I would like to introduce you to Leeann Samuel. Leeann has just competed in the 2023 WNBFONTARIO New YOU Transformation competition. She was in a tough class with other great athletes who went through major transformations and came out as the winner. Her story is a reflection of self-empowerment which I am sure that you will enjoy.
I wasn't always as fit, healthy, and as physically strong as I am today. It was by caring for my body through exercise, that I discovered how powerful a fitness tool is for my all-around health.
Fitness empowers me every day.
Through moving my body, I learned, bit by bit, how valuable and important my health was. As I cared for my body, I learned that I was worthy of self-love — and became inspired to share my experience with you.
Here's a glimpse into my story.
My fitness journey and path to self-empowerment began at home.
Before joining a commercial gym, I found my passion for fitness. My dad found some old weights on the side of the road being tossed out and brought them home. This is how it all began.
The small space in the basement of my parent’s home became my sanctuary. In that space I learned. I sweat. I faced deep fears and deep-rooted negativity towards my body. Slowly, I learned different exercises and began to better understand the physiology of the human body. I started to enjoy working out and seeing the results. I was well on my way towards leading a healthy lifestyle.
Pregnancy and age changed my attitude towards fitness and health.
My entire adult life, until the birth of my first son, I led an active lifestyle. However, I also ate a lot of fast food and drank a lot of soda. Eventually, I settled into a sedentary job and the pounds began to pile on. I thought “healthy” eating meant severe calorie restriction or going on extreme fad diets, and viewed exercise as the ultimate chore, now having had two small children. Then the divorce, second marriage, and third baby came along, and I found myself weighing the most I had ever weighed in my life. On my small 5’1” frame, 180 pounds looked like the weight of the world. I was also diagnosed with diabetes, my cholesterol was skyrocketing, and life had taken a toll on my mental health.
I knew I had to make a change, not only to set a good example for my children, but also to be around for them as the best version of myself possible. This marked the continuation of my fitness journey. Step by step, I unlearned some of the toxic beliefs I had held. Instead of using exercise as a punishment to change a body I didn't believe was good enough, I began to use exercise as a tool to care for and strengthen my body again. I started to remember the joy I felt long ago in that basement.
The more I cared for my body, the more I began to love myself and believe I was worth caring for.
Anyone can make one small change for the better.
I want people to know the number on the scale cannot measure health or happiness. You have to look after yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. You don’t have to spend hours in a gym or use extreme diets. Simply live an active life and make a conscious effort to make your internal dialogue a
positive one. It is never too late, and you are never too old to change your life.
Fitness can, and should be, an incredible tool for self-empowerment.
We invite you to our Youtube Channel, Body Trans4ormation to listen to more athletes' inspired stories.