That’s a Wrap on 2018

My 2018 powerlifting season is done. It wrapped up on October 14th when I received my 4th place medal in the Women’s M1 84 kg division at the USAPL Raw Nationals competition. This event capped off a year where I re-learned to squat, started to look more seriously at my nutrition, didn’t overly stress about “making weight,” and tried to have a more balanced approach to training and life.

While I didn’t hit every powerlifting goal I set this year I do have some key takeaways:

  • I squatted 145 kg (a little over 319 pounds)
  • My total at USAPL Raw Nationals 2018 (377.5 kg) was 12.5 kg higher than 2017 (365 kg) and 25 kg higher than 2016 (352.5 kg)
  • I made it to the podium at USAPL Raw Nationals this year with more competition than in 2017

Looking back over the four years since I began lifting there have been vast improvements, not only in form but also in mindset. I kind of did my first meet on a whim, fell in love with the sport and continued full speed ahead without thought of where I was going. I loved everything about the sport – training with purpose, getting stronger, competing. And at first it was about being “better than” other people. It was heady stuff, breaking 5 MN state records in my first meet (Squat, Bench, Bench Single Lift, Deadlift, Total). I’ve learned so much since then.

First, it’s not about being better than other people. Really, it isn’t. It’s about showing up and doing the work even when training sucks and you forget how to do anything and feel like giving up. There have been many, many times over the past four years I wanted to quit. And maybe at first I did. But lately I’ve learned that one training session (or one week or one month) doesn’t make or break you. It’s what you do over the long term that determines who you will become. And I’ve taken to listening to my body (mostly) and not shooting for numbers when I’m not feeling it. There’s always next week, next month, next training cycle to get that lift.

Second, don’t stress over the little things. This is much like the first point but expands to include weight classes and meet day weigh ins. My first few meets I didn’t know anything so I didn’t care, I just wanted experience (BEST way to start your lifting career). But then I got greedy and saw I could be competitive in the 84 kg (around 185 pounds) division rather than the 84+ kg division and my focus shifted to cutting weight to make that goal. And my training suffered. I was too focused on what I was eating and not enough on what I was trying to accomplish. Once I settled into a more healthy view of food (I really love food) and didn’t base my worth on whether I hit goal weight my training cycles were better. Again, it’s a “take the long view” approach that works for me. It really is a lifestyle and I need to take it slow and steady or I crash and burn.

Third, don’t beat yourself up over your performance at one particular meet. Sure, feel all the feels and work through your emotions but don’t dwell in that space. When I dwell in that space everything goes out the window – training, nutrition, you name it. I learned this lesson through shooting archery: you can’t re-shoot an arrow that has gone astray so analyze the issue, take a deep breath, reset, and focus on the current shot. Same goes for lifting: you can’t dwell in the missed bench press or deadlift. You have to push through the feelings and hit the next one.

Fourth, always keep learning. Nothing beats this one. Take classes, sign up for seminars, read blogs, talk with trainers, ask questions. The more you know the more you grow. Have you ever gone back and watched video of your first meet or training cycle and then compared it to now? See a difference? Yea? That shows what you’ve learned. Now look at video of the best of the best. See a difference? Keep growing and learning to get there. That’s my plan – keep learning.

Fifth, powerlifting is a marathon, not a sprint. For most people it is impossible to keep the “newbie” gains going after the first few meets. Eventually you find out how strong you really are and learn (there’s that word again) your weaknesses. You get stronger pound by pound, day by day, month by month and year by year. Sometimes you exceed expectations and sometimes you don’t (hello USAPL Raw Nats 2016) but no matter what as long as you are training you are getting better.

Now you may be thinking this seems like a bunch of malarkey (I love that word) but as I look back on my last training cycle and meet I can see all of these points. As I was training I was looking back at my old training records and was astonished at the weight differences and what I was moving compared to my last cycle. And while I was working on my nutrition and making sure I made weight I wasn’t stressing over it. I actually continued to have “normal” meals and allowed myself to have fun with friends and never beat myself up over it. That made all the difference – I went into weigh ins with a laissez-faire attitude and was nearly spot-on. And on the point of beating myself up: I allowed myself to wallow in my missed deadlift attempt but it never derailed me. I worked through my disappointment in the performance and made a plan for meeting my goals next year.

The fourth and fifth points? Yea, I have examples for them, too. Squats have secretly always been my favorite lift. They are technical and scary and what happens if I can’t stand up or hit depth? And for about a year I was having that depth problem. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what was happening. But then all the cues from my coaches kicked in and whoa – have you seen my depth? It is truly a thing of beauty. Because I kept learning. And those “newbie” gains? I had them in all my lifts in the beginning but eventually each lift posed its own problems to me that I had to overcome. I didn’t get weaker between meets but I hit my maxes and needed to learn how to work through them – gain muscle, improve technique, rest, whatever. And I know this will continue as long as I am lifting – whether I am competitive or not.

So what does this have to do with you? Nothing. Everything. I don’t know. This has been my journey so far. I’m still new to the sport – I mean I’ve only done about a dozen meets – so I have a long way to go before I cross the finish line. And I’m looking forward to every learning something new every day.

And just because I can, I’d really like to thank my coach, Jennifer Vogelgesang Blake (Coach JVB). She has been with me since the beginning and has helped me with this growth. It has been wonderful having such a role model and cheerleader in this sport. Thank you! And to all the coaches at The Movement Minneapolis – thanks for letting me get all my workouts in and helping me when I asked all the questions. David and Jen – thanks for asking the questions “who wants to do a powerlifting meet?” and “has anyone ever called you Donna the Destroyer?” Without those I wouldn’t be here.

