How did you get into powerlifting?

How did you get into powerlifting? This was a question asked on the registration form for the USAPL Raw Nationals. I typed an innocuous answer, something about a coach at my gym (JVB) asking if anyone wanted to try powerlifting and I decided sure, why not? I like lifting heavy things. But as I lay in bed after submitting that I realized it was only part of the answer, the easy part. What was missing was the answer to WHY did you get into powerlifting.

I alluded to my answer for WHY in my very first post but even that didn’t get to the heart of the answer. And maybe the answer is ever-evolving and what I am about to write is just the most current understanding I have of WHY.

I got into powerlifting because I believed that having a strong body would influence my state of mind. Strong body = strong mind = strong person. And at the moment in life when I began powerlifting I did not have a strong mind. Or rather, I didn’t have confidence in my strong mind. I was looking for something of a magic bullet to help me believe in myself again and lift me up from the outside in.

As we are learning more each day, being a woman is really hard. From birth (it seems) we are inundated with images of what girls are, should be, and should aspire to be. I never fit any of those molds – I am a smart, short, brunette with a “solid” frame. My eyes I affectionately (OK, derisively) call “shit brown” and I am sarcastic to a fault. And I have always been strong. And not just for a girl. I was the one people asked to lift heavy things and to literally pick them up when they were down.

What did this do for me, growing up in our society? It marginalized me and instead of learning to live my own life I was trying to live the life that I perceived society expected of me: girls should be delicate and tread lightly, not rock the boat. Girls should not be physically stronger than boys – that intimated boys and you would never get a boyfriend that way. Girls should not be intellectually smarter than boys – boys preferred their girls dumber so they could feel superior.

Did I actually believe those things? On some level I must have believed because they certainly influenced me. I broke up with my high school boyfriend because I thought I was too physically aggressive and not “delicate” enough – I outweighed him and it freaked me out. I didn’t try dating anyone else because I didn’t think anyone would be interested in me. I didn’t believe in myself.

Until I met my husband. And boy did he believe in me. Remember that first post where I mentioned rock climbing and kayaking and everything else that I love? Because he believed in me I was better able to believe in myself and try everything that I wanted – whether it was “normal” for a girl or not. These activities helped me gain strength and confidence. All was good but there was a nagging in the back of my mind, like I was missing something. And then in the midst of dark times in my life I found it: lifting heavy things.

Lifting heavy things was like getting back to my roots, getting back to me. I once again felt strong, like the one people could call when they needed help, when they needed someone to help them out of a jam – emotional or physical. In my search for me I found powerlifting and through powerlifting I was lucky enough to find a tribe of supportive women and men, people I can turn to when I am not strong. People who lift me up and believe in me. It’s kind of like Santa exists only as long as you believe in him – I can be strong mentally and physically only as long as I have a group of supportive people who help ME believe in me.

So, what is my REAL answer to the question: how did you get into powerlifting?

I got into powerlifting to strengthen my body and to use that physical strength to help strengthen my mind and my belief in myself. I got into powerlifting to learn who I am and who I will become.


It’s been a week. What happened?

Twin Ports Raw Open Run Down

Last weekend at this time (as of Saturday at 7:15 AM) I was already weighed in and waiting for the meet to start. I was waiting with Ellie for our turns to lift. This was Ellie’s first meet and my first meet-aversary and it promised excitement. Newly enforced rules meant I was weighed in almost two hours before lifting was set to begin. Pre-meet time for me is pretty laid-back. I was mingling with fellow Belles of the Bar, eating oreos, and generally letting off steam before the meet because once the meet starts I’m all business.

I came away a silver medalist. It was about what I expected. But was it what I wanted? To be honest, no. Am I satisfied with my day? Yes. And like you I am struggling a little to reconcile my desire for better and satisfaction with the way I performed.


First off, I went 7 for 9 on my lifts – I missed my third attempt on both bench and deadlift but I hit all three of my squat attempts, topping out at 308 pounds. Both my bench and deadlift tied meet records so I didn’t lose any points so to speak.

