She’s a hope dealer and an inspiration. Amberly Lago almost lost her leg and life after a harrowing road accident, but she turned tragedy into triumph through her resilience and grit.
Now, she’s teaching people how they, too, can turn any kind of pain or trauma into an opportunity to accomplish something great.
In 2010, Lago was in a motorcycle accident. A 911 call recorded a woman saying: “She needs paramedics, her leg is twisted up and there is blood coming out of her helmet…”
The easiest way out was to have her leg amputated. But Lago, a fitness trainer and dancer, wouldn’t have it. She wouldn’t be who she is if she didn’t have her legs. So, she endured 34 surgeries. Then she learned that her injury also resulted in complex regional pain syndrome, a condition also referred to as suicide disease, wherein a person experiences episodes of intense pain.
It would have been easier to give up, but Lago had hope and resilience. She details her recovery process in her inspiring book, True Grit and Grace: Turning Tragedy into Triumph.
In our latest podcast, Lago shares her life before, during, and after the accident that changed her life. Here are some of the topics we covered:
Lago continues to share her story of resilience through her podcast, TED talks, and workshops. She is also a wellness coach and she has graced various television shows like NBC’s Today, The Doctors and Good Morning Lala Land, among others. She has also contributed to magazines like Fit Pregnancy, Health, Shape, and Disability.
Here’s a fun trivia: she is a fan of our podcast! She said she loves our podcast and that she could sit and binge our episodes.
Contact Amberly Lago
Website – https://amberlylago.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AmberlyLagoSpeaker
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/amberlylagomotivation
Contact David Morrell
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/thegreaterdavid
Twittter – https://twitter.com/fearofdavid
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I was really looking forward to the show today for a number of reasons. Amberly Lago is a health and wellness coach, TEDx speaker podcaster, and a leading expert in the field of resilience and transformation. That’s an understatement. She is the best-selling author of the book, true grit and grace, and empowers people around the world by sharing her story of how she turned a tragedy into triumph, through her book, coaching methods and workshops.
She has curated unique tools to teach others how to tap into their super power of resilience and persevere through any of life’s challenges. She offers hope and solutions for anyone like her, living in chronic pain to live life to the fullest. Amberly has most recently been featured on NBC’s the today show the doctors hallmark good morning, Lala land and contributed to magazines such as shape and health, a busy influencer to say the least.
I am really welcomed to the RUN GPG podcast. Oh, thank you so much. I am just so honored to be here and get to connect with you and share with your community. Thank you for having me. I love your podcast. I can seriously just sit and binge your podcasts. So thank you. I feel honored to be here. I appreciate that.
I am really glad that a mutual friend, Brad connected us. I didn’t really know your story until, Brad introduced us and I started, really preparing for this interview. I think your story is so inspiring and compelling and there’s so much your book and your experience can do to help others going through something similar to you or give people hope.
Is that how you see it too? Yeah. You know what? It’s interesting. People have called me the hope. So they’re like, okay, I like that I’ll deal some hope out and, and, you know, give people the inspiration. And I think really what empowers me gives me strength is when I can help others turn cants into cans and overcome challenges, especially, you know, when they’re in a dark space or they’re having a hard time, like, like I was, so that, that hope is all we need to keep moving forward.
A lot of times, just a glimmer of it. I hope dealer. I like that. So that’s a great phrase. So let’s tell your story then. Like if someone’s tuning into the show and introduced to you for the first time, tell us who you are and what exactly happened 10 years ago, that changed your life. Well, you know, I hear a bio when you read a bio and it’s like TEDx speaker, author, and all these things.
And really, I know about resilience only because I have fallen so much and failed and hit rock bottom, and literally had to climb my way out of darkness. And so I share that because sometimes on social media or even, you know, when you read somebody’s bio, it looks like all glamorous and easy. And it’s like, no, I’ve really actually been through hell and back, but you know, 10 years ago, I’m here in California, even though it doesn’t sound like it I’m originally from Texas and 10 years ago, I was, I felt like I’m living the California dream.
Like things are finally good. I had built my business, had I was in the fitness industry. So I’ve been a coach and a trainer for, oh my goodness. Going on 25 years now. And I remarried after being divorced twice, we had a daughter together. After we’d been told we wouldn’t be able to have children.
And so I was like, oh my goodness. Life is good. And then everything changed. In the blink of an eye. I, you know, I was doing fitness videos sponsored by Nike. I was nationally recognized as a health coach, been in shape magazine and, and health magazine and contributed articles to them on, you know, often.
And so I was like, oh my goodness. Life is good. And then everything changed. In the blink of an eye. I, you know, I was doing fitness videos sponsored by Nike. I was nationally recognized as a health coach, been in shape magazine and, and health magazine and contributed articles to them on, you know, often.
And I had run my best time, 11 miles. I was an avid runner. I used to teach people how to pace themselves for marathons and I’m on my Harley coming down Ventura Boulevard. And I see this guy and I thought he saw me, but apparently he did. And he punched it out of a driveway and hit me. I didn’t really have time to do anything, but just try to let go of the clutch and jump off my motorcycle.
And it was too late. I was thrown about 30 feet and I just remember sliding across the asphalt. And then as I’m sliding, I was trying to like curl into the fetal position. Cause I couldn’t tell if I was gonna, I, my, I was like, I’m going to be hit by another car. I couldn’t tell if I was sliding into oncoming traffic or what.
And so I finally stopped and I looked down at my leg and I only looked at it once because it’s crazy. When you look down and you see something that looks like it’s out of a horror movie, I mean, there was blood everywhere. It was completely broken into pieces. My foot was dangling off and I didn’t want to let go of it because I felt like if I let go, my leg was going to fall off and I just started screaming, you know?
W few cuss words in between there and like call 9 1, 1. And people started coming over to me. And I think I realized at that moment that this must be pretty bad because one lady fainted, other people, they weren’t running over to me. They were walking slowly with a horrified look on their face. And this one guy, I wish I knew who he was to this day.
I don’t know who he, who he was or his, he saved my life because my femoral artery was severed. And I didn’t know, you can bleed out. Within minutes when your femoral artery is severed. And so he made a tourniquet on my leg right away. Paramedics got there really quick. I was put in the ambulance, my husband made it to the scene.
