Angie Musci was a pastry chef in Puglia, Italy when she decided to further her craft in one of the great food capitals of the world—New York City. New York is also one of the most intense places when it comes to style, appearance and weight. Like many young women living in Manhattan with a demanding career, Angie started working out as a way to relieve stress, have fun, and shape her body. She became an avid fitness class devotee—and has racked up hundreds and hundreds of Barry’s Bootcamp, High Intensity Interval Training, core, barre, and yoga classes. But after four years of what turned into grueling exercise routines, Angie realized that she was falling into a trap trying to attain the New York body aesthetic of “the skinnier the better,” she said. In addition to over exercising, she began to severely restrict her calories, which further whittled her body. “I was literally starving myself,” said Angie.
Food Deprivation and Muscle Deterioration
Angie was losing muscle mass by overdoing the cardio and underdoing the calories. She became a size Zero and weighed 119 pounds, what she weighed almost two decades ago. She would subsist on an avocado, WASA crackers and green tea in the morning, then would measure her quinoa salad or rice in a five-ounce paper cup while working in the famous Italian restaurant, Palma, in the West Village. “I didn’t realize there was something wrong,” she said. “All I had in my fridge was avocado and coconut water.”
She had gone too far, but it wasn’t until she sent a photo of herself to her family back in Italy and heard their reaction that she realized it. Instead of praising her Manhattan-skinny body, they asked her what was wrong. She began to really consider what she was seeing in her mirror and realized she actually didn’t like it—her flat body and thin limbs—despite the compliments she would get from her American friends. “I looked at my body using a tripod camera and said ‘When the hell did that happen?’ I was not happy at all, and at that point I really knew I had to do something,” Angie said.
Strength Training Changed Her Body
“I started noticing laxity in my thighs,” she said and thought strength training would help give her legs more shape. It was when she picked up the weights that her life started to change for the better. As soon as she started seeing her leg muscles and butt come back into being, she was hooked. “Oh my God yeah, I love the results,” she said. But it went beyond the physical; she started seeking advice and knowledge and said “the truth emerged”—strength training was the tool she was missing “to explore the transformation of my mind and body.” She began training whole-heartedly so she could soak up all the healthy and soul-satisfying information she had deprived herself of.
Strength training allowed her to break the cycle of deprivation and begin to truly feed her body in a way that is healthy and productive. She has even decided to learn more about nutrition and fitness coaching so she can help others do the same. “I’m so excited about this new chapter. And it all comes from my own transformation,” she said.
These days she is lifting weights at least four times a week in the gym, with or without a trainer. She starts the week with upper body, then continue with legs and glutes on the following day, and finishes with abs mixed with some cardio work on the Stairmaster. “Today I went to Barry’s Bootcamp and I asked to just do the weight workout without the treadmill and the teacher said ‘Fine, whatever rocks your boat,’” she said.
Her eating has changed drastically too. “I probably now eat five times as much,” focusing on protein at every meal. “In the morning, I start with three eggs and two English muffins, or a bagel—I adore bagels —and then have three more eggs by mid morning,” saying she is eating her food “body-building style”—smaller meals every three hours. Her other meals include peanut butter, chicken, turkey, veggies, kale salad, raw zucchini, sweet potatoes, and cottage cheese before bed. Oh, and more egg whites. “I’ve probably had two or three times as many eggs as I had had in my entire life till now,” she said.
Energized Mentally and Physically
Not only is she thrilled with her physical results but looks at the transformation of her mindset as an incredibly important aspect of her training. “It’s the big change in your mind that affects the rest of your life in terms of learning to love the process, not just the outcome,” she said. She is also energized by her newfound positive attitude, always feeling she can do better tomorrow, in the gym and in her life. This has made her a more confident and peaceful person, she says, because “I know I’m treating myself the right way.”
In addition to loving her workouts and her new body shape (“I’m on the bandwagon for a nice, nice booty!” she said) Angie has also discovered donuts. “My family now thinks I’m crazy because I’m a classically trained pastry chef who eats three or four donuts a week,” she said.