Get the 45-page actionable guide, Restart Your Life, for FREE!

My Evolution: The Long Version

Note to all: Be sure to read to the end because there are quite a few special announcements that I’m saving for dessert! ;)

Today, I thought I’d open up a little more about the story that most people reach out to thank me for writing.

I’ve received numerous thank you emails from people that are grateful for the fact that I revealed it here, for everyone to see.  And I am elated that writing it has helped them.

The extremely frightening choice I made to reveal all has been justified by the reactions I received from all of you.

The point of me doing this was to help anyone that might be in the same situation.

I want to show you that it is possible to change your life.

It is possible to empower yourself to overcome any obstacle that stands in your way.

If you have read my About page, you know my story.  But here are the gory details…

I was diagnosed with clinical depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in my first year of high school.  It was a rather late diagnosis, as I think I’ve suffered from it for my whole life.

I’ve always been somewhat of a loner even in grade school, spending recess alone listening to my pink walkman.  I remember the lunch lady would try to come over to talk to me, but I wanted nothing to do with her.  I understand now that she just felt bad for me.

In high school, my depression and obsessive compulsive disorder got worse.  Whether it was the change in hormones, or the culmination of years and years of hearing “Just stop doing that!” (in regards to my OCD behaviors), I felt like I had no control over my life.

If I didn’t touch a certain amount of lockers on my way down the school halls, I felt like my whole family would die and it would be my fault.

If I didn’t clear my throat an odd number of times, I would be in a horrible accident that would slice my throat open.

All of these behaviors and my constant state of high anxiety enhanced the depression and made it incredibly difficult to go on with my daily routine.

I got into drinking and ecstasy as a hobby, mostly on weekends at raves or punk shows.  I fell in with the “alternative” crowd, who I actually have to thank for me not offing myself at that time.  The support I got from friends in high school was life-saving.

With my skater, punk, goth, and raver friends, I actually felt like I belonged… to the people that don’t belong.  They accepted me for who I was and encouraged me to be true to myself.

After going on medication in my Senior year, the behaviors didn’t call out to me as strongly.  They were still there, but I had more control over them.

When I left for college in 2001, I was excited to be free and to start the life I was meant to live!  What happened instead was an increase in stress, an incredibly long distance between everyone I felt close to, and a dramatic deepening of my depression.

I gained 30 pounds in college, as well as a ton of unhealthy eating habits.

I moved to LA after graduating and decided to do whatever it took to make it in Hollywood.  After all, that’s what I wanted right?  A life of fame and fortune… I’d find a way around the drama.  I wouldn’t let it affect me.

I had to show everyone that never thought I was worth anything.  I had to show myself that I was worth something.

It began well: I would exercise 4 days a week and eat a “healthy” amount of calories.  I was working multiple jobs, trying to make rent while lazily hoping I would magically book an acting job.

Every time I started gaining momentum with weight loss, I would grow so sick of my strict eating habits that I would binge and gain it all back again.  The more rejections I received, the more I came to expect it every time I went on an audition.

I slowly cycled deeper into depression, getting involved with the wrong kinds of people, getting into the wrong relationships for the wrong reasons, and taking the wrong substances to try to alleviate the pain.  Everything I did made my life worse.

I didn’t want this anymore.  I didn’t want to feel anything anymore.

I was worthless.

Empty.

Hopeless.

In 2005, my roommate caught me in the kitchen putting a knife to my wrist.

She talked me down and I put the knife away, then called an ex-boyfriend whom I was still very close to.  He didn’t know how to help–very few people do in that situation–so he urged me to call a suicide hotline.  After talking to a woman there for a while, I calmed down enough to go to bed and get help in the morning.

I remember going to bed thinking that, no matter where I went for help, it wouldn’t matter.  I would never be happy.  All the times I felt happy had always come back to this.

I was lonely.  I was unhealthy.  I hung out with people I didn’t like just to be around someone.  I was in a job I hated to support a “dream” I was too stubborn to admit I didn’t want anymore.

I could never escape this feeling of worthlessness.

