What Can We Learn From National Influencers – Autumn Cleveland

Jan 31, 2020 | Community, Mental Health

Don’t Give Up: I practice winning every day of my training: I imagine how it will look, how it will feel, every aspect of it. We are all different and no one is living the perfect life. Just keep working. #Don’tGiveUp #WeCanDoIt

When professional bodybuilder Autumn Cleveland was a 15-year-old high school student, constant bullying led her to spend a lot of time hiding. “In high school there was a group of girls who were always picking on me for being skinny. As it progressed, my self-consciousness grew, always feeling I was about to be beaten up,”  Autumn says. “Because of this, I hid in the bathroom a lot and had very low self esteem. When I turned 16 and got my license, I changed schools to get away.”

One night she attended a party hosted in her old town and once again, the bullies reared their heads to threaten her. Autumn had had enough. The next day she went to her father, a retired police officer, and told him what had happened and asked about weightlifting. He got her into a gym, and her journey began.

Inspired by female bodybuilder Natalie Barnett, Autumn began to learn the basics of the sport and at 16 took fifth place in her first competition. For the next 15 years she continued to push forward, growing, learning, and competing. In 2012 she won her first show and in 2018, she earned her professional card.

“The biggest challenge for anyone is looking at yourself and asking if you have what it takes. For me, I have always known that I do, so I have made sacrifices along the way that have been needed,” Autumn says. “It’s up to me whether I want to win or lose, so I put in the work.”

And work she does. In addition to training in the gym two to three hours a day in her off season, Autumn also has a personal training business and she teaches posing to other aspiring bodybuilders. “I like to take all of the things I’ve learned and use them to help others, whether it’s on or offline.” Autumn’s social media presence is filled with recommendations for great products and honest (and funny) tutorials on various subjects such as how to self apply lash extensions, do makeup, get stage-ready hair, and even how to make protein donuts. 

“My main focus (outside of training) is to try to stay relatable to other women. I used to be one who compared myself to others and that’s just wrong. We are all different, and no one is living a perfect life. We each have our struggles,” she says. “Even when I don’t come in where I might want to, I don’t give up on my goal and by not giving up, I hope I am inspiring others not to give up on theirs. I practice winning every day of my training. I imagine how it will look, how it will feel, every aspect of it.”

Each of these incredible influencers offers a variety of the same advice to those who aspire to be like them: Comparison is the thief of joy. Be real. Be yourself. Be brave. Practice winning.

P.S. Eat like a bodybuilder.