And to this day he still answers his phone. He used to like screen calls and he was like, all of a sudden his phone was blowing up. All these people were calling him and he finally answered and they said, your wife’s in the street. He made it to the scene. We got to the hospital and my husband’s, he’s retired now, but he’s a Lieutenant commander with a highway patrol.
And so news and the brotherhood and sisterhood of the police horse travels fast. And so the whole ER, was just filled with cops and I heard this. Like wailing, like this cry, like I’ve never heard a sound like this. And I realized it was my husband and he was crying hysterically. And he’s a big, tough guy.
He’s this strong guy. I’ve never seen him cry. And at that moment I thought, oh my gosh, maybe I’m not going to live through this. And so I yelled across the, the ER, I was like, honey, get over here. I need you to be strong for me right now. And he came over and grabbed my hand and I really needed to know that he was going to pull it together.
Cause I might be done here on the table. And that’s the last thing I remember before they put me in induced coma because I was basically, all my organs were shutting down. I’d lost so much blood. They couldn’t control my pain. And when I woke up, as when I learned, the doctors, the first thing that they said was, You got a 1% chance of saving your leg.
It’s it’s basically a war wound. We’re going to have to go ahead and amputate it. And I was devastated because that was my livelihood running was my therapy. I was a professional dancer before I was a fitness trainer. I was doing all these fitness videos and so I was like, whoa, wait a minute. We’re not going to amputate it.
You said I have a 1% chance. So that means there’s still a chance. We got to find a doctor. Who’s willing to take that chance with me. And let me tell you, David, that took an act of God to get me transferred to a doctor, but we found a doctor got transferred and it took 34 surgeries months in the hospital and thousands of prayers, a lot of grit, and they saved my leg piece by piece.
They put it back together. Unbelievable story. You know, it’s not just the tragedy of what happened on that day, but it’s the recovery, right? The rehabilitation 34 surgeries. I can’t even imagine. Well, you know, it’s, it’s crazy. So when I, first of all, when I first came out of a coma, when you are in a coma on life support, you have these tubes, they put Vaseline on your eyes and then you have this tube that goes in your mouth and you can’t talk.
And so I wake up out of a coma and my arms are flailing around and I’m trying to rip the tube out of my mouth. And they’re like, no, no, no, don’t do that, honey. The nurse was like, honey, don’t do that. And they’re like, I think she’s trying to talk. I think she’s trying to tell us something. And so get her a pen and a pad.
And they brought over a pen and a piece of paper and I kind of scribbled out. The first thing I wrote was get off my tubes. Cause my husband was leaning over me. He had tears in his eyes and he was cutting off the air and I couldn’t breathe. And the second thing I wrote was. Please don’t tell Savannah that’s my oldest daughter.
I had no idea how long I’d been in a coma. I had no idea she was on an eighth grade school trip and I didn’t want her to worry. So, you know, it, it was the process of all those surgeries was really one day at a time. And I mean, look, had I known I was going to have to have 34 surgeries and had I known that I would live in constant chronic pain for the rest of my life.
Maybe. I would say, let’s go ahead and cut it off. But I wanted to try, but in fact, about a year after my accident, you know, I about three and a half months afterwards, I was diagnosed as a result of the trauma with a disease called complex regional pain syndrome, which it’s dubbed the suicide disease because there’s no known cure cure it’s caused by trauma or surgery.
It’s mostly common in women. And since there is no known cure and ranked highest on the pain scale, people kill themselves because they can’t take the pain or they slowly kill themselves with, drugs and alcohol or anything else they can numb themselves out with. And so about a year after the accident, I had this brilliant idea.
I went to the doctor and I was like, I’ve got the solution. Look, doc, I know y’all have worked hard to save this leg, but it’s just not serving me. I it’s gives me pain all the time. We need to go ahead and cut it off. And he was like, We can’t do that. He said, you’ve got CRPS. And if we do that, it could make the disease spread or it could make, you know, it can make it worse.
So that’s not an option for you. And that is when I think my real recovery journey began because I mean, growing up, you know, in Texas, an athlete, and a dancer, I knew about grit and hard work. And I had started a business from the ground up. And I knew that if you just put the hard work in, you know, the blessings will come, things will get better.
You just got to keep up. Well, here I was told it’s never going to get better, no matter how hard you work. You’re going to need to get back in your wheelchair and put your leg up forever. You’re going to be permanently disabled. So you probably won’t be able to wear shoes. And if you do wear shoes, they’re going to be orthotics.
And I was like, I pretty much stopped listening to that doctor who diagnosed me when he said you will be permanently disabled and you’ll never be able to work. And, that’s when I really kind of had to dig deep and hit rock bottom. And it was a moment when I was like, oh my gosh, I have a choice here. I can keep going down this road, a despair, or like a hung onto that 1% of hope I can choose to get out of this.
And I think once we realize we have a choice, we take our power back. Yeah. I want to ask you about that specifically. I appreciate you breaking that down for us. Like you, you didn’t deal with the recovery. Well, from what I understand, right? Like in the, you know, in the initial years that followed, right?
Like you didn’t deal with it. Well, can you do my sucked? I’m the worst. Yeah. From a physical perspective, obviously it’s not easy. Right. But from the mental standpoint, you weren’t dealing with it. Well, correct. Like what? God, I was in denial. I was in such denial. I, when I was diagnosed with this disease, Screw that I don’t have it.
I’m not going to believe you. And I’m going to go find me a doctor. That’s going to tell me otherwise. And so I went to the second doctor and he goes, yeah, I mean, I was, you know, dressed in my jeans and trying to look my best and healthiest. And I had boots on and like covering up all my scars and everything.
And I walked into the doctor’s office with a smile on my face and. If you’ve ever been to any kind of a pain doctor or doctor that deals with any kind of neurological pain disorders or anything like that. Let me tell you, the waiting room is not often the most uplifting place people are, you know, are in pain.
Most of the time miserable. They’re giving up on life a lot of times, or they’re so drugged up and they’re drooling out of the side of their mouth. I mean, I can say that because I’ve been all of those things. So no judgment here I’ve I’ve been there. But when I walked into the office, he looked at me just by looking at me, he was like, yeah, no, I don’t think you’ve got CRPS, but let’s just do an exam.
