Craig Leonard

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Think Positive and Stay True To Yourself

Amber DeLeal March 17, 2016
Think Positive and Stay True to Yourself

When I began my fitness journey about 4 years ago, I was overweight, depressed, lacked energy, and didn’t know who I was anymore.

Then I began losing weight and started feeling good about myself again. The more toned I became the more I wanted to share my progress.

Not to show off, but to show others that it is possible to lose weight and gain back lost self-respect and confidence, no matter where they’re starting from. I was also getting tired of hearing all the excuses of why other people “can’t” become the person they want to be as I was doing for myself.

I was tired of hearing things like, “I can’t because I don’t have time.” Or, “My genetics could never allow me to look like that.” And then there’s the one that still gets my blood boiling: “I had a child (or multiple children). My body could never look like that now.”

I eventually got to the point where I just couldn’t stand it anymore when someone would say, “I really don’t know how you do it. I could never do that.”

This made me so confused. In my mind there’s no question that it’s possible for them. Let me spell it out for you…


The bottom line is that you have to get up and take what you want for yourself. I realize that statement may sound a bit harsh to some people, but think about it. No one else can do it for you. And there’s no way to lose fat and build muscle by sitting around. You just have to put in the work!

I’m not sure if people are just saying these things as an excuse to not change, or if they actually believe these lies that they’re telling themselves. Either way, the only thing resulting from this toxic way of thinking is, well, nothing. No improvement. Period.

Absolutely NOTHING good is happening. And it all stems from negative thinking.

If the only thing you’re thinking when you see a body you desire to have is, “I wish I looked like that”, you are putting yourself down with a self-defeating attitude that guarantees your failure. While it may seem like a pipe dream to “look like that”, you can look like that. You just have to think positively about your desire and put that positive thinking into action.

You can trust me when I tell you this because I’ve been there, I’ve made the change, and I am a completely different person now than I was 4 years ago when I started making my health and body a priority.

Our thoughts are powerful, for good and for bad. I want to help turn off the switch that leads to negative thinking in others. I want everyone to see that all of those negative thoughts are not true! You can do it. And it is worth it.

I Started Reaching Out To Help Others

The best way I could think of to reach out to people I care about to help them see that positive change was in their reach was through social media.

So I began sharing my transformation story after Craig wrote an article about my progress and I began posting pictures more regularly on Facebook.

I received a ton of praise. I was absolutely floored by the love and support that so many people shared with me about my changes.

I prayed and had faith that in some way that article would help others to be inspired. I honestly wanted to help others get a little fire under them and some positivity back into their thought process to help kick-start them on a journey to a healthier lifestyle.

It wasn’t easy, though. Posting pictures, I mean.

A lot of different thoughts and feelings were processed before posting anything online. Thoughts that ranged from self-doubt and embarrassment, to excitement and feeling confident. I know, my emotions were all over the spectrum!

Are Selfies Really Necessary?

No, selfies are not necessary. However, I have found that the most raw and real way to show progress is through pictures.

I highly recommend taking pictures of your body even if you don’t plan on sharing them with anyone. This is a GREAT way to track your own progress and stay motivated as you see positive changes happening over time.

I never planned on posting pictures of my progress online. Especially my before picture! I really had a hard time deciding to post them at all. It was embarrassing that because of my choices my body and health took a back seat to a lazy lifestyle of eating fast food and watching hours of TV a day… And getting fat.

I realized, though, that many people have experienced what I went through, and they just don’t have the motivation to make the change. Perhaps they didn’t even realize how far they’d let their bodies regress. I thought that maybe if they could see that a full time working mother of three can do it, it will show them that they can, too!

It’s Not About Getting Attention

The last thing I wanted anyone to think is that I post pictures of myself for attention. Even now, four years later, the same thought goes through my head before I click that “post” button when I’m sharing a photo or video.

Even though I don’t typically care what others think, there are certain feelings and thoughts I don’t wish to invoke in others. I don’t want to post anything that will hurt someone else’s feelings. I honestly don’t want anyone to be offended by my posts, but I also know that sometimes it takes someone being offended to get them to seriously consider their situation and the need to change it.

I also know that no matter what anyone puts on the internet, someone somewhere is likely to take offense to it, and have something negative to say about it. But when I first started sharing progress pictures I was afraid that everyone would look at them in a negative light, and not for what they were meant to be: a positive, motivating visual of what consistent hard work does for us!

Like most of you, especially the women reading this, I struggle with body image issues almost every single day.

Working out always makes me feel better. It’s my positive outlet.

Exercise is an outlet for pain, sadness, self doubt, anxiety, mind fatigue, and every other emotion you could be feeling. I’ve personally experienced how much of a difference it can make in these areas (and many more), which is why I’m so passionate about sharing it.

Sex Sells, But It Doesn’t Sell Me

Another fear I had was the fear of putting the wrong image out there.

I’m sure you’ve noticed, but sex sells. Who knew, right?