My third attempt for bench is probably what I regret the most – I made the lift but was called on a technical – I jumped the press command at the bottom. Even as I pressed and THEN heard the command I knew the lift wasn’t going to count. My 165 pound bench was void.  But, in my defense, I finished the lift and boy was it pretty. Up so smooth. It proved I can bench 165 which means I’ve got more in me. A lot more. And JVB is going to help me out and so I can introduce it at USAPL Raw Nationals in October.

So, you may be asking about the deadlift, my lift. Well, first attempt at 315 flew up – just as expected. Second attempt at 330 went up with no problems. And then I decided to go for it, a cool, hard 363, a 23 pound PR. And you know what? It was heavy and and felt like it didn’t move. BUT, watching the video revealed the truth: it DID move. A fraction. Off the floor. Which means it is within reach. The last time this happened to me in a meet was with 330 – and now I can lift 340 for reps. So I know 363 is there, within my grasp (ha!). So maybe 370, or 380 is within reach for nationals. Afterall I have four months of training ahead of me.

I’ve been taking it easy for the past week, gathering my thoughts and my plans for the next fours months as I begin my training for USAPL Raw Nationals in earnest.

Oh, and here are the final stats for those keeping score:

  • Squat: 308 pounds (140k)
  • Bench: 159 pounds (72.5k)
  • Deadlift: 330 pounds (150k)
  • Total: 799 pounds (362k)
  • Wilks: 312
  • Age-adjusted Wilks: 321

Thanks for all the support. I’m looking forward to continuing to share this journey with you.


One week out…

It’s one week out. Twin Ports Raw Open is June 11th and I’m struggling to get my head back in the game. So many things are happening and I felt that I was on the verge of losing my Destroyer-ness. I know, it happens to the best of us, we can’t all be at the top all of the time, if we didn’t have these times we wouldn’t know what happiness is. Blah, blah, blah.

Back story: 

For the past few years I’ve been struggling periodic bouts of mild depression and for the past two weeks I’ve been in a funk that has thrown me off my game. I’ve been more isolated and less involved in life and it’s hit me where it hurts: my lifting days.

When I began powerlifting about a year and a half ago I was coming out of a pretty dark time – I had been half-heartedly going to the gym once a week and mostly going to work and going home and sleeping. But I was coaxed into the light when someone at the gym mentioned training for a powerlifting competition and I waded in slowly, committing to the training but not the meet because I wasn’t ready for the deep end. By the time that first training cycle had ended I was hooked and I was leaving that dark period behind.

Present day: 

Until recently. What changed? I can’t pinpoint an exact moment or thing but all of a sudden I looked up and the light was receding. Work was becoming overbearing and life had begun to swallow me again. I was working, going to the gym and going home – day in, day out. And this time even lifting hasn’t been able to pull me out. Maybe because I am too close to it now or maybe because I’ve put pressure on myself to perform at a certain level. I don’t know. But I’m tired of it.

I will say that my squat session yesterday and my practice bench press session today were better. And for that I am giving a shout out to JVB, my fearless leader. She said something to me yesterday that in my head I know but needed to be said out loud: at this point in training I shouldn’t be missing lifts and all I should be doing is building confidence – the weight on the bar doesn’t matter.

The weight on the bar doesn’t matter. Do you know how much my heart needed to hear this? My heart and my head have been having a lot of battles lately – they don’t always speak the same language and right now I’m not even certain they are speaking to each other. And now, finally, the heart heard what the head knew: the weight on the bar doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t mean I’m giving up my goals or am going to go light at my meet, it means that I don’t have to reach my goals all at once. Didn’t I have a great deadlift session last week? And how about the squat PR I had a couple weeks ago? Both were legit and valid but my heart was so stuck on a number that it affected my head and prevented me from doing anything. Now I don’t have to focus so much on those numbers.

Today I put on my pretty fuchsia Strong is the new STRONG tank and super hero tights and headed to the gym to practice my bench press setup and do some very light reps. And you know what? It was good. I was able to experiment with different setups, lift a moderate amount of weight and feel good. Yup. I felt good about what I did.

Does this mean I’ve climbed out of the funk? I don’t know. It does mean that I’m not necessarily STUCK there any more. I have options and in a week I’ll have a new set of goals to begin working towards: USAPL Raw Nationals.

Strong is as strong does.