So I’m like, okay. So unzipped my boots. He looks at my leg, he starts examining me and his he’s like, oh no, you, you definitely have it. We need to start radical treatment. And I was still like, In disbelief. Like, I don’t not believe you. I’m not gonna. And it’s kinda like if somebody is diagnosed with, you know, they say you have diabetes and you’re like, no, I don’t and you don’t go take your insulin.
So I went to another doctor and the third doctor that diagnosed me, I burst into tears and I was like, this. Sucks. This is my life. Like this is I’m going to have to live with this for the rest of my life, but I’ve got big plans. I’ve got things to do. And so I still was in denial a little bit. I did not want to take medication.
On the outside, I was trying to pretend like everything was okay. And on the inside I was dying inside, but I didn’t want people to know that something was wrong with me or that I had a disease or that I was in pain. And I was trying everything to get out of pain. I mean, we spent, we had $2.9 million worth of medical expenses from all the surgeries.
Now we were borrowing money borrowed $20,000 from a friend of ours who we’ve paid back with interest to get ketamine infusions. I was trying anything and everything to get out of pain. And I was a good candidate for any snake oil salesman or charlatan that was saying, I can get you out of pain. I was like, okay, I didn’t care how much it costs.
I was going to try it. And I was on 73 homeopathic pills along with 11 different prescription medications. And when nothing was working, I remember having a glass of wine one night and going, oh, Well, this kind of numbs out the pain and this kinda stuffs down my feelings of being unworthy. And, you know, I, I, I didn’t love myself.
I was embarrassed and felt shame, but by the way, I looked and kind of helps numb all that out. Well, wonder why the doctor didn’t just tell me to have a glass of wine. And I remember thinking, you know, the next time I had a glass of wine, you know, this, didn’t probably the healthiest thing to do, but if this is what I have to do to get through the day, then I guess this is just what I’ll have to do.
And I come from a family of addiction, but I was always the go getter, the fitness girl, the one who was going to do something with her life. And so I was never a drinker or a partier. I was already, you know, I was always working and I mean, I would say, you know, when I was young, And all my friends that were in college party and going to bars, they were busy partying and I was busy collecting their tips.
And so now I started drinking and, and let me tell you that worked until it didn’t and my life came crumbling down pretty fast and to the point where I didn’t want to live anymore. And, I think by the grace of God and for my two daughters, and I share that David, cause I know you’ve got two daughters and what blessing, what a blessing it is to have kids because.
That’s what pulled me through. And I thought, you know, cause I was thinking, oh, they can find a different mom. My husband deserves a better wife. I’m just a burden, like all these things. And then I thought, no, I want to show my daughters what it means to be the Victor of your life and not the victim, what it means to be resilient instead of living in despair.
And so I think the first step to getting better was to admit and accept where I was. And that was hard sometimes on your journey to do that, man, that w that’s profound, that’s really, really profound. It’s true. You know, when you have a family and children, you’re, you’re, it’s not about you anymore, right?
It’s about them. So what was that turning point? Like, can you pinpoint a specific day or, a thought or something that made you say I’m changing my situation? I’m I’m, I’m going to change my life. Yeah, well, you know what, I’ve, I’ve actually never shared that, that moment, but you know, our member, we were remodeling our house.
And so we, you know, moved out of our house and we were in, it was when we had these gas leaks in Porter ranch. So there were no houses available, to rent. Everything was completely saturated. And so the only thing we could find left was Charlie Chaplin’s old house. It was Charlie Chaplin’s house. And everything was like, yeah, it was miniature.
Like everything was small and everything was really old. They didn’t want to like redo much. So it was like really old and creaky and weird and dark. And at this time my drinking had S like really. I was drinking every day at this point. And I had stopped working. So that really, because I didn’t feel I had a purpose, I kinda lost my drive.
And, and, and so I was drinking more to try to just cope with the pain. And I think a lot of us, you know, when we have any kind of pain or trauma, if you’re, you know, for me, it was drinking to kind of numb out. But so many of us, you know, overwork or overeat or, or speed date or whatever it is that we overdo or worry about others more instead of taking a look at ourself and our member.
And being in that house and I had a bottle of wine and I poured it down the drain and I thought, there’s got to be more than this. This is not what I am meant for. I, I am not here to just waste my life away. And I remember pour that down the drain. And I went to my husband and I said, I think I have a problem.
And you know, like I said, my husband is a cop, he’s a Lieutenant commander. And he was used to seeing people on the street that would drink too much here, arrested people like me. Like, I mean, luckily I wasn’t one of those people that was like hopping around in the bars. I was drinking like in solitude and I was trying to hide it from everybody.
So he didn’t even really know how much I was drinking. I was hiding it from everyone, including him. And he was like, you know, Anybody would drink if they had to live with the pain that you’re living with, anybody would do what you’re doing. He goes, you don’t have a problem. And I think. You know, I’m not trying to speak for him, but I think he didn’t want to see me as having a problem with it.
But I knew deep down, like I knew in my heart and soul that I needed help. And I think that’s, people can tell you things, your loved ones can tell you things, but you have to listen to your true self and what you know, and what your heart and your soul and your inner wisdom tells you, because you really do know.
And, and sometimes I think that if we sit still enough and kind of listen, you will get the answers. And I thought I need help. And I called someone that I knew it was so humiliating to call a former client of mine and tell her, I need a, I got a problem. Can you take, can you take me to like a 12 step meeting or something?
And she said, oh yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll help you. And then I never heard from him. And I share that because when you reach out to somebody, it takes a lot of courage. It took every ounce of courage and energy. Cause I was so depressed to reach out for help. And sometimes the person that we reach out can’t they can’t help us.
Maybe they’re too busy. Maybe they forget who knows, but don’t let that stop you for me. I was like, after a week I was like, I’m going to die. If I don’t get help, I’m going to die and I want to live. So I Googled 12 step meetings. I literally Googled it and I found a place that was, open when my daughter would be in school and my husband was at work and I was literally went from sneaking drinking to now I was sneaking, going to meetings and going to get recovery.
