There are various levels of gym devotion, from the lazy gym wallflower (that directs equal effort into cable crossovers as they do to texting on their cellphones) all the way up to the all-or-nothing iron fanatic (that wouldn’t think twice about missing his mother’s funeral if it falls on leg day). The best lifters, however, land somewhere in the middle, with their fitness goals being very important to them, but just one part of a very rich and balanced life.
Russian-born immigrant Iryna McCraw is an excellent example of someone that fits family, career, and training into a life in which she can excel at all three. Her resume includes raising two happy, well-adjusted children; the founding of her own training business (Success Fitness Systems Gym in Madisonville, Kentucky) with a full roster of one-on-one, group and online clients; and a number of championship placings in figure competitions, with the goal of eventually earning her IFBB pro card. But Iryna was not always certain for fitness success. She faced a well-defined turning point which led her to completely transform her lifestyle.
Moment of reckoning
Iryna’s defining moment occurred following the birth of her first child in 2001, when her body weight rose to an unhealthy 210 pounds. It was this moment of reckoning that served as the impetus for her to force dramatic change, with the gym, kitchen (and eventually figure stage) being the staging grounds for that rebirth.
Iryna found that having a weight problem was extremely difficult, both from a physical and emotional perspective.
I was embarrassed to wear certain clothing, Iryna says.
I remember wearing long stretchers under my jeans so I wouldn’t look so chunky. I also remember feeling very intimidated in the gym with my chubby arms.
“I didn’t know how to start,” Iryna recalls, ”but I knew I had to do something.” Due to her competitive nature, the hard work, even if not necessarily focused in the right direction, started to change her body. “I began pushing myself even harder in the gym and experimenting with nutrition. With consistency and determination, the results that I wanted began appearing.” This is when she started to get the attention, and help, from more experienced lifters in the gym. They mentored her and (most importantly) showed her the areas she needed to explore to get her training, nutrition and supplementation right.