodyweight training is amazing. Before I did that, I tried everything. It was too boring, too time-consuming, or didn’t work. So I experimented with all of the cross-training I did when I ran and modified them a bit and was able to get into amazing shape. Your body is your best tool.

K: Your body really is an amazing machine! So, how does nutrition play into all of this?

AR: EVERYONE asks me this, so I created a 14-Day Plan. This is more about what I do to get into serious shape for an event. Most people lose between 6 and 10 pounds in 14 days, but what’s more is that they tighten up!

K: Your workouts—from YouTube to your website to the ones for the 14-Day Shape-Up Plan—I’ve done most of them and have been impressed as to how tough some of them are even for me, and I’m a personal trainer and group exercise instructor! How did you get started with this and who would you say your workout videos are for?

AR:  It started with me experimenting on how to get into running shape with my physical limitations and then people started asking me about it so I put people on my own program I was following. The feedback I was getting from the results people were getting was INCREDIBLE! I knew I was onto something. Everyone sees me and wants to know what they need to do to get seriously fit, lose weight, or tone up, so I designed this program and point them to it. I work with everyone from overweight teenagers to unmotivated non-exercisers to recovering cancer patients, and I’m so proud of it.

The workouts are intense, but it’s really for anyone from the person who doesn’t exercise much to the average exerciser to the elite exerciser.

K: The 14-Day Shape-Up Plan—I’ve been trying it and love it, but don’t find it to be a long-term sustainable program. But you didn’t design it that way, did you?

AR: No, it’s not a long-term program, but it’s a long enough time to gain serious results and learn how to fuel your body and build an exercise regimen long-term. Plus, 14 days is a realistic goal for people to set their minds to—baby steps equal long-term success! When creating this plan I talked to my girlfriends a lot, but also asked myself, what would I do? What could I do? Bottom line, if you want to make a change or need a kick-start, you don’t want to spend 90 days figuring out how to do it!

K: True that! I commend people who can stick with something hardcore for 90 days! If you don’t mind, I’d like to circle back to what we were talking about…. How do you think society is playing a role in all of this, from comments about you being too thin to others being too heavy? It’s so complicated and crazy. Do you ever see it ending?

AR: As long as we have the society we have, it’s like talking about world peace. We can try and everyone needs to do their part. It’s just about being open-minded and not judging. And having people stand up for the right thing.

K: Do you think there’s any way to at least curb it? Do you have any personal goals to try to achieve an end to this skinny and fat talk?

AR: First, every time you catch yourself making a judgment based on appearances, stop yourself. When you hear others making these types of comments, online or in-person, be assertive and stand up for what’s right. Taking action starts small, but it starts with an action. And yes, I do have a plan myself to raise awareness, so stay tuned in by subscribing to my YouTube channel: AmandaRussellTV 🙂

K: One last question—how and why did you get started doing everything in the fitness realm? To me it was like you sprang up out of nowhere and now it seems like you’re dipping your fit fingers in everything! In a good way, of course 🙂

AR: After my injury, I thought my life as a “fit person” was over, not only had I lost my career and my passion, but I lost my ability to move my body and push it, I was beyond devastated, it was a loss of identity in a way…. I had all these physical limitations and I couldn’t RUN! How would I ever get into shape like a runner without being able to run? That was all I knew and the lack of exercise took its toll on me, mentally and physically!

But, as all things happen for reasons you can’t always see at the time, that “career ending injury” ended up being a gift. It was in having it all taken away that I realized the power it had over my life. I realized that fitness is about SO MUCH MORE than EXERCISE—it’s a catalyst for positive change in your life. I knew it was my passion, my calling, and I had to share it with others.

I managed to find a way back to fitness, a way that truly works without ever having to run one step. Although, for all of those runners out there, these types of workouts will drastically improve your running! But above that, I found a way to connect with others, to share my knowledge, motivate, and inspire change! To me, that is what life’s all about—we don’t go through this world alone, we go through it together, and in my work I’ve felt the positive trickling effect and it gives me chills.

I love the ARfit community! I’ve met some incredible people through it and I sincerely wish I could meet every viewer in person and have a good coffee chat 🙂

*Thanks again, Amanda! Stay tuned for my review of Amanda’s 14-Day Shape-Up Plan in the next few days.

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