So it was like so crazy, but, and it was so scary to do that. So, I mean, to anyone listening, if you’re struggling or you’re in a place where you feel, cause I think pain has a way of making us feel isolated. Like people don’t, they’re like no one would ever understand what I’m going through or, you know, but I can guarantee you, there are people that are struggling with the same exact thing that you’re going through, whether it’s not, not necessarily drinking, whether it’s like a relationship troubles or your businesses failing or whatever your struggle is right now.
And I promise if you reach out. And share with somebody that you trust or you find a safe place to share, and you realize that, oh my gosh, I’m not the only one that’s dealing with this. It gives you hope and you start to build community. And you like when you see somebody that has overcome something, you’re like, yeah, if they did it, I can do it too.
And so it took a long time for me to go through healing. I mean, I still struggle daily. I don’t have it all together. I’m still learning. I still, I think that, recovery and transformation and resilience is something it’s not necessarily a destination, but it’s like a lifelong progress and process that we continue to learn and grow and evolve.
And so I’m, if anybody’s struggling, I would really encourage you just to reach out. You don’t have to do it alone. Cause I know it feels very alone sometimes, and I don’t want people to ever feel alone like. It’s super powerful, you know, in, in talking about this, you know, it would have been easy to justify it, right.
Justify it, or, you know, there’s a sense of denial too, with you and your spouse now, it’s not, you know, that’s not me. Right. So the next question would be what specific steps did you take maybe even daily to turn your life around and turn that tragedy into triumph? Well, you know what? I was so willing to do whatever I could to get better, feel better and transform my life mentally, physically, and spiritually.
And, you know, I don’t even share that. I’m sober until probably, I don’t know. Maybe I was probably sober for about two years before I even told people that I was sober, but it’s. Something, I work on every single day to get better. And I think that I have, non-negotiables for me. So non-negotiables for me are like in the morning I start my day every day.
It doesn’t matter if I’m on vacation or I have the busiest day that starts at 5:00 AM or, whatever. It’s a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, whatever I have my morning ritual. So I have that time in the morning so I can get really grounded with gratitude before I, even before my feet hit the floor, I say a prayer.
And I say, because there’s a lot of mornings David, where I’m just like, I just, the other day I was like, oh my gosh, I could sleep for 30 more minutes that my husband’s snoring. And I was like, good Lord another day. And he’s snoring. And I’m like, wait a minute. No. How about, thank you. Thank you for this day.
Thank you. That he’s breeding because I think a lot of times we can get caught up and oh, good Lord. Another day, instead of. Thank you Lord. And so I start and, you know, some people get weirded out with a God or Lord or whatever. I know I grew up very religious and I’m more spiritual than religious. And one of my friends shares Gus, so God universe, spirit.
So she always says, let Gus drive your bus. And so I love that. I’m like, yep, I gotta let Gus drive the bus, let him take charge. You know, I, I need help here, but I pray. I get up. I, I read out of either a spiritual book or self-development book. I write a journal. I think about what my intentions are, what my lists are, you know, I’m big on lists and writing out things because it’s so easy to get distracted nowadays, when you don’t know what your priorities or your intentions are, especially with that dang clubhouse app.
Now pinging you every five seconds. And I’m like, I want to go in that room. I want to go, but I really, I don’t check my phone. And I even have a bedtime app thing on my phone that drives my husband crazy because it won’t allow calls to come in. It like shuts my phone down between eight forty five and six o’clock in the morning.
And so I do that because I want to be really intentional about my day. So I still go to, recovery meetings. It’s a big part of, you know, my sobriety comes first. If it, if I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t have my health. Wouldn’t be here, sitting here, talking with you, you have the honor to do that.
And so I really focus on what I can do to keep my sobriety, what I can do to strengthen, my connection with my higher power, which is prayer and what I can do to keep me stronger physically, which is move my body because when. Yes, moving your body, get you stronger. All the things that we know, but for me moving my body as my medicine, it really moves my mindset and it releases endorphins that combat pain.
So a lot of people in pain think, oh, I don’t want to move. Cause it’s gonna make me hurt worse. But actually when you move your body, it not just moves your mindset, it combats pain. And so that’s a big part of my day and things that I do. And I’m always reaching out to other people because for so long, I tried to do everything on my own and it didn’t work.
And so I think when we have community it’s powerful, when we can come together and support one another. So I have an accountability partner. I text every morning. I have a God squad. We reach out to each other throughout the week, so whatever you can do. And then I have a group of entrepreneurs that we, you know, we, we reach out and we talk to each other about our struggles with podcasting or launching our mastermind or our courses or whatever it may be.
So I think it’s really powerful to have community. And that’s a great thing about a mastermind too, is it gives you that connection with other people that are like-minded going through similar things. I’ve heard you say that, pain has been one of your biggest teachers. Can you explain that? Well, yeah, for so long, you know, growing up, I was taught to suck it up and cowgirl up and hide your crazy and be a lady don’t don’t admit that something’s wrong.
You don’t want to be a burden. And then as a dancer, It didn’t matter if your feet were bleeding. I danced on point ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop. And so I lived at the dance studio and I remember when I first got on point and we were going across the floor doing pure wets, and I was slowed down and my teacher was like, come on Amberly.
And I was like, but Ms. Jackie, my toes are bleeding. She goes, I don’t care. Suck it up. The show must go on. And so it didn’t matter in track when I would run. I remember, you know, being in Texas and it’d be a hundred degrees with a hundred percent humidity and you would run so hard that you had to throw up and the coach would just be like off the track to throw up and keep running.
So I Le I learned grit. I learned to suck it up, and I really learned something that I’ve had to unlearn, which was to ignore. Pain and ignore what my body was telling me. And it wasn’t until I had this accident and I was pushing, pushing, pushing, trying my best to, to, to get back to training clients. And I was training clients and, you know, I’m on crutches.
I was training clients in a wheelchair and believe it or not, you know, I didn’t think anybody would want to train with me, but my business boomed. Cause they’re like, dude, if that girl can get in shape in a wheelchair, that I am going to train with her, I have no excuses. And so, but I was pushing and pushing and pushing and I kept ending up in the ER and.
