GGS Spotlight: Amee Livingston


Name: Amee Livingston
Age: 44
Location: McDonough, GA (Atlanta area)

What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
Being a Girl Gone Strong means embracing strength from the inside out. When I think about defining a strong woman, I think of someone who radiates confidence and feels beautiful in her own skin. I also love that GGS takes the emphasis away from shrinking bodies and weight loss and encourages overall health and wellness.

How long have you been strength training, and when did you get started?
I dabbled in weight training in college, when I was dragged to the Clemson University weightlifting club by one of my roommates. I was completely clueless about weightlifting back then! I was a big cardio junkie at that time. I eventually went back to my comfort zone, taking group fitness classes and running. When my kids were little, I did a lot of home workout videos because it was affordable and convenient. I found P90X in my mid-thirties and loved all of the full-body strength work. I can thank Tony Horton for getting my first real pull-up!

I also subscribed to Oxygen magazine for bodybuilding inspiration. I had a notebook binder full of cut out weight training routines that I would use to build my own programs. After getting bored with group classes, my own DIY training, and home workouts, I saw a Groupon for a local CrossFit class and decided to give it a try. I was immediately hooked! CrossFit was the catalyst for my strength training and Olympic weightlifting obsession. I loved it so much that I decided to obtain formal education to start my own coaching career.

What does your typical workout look like?
Over the last year, I had been following programming specifically for Olympic weightlifting. After dealing with a wicked case of tricep tendonitis this past April, I had to modify my programming for the last several months and to allow my body to heal.  Currently, I’ve added more conditioning to get ready for the Rhode Island Ocean Road 10K with the Cabot Fit Team.

I train two to three days of full body strength (I love compound movements) and finish with some sort of short and sweet interval conditioning or yoga. I also incorporate sprint work and a “wild card” day to do something fun. Sometimes it can be a long, slow run, or maybe an active recovery day (if my body needs it), or a fun metcon with battle ropes, box jumps, kettlebells, etc. My active recovery is usually yoga, walking, rowing or biking.  I’m a big fan of Jen Sinkler’s biofeedback-style training, so I’m not opposed to changing workouts on the fly, depending on how my body is feeling that day.

Favorite lift:
I love the snatch! It’s extremely challenging (especially for this long-legged girl) and always a work in progress.

Most memorable PR:
Competing at Master’s Nationals for Olympic weightlifting in Savannah, GA this past spring. It was exactly one year after having a double mastectomy for breast cancer. I can’t tell you how good it felt, not just to compete but also nail a meet PR! It was a good way to give cancer the middle finger and remind myself to never give up on my goals.

Top 5 Songs on your training playlist:

  • Blurry, Puddle of Mud
  • All I Do Is Win, DJ Khaled
  • The Fighter, Gym Class Heroes
  • ‘Till I Collapse, Eminem

Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag:

  • Resistance bands for muscle activation
  • Chalk — I can’t deal with sweaty hands and slippery weights
  • Knee sleeves for keeping my knees warm and cozy while heavy squatting

Do you prefer to train at home or with others? Why?
I enjoy both, but I primarily train at home in our home gym. After I was diagnosed with cancer, I decided to take a break from coaching and training at the gym and focus on taking time for healing, recovery and a new career direction. I’ve really gotten spoiled working out at home. You can’t beat the convenience. My husband also competes in Olympic weightlifting and works out at home, too. We encourage each other and enjoy our time together in the gym.

Our gym feels like a sanctuary and, second to the kitchen, is my favorite room in the house. I’m a busy mom and run a healthy living blog, so it frees up my time to do other things. I also love that my dog, Brownie, hangs out with me while I train. He often steals the spotlight in my Instagram videos and snuggles with me when I stretch.

Favorite meal:
I love sushi! Spicy tuna rolls are my favorite!

Favorite way to treat yourself?
My favorite indulgence is definitely a massage! I would get them every week if I could afford it!

Favorite quote:
Only in the darkness can you see the stars. — Martin Luther King Jr.

What inspires and motivates you?
I’m most inspired by people who persevere in spite of the challenges and difficulties that they’ve faced in their life. It’s the reason why I decided to be very transparent with my cancer journey and get certified as a cancer exercise specialist.

I want to encourage other women to be proactive with their health. I can use my experience to spread awareness and help my clients unleash their potential to feel strong and healthy.

What do you do?
I’m a personal trainer, specializing in women’s fitness, as well as the owner and content creator for Amee’s Savory Dish, a healthy living website. This past year, I’ve added three different certifications as a Cancer Exercise Specialist to be able to assist women recovering from breast cancer surgeries.

What else do you do?
I love spending time with my husband and two teenage kiddos, Allen (16) and Lauren (13). Family is always a top priority. I also love creating unique healthy recipes for my blog, dabbling in photography, home DIY projects and reading fitness and nutrition blogs.  I’m also a podcast junkie!

Your next training goal:
I’m really hoping to get back on the platform and do another Olympic weightlifting competition soon. I’ve been very patient with healing my injury, so I could come back feeling strong and ready.

For what are you most grateful?
I’m incredibly grateful that my cancer was caught early and that I’m now healthy and cancer-free. I’ll never take my health for granted again. It’s something that I think about every single day. I also hope that more women realize that you can be young, healthy and have no family history or genetic predisposition and still get cancer.

Take care of your body now. It’s so important to make health a top priority in your life.

Of what life accomplishment do you feel most proud?
Personally, I’m most proud of being a mom. Raising my children continues to be the most rewarding and amazing experience. Professionally, I’m really proud to have built a successful website that continues to grow. The best part is that my blog was born out of a passion for cooking and improving the health of my family and grew into a lucrative, part-time business.

Which three words best describe you?
Optimistic. Resilient. Compassionate.

What’s a risk that you’ve take recently, and how did it turn out?
After being diagnosed with cancer in February 2016, I decided to leave the gym where I had coached for three years and focus on growing my website and expanding my career as a fitness trainer. Initially, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my fitness background, but I knew in my heart that I wasn’t where I really needed to be. I felt that I had a different calling and purpose. I finished studying for my CPT during the initial recovery from my first breast cancer surgery and passed my NASM exam two months later. Within a few months, I signed up to get certified as a breast cancer exercise specialist.

In January, I decided to start my own part-time business, training women out of my home gym. I started with one client and I’ve grown to 10 clients in the first 9 months. It’s been the best decision that I’ve ever made! I love my ladies and take great pride in providing a safe and effective program in an encouraging environment. I used to be intimidated by writing my own training programs, but with the right education and experience, it’s become one of my favorite things about coaching.

How has lifting weights changed your life?
Lifting weights has not only changed my life, it’s changed my body. I love how weightlifting makes you feel strong, confident and empowered! No more pancake butt, thanks to squats! I don’t think that I can ever grow amazing quads on my bird legs as a natural athlete, but I won’t stop trying!

What’s the coolest side effect you’ve experienced from strength training?
My favorite thing is probably being able to eat more! I love food, and you need a lot of it to build muscle! Of course, quality nutrition is important. It’s been fun to see my body change and look and feel stronger.

What would you say to other women who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training?
Women shouldn’t be afraid to lift weights. Make sure that you work with a knowledgeable trainer who will start you out slowly and build a program that is appropriate for you.  Always listen to your body and be patient with the process. There are so many great tools to incorporate strength training into your routine: kettlebells, resistance bands, dumbbells, barbells, your own bodyweight, etc. Find something that’s fun for you and give it a go!

You can connect with Amee on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

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