The next day, I did go get help (or I was forced into it by the ER I went to).  I went into a program that placed me with a therapist that was a specialist in the issues that I was going through.

This person would be my life line, my savior.  She helped me turn around a life that I thought was hopeless.

Over the next few years, it was a roller coaster of recovery.  I would go all-out, then fail and recede back to my depression like a child toward a comfortable blanket.

But I kept getting up again.

And everytime I receded was shorter than the last.

I realized that it’s not about escaping your feelings; you can’t escape yourself.

Happiness is about making the most of the situation you’re in.  Dealing with what you’re feeling.

Empowering yourself to take responsibility, and rise above your “limitations.”

Make your own life, because no one is going to do it for you.

I made a lot of changes.

I fired my friends that encouraged my harmful habits, and made new ones that encouraged positivity and health.

I started changing my perspective with cognitive therapy.  I began to recognize my pessimistic thoughts and replaced them with more helpful, positive ones.  This took a lot of practice, but it started to become natural to me after a while.

In addition to my self-work, I began exercising regularly, and used it as a time to calm my mind.  It became my own form of meditation.

I fell in love with the way working out made me feel: strong and clear-headed.  Every workout session strengthened my confidence, and made me start to feel more whole inside.

I began to watch what I ate as well, focusing on whole foods and less processed, chemically junk.  Soon, I started seeing amazing results–without killing myself to get them!  All-in-all, I lost 30 pounds of fat and gained 10 pounds of muscle.

I had to share this feeling, this empowerment with others.  I had to show people that it IS possible.

So I left the job that made me so unhappy, and started studying to become a personal trainer.

I slowly put down my dream of being an actress, because I didn’t need that validation anymore.  I didn’t need anyone to tell me I was worth something.  And best of all, I didn’t need to prove it to myself.

You have to have faith in yourself before anyone will put their faith in you.

In 2008, I became a personal trainer and a whole new door of opportunities opened up to me.  It’s as if I was meant to be a coach my whole life!

I felt, all on my own, like I had found my place in the world.  I love helping people show themselves that they can do it.  Those goals that they’ve tried 10+ years to achieve, they were achieving in 6 months!

I worked at a corporate gym until I started getting so busy that I didn’t need to anymore, and became my own boss last year.  I now run my own growing company, make my own hours, and earn twice as much for half the hours I was logging in the corporate gym.

But I still wanted to grow!  I wanted to help more people overcome their obstacles, with more of an emphasis on personal development rather than just fitness.

When I started blogging, it was solely about fitness (you can see the posts from this era here, herehere, and here).  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it, or whether I wanted to do it at all.

The choice to go to The World Domination Summit (brainchild of Chris Guillebeau) in Portland last June was last-minute and unfocused, but it looked like a lot of fun!  I had no idea how strong an influence it would become on my life and career.

I made some great friends there that have helped me so much along the way.  One in particular has been extremely helpful in my journey as a blogger.  After expressing my indeterminate views on my blog, he asked me this:

“What makes you different than everyone else out there?”

I thought about this one for a couple weeks and realized that it’s my experience, and having overcome it that sets me apart.  I’ve been to rock bottom, and climbed my way to the top.  I am proof that you are never “stuck” in any situation.

I’ve been unhappy with how I look, who I am, and where I am, and then changed it.

But how could I express this to people without telling them the whole truth?  I would actually have to put online–for everyone to see–my story.

Having shared my darkest secrets with no more than 5 people, I was scared to death of what readers would think of my history.  But from my stages of growth and finding my passion, I also realized that if something scares and excites you at the same time, you’re probably on the brink of something amazing.

So I did it.  And because I showed you all who I was and who I am now, the blog has grown into Strong Inside Out as it is now:

Empowering you through fitness and positive action to overcome life’s obstacles.

My blog has added to my joy more than I ever imagined was possible, and fuels my passion for empowering people to achieve their goals.

This, YOU are my passion!  You are the reason I spend my free time writing, responding to comments, reaching out to Facebook fans about what they want to read about next.  This would all be nonexistent if you weren’t here.