One, not, you know, one day I had this, a red kind of lying a little bit, going up my foot. And my, my foot always hurts. The complex regional pain syndrome is in my foot and it always hurt. But that day I was on my way to go give a motivational speech in front of this new group of entrepreneurs. And I was like, I had adrenaline going.
And so that kind of numbed out the pain a little bit and I hurt, but I was like, I got to push through this. I got to do it that night. We get home. My foot felt like it was going to explode. I put my leg up on the kitchen table and the line, the red line is starting to go up my leg. And I looked and I knew that meant infection.
And so, I finished doing homework with my daughter, put the dishes away and I said, honey, I got to go down to the ER and just have them take a look at this. Maybe give me some antibiotics. I’ll be back. So I went to the hospital and they were. We have to admit you right away. This is serious. You’ve got a severe infection.
And if we don’t get to this, you, you could lose your leg because the metal can be infected. And I’m like, oh, what a pain? Okay. Whatever. I still didn’t get it. I still didn’t get it. And it wasn’t until literally, maybe three months later, I felt horrible. I felt like I had the worst flu ever. And I, I was gonna go to the doctor and my husband comes upstairs and he, he yells up.
I thought you were going to the doctor. And I screamed down. I said, help me. I started shaking. My whole body started going into convulsions and he comes over and he holds me down trying to get me to stop shaking. And he calls our friend, who’s a doctor and says, oh my God, Amberly feels sick. Now she’s shaking.
He said, you need to get her to the ER right away. So. By this time, my husband has been to the hospital so many times with me, he goes up to the hospital, drops me off at the ER. I walk in the doctor, checked me out and I told him, I said, yeah, I don’t feel well. I said, I think I might have like a kidney infection or something.
And he comes back. They, you know, do a bunch of tests. They come back and he said, you don’t look like you should be this sick, but you’re septic. You’re basically you’re dying. We’ve got to put you in ICU. And it was at that point, it took me almost dying here. I survived. This accident, survived. All these surgeries, got out of the hospital without one infection for my leg only to be pushing myself so hard and not listening to the pain that to the doctors came in on that, that time I was in the hospital and they said, if you would’ve waited one more day, you would have been dead.
So when I got out of ICU and I got out of the hospital, one day, we were dropping my daughter off and, my husband goes, you’re really quiet. And I said, yeah, I’m scared. He goes, oh, you can’t be scared. You can’t, you can’t be scared. You’re my rock. I need you to be strong. You’re my rock. You can’t. And I was like, oh, okay.
I’m not scared. You know, but it was, it was a moment where I was like, wow, you know, we have this one. Gift this life that we have. And it’s really amazing how our body works and pain is an indicator it’s telling us that something’s wrong, but we don’t need to ignore it or try to suck it up or numb it out or, or stuff it down.
If we don’t deal with the pain, I mean, pain demands to be heard, and it will show up in every aspect of your life. It’ll show up in the way that you parent it’ll show up in your health. It’ll show up in your relationships. It’ll show up how you do your business. So if we don’t feel the pain and listened to it and take some action steps to get better.
It will take, take us down. I mean, I think that there’s power in the pause and we have to pause and check in with ourselves before our health forces us to pause again, deep, listen to yourself, listen to your body, intuition, all that stuff plays into that. So I think that’s important. I want to ask you about the, the topic of self image. So you are a fitness coach for many years. You were successful at that. You were doing great things. So self image and how you presented yourself would have been important naturally.
Right. So how did you deal with self-image after and what can you say to someone who’s struggling with self-image with or without an act. Oh, it’s tough now. Isn’t it with like social media and everything looks so glamorous and every, you know, there’s, it’s human nature to tend to compare. And let me tell you in the hospital, I cried and I remember the moment it hit me.
Like once I realized, okay, I’m alive. And I remember sitting in the hospital and I couldn’t sleep because every three hours they would come and they would rip these bandages off my legs to have to change the bandages. And so I would count down the minutes until they would come to do that. And I was sitting there watching some infomercial about how to get a Brazilian button.
I was like, oh, I’m never going to have Brazilian, but not, I’m never going to wear a bikini. And I’m all deformed now. And oh my God, I have all these scars. And I was like, Like spiraling into a pity party. And I know that seems so shallow, but yeah, my whole life from being a professional dancer and being an Elle magazine for fitness and shape and infomercial and, um, with body by Jake and sponsored by Nike, my, my business card, I was a, basically a walking billboard for my business.
I was the picture of health. I was in the best shape of my life. And now I was lying in a bed I’d lost about 20 pounds of muscle. I had bedsores all over me and my leg was scarred and deformed from the hip down. And when I got out of the hospital is when it really started to kick in and I. I really hated my leg, hated myself.
I felt like I had no self-worth because my worth before was all on how much money I made, what I could contribute to the family. As far as like how much, what I did. I was a kind of an overachiever and, and I had nothing and would my husband loved me anymore. And our member, when I was finally after months of, of being bedridden and being able to put something over my leg, it was a hot California day.
And I was putting some baggy pants and boots that would hide my scar. And my girlfriend was like, you know, it’s like a hundred degrees outside and you’re wearing those big tall boots. And I remember saying that. I am always going to wear big tall boots. Cause I don’t want anybody to ever see all of these scars.
And I used to get in the swimming pool and cry because my husband kind of freaked out when he would see me cry. So I would get in the swimming pool and cry over my situation and the way I looked, cause I thought, well, you can’t see the tears cause of the water in the pool. And so I was a mess and it wasn’t until again, I radically accepted the way that I looked because I thought, you know, sometimes our confidence gets knocked out of us.
Our resilience gets knocked out of us and it’s up to us to rebuild it. And sometimes it helps if we have somebody around us that can help us do that for me. Thank God. I had a doctor that really shifted that for me, and really started to allow me to, to accept and love my leg a little bit more. And all we need is a little bit, and that can grow into a lot.
And it was a day I went in to go see him and he took my leg and he sat down in front of me. And this is the doctor that saved my leg in my life. And he looked and he put my leg in his lap. And I remember thinking, I can’t believe he’s putting mine gross leg in his lap. Like, and he looked at it like it was a piece of art.
