Name: Anna McManamey
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Height: 5’2 / 161cm
Weight: 54 kg/119 lbs (comp weight); 55 kg/121 lbs (current off season weight)
Occupation:Health & Fitness Coach / Sales Manager for Flush Fitness / Journalist & TV Presenter (jack of all trades!)
When did you get started with fitness?
I was born into a very athletic family. My mum competed as a sprinter in the Commonwealth Games and my dad still plays competitive field hockey at 60! Growing up I was a competitive dancer and rhythmic gymnast, so it’s no surprise my interest later turned to figure and fitness modeling. I competed in Physical Culture (aka. “physie”) for 23 years and hold two Australian titles. I also represented my home state and Australia in rhythmic gymnastics throughout high school and while I was studying journalism at university.
I was first introduced to the world of fitness and figure sculpting shortly after joining my local gym. At the time I was feeling out of shape and uncomfortable having retired from gymnastics and dance. A number of instructors and gym members were prepping for competitions and I was inspired by their amazing transformations. So I found myself a personal trainer who introduced me to weight training and healthy eating and finally I started seeing results!
I understand you have a background in Television presenting. Do you still do any TV work or have you moved on to other goals and ventures?
I have more than 10 years experience as a presenter across a range of genres, including event hosting, kids, lifestyle and news. I was a news reporter for the Seven Network here in Australia before I gave up my media career to pursue my passion in the fitness industry 2 years ago. I still work in TV, but on a more casual basis, and I have moved away from news into more lifestyle and reality type programs. I most recently hosted “Maximus Academy” which aired on Fox Sports and Fuel TV in Australia, and you’ll often find me hosting the video coverage at various bodybuilding shows.
How do you stay so motivated? What drives you?
I love feeling fit, I love feeling strong, and I love feeling in shape. I grew up in a very athletic family, so training and eating healthy food was always a part of my lifestyle. It’s not so much a matter of “staying motivated”, but being consistent and creating sustainable habits. Motivation comes and goes, but when you make daily exercise and healthy eating a habit, it sticks, and ultimately takes you where you want to go. You don’t need to be wound up like a spring coil to get the job done. Stop overthinking it and just make it happen.
What has been the hardest obstacle for you to overcome?
While I have always lived a very active lifestyle and eaten nutritious foods, I most definitely was not the healthy person I am today. Despite never being overweight or unfit, I struggled with body image issues which ultimately led to me developing a serious eating disorder which I suffered for 7 years.
I had always felt self-conscious as a kid, as being so athletic I was naturally quite muscle bound compared to my waif-like friends. My involvement in dance only made my insecurities worse. Despite how hard I worked, it always seemed like only the tall, skinny girls won all the competitions. But my insecurities about my body worsened shortly after taking up rhythmic gymnastics when I was 15. While I was happy I’d found an activity I excelled in, I would constantly compare myself to the elite gymnasts who, quite frankly, made Kate Moss look voluptuous. Training alongside them made me feel enormous. But it was one cruel comment by one of the coaches that eventually tipped me over the edge: “You’re too big to ever be an elite gymnast.”
The next day I stopped eating. I skipped breakfast, threw my school lunch in the bin, and pretended to feel sick so I didn’t have to eat dinner. I remember laying in bed that night with this overwhelming feeling of satisfaction. I’d made it through the first day of my new “regime” without a hitch, and as I drifted off to sleep, I thought to myself, “I’ll show you.”
In one month I lost 10 kilos. Everyone complimented me on my weight loss and wanted to know “my secret”. Even my gymnastics coach said how great I was looking. For the first time I finally felt like I was “the skinny one”. But I wanted to lose more. I cut out entire food groups and lowered my daily calorie target to just 400 a day. I stopped going out with friends, as I hated the constant interrogation about why I wasn’t eating. My parents didn’t know what to do with me. They tried to take me to see a counselor but I kicked up such a tantrum they eventually gave up. I just wanted everyone to leave me alone. In my mind they weren’t concerned for my health, they just wanted me to get fat. By the time I graduated from year 12, I weighed just 39 kilos.
Throughout university my weight fluctuated as I swung back and forth between bulimia and anorexia. I was 22 when I started gaining back the weight, but I was still struggling on the inside.