Thank you.

Thank you for making my passion a reality.  Thank you for opening yourself up and humbling me with your personal stories.  Thank you for sharing with your friends and printing out my posts to hand around the office.  Thank you for challenging me with your questions because it makes me better, and encourages me to see a situation from all sides.

This next step, the surprise that I’ve been talking about for weeks now, is a natural progression of the work I love to do.

As of today, I will be accepting applications for online fitness and wellness coaching clients.

Every package–whether it’s a single session or multiple–will include a one-month (two-month with 8 sessions) cardio and strength training program built from scratch specifically for your goals and personality.

Included are 45-minute Skype chats with yours truly, nutrition advice and food journal review, and personalized coaching to break down your obstacles.

If you’re interested in getting fitter, healthier, and happier, cruise on over to my brand spankin’ new coaching page and check it out!

For this round of coaching, I will be taking on no more than 10 new clients.

I will be focusing on a small number of people so that I can give them and my existing training clients all the personalized, focused attention that they deserve.  So sign up soon, ’cause it’ll be closed to new applications on January 20th, 2012!

Devoting myself further to my readers has been something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now.  I hope to continue to help you all as much as I possibly can through this coaching program!

Besides that surprise, I bet you can see the changes that Strong Inside Out has gone through overnight!

I am so happy with the way the site now looks and I couldn’t have done it without my amazing designer, Scott Medwid at Metta Media.  He’s responsible for the header and new logo.  He was extremely patient with my picky tastes, and completely understood that Strong Inside Out is my baby and must be perfect!

My web developer, friend and fellow blogger, Alejandro Reyes of EnsoJourney.com, has been a life-saver!  He put the whole site together for me and did the little tweaks such as the new email opt-in over in the sidebar to the right.  Oh and did I mention he’s a genius with designing book covers?!  Yes, he helped me with this next surprise, too!

Now that we’re talking about book covers, let’s talk about my brand new guide, Restart Your Life!

I took the 5 posts that embodied the most crucial actions that I took to turn my life around, and made them look purdy in a 45-page PDF.  It is completely FREE when you subscribe to the email list!  Don’t worry: if you’re already a subscriber, you’ll have an email with it attached in your inbox right now!

*panting for air*

So those are the surprises, folks!  Thank you again for all your support since the launch of Strong Inside Out just less than 6 months ago.  I hope you enjoy the changes!  And if you do, share using the slidey thing to the left of this post why don’t you?  Mama’s been working hard to make the site prettier and she wants everyone to see it! ;p

As always, I’m looking forward to your comments!  Write me here and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

locker photo by Phil Roeder, all other photos are my own

49 Responses to “My Evolution: The Long Version”

  1. Beautiful way to launch yourself to new heights Amy! Thank you for being so open and to allow us (your readers) to be part of your life and get to know you a little better.
    Also, huge thanks for allowing me to help you with he re-launch, it’s has been a wonderful experience. :)
    You rock Amy!

  2. Srinivas says:

    Amy

    I’ve only met you in person once and you were all smiles, so it’s hard for me to imagine the person you’re describing. But I can relate to some degree. I wasn’t ever diagnosed with depression, but somebody in high school once compared me to Holden Cauffield (the irony considering I have a blog about self help). Thanks for sharing your story with us. There’s a really important message in this and that is one of hope. WE still need to get out and surf :)/

    • Amy says:

      Thank you, Srini. As scary as it is to know that the whole online community knows about my not-so-attractive past, the emails I’ve received from grateful readers make it worth the fear.

      Dude. Surfing. As soon as I get back from Paris! So that means February… :/

  3. Sandi Amorim says:

    Wow Amy! So inspired by your story, the new site, the book! You and Alex make a pretty dynamic duo ;-)

  4. Sarah O says:

    Congratulations Amy! The blog looks so great – and your story is moving and compelling. I know you will soar as your career grows. YOu have so much talent and so much to share. I love that you took this risk to share your story. I’m ready to take some risks and push past my comfort zone this year, and your amazing growth over the last months gives me courage. Thank you!