Like it was his masterpiece. It was. I had a 1% chance of saving it and he saved it and tears just came out and something shifted in me and I thought, wow, if he can look at it that way, maybe I can learn to do the same thing. And so every day after that, instead of look at my leg is disgusting and worthless.
And just focusing on the pain that it gave me, I started really getting grateful for it. I got grateful for the scars and looked at them as the, the, you know, the, all that I had survived and, what my leg could do for me instead of what it couldn’t, you know, like it was healing every day. It was able to carry me and, and I was able to walk.
And I also wanted my daughters to know that. It’s not about perfect. It’s about progress and it’s about showing up every damn day and doing the best that you can do and, and loving yourself through those hard times. And I wanted them to, to know that, you know, to love every, whether you want to call it flaw on, you know, cause you know, or imperfection, that’s what makes you uniquely you.
And so I’ve also learned to laugh at myself a lot, you know, and, and, and just the other day, and I learned so much from my kids, you know, we were getting ready to take a bath. And my daughter, this is, this is a while ago. She goes, she goes, we’re sitting there, we’re getting in the tub. And I said, oh Ruby.
I said, you don’t even remember when my leg was better. Do you? Cause I was looking down at all my scars and shoe. Well, mama, your legs better now. And I’m like, you’re right. It’s all perspective. And we have the ability to shift our perspective with a simple, just change in the way we word things or look at things.
And it’s not necessarily our circumstances, but how we look at them. And so if we can learn to look at ourselves with love and appreciation and gratitude, it’s helpful. It really is. Yeah. That’s well, there’s a lot to learn, from your words or it’s not about perfect. It’s about progress. That’s really, that’s really good.
Okay. So the book, true grit and grace turning tragedy into triumph. What was the catalyst behind writing the book? Like why did you write it and what is it. I wrote the book to give others hope, to give them the inspiration, to overcome any challenge they might be having, whether it is from, you know, the shame that comes along from sexual abuse.
Cause I was abused by my stepfather as a little girl, whether it’s trauma. I share my experience, strength and hope around that. Whether it’s, you know, sobriety, whether it’s having to start over and reinvent yourself at any age and get letting go of those limiting beliefs. And so I really wanted to write a book to empower.
Anybody to get really clear on their vision and to go after their goals. And I kinda thought to myself, well, if I can help one person get through a hard time, then it will have served its purpose. Then, then I can turn my pain to purpose. And let me tell you, my husband was like, yeah, you want to write a book, whatever you don’t even own a computer.
You know, I heard from so many naysayers that were like, yeah, good luck with that. And then when I got a publisher, they’re like, oh wow, you’re really going to do that. Then when I got a call from NBC and Megan Kelly wanted to interview me, I think that’s when people were like, oh, dang, she’s really doing this book.
I’m like, yeah. So I share that about getting the call from NBC. And I share the experience of not owning a computer because I want, you know, there’s like 80% of people that want to write about. And if you’re listening to this right now, and you want to write a book, this is your son to write the book, just start, start today.
Start now. Even if it’s a paragraph a day, it took me two years to write my book. Then I went out and bought a computer, took a class at apple to learn how to use it. And then Google was my best friend and I Googled how to do everything. I had to learn how to market it because the publisher was like, we don’t mark it.
So if you want to get that book out there, it’s up to you. So I’m sharing that because I told myself who am I to write a book who’s going to want to listen to me, but my, my why and my purpose behind it far outweighed my fear. And I think when you can focus on and you know, your why you can get through almost anyhow, anything is possible.
Right? So that, that brings up an interesting topic, which is. No, your personal brand and your marketing now, like you’ve been able to market yourself really effectively. I mean, you’re considered an influencer now. Like how did you start marketing yourself, right? Yeah. But how did you, I mean, basically you start, you reinvent yourself and your marketing and branding yourself from scratch.
Right. God, from, from scratch. When I was, when I had my company for fitness training, it was that I started that way before there was any kind of, Instagram or Facebook or anything. So I didn’t even, I had a website for that, but all of my business was word of mouth and, so I really started from scratch.
And when I started my Instagram, I had like, I don’t know, couple of hundred followers. And it was mostly pictures of my kids and my dog or whatever. I mean, it was like, I basically started Instagram when I first got an account, so I could stock my oldest daughter and see what she was up to. And I barely knew how to work it.
And then when I found out they were like, you have to market this. I was like, oh, wow. Okay. I did not know how to market. I didn’t know what I was doing. And still don’t really, I mean, I, I, I’ve learned a lot along the way. And I say, I don’t know what I’m doing, but apparently some of it’s working because I’ve been on some pretty big media outlets and I think.
The reason why is because I really think the reason why, because I had, I did this speaking event and we got on stage and we had to give a free giveaway from, for the audience. And so I gave away gratitudes big in my life. I gave away a free downloadable gratitude journal. The guy after me gets on, he gives away a million dollar home.
I am not kidding you. So I walk up to him afterwards. I was like, how do you compete? I was like, dude, wait a one up me. I was like, I didn’t know who he was. I was just like giving him a hard time. I was like, wow, you gave away a home. That’s awesome. I had to leave anyway. He looked me up and he called me and he said, Hey, Amberli, I found you, I spoke at that event with you and I found you.
And I just wanted to say, you know, your, your branding and your social media is awesome. We would love to hire the company that you use to do that. Now I was like, well, that would be me. And they’re like, no, no, but who does your branding and everything? That would be me. He goes, well, how did you build an engaged audience?
And I said, I listen to my audience. I said, I listened to them. I hear them. I respond to them and I love them. They’re like my family. And I spent hours a day when I first started in sometimes hours. Now I’ll tell you right now, let me just look. I’m going to look right now and see my insights and be brutally honest with how much time this is just on Instagram, because people, you know, people think like, how do you do it?
And, and a lot of it is like, I spend a lot of time on it. Because for me, my social media, I got my TEDx talk. I booked the 10th anniversary TEDx. Because the curator found me on Instagram. And so, you know, at first my husband, my family was like, we can’t stand you on social media. You spend like, you know, and I’ve, I dedicate certain hours where like they’re asleep or I know that it’s not going to interfere with family time or other times, but I, I sold out of books.
