“There wasn't a huge 'OMG!' moment where I woke up and had 8 million followers,” says Australian influencer Tammy Hembrow, 24, who now has nearly 10 million fans on YouTube and Instagram-including Khloé Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, who's birthday party she attended recently.
Hembrow published her first Instagram post in early June of 2013, and saw a spike when she and her then-boyfriend and model Reese Hawkins, now 23, found out they were pregnant with their now 3-year-old son Wolf in 2015. (The duo welcomed their second child, Saskia, in 2016, but recently split amicably.)
Overall, Hembrow's following grew slowly and steadily-just like her Insta-famous butt.
“I think people see my photos and think it may have happened overnight,” she says of her figure. “It was not a quick process.”
Hembrow’s interest in fitness began in her late teens when she started taking yoga classes to become an instructor. That goal later fell by the wayside when she realized how good exercise-any exercise!-made her feel. “I’d always been quite skinny,” she says. When she realized she could sculpt her body with muscle, she felt empowered to do just that, flinging every exercise at the wall to see which ones rendered results.
“I didn’t have much focus and I wasn’t working towards any specific goals,” she says of her early days at the gym. But research and help from personal trainers helped her perfect her workouts, particularly when it came to her glutes.
“I work really hard at the gym,” says Hembrow, who hits the weight room up to four days a week, focusing on her lower body during at least three of those sessions. “I’m usually covered in sweat-like, dripping!”
Rather than boring herself with the same daily routine, she prefers to switching things up by following her e-book and Tammy Fit fitness app workouts, which feature her favorite butt moves.
She’ll choose a handful of moves, and do about three sets of 10 to 12 reps of each exercise-using weights that make the last rep feel excruciating.
Hembrow usually dedicates at least one separate day a week to her upper body, which gives her legs a chance to recover. She takes the weekends off to spend time with her kids because #family-a good thing, since children-chasing is Hembrow’s only consistent source of cardio.
“Eating is a massive part to the puzzle piece,” Hembrow says of the secret behind her figure. “You need to be eating the right amount of calories for anything to grow."
To suss out which foods would help her reach her booty-boosting goal, she relied on apps like Lifesum (which she's partnered with) and MyFitnessPal to help her count her macros, i.e., how much protein, carbs, and fat to eat in a day, and keep produce and water intake on track.
Despite these tools, as mother of two beholden to a busy schedule full of meetings and photo shoots, her days are too erratic to stick with regular meal times, she says. But she still tries to eat “something quick and easy that will keep me going” every two to three hours.
On a typical day, that might include a breakfast of protein oats, i.e., oatmeal made with protein powder. For lunch, she might have ground beef or turkey with whole wheat pasta and veggies like kale for lunch, as per her food-tracking app, where she's listed rice, cocoa popcorn, watermelon, chocolate goji berries, rice cakes, avocado, and tomato among her top snacks. After workouts-and before bed if she feels her diet has fallen short during the day-she'll drink a protein shake made with vegan protein powder and water. And while she wishes she had more time to prep meals ahead of time or make more recipes featured in her app, in a pinch, she'll make steamed veggies with grilled chicken for dinner.
If you’re wondering where dessert fits into the mix, don’t worry-Hembrow gets her sweets in, even if that means reaching for a "healthy" substitute to hit the spot. “I’m obsessed with the Women’s Best Protein Crème,” she says, referring to the whey-protein based chocolate spread made by the supplement company that employs her as an ambassador. “I could eat a whole jar!”
Balance has been an integral part of Hembrow's fitness journey. “If I feel like eating a cookie, I'll have one or two, but not the whole pack," she says. "My body is used to eating healthy so when I do eat unhealthy, it doesn’t affect me as much as if I was doing it all the time.”
It helps that she washes most meals down with water: “I’ve never been one of those people that has a glass of wine with their dinner every night,” she says. “If I did I'd be fast asleep by 7 pm, and we all know that’s not possible with kids.”
When she does make it out with friends, she’ll have a few drinks. “I think people see me drinking and think, ‘oh no but you’re into fitness!’” she says. “If I’m at lunch, dinner, or a party-sure why not? I’m still 24.”
That said, that she’s usually too busy and exhausted to party hard-something she touched on in a recent YouTube video explaining why she left Kylie Jenner's birthday party on a stretcher after hours of travel and very little sleep.
One glance at Hembrow’s Instagram page is all you need to see her strategies work-but her rise to fit and famous has still been circuitous: After each of her children were born via C-section, Hembrow’s doctor outlawed exercise in lieu of rest that left the young mom feeling sluggish and weak. “I listened to my body and took it easy,” she says. “Once the doctor gave me the okay, I got straight back into training. It felt great to be back in the gym.”
Once she’d recovered from childbirth and finished nursing Saskia, she made a choice that led her doctor to prescribe another gym break. “I remember looking in the mirror and thinking, ‘I’m still young and never pictured my chest to look like this at a young age,” she says of her decision to get breast implants. “I had breastfed two children. I do what I feel is right for me.”
Considering how much effort Hembrow puts into her lower body-which is au natural, she’ll have you know-she doesn’t exactly swell with pride when people accuse her of other artificial enhancements, like butt implants. “It's more frustrating than anything because I don't want people to think they can't achieve a booty with hard work,” she says. “It just creates a false mindset that it’s not achievable and surgery is the only option, which is completely wrong.”
To prove her point, she constantly monitors her own progress. “Some months I feel better than others and my body is more ripped than the one before,” she says. “I take note of these changes and say, ‘hey I think I need to switch up my diet or increase my weights because I’m not progressing.”
She encourages others to do the same-with one caveat: “It’s not for everyone,” she says of her fitness routine and eating habits. “That’s what great about working out-you can achieve your personal goals.”
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