    • Amy says:

      Thank you so much, Sarah! I’m so humbled hearing that from fellow bloggers like you. Looking forward to what you have coming this year, too!

  5. Christine says:

    Amy, as always, amazing! Thank you for being so open and honest. It certainly shows the rest of us it’s ok to be true to ourselves.

  6. BENNY says:

    Hi Amy,

    So many things to comment on!

    First the new looks is great! I love the header. Makes me want to redo my header. The overall design is awesome. It’ll take your blog to new levels I believe.

    Thanks for writing your story. It’s grest to learn more about you. If I saw your smiling face, I would have never guessed you went through so much.

    The pic doesn’t even look like you.

    That’s awesome you’re opening up online coaching. I know those who are looking for help would be wise to choose you! I hope you knock it out of the park!

    Just curious in your old acting days did you land any parts?

  7. Sue Mitchell says:

    AMY! Blown away over here!

    Your story is so compelling. Knowing how you got where you are today has really inspired me. If you can do that, surely I can overcome my wimpy little obstacles to better health, right? ;-D How wonderful that you’re now offering your support to others in another way.

    And yes, the site looks GORGEOUS! Well done!

    • Amy says:

      ALL OBSTACLES ARE WIMPY, SUE! ;) You can overcome ANYTHING if you commit to it and make it a priority!

      Thank you for the kind words. I’m so happy with how it turned out!

  8. Dave Ursillo says:

    You’re a rockstar, Clovah.

    Congratulations on the gorgeous redesign and relaunch, and thank you for sharing such a personal tale. I’ve loved getting to know you over the last half-year or so, I’m SO glad we got to chow down on redonkulous fish tacos on Venice Beach, and I’m lucky and grateful to call you a friend.

    Here’s to big, beautiful things in 2012.

    D

  9. Maria says:

    Amy, I am so happy you got out of that rut. It was an illusion that was burdening you relentlessly.

    Good luck with your new steps!

    • Amy says:

      Thank you, Maria! The thing about clinical depression is that it is a chemical imbalance, so one is never truly “cured” of it. It’s something I work on every day. You’re right, though. To an extent, it IS an illusion that burdens people and can be overcome if one puts their mind to it!

      Thank you for all your support over the last few months, Maria!

  10. I just read your story for the first time and am so incredibly inspired. Your vulnerability and strength are so admirable. Thank you for standing up and helping to decrease the stigma around mental health issues. I love your positive perspective!

    • Amy says:

      Hey Carolyn! Welcome to Strong Inside Out! I’m always so happy to see fellow bloggers comment here!

      Thank you so much. That means a lot to me. That stigma kept me hiding for so many years. I hope by revealing it, to help other people out of the dark as well.

      Hope to see you around here again soon!

  11. Kirsten says:

    WOW!!!! You have created quite a beautiful launching pad! I’m forwarding this to my sister Dana, she will be interested in the online coaching for sure. You are a rockstar Amy Clover! What an inspiration. Keep up the crazy good work!

  12. Rick says:

    Thanks for the link to download the Restart Your Life ebook. I started to read through it already and can tell it’s going to serve as an excellent motivator and affirmation of recent changes to my life goals. I’m already nodding in agreeance and feeling more empowered and confident just browsing through and enjoying your signature bold catchy headers, followed by expertly summarized gold nuggets of everything I need to know, and what I want to hear. I’m also eating better an exercising more, so I am thankful for all your efforts on this blog. Keep up the good work. =)

    • Amy says:

      Yay! I got nods in agreeance! ;)

      Rick, so good to hear from you, man! Congrats on the decision to eat better and exercise more! You’re gonna start feeling like a super hero and you won’t want to stop!

  13. Marvin says:

    I am so inspired by your courage and conviction to put your story out here. You are ao amazing! And can I say wow?!?! What a beautiful relaunch of your site! I really love the new logo and layout. You’ve got a homerun here Amy…so proud of you!

