Name: Amber Leonard Thome Age: 28 Location: Houghton, MI
What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
Being a GGS means that I’ve got a strong sense of self. In my 20’s I’ve felt lost, stuck, found, and then the cycle repeats. Over time I’ve learned more about myself and my needs. My life’s mission is to help other women improve quality of life by using exercise and nutrition as tools.
How long have you been training?
I’ve been lifting consistently over the past 5 or 6 years. In undergrad and grad school I did more run and triathlon training. Now that I’ve transitioned into my professional life, I’ve been more consistent with lifting and I try to be active outside as often as I’m able.
How did you get introduced to strength training?
I have always been active and athletic. I grew up playing sports and figure skating individually and with a synchronized skating team. I trained for a marathon and for Olympic distance triathlons for a while too, but my body didn’t have the shape I wanted. My biggest motivator to start lifting was that I gained weight my freshman year of college and wanted to feel better about myself.
What does a sample workout look like for you?
I train full body two to three days per week. I’ve cycled through Dr. Yessis’ 1×20 program over the past three years. I do one set of 20 max reps for each joint action or movement. It appears simple on the surface, but there’s hidden genius in its simplicity. And, it’s tough! I’ve never felt better! Doc gives a great explanation about the program here.
I love the glute-ham raise, back squats, and chin ups
Most memorable PR:
I back squatted 210 pounds for eight solid reps!
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
I don’t have a playlist! I typically listen to the following Pandora stations: Brother Ali, Atmosphere, the Black Keys, Eminem, Method Man… it ranges depending on how I’m feeling that day.
Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym/in your gym bag:
My workout. I keep it on a printed spreadsheet to make sure I am always progressing and not forgetting anything!
New Balance Minimus Trail shoes or Vibram 5 Fingers to lift in.
I stash a week’s worth of workout clothes, undies, etc. in my locker at work. I’ve forgotten “essential” pieces of clothing before and try to prepare ahead of time.
Do you prefer to train alone or with a training partner? Why?
I train with my husband, who’s the head strength coach at the university where we work. He’ll spot me on heavier lifts and give me feedback. He’s also not afraid to call me out if I need a push, which I appreciate most of the time.
Most hilarious pick-up line you’ve heard at the gym:
I wasn’t at the gym, but I do remember my first “relevant” cat-call. I went to get coffee down the Las Vegas strip very early one morning, and heard a guy yell to me, “D*mn girl, look at those legs! You MUST work out!” I was happy someone someone else could appreciate my meaty legs.
Most embarrassing gym moment:
I forgot to edit my music before I coached a group class and all of a sudden, a song kept repeating “F*** that.” I felt like I was running in slow motion to switch the song! Luckily, my class laughed. I apologized and vowed that that wouldn’t happen again!
A huge pile of roasted or sauteed veggies with organic over easy eggs on top. I’ll eat this any time of day! I’m also loving a paleo bacon bison meat loaf recipe I found online with sides of roasted brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes (mashed with coconut milk, cinnamon, and sea salt) and a couple of squares of Lindt 90% dark chocolate.
Favorite way to treat yourself:
A massage, nap, coffee, or wine with friends.
“Though she be but little, she is fierce.” –William Shakespeare.
I loved Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Dr. Sara Gottfried’s The Hormone Cure, and Let My People Go Surfing, by Yvon Chouinard, and I just read Dave Asprey’s, The Bulletproof Diet. Hard to choose!
What inspires and motivates you?
Taking ownership and responsibility for my health, happiness, and life outcomes.
I want to be better, for ME. In all realms; physically, mentally, you name it!
Doing so requires me to continually learn about myself, which I think is something not a lot of people are willing to take the time or make the effort to do.
What does a typical day look like for you?
5:00 a.m. Alarm. Out of bed!
5:00-6:30am If It’s M/W/F, it’s time for coffee or tea while I’m working for GGS or on my business (I’m just getting started!). If it’s T/Th, I’m having coffee or tea, packing my stuff, and heading to the gym to coach my Metabolic Conditioning class from 6:00-7:00am. I also run a mile for time on T/Th mornings after I coach.
7:00-8:00am Quick shower, eat, get ready for work as a Lecturer, Academic Advisor, and Internship Coordinator at Michigan Technological University
8:00-11:00 am Answer email, committee work, prep for academic classes.
11:00-12:30pm If it’s MWF I squeeze in a training session and have lunch, take a quick 2-second shower. If it’s T/Th I take a short break for lunch.
1:00-2:00pm Teach academic course
2:00-5:00pm Academic advising meetings with students, class prep, meetings, committee work, answer emails.
5:15pm Leave work and head home
5:30pm-7:00pm Prep, eat, and clean up from dinner. Pack food and get clothes ready for the next day. If I’m lucky I’ll squeeze in a walk, run, ski, or snowshoe. If we got a lot of snow that day, I’m shoveling the driveway!
7:00-9:00pm Work on GGS content, respond to personal email, work on my business, or watch a webinar/podcast.
9:00-9:30pm Read and lights out!
What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from lifting heavy?
Muscles! I dig a muscular physique. I’m 5’2’’ and my body is pretty rectangular. Lifting has helped me earn the type of curves I want. I feel better “in” my body. I feel grounded, strong, and more confident.
Next training goal:
My goal is to train two times per week, and hiking, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, or running trails on the other days.
My overarching goal for life is to ENJOY what I am doing without giving myself harsh expectations that I won’t always be able to meet.
I’m abandoning goals of eating cleaner and getting leaner. The less I worry about those two things, the better I actually eat and the leaner I stay.
Three words that best describe you:
Realistic, Ambitious, Facilitator
How has lifting weights changed your life?
Experiencing something physically challenging boosts your confidence to tackle larger goals, take bigger risks, and do the things that you’re afraid of. It’s also incredibly rewarding to cultivate habits of success. That success translates to every other part of your life.
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start lifting heavy? Everyone starts somewhere. Find an amazing coach, program, or class that you really jive with to get started, especially if you’re a beginner. Ask yourself, what is the risk of NOT investing in a great coach or program? I promise, the physical and psychological results will be worth it. You are worth investing in and you deserve all of the benefits to come.
If you’re inspired by Amber, read on to learn more about—and join!—our community of strong, supportive women…
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Girls Gone Strong is a force to be reckoned with fighting back against the $64 billion-a-year weight loss industry telling us we should be less instead of more. We have come together to provide a common voice of body-positive, evidence-based information to help women reach their health and fitness goals, whatever they may be. Learn more about GGS here.