I was also doing 3-4 hours of cardio a day at the gym, but was frustrated I wasn’t seeing results. Hating myself had become a daily ritual.
I was sick of being sick, but simply didn’t know how to eat or live like a normal person!
Then not long after joining my local gym, I met a personal trainer who was prepping competitors for bodybuilding contests. I was inspired by their amazing transformations and so desperately wanted to sculpt a body like that. He introduced me to weight training and healthy, regular eating and was instrumental in helping me rediscover balance. I learned I didn’t have to cut out entire food groups, starve myself, take excessive amounts of diet pills, or do hours upon hours of cardio to achieve the body I wanted. I was lifting heavy weights, eating six meals a day, even enjoying a dessert every now and then, and couldn’t believe the changes I was making – not just physically, but emotionally. For the first time, I finally felt in control of my body.
I stand here today a completely different person. I’m happy, healthy, definitely not hungry, and in the best shape of my life. I no longer believe in diets, unrealistic rules, excessive training or quick fixes (and trust me, I’ve tried them all!). It takes consistency, determination and the right education to create the body you want, and you should never have to sacrifice your health. It’s very humbling to think that after the extreme diet and exercise choices that I made in the past, that I could now be a role model for living a balanced, healthy lifestyle. But that’s the message I want people to take from this; it’s never too late to change your life. Everybody deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin, and I hope my story will motivate and inspire others to seek the help they need to find balance and optimal health.
What does your current training schedule/program look like?
I naturally build muscle VERY easily, which as a bikini competitor can be problematic. The feedback from my last show was that I was starting to look a little too muscular for the division, so I’ve had to pull right back on my weights training. My current training schedule looks like this:
SUNDAY – Cardio only (MISS)
MONDAY – Legs
TUESDAY – Abs
WEDNESDAY – Cardio only (HIIT)
THURSDAY – Upper body
FRIDAY – Glutes
SATURDAY – Cardio only (MISS)
Give us a breakdown of your daily diet.
I follow an IIFYM plan so no two days are the same, but I do tend to stick to mostly healthy/ “clean”/ “bro” foods because I genuinely enjoy them. Weekends I have more time to be creative. I don’t drink alcohol (except on very rare special occasions) and if I’m craving something (lately it’s been banana smoothies) I make sure I fit it into my plan so I don’t feel deprived.
An example of a day’s eating looks like this:
MEAL 1 (6am – pre training)
1 serve PhD Pharma Greens
2 poached eggs
2 slices Protein Bread Co toast
Banana smoothie made with Scitec WPI, natural yoghurt, almond milk, banana, cinnamon and Walden Farms sugar free maple syrup
MEAL 2 (10am – post training)
Natural hazelnut butter
Species Isolyze WPI
1 serve Green Tea X50
MEAL 3 (1pm)
Turkey breast mince
1 serve Green Tea X50
MEAL 4 (4pm)
Same as meal 3 with 1 serve of PES “Alphamine” for an afternoon pick me up.
MEAL 5 (7pm)
Low carb noodles
Seasoned with Flavor God and a dash of low carb tomato sauce
MEAL 6 (9:30pm)
1 Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich
2 Apple & Cinnamon protein bread muffins (my personal recipe) topped with Walden Farms sugar free maple syrup, cinnamon and pecans.
Strawberry shake made with almond milk, natural yoghurt and Walden Farms sugar free strawberry syrup
1 serve APS “GH Rem”
This is for an average weekday where I get up, train weights, go to work (office job) and come home. My macros stay exactly the same every day, whether I’m training or not, with exception for 1 higher carb day which I usually save for the weekend and fit 2 chicken burgers. Yes, this girl can EAT!
You’ve gained quite a reputation for your protein baking and healthy sugar-free recipes. What inspired you to create these recipes?
It was actually during my second season competing. At the time I was allowed to have one “cheat meal” per week. I have a massive sweet tooth so I would always choose a very sugary, high calorie dessert – and I’d always end up paying for it the next day. I would wake up with a terrible food hangover, and would crave sugar all week until my next cheat meal would roll around. So I thought, why not create my OWN healthy, sugar free versions of my favorite treats instead. My first recipe was a sugar free, gluten free, low fat, low carb chocolate protein mud cake, and omg… it was amazing. It absolutely hit the spot, and the best part, I actually woke up feeling great the next day and I had no cravings throughout the week! So I started experimenting more in the kitchen and posting my creations on social media. People really seemed to be looking forward to my posts, and I was having fun in the process, and now it’s developed into a keen hobby of mine. It’s amazing how you can create something so rich and indulgent entirely from protein powder and wholesome ingredients without the need for sugar and other highly processed nasties. And it’s easier than you think! I have absolutely no culinary training what-so-ever, just a passion for tasty, wholesome food. If I can do it, anyone can.