It, every single book signing across the country because of social media. So there’s really a lot of power in social media about getting your brand out there. But I really think so. I’ll tell you, I average, this is embarrassing. I’m going to tell you this though. I average two hours and 46 minutes a day on Instagram alone.
And now there are going to be people like Brendon Burchard and other people who are going to be like, you’re wrong. That’s terrible. You should only be averaging 30 minutes, but for me. Bookout, so many speaking events, so many clients, so many jobs through Instagram. So that’s kind of where a hangout. I, that doesn’t seem out of the realm of like, it doesn’t seem crazy to me, to be honest, like for, you know, the size of your following and what you’re doing.
I think if you’re promoting a book or your, you know, your branding or you’re doing what you’re doing, I think you have to spend a couple hours a day on social media. I think you have to ask Brad. I mean, Brad probably spends, I mean, he’s always on Instagram constantly, you know, he’s doing the lives and everything else, but, you know, success leaves clues, right?
You gotta put the time and in the work, you know, and the results will show up. You can’t, I feel like it’s kinda difficult to say, Hey, listen, I’m going to grow my brand, but I’m only going to commit to like 29 minutes a day. And that’s it. Like, I think that’s really tough to do, which actually you brought it up, which I think is interesting is the TEDx, right?
Like how did you book the TEDx and what was that experience? Well, I think it’s so important. And here’s another thing a lot of times people think on social media, you know, I’ve coached people now who would have ever thought that I’d be coaching people on how to do their social media and stuff. But I actually, that’s one of the things that people come to me to ask them, like, how do I start to build a following?
How, how do I post, what do I post those things? And I’ve actually had people that were, they would just post and not engage. And the thing is it’s social media, because it’s social, it’s meant to build community and connection, especially at times like this. And so, I’ve had to tell people it’s not just about putting something up there, but I know how important it was for me when I just needed to be seen and heard.
Like I was so like struggling so much. And if somebody that I looked up to just acknowledged like, Hey, hang in there. Or. It, it carried me a long way. So I know what that feels like. So I like to really see and hear people and I would have to tell them it’s not just about posting and then that’s it like going engage with your you’re there with your audience.
And so this TEDx curator had been following me for a year. I had no idea they were a curator. They were watching not just what I was posting. They were watching the way I responded to people and what I was doing on social media. So they were reading my responses and everything. And when they reached out to me through a DM, I thought it was a joke at first.
And I was like, okay, well, here’s my. Here’s my email looking forward to hearing from you, I think, and I’ll whatever I’ll never hear from a TEDx curator. Well, it was, and it was TEDx as one of the most prestigious TEDx stages. I mean, that TEDx stage was the most, and I’ve spoken on some big stages with Mel Robbins and Lewis Howes, and Jay Shetty.
This stage was beautiful and intimidating as hell. Let me tell you, and I mean, it was like a two balconies and bucket seats that went up. And when I finally. You know, got the call. I talked to her on the phone and she’s like, yeah, we want you to come share your message. I was scared to death. And I went and curled up in a ball on the couch with my eyes looking like I was staring like a deer in the headlights.
And I was surprised. Cause I thought I’d be so happy jumping up for joy. And I was scared to death because I’m like, oh my gosh, I have 14 minutes to share the most important message of my life. And that’s when it gets really clear and you have to go, okay, what is the most important message? What is something that if I could share that I would share that people would learn.
And it was a process of really getting over imposter syndrome because you know, when the media went live and I was the only speaker that didn’t have a PhD, the curator told me something that really changed things for me. And I share this so that maybe it’ll show. It for somebody who’s listening right now is when you have that imposter syndrome, you know, first of all, I always think, well, that means you’re about to do something really big and important.
And, and then when I was having feelings like, oh my gosh, I’m not good enough. I’m the only one that doesn’t have a PhD. She said, Amberly, we chose you for this Ted talk because you have a PhD in heart and that’s why we want you on our stage. And I think that’s something we can all have a PhD in is our heart.
And so I always say, get out of your head and stay in your heart. Just whatever you’re going through or whatever you want to share, whatever message you have, let it come from your heart. That’s fantastic. That’s that so much gold, so many gems to take away. That’s, I’m going to be listening to this a few times, cause there’s, there’s so much in there.
Really appreciate that. What projects are you working on now? Like what’s next for Amberly Lago? Well, there is so much going on right now. That’s exciting. Three events coming up. I’m not sure when this is going to come out, but, three events that are coming up, that I’m excited about with Forbes Riley and David Meltzer, and Kevin Harrington will be speaking and you can go to amberlylago.com on my events page.
You know, it’s free tickets for that. But I think the thing that I’m most excited about that’s coming up is my mastermind called your unstoppable life mastermind. I went, I was a part of a mastermind and I know we talked about this a little bit about the power of community, but I was a part of a mastermind and it was really move the needle on my business.
And so I think it’s really important if you’re trying to do big things in your business or your life or your health is to surround yourself with people who have paved the way before you or like-minded people. So I got certified by the mastermind association to be a mastermind consultant, and we are kicking off the, your unstoppable life mastermind.
And it’s just such a great way to build community, get clarity on your goals and then have people’s council, not opinion. Because people, if you want to write a book and you’re going to your family or your friends, and they’d never written a book, you might get some negative feedback or, you know, they just don’t know how, but if you like, for me, I wanted to write a book.
I went to somebody who had written 75 books, bestselling books. He’s like, oh yeah, you want to write a book. All you need to do is this, this and this. And so, when you can surround yourself with good counsel, it makes a big difference in your business and in your life. Yeah, that’s a great point. You have to do it if you want to be.
So you gotta, you know, you gotta be with like-minded people and those that push you and, you know, the classic saying if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room, you know, we all know that. Yeah. Yeah. And it helps to have the accountability, you know, to like, okay, what are you showing up with next week?
And you’re like, oh, I don’t want to show up to the mastermind and not have it done. So, you know, it’s good to have that accountability. I know I’m in a pretty highly curated mastermind group too. And the pressure’s on, you know, that we break off into small committees and then, you know, you’ve got to bring it.
You can’t just show up and not be prepared, you know? So, It’s amazing though. Isn’t it like? I mean, I love it. I’ll show you. I even have this, like we’ve we have paddles and stuff. It’s like, here’s when you’re going down the crazy train and you’re getting off key. We like crazy train. Get back on track.