If you go to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or any other photo sharing platform, the people and pictures with the most views, likes and comments are almost all sex-centered. I personally refuse to sell out or devalue myself that way for the sake of gaining attention or advancing my coaching career.

Unfortunately, this could mean fitness career suicide on the social media side of the business, or at least make it that much harder for me to build a following. And I may not get sponsorship opportunities with certain companies, which I hope to have in the near future. But I am being true to myself and that’s much more important.

I could’ve gone the sexy route. It seems like the most common and easy way to get your name out there (in my opinion). And, since I’m being honest here, if you’re a girl who wants to “make it” in almost any industry, a certain amount of sexiness will only help to get you noticed; good, bad, or indifferent, it’s the truth.

Still, social media is a GREAT way to show off your personality and build a following.

The “sexy” way of doing this isn’t for me, though. Even after only a few posts, I still wasn’t sure how comfortable I was putting certain images online. So I decided to do what I felt was right for me. To this day I only put honest, raw images on my web pages.

Yes, before you call me a hypocrite, I do use light filters every now and then. I have never used Photoshop and I will never Photoshop my pictures to make myself look better. I can also tell you that if I have professional pictures taken in the future I will specifically ask for them not to Photoshop my stretch marks.

I want those who trust and follow me to know with 100% certainty what I’m about: keeping it real with you. There are so many fake images and pictures online that have been altered beyond recognition so that if you saw the person in the photo on the street you wouldn’t even know it was them.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I look completely different when I’m at the gym compared to when I’m going out with my husband to dinner and a movie.

This is because the gym, for me, is where I work. I bust my butt. I’m sweaty, intense, and it’s a time of no nonsense. It’s my comfort zone and the place I can just be me. No need for makeup. Besides it’s too expensive to put makeup on just for me to sweat it off!

There’s a time and place to look sexy. For me, it’s not the gym. It’s my time with my husband.

At first I did have reservations about posting pictures showing me without makeup on. I’m long over it now. Now, I’m usually sweaty without any makeup struggling for that last rep in a picture or video. It’s real. It’s me. It’s honest.

I never actually planned for my posts to be like that. I just decided to be myself and that is what came out of it. Not to mention the bonus that I’m able to keep it clean for the sake of my children not getting made fun of when they’re in high school. Who am I kidding? Parents love to embarrass their kids, right?

Seriously, though, a big reason I wanted to get healthy was to set a good example for my children. It would be contradictory for me to only apply that belief to the food I eat and not the way I present myself, don’t ya think?

It may take a long time to get recognized in this highly competitive industry (if it ever happens at all). I don’t care. I’m 100% happy about my decision. Is it harder to take the road less traveled? You bet! But I’m not going to let my moral beliefs disappear for the sake of fast recognition.

I’m smart enough to recognize that it’s not worth it. Other things are way too important. Like what I teach my children about what a mother should be, maintaining self-dignity, and not seeking value in what others think of them.

I also believe that anything sexual should be solely shared with one’s spouse. You might think I’m a bit old fashioned and modest. And I’m okay with that!

I am happy at the end of the day because I know that my decision is right for me!

It’s also very important to me that I can connect with other people who are like me; real people, looking for real answers, wanting REAL results!

It wasn’t until last week when I posted an arm day picture to my Facebook page and received an awesome comment that I was forced to consider the image I will portray in the fitness industry. The comment was from a friend who recently started eating healthy and working out regularly (she’s killin’ it and I’m proud of her).

Her comment was so powerful and dead on with how I desire to impact others.

Here’s the picture I posted along with the quote of my friend overlaying it:

arm day

I can honestly say that I have never been more proud of the product of myself that I’m putting out there. Being able to say that is priceless!

I am more than willing to work harder, longer, and fail more often if it means others witnessing that success comes after the struggle. Because that is what truly matters.

I may not ever be strutting around in my underwear flaunting my stuff in my pictures. I know, you’ve probably seen many women working out in that attire in photos. Seriously, who does that? 🙂

Here’s the thing about being sexy, though… you can be sexy without being sexual.

A confident woman is sexy. A strong woman is sexy. A funny woman is sexy. A real woman is sexy. So you guys reading this don’t feel left out, all of these apply to men, as well!

No matter what kind of person you are, your looks do not define your ability to be sexy or attractive. Be you and love yourself! And never sell yourself short!

Here’s a new photo I thought I’d share just so you can see what my “last rep, squeeze at the top” face looks like.


No filters, no special lighting, no makeup. Just me and the weights. Keeping it real.

I hope that by reading this you gained some courage to change your thinking and take the steps you need to take to change yourself for the better. You’ll never be happy sitting on the sidelines wishing for change to come your way. You have to make change come your way.

I also hope that you feel like you know me a little bit better and have a better sense of who I am as a person, friend, and coach.

I am always open for questions and/or suggestions, and I’m always here for you, so please leave any comments below.

Thanks for reading. Have a blessed day!

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