    Were you in Avatar? :)

  14. Amy, Amy, this is magnificent work from both you and Alex. Your story is powerful, compelling and real, all prerequisites for new clients to trust and know you’re the real deal. Go girl :) xxx

  15. Doug says:

    Nice work Amy! Everything looks amazing!

    I’m excited to check out Resart Your Life also, thanks for that.

    I can’t imagine people being in better hands to acheive their fitness and wellness goals. I know that you put your all into everything you do.

  16. Marci says:

    Beautiful post Amy. You are amazing:)

  17. China says:

    Amy – you are my hero!!! Well done Sweetness. I love you.
    Auntie China

  18. [...] me to a couple other posts you should read: Allie Brosh of the amazing Hyperbole and a Half, and this earnest post from Strong Inside Out. Amy and Allie both do a great job of capturing the emotions I don’t [...]

  19. [...] you’d never know today that Amy has had a troubled past, checkered with bouts of serious depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and even attempted suicide: She is luminous. Vibrant. Positive. Hilariously funny, and nothing but fun to be around. By her [...]

  20. [...] Clover at Strong Inside and Out recently had a post where she talked about her former life, her OCD, depression, drugs, and her [...]

  21. thanks for sharing your story. i was diagnosed with depression 3 years ago. amidst it, i learnt, or rather rediscovered my passion for writing and on a completely different journey now
    i’m glad depression happened for me
    i smile everyday now
    Noch Noch

    • Amy says:

      Noch Noch, you’re story is so inspirational as well. I love your emphasis on constant self-work/recovery, and your courage in telling the world the truth- change is hard. Thank you for that.

      It’s amazing the way you phrase it: “i’m glad depression happend for me”

      I never thought of it that way, but so am I. I am such a stronger person for having overcome that obstacle, and have so much more empathy for the human condition since my breakdown.

      It’s so great to have you here on my site! I hope to see you around here again soon!

  22. Veronica H. says:

    Hi there! I’m not sure how I stumbled across your site, but I’m so glad I did! I went back through some of my history, but can’t track it down because I’ve been through so many of your pages. The things you have to say have really been a timely message for me. I have lupus and fibromyalgia and are on some pretty heavy medications, including prednisone. This makes me SO hungy and has helped me to gain a TON of weight over the past year or so. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been and have been so down in the dumps lately. I feel miserable physically and emotionally because of everything going on. I know it might sound ironic because I’m a nurse, but I haven’t had the first clue on what to do to start eating differently to change this while being on this medication because nothing seems to help. And I don’t know what to do to move to get stronger or healthier because I feel so miserable. Already the things I’ve read on your site have inspired me and taught me and I plan to come back and read everything I can find. I feel for the first time in a long time that there is a spark of hope. Thank you. And it was nice to “meet” you. Keep on doing what you’re doing!

    • Amy says:

      Veronica, I’m so glad you found the site and that it’s been so helpful to you!

      Reading your comment inspires ME even further! Thank you!

      One step at a time is key here. Just think: every day is an opportunity to take ONE step in a healthier direction. And you have all the power to choose to take it!

      If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

      Welcome to the Strong Inside Out community!

  23. [...] reframe my perspective and clear the clutter that made me unhappy. When my depression comes up now (which at one point led me to almost take my own life), I cope with it and take actions to feel better, rather than wallowing in it and letting it rule [...]

  24. Naomi Lancet says:

    Very brave of you to reveal your darkest moments.
    Many women go through the dark times, and I’m sure it’s harder for men to admit it. Wish there was more support out there.

    On the brighter side, congrats from your growth of 2005 and beautiful blog you got going on here! Feeling inspired to work on my own!!

    Do you plan to “sell” personal trainings sessions via Skype? I’m curious as to what your future digital products will be, or how they will be packaged ;)

    • Amy says:

      Hello again, Naomi!

      I do online coaching via Skype/Google Docs. It incorporates training techniques, but I don’t train with you: I give you a personal program and tell you how to do it.

      One of my dreams is to get support to those who need it most, and I’m really working hard to make that a reality soon. More updates to come!

  25. [...] If you’ve been reading Strong Inside Out for a while, you know my story. [...]

Leave a Reply