Here’s when your time is up and stop. Oh my God. I love that. So I’ve got paddles.
I can get, yeah, the crazy train going down, Tom, don’t wand it up. You know, let’s stay on track, but, but I love the mastermind because you know, you get two minutes to declare who you are, what your goal is and what your challenge is. Then everybody in the group, you got about two minutes to ask clarifying questions, and then everybody gives you, counsel and based on their experience or what they’ve done.
And not just that, but the connections that you make through masterminds, whether it’s getting on different podcasts or maybe somebody knows a publisher or a publicist, or, that’s, what’s been really helpful. And I think everybody in the mastermind that I was in before I went to get to be a consultant for mastermind, I think every one of those people has been on my podcast.
Oh, that’s awesome. That’s so cool. You know, you’re right. The networking, the connections, it’s invaluable. That’s the stuff you can’t put a price on, you know? What, what do you do for fun? What do you know what I love hanging out with my family at the barn. That is my daily reprieve to have fun is to go to the barn.
My daughter rides her horse and seeing the joy on her face. I would like to get a horse of my own. She’s got a horse and I usually will walk the trails and I walked behind her and she rides and I’m always like, can I ride your horse? And she’s like, no, you can’t ride my horse, but I just enjoy being out in nature.
I think so often now we’re behind computer screens or any kind of screens. And like we said earlier, I’m on social media a lot. And so I think getting out in nature is where I have my fun. It’s where I find time to play. It’s where I recharge. And it’s also where I really connect to my higher power. So I like being out in the.
Great thoughts. Hopefully everybody’s paying attention to that. Get outside everyone, get outside out, get some sunshine, get some bottom and day move. Cause it’s easy to sit. Well. Yeah, depending on what state province or city you’re in, you know, they can find you in the house. So, you know, you gotta make know.
Well, my family and Texas is in a snow storm right now. It’s two degrees there. So yeah, maybe stay inside, but do some jumping jacks or something. Perfect. Here’s one. That’ll make you think. If you could have dinner with any three people in history, pastor present, who would they be and why? First would probably be Elon Musk.
Because my 12 year old has a huge crush on him. I mean, she’s loves him. I mean, not in a weird way. He really admires him. In fact, I had may Musk on my podcast. I interviewed her on my podcast and I was really making about her and her book. But I did say, Hey, my 12 year old has a top Tesla, account like a fan account for your son.
And, if I don’t ask you one question about him, she’s going to kill me. So I think I would probably, he, you know what, he just, the things he says, I love that he’s so upfront and says it like it is like he was on clubhouse and someone asked, what would you tell an entrepreneur to keep them motivated?
And he was. If don’t be an entrepreneur, if you’re not motivated, that’s what he would tell them. So yeah, I would have dinner with him and just want to sit and listen to what he said. I think probably Oprah, I would just want to sit and listen to her and then Brad Pitt, because he’s so hot. Brad Pitt. I love him.
Yeah. Final question. Amberly. You’re opening a bottle of champagne one year from now celebrating something you’ve accomplished. What would the. I would be opening a bottle of sparkling apple cider. Cause I’m sober and I would be celebrating the, sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. No, that’s okay. I just had to think about that and I think it’s powerful what we say.
So I wanted to make sure I said that because I want to keep sober. I’m just saying, and I would be celebrating. That I was holding my first in-person event and you were there to hang out with me. And we were about to go over and say hi to Brad Pitt and interview him on our podcast. That’s an incredible answer.
Yeah, I’ll insert the, applause there. That’s a fantastic answer.
That’s great. You know, it’s so funny as I ask, like entrepreneurs, this question, like, you know, very successful, you know, and we talk about goal setting, but when you put somebody on the spot one year from now, what am I celebrating? And it’s very hard. Like they have to think about it long and hard to like, I don’t know, you know, like, I don’t know.
I would say, I would say my next book, but I know how long I know that there’s no way. Even if I started on my next book and finished it today, there’s no way in a year from now, it would be published because the publishing process takes a year up to two years. If you do hybrid or traditional publishing.
So that’s why I didn’t say book, but a book is also in mind, but yeah. That’s awesome. I would love an in-person event because I just love people so much. I love meeting people, especially when I have, and I hope we get to do this in the near future, but when I get to go speak at conferences and I get to meet people that I’ve connected with online, through social media, it is like we cry.
Cause I just, I love getting to connect with people. And that is the, been the biggest gift of my whole entire journey is just the connection with some amazing people. So, yeah. And depending on your personality type, I mean, you get recharged by being with people, you know, like that’s what gives you the energy and being, you know, through this whole pandemic has been really rough on, you know, people that depend on being social for energy, you know, it’s been really, really tough.
So, man, I gotta tell you, I really, really enjoyed this discussion. Good to get to know you better obviously. The story, you have it really, you know, it inspires people that, you know, they can overcome challenges, overcome whatever obstacles they might have with determination, gratitude, and belief in oneself.
That’s for sure. You know? So I really appreciate you jumping on with us. Where do you want the people to find you, follow you on this? Yeah, follow me on Instagram and, and if you want to get a free playbook, I have a goals, grit and grace playbook. And I talk about the pacer method, which is a five step process to tap into your super power of resilience.
If you text the word grit. So just G R I T 2 8 1 8 2 1 4 7 3 7 8. You can get your playbook or you can just text me and say hi and stay connected. But yeah, I’m mostly on Instagram and have some crazy behind the scenes stuff of all the crazy stuff we do with the horses. We just had a pony and a swimming pool, our friend’s swimming pool the other day.
So yeah, reach out, reach out and let me know, you heard it here so I can connect with you. Everybody go follow Amberly on Instagram and then where do you. Everyone to go to get the book, to buy the book. Oh, you can get the book. Probably the easiest way is Amazon. It’s true. Grit and grace. It is on audible.
Yeah, that’s a whole story that was harder than it’s seen, but it’s on audible. You can get it on Amazon. You can get it at my website at amberlylago.com and my Instagram is Amberly Lago motivation, and my podcast is true grit and grace and it’s stories about resilience. So.