BEFORE: 105 lbs
AFTER: 138 lbs
Some kids are bullied for being heavy; Sarah Bogue was bullied for being so thin that schoolmates called her anorexic. At age 11 she weighed only 65 pounds, and by 16 she was up to a mere 90—courtesy of genes and metabolism, not dieting. She didn’t feel she fit in until she began modeling at 20, but that move had a dark side: Sarah got hung up on “unrealistic body image” and cut out all carbs, fats, and indulgent foods to stay stick-thin. When a fellow model decided to stop eating to get more work, Sarah “looked in the mirror and thought, Wow, I’m 22, I’m 5’9″, I weigh 105, and my bones are sticking out. It was clear this wasn’t healthy. I needed to gain weight.”
Sarah played sports in high school but had never lifted weights. Now, at 22, after watching her boyfriend build muscle by strength training, she joins a gym hoping to gain lean mass. She starts with five-pound dumbbells, doing exercises like biceps curls and lunges three to five days a week.
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Sarah starts to see more tone in her arms and has gained a few pounds, reaching 110. But her diet—three small meals of lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables, totaling only around 1,200 calories per day—hasn’t changed.
The Toronto resident plateaus at 115, so she ups her workouts to a solid five days a week. She also starts her own meal-prep company, which improves her relationship with food. She starts eating about 1,600 calories daily.
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Big life changes—closing her company and breaking up with her boyfriend—focus Sarah even more on her goals, and she sets her first specific target: to hit 135 pounds by the end of 2016. Using MyFitnessPal as a guide, she takes in more fats and carbs for at least 2,200 cals per day.
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The cal bump brings her to 125 pounds. She posts her success on Instagram, and as people start to ask for advice, she sets a new goal: becoming a trainer.
Still eating 2,200 cals daily, Sarah, 27 years old and a marketing specialist for a health foods company, has exceeded her first goal, reaching 138. “I’ve never had more confidence!”
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What keeps Sarah on track
“Take it one day at a time, and remember why you’re doing this.”
Amanda Bucci, an online fitness coach whose story of weight gain inspired Sarah
A half-cup of oatmeal with protein powder and peanut butter
“Deadlifts! My heaviest is 255 pounds.”
“EDM pumps me up.”
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Women’s Health. For more great advice, pick up a copy of the issue on newsstands now!