The fitness instructor that went viral spoke to PEOPLE about the negative reactions

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February 02, 2016 02:40 PM

When Stacie Venagro gave an interview about her muscular baby belly in January, she never expected her story to go viral.

“It’s absolutely insane,” she tells PEOPLE. “To see it go from one website to another – I just never thought it would go that far that fast.”

At 31-weeks pregnant, Venagro, a three-time World Miss Fitness America Pro and gym owner, still hasn’t lost her ripped ab muscles, to the amazement of the internet.

“People were saying that I’m on steroids, that I have silicone and saline inserted in my body, women were bashing on how I look,” she says. “It doesn’t bother me because they’re not the people who know me or know my background. I’ve had muscles since I was eight years old, just because I grew up in the gymnastics world – my body grew up like that.”

“It’s not like I just started working on my abs six months ago, they’ve always been there.”

And Venagro runs all of her fitness and nutrition plans past her doctor for approval first, which is how she came up with her current routine.

“I used to workout, prior to pregnancy six days a week, and now I’m exercising as long as my body allows me to,” she explains. “I’m probably going down to four or five days a week, so some days I’m getting up and saying that I don’t want to go to the gym and my body needs a rest, so that’s what I do.”

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Venagro says she hasn’t increased her weights since finding out that she was pregnant, and doesn’t spend more than an hour in the gym when she does go.

Regardless, Venagro says her eating habits are to thank for her muscular baby belly.

“I always tell people that abs are made in the kitchen,” she says. “It’s not so much of what I’m doing with my exercises, because [abs are] 80% based on what you eat. So since I’m keeping my nutrition still clean, I’m still maintaining that lean muscle mass.”

Venagro is excited to meet her baby boy in April, and only then will she return to competing in fitness events.

“An excellent goal would be to get back to competing after the baby, whether it’s the November competition this year or June of next year,” she says. “It all depends on how my body recovers.”

Right now though, Venagro just hopes that her story will inspire women to be more compassionate.

“I want women to know that we should be inspiring each other and supporting each other no matter what our journey is,” she says. “So if mine is to be fit, and if someone else’s goal is losing ten lbs. of fat, then we should be supporting each other.”

“I don’t like negative intention. We should be here to lift each other up and empower each other.”

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