What is your favorite dish to make?
I’m a dessert girl, so my favorites would have to be protein cupcakes, brownies and muffins – of any kind! I also make a wicked super macro-friendly Double Chocolate Cheesecake that tastes like the real deal! For savory dishes, my favorites are Lean Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie, Low Carb Spaghetti Bolognese, Low Carb Prawn Noodle Salad and Sugar Free Teriyaki Salmon with Sweet Potato Cauliflower Mash. You can find all of my recipes on my Facebook and Instagram pages.
Do you take any supplements to reach your fitness goals
Yes! I’m incredibly fortunate to not only work for, but to be sponsored by Flush Fitness, Australia’s leading sports supplement distributor, so I have constant access to the most innovative, cutting edge supplements on the market. My supplements include:
- PhD Pharma Greens (before breakfast)
- Dedicated Nutrition Unstoppable (pre-weights training)
- PES Alphamine (pre-cardio fat burner)
- PES Amino IV (intra workout)
- ALRI Humapro (post workout)
- I rotate my lean protein powders between Species Isolyze, PhD Pharma Pure and Scitec ISO-Great.
- For my protein recipes I use Giant Sports Delicious.
- Throughout the day I sip on Green Tea X50.
- APS GH Rem (before bed)
What is your single biggest “Fitness” related accomplishment?
Landing the cover of Oxygen Magazine Australia was an absolute dream come true and easily my greatest career highlight to date!
Is there anyone in the fitness industry you look up to?
Oh absolutely, and each for different reasons.
For their physiques: Paige Hathaway, Nathalia Melo and Justine Munro are absolutely stunning.
For their contribution to the industry and what they stand for as positive female role models: Lindy Olsen, Jamie Eason and Ava Cowan have always been a huge source of inspiration for me.
And for their forward thinking, science-backed skepticism of fads and application of research-backed methods: Alan Aragon, Lyle McDonald and of course my coach, Cliff Wilson.
Name a fitness “Myth” that just isn’t true no matter how many times you hear it?
As a female trainer, I hear it all the time: “I don’t want to lift weights because I don’t want to get bulky.” Put simply, women do not produce enough testosterone to achieve extremely pronounced muscle growth. The images that often spring to mind of highly muscular female bodybuilders does not come by simply doing a few bicep curls. Those women have dedicated many hours, over many years, to achieve that look. Furthermore, the pictures you see on stage are NOT what these women look like walking down the street. There are a lot of illusions at play – tanning, lighting, flexing & posing, the cut and design of their suit. Truth is, strength training coupled with an appropriate eating plan is the most effective way to sculpt and change your body composition, as well as helping to reduce the symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and osteoporosis. Lifting weights won’t make you bulky – excess body fat WILL. So girls, put down the wine glass, pick up a barbell, and start sculpting the fit physique you’ve always wanted!
Tips for our readers to achieve their fitness dreams
Achieving your dreams starts with accepting the possibility that you have what it takes. Make the commitment to stop questioning your abilities. Step up. Trust your instincts. Don’t let you, or anybody else, talk yourself out of it. Then – make it happen. Make every step you take towards that goal COUNT. And finally, surround yourself with positive, like-minded people who motivate you, inspire you, and genuinely WANT you to succeed. There’s a reason they say there’s “strength in numbers” and the more people you have actively engaged in supporting your goals, the more likely you’re going to enjoy the process AND the results.
What plans do you have for the future?
I am about to launch my new website and blog very soon so I’m excited about that. I’m also working on a series of recipe e-books which I will be releasing later this year.
Competitively my goal is to earn an IFBB Bikini Pro card, so I am working hard towards one day realizing that dream. I also plan to head over to the USA next year to compete in a few shows there – and enjoy a little holiday while I’m there. So there’s a lot on the horizon!
Make it happen.