2020 has been a big year for Anna Victoria. On the personal front, after a two-year battle with infertility, the Fit Body Guides creator welcomed her first child, Aurora Vittoria Ferretti, in August.
But Victoria has been busy at work, too. She’s been developing a series of updates to her Fit Body app, including the launch of a pregnancy workout program and the introduction of three new trainers.
Victoria says being a first-time mom motivated her to bring something new to the Fit Body app that would specifically cater to her fellow mamas. “You hear about how hard being a mom is, but you really can’t comprehend it until you go through it yourself,” she tells Shape. “There are so many emotions and so many new things you have to learn — and in the midst of it all, you’re constantly feeling like you’re doing something wrong.”
In addition to emotional ups and downs, Victoria says she’s had some physical challenges during her postpartum journey as well. One week after her (unplanned) C-section in August, she says, she couldn’t even sit up on her own. “It took me two weeks to walk without pain,” she shares. “When you have a newborn, you don’t expect to be going through that. It’s a lot to juggle, which has, at times, been very hard.” (Related: 7 Moms Share What It’s Really Like to Have a C-Section)
It wasn’t until she was three weeks postpartum that Victoria started feeling more like herself again, she says. “Every week since then, I’ve gotten exponentially better,” she explains.
But when she was cleared by her doctor to work out again in September at around six weeks postpartum, Victoria knew she wasn’t physically capable of diving back in just yet. “I couldn’t even think about it,” she says. “I know my body and I just wasn’t ready.”
Instead, from weeks 6-8, Victoria says she focused on breathing techniques to start feeling in tune with her body again. “I felt like building a mind-muscle connection with my core was a good place to start,” she says. (Related: Fitness Influencer Anna Victoria Fights Back Against Pregnancy Workout Shaming)
The following week, Victoria started inching her way back into a workout routine. Her first “true” workout, she says, was a beginner-level, low-impact lower-body workout from her Fit Body app. “I even ditched the weights, but I still couldn’t walk for a week [after that first workout],” she admits. “I didn’t expect to be that sore! It was so hard.”
The experience was not only humbling for Victoria, a seasoned trainer, but it also inspired her to bring more pregnancy-, postpartum-, and beginner-friendly workouts to the Fit Body app — plus a new group of trainers to teach them.
What to Expect From the New Fit Body App Updates
Inspired by Her Cancer Struggle, Kan. Teacher’s Class Brings Holiday Cheer to Pediatric Patients
Angela Holtgraves’ special education students began the Stocking Project in 2017 upon learning of Holtgraves’ own cancer battle
When the holiday season rolls around, hundreds of pediatric cancer patients in Kansas will receive stockings stuffed with toys — and it’s all thanks to teacher Angela Holtgraves and her students.
Holtgraves, 34, is a special education teacher, and for the last three years, has spearheaded a special initiative called Stocking Project with her students to spread goodwill and holiday cheer to those who need it most.
“It’s a nice way for us to help others,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “This is their way of being able to show the world, ‘I might have a disability, but I can still do some pretty incredible things.’”
For Holtgraves, a mom of two based in Olathe, cheering up young oncology patients at Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Hospital is personal; she overcame a breast cancer diagnosis at 28, and one of her students was a leukemia survivor. Sharon Houser, the teacher with whom she started the Stocking Project, also has a daughter who is a young breast cancer survivor.
Holtgraves’ students at Shawnee Mission North High School had previously done projects to give back — including making hygiene bags for homeless people — but when they learned of her history with cancer in 2017, switched gears to refocus their efforts.
Courtesy Angela Holtgraves Angela Holtgraves
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Together, they came up with the Stocking Project, which went with Holtgraves when she began teaching at Olathe West High School in 2018.
The group’s initial goal that first year was to create 20 stockings. Instead, they filled 75 in just two weeks, a number that has continued to grow each year for a total of nearly 600.
PEOPLE’s second annual Kindness Issue is dedicated to highlighting the ways, big and small, that kindness can make a difference and change lives. Click here and pick up the issue, on stands Friday, Oct. 30, for more stories on the impact of kindness from Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sterling K. Brown, Heather Locklear and other stars, as well as everyday people practicing kindness in their communities. To share the story of someone who’s done something exceptionally kind, email [email protected]
Holtgraves estimates that she and her students have raised more than $50,000 in donated goods, helped along with gifts from companies like Russell Stover and Sephora, as well as local businesses.
“The sense of pride they get is everything,” she says.
Angela Holtgraves’ students
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Each year, Holtgraves typically dedicates a day in December to filling the stockings, which are broken down by age group and sex, including male, female and gender-neutral patients, with about 20 items each.
Because of COVID-19, however, this year’s plan
Dr. Contessa Metcalfe Decides to Undergo a Double Mastectomy
Dr. Contessa Metcalfe has a whole new business up her sleeve! The Married to Medicine cast member is already a doctor, real estate entrepreneur, and restaurant owner, but she has recently added another venture to her resume. On an episode of Sister Circle TV, she opened up about her latest business, and how it has been inspired by her own experiences as a patient.
“It’s about public health and preventive medicine. Last year, that mastectomy really changed my whole view of medicine. And one thing I learned, that I already knew, is that doctors are not magicians. There’s no magic pill that I can give you,” she explained. “But I can help you understand how to take control of your own health, things that you can do yourself.”
“So, integrative medicine, nutrition, how to take care of you,” she continued. When you come in, you just gotta let me know what’s happening, and we can manage so you can get back to taking care of you again. We don’t get to learn how to do that.”
Contessa opened up about her decision to undergo a double mastectomy during Season 6 of Married to Medicine, noting her family history of breast cancer.
“I have had abnormal mammograms for at least 10 years. And my mom died from breast cancer, and I want to do whatever it takes to make sure that that same thing doesn’t happen to me,” she said in the clip above. “I had two sick parents growing up. Almost weekly in doctors offices, and hospitals and clinics. My family seems to be cursed. I feel like my whole life has been preparing for the moment that I’m going to get sick, too.”
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