2013 BodySpace Spokesmodel: Samantha Ann Leete

Fitness runs in her blood, but Samantha didn't uncover its true power until she lifted weights. With relentless dedication, her physique blossomed and she won 2013 BodySpace Spokesmodel Search!

Name: Samantha Ann Leete
BodySpace: SamanthaAnn
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/SamanthaAnnLeete
Twitter: @SamanthaLeete
Instagram: @SamanthaAnnLeete
YouTube: www.youtube.com/SamanthaAnnLeete
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Age: 24   Height: 5'2"   Weight: 117 lbs
Years Bodybuilding: 1

How did your fitness journey begin?

Physical activity has always played a huge role in my life. I didn't get involved in fitness to reap the many health benefits, relieve stress, or boost my confidence. Looking back, I don't remember a specific reason. I wanted to have fun, learn new things, and play with my friends. It was the natural thing to do. I didn't even have to think about it.

Growing up, anytime I wasn't playing sports or taking classes, I was in the neighborhood jumping on the trampoline, playing in the yard, or riding my bike. When I became a teenager, nothing changed. I joined school sports teams, continued to participate in recreational sports, and took classes outside of school. Physical activity was my life. My mornings before school were spent exercising and after school I'd start again.

Teenage years can be rough, and exercise became more than just fun as I matured. As I experienced life's challenges, physical activity became an outlet for me. I watched a loved one turn to drugs. I turned to "the burn." I pushed my body and mind further every day.

With dance, I could be expressive; in volleyball, I could take anger out on the ball; in tumbling, I could be powerful; in track, I could clear my mind; in soccer, I could forget about everything and focus on the ball and my opponents. School sports kept me interested in academics. I always had friends and people I could count on to be there for me.

When it was time to go to college, I wanted to continue my love for activity. During my first three years of college, I received athletic scholarships for dance and cheerleading. I also began coaching tumbling, gymnastics, and high school cheer, which enabled me to learn about fitness from a new standpoint. It was the first time I ever thought about my health. Growing up, I was always healthy, but never gave it much thought. I started learning more about nutrition and the role it plays in your performance. I took a nutrition class to learn the importance of combining physical activity with a good diet. I implemented a few simple ideas in my diet, but I still had some pretty bad habits.

After I stopped participating in dance and cheer, my body quickly changed. I went through a period of time where I was inactive and living an unhealthy lifestyle. I was going through a rough time and was in a controlling relationship. Physical fitness had always been at the top of my priority list and I allowed it to quickly drop. My health, confidence, and happiness were at an all-time low. I didn't like where my life was going and decided things had to change. I had to get active again, so I signed up for a gym membership and started working out.

I had no idea how difficult it was to get back into shape after being inactive for so long. It had been more than a year, and it was difficult physically and mentally. I work full-time at the Internal Revenue Service and coach a high school cheer team. Working swing shifts and having early morning practice for the high school had me running on little sleep. It was hard to schedule time to work out. When I did have time, my body was so out of shape that I felt defeated before I even started. The few times I did get to the gym didn't motivate me to continue going. I had never lifted weights and didn't know what I was doing.

I started looking for something to push and challenge myself. I was used to relying on others to direct me and knew I needed something to do on my own—something that would keep me fit and force me to be healthy. I heard about Bodybuilding.com from friends and was interested, but I hadn't looked into it much. I did some research and hired a trainer I found on BodySpace to teach me how to lift and clean up my diet. I set a goal to compete and fell in love with training and eating clean. I was converted instantly. It changed my life in the greatest way possible. It's the best investment I have ever made.

How did your passion for fitness emerge?

My passion for fitness has been evolving my entire life. Every time I learn something new fitness-related, I become more passionate about the lifestyle. I have my parents to thank for cultivating the excitement I had for fitness at a young age and for doing all they could to help and support me through it.

What motivates you to live a healthy lifestyle?

Earlier in my life, when things got tough, I thought I was being responsible and unselfish by not taking the time for physical fitness. Now I know better. Making time to stay fit helps every other aspect of my life. Living a fit and healthy lifestyle gives me more energy, which allows me to make better use of my day. I have pushed through the struggle and am now proud of what I have learned and accomplished.

Knowing how I felt before and after the lifestyle change is a huge motivator for me. I see how I inspired my family and friends and that's also a huge motivator. I want them to all be happy and healthy. Coaching is also a big motivator for me. I coach around 24 high school girls every year; it's important that I set a good example for them.

Where did you go for inspiration?

Friends and family
The high school girls I coach
The photo galleries on Bodybuilding.com
BodySpace (there are some amazing people on there!)
My progress pictures
Inspirational quotes
Thinking about the long, healthy life I want ahead of me

What are your future fitness plans?

I will be representing Bodybuilding.com after winning the 2013 BodySpace Spokesmodel Contest. I couldn't be more excited about it and I'm looking forward to the opportunities that will come with the experience. I also plan on competing in another national level NPC show for a chance to become an IFBB pro.

Long term, my fitness plans are to continue to soak up all of the information I can and continue to learn and have fun. Fitness is all about having fun and learning how to balance my schedule and be healthy.

What is the most important fitness tip?

Pick a goal, find a road to that goal, and enjoy the ride. There are so many different opinions out there. It's easy to get lost. A friend of mine once told me, "There are a million paths to the finish line, but if you don't trust the path you're on and keep switching, you'll just get lost."

Do the research and choose a plan that you believe will give you the results you want, and then commit to that plan 100 percent. When you read something or someone tells you something contrary to your plan, push it aside and finish your plan. In the end, if you want to try something else, go for it.

It's not a race, it's a journey. Sometimes we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. I don't work out to look a certain way. I work out because I'm excited about how my body feels and works as a result. The way your body looks in the end is just an added bonus.

Who is your favorite fitness competitor?

I can't say I have one favorite fitness competitor. There are so many I love for different reasons.

One of my favorite fitness competitors is my little sister, Sarina Leete. She is my best friend and I've had the chance to watch her on her fitness journey. She's been killing it! I've seen how hard it is for her at times and she's never let it stop her. That's real. That's what this lifestyle is about.

How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?

Bodybuilding.com plays a huge role in my fitness goals. It educated and helped me set goals. When I first started looking into bodybuilding, it was the first website I found. Through BodySpace, I found a local trainer (TrainerB) who taught me so much. I use BodySpace to interact with people who understand the lifestyle and the changes I made in my life. There are so many sweet, down-to-earth people on BodySpace who encourage and give me motivation to continue working toward my goals. BodySpace is also a great tracking tool. Looking through my progress pictures is extremely motivating.

Bodybuilding.com is the best place to order supplements. When I started training, I didn't know anything when it came to supplements. I could read reviews and see what was popular. The quick shipping and treats you get in your order are amazing. I love reading the articles to educate myself and enjoy trying the new recipes. When I decided to compete, I used the photo galleries to review competition placings and educate myself on what the judges are looking for.

Competition history:

March 2012 - NPC Utah Open & Ironman Natural - 2nd Place Novice, 3rd Place Open
June 2012 - Bodybuilding.com & MusclePharm Fit USA Competition - 3rd Place
October 2012 - NPC Ft. Lauderdale Cup - 4th Place
November 2012 - NPC National Championships - 4th Place
January 2013 - Iron Man Magazine & Bodybuilding.com BodySpace Spokesmodel Search - 1st Place