2018 USAPL Raw Nationals Minnesota Lifters

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doing things solo – a new take on adventures

For the past several years I have been learning to love and honor myself by taking time to recharge – by myself. My first solo trip was in 2015 when I decided keep a reservation I had made for me and Jerome when he ended up having a conflict and couldn’t go with me. Since then I have realized that I need (and crave) time alone. For a long while that time alone was hiking and bicycling. Just being able to move at my pace, stop and smell the flowers or hug the trees without thinking about someone else was freeing. There are times I need to have nature to myself.

Recently I’ve begun being a little more adventurous. We’ve had kayaks for years and we do kayak together, but there are times we are not together and I want to kayak. So now I do that. Alone.

Last month there was the girls’ weekend at my friend’s cabin on a lake. I brought my kayak knowing that I wanted to practice my roll – oh, in case you are NOT fluent in kayak, rolling is when you flip the kayak over and get yourself back up without getting out of the kayak.

I am not keen on practicing rolling without a spotter – I mean, what if I don’t get back up? So I was hesitant and stalled most of the weekend. Until there was no denying that I was avoiding it in the name of “being a good friend” and my friend asked when I was going to kayak.

So I unstrapped the kayak from the car and carried down to the dock. Between me and the open lake there was a lily pad and wild rice strip to paddle through. At least a football field away. In the deep(er) water. I knew what I needed to do – gear up and paddle out. And that’s what I did. I paddled out, paddled around, and sat. Thinking. Gathering my courage. And over I went and up I came. I rolled about a dozen times – successfully if not elegantly. I could do it. Alone.

Fast forward to Labor Day weekend. I decided late in the game that I wanted to practice rolling on the big lake (Lake Superior, for those of you who don’t know) and Jerome had alternate plans. So I made a reservation for myself and headed up – alone, with my sea kayak.

I woke up on Saturday morning in Grand Marais, MN, drank my leisurely cup of coffee (ok, CUPS of coffee) and thought about the day ahead. I could go kayaking right away in the morning and feel accomplished all day, or a I could explore Artist’s Point and maybe go hiking and kayak on Sunday or… I must have had half a dozen options, all postponing kayaking. Why? Wasn’t that why I came up here? To kayak? To practice? So…

I decided to enjoy Artists’ Point in the morning and go kayaking in the afternoon. Saturday was a bright, sunshiny day. And much warmer than I expected so by the time I finally got on the water (about 3:45 pm) I was ready to get wet.

Grand Marais has a great Harbor and several natural bays. The harbor is shielded from the lake and is always calmer with small or no waves. I had decided to paddle around Artist’s Point so off I went. I went left around the east breakwall and WHAM! Bigger waves. I felt unstable and uncertain. I decided to abandon this idea and head into the harbor to practice rolls. I headed to the west breakwall and followed the harbor around until I found the spot.

 

And I practiced my roll. Sure, I had to talk myself into it, but I did it. Each and every time I went over I came up. Sometimes better than others, but I came up. I know I need a lot more practice and I know what I need to work on. But I did it. I practiced my roll. And after that I tackled the water outside the east breakwall, inspired by April Seifert’s Women Inspired Podcast Episode 78 which I had listened to on the drive to Grand Marais, MN. If you haven’t heard of the Women Inspired podcast, I highly recommend it. In fact, I was interviewed long ago and you can listen to that episode here.

Yup, I paddled back around the harbor and out around the east breakwall and Artists’ Point. It was exhilarating – the waves really weren’t that big and I knew I could roll if needed. So around the point I went. And I loved it. I had worked through my fears and took my solo adventures to a new level.

 

Sunday had the potential for afternoon rains so I as I was enjoying breakfast I realized I needed to get out on the water so I could be off before the rains hit. What I didn’t  think about or check was the waves report. Because as you may have guessed, as rain approaches the wind picks up and as the wind picks up the waves increase. Hmm…

Anyway, I got out on the water thinking I would work my way around the harbor and then go west out the breakwall, follow the shoreline until I found a good natural bay to turn around in, then work my way around the east breakwall and hit the same path around Artists’ Point I had done on Saturday. Easy peasy.

grandmaraisharbor
Actual Route

Only those waves. Yea, they were just a smidge bigger than Saturday. Maybe 2 feet – which is significant when you think that the kayak is about a foot deep. As I rounded Artist’s Point I had a decision to make: continue with my original plan OR screw it and get to shore and portage my kayak back to my car.

As a sane person I decided that the portage route was the best route for me. I overcame my fear of kayaking alone BUT I still knew I had to kayak within my limits and comfort level. So, it was a win – not only am I capable of conquering my fear and getting better I am also capable of listening to my fears and knowing I should take heed and stop.

Special Announcement

I LOVE MY LEGS!

You may not think this is worthy of the headline “Special Announcement” but this is a radically new thought for me. For so long I have HATED my legs – my first active memory of this was in high school (yes, that’s over thirty years ago) and it was “shorts” day. I dreaded it. I hated wearing shorts for two reasons: my legs are short and my thighs rubbed together when I walked causing shorts to ride up. I think I wore the longest shorts I could find so they wouldn’t ride up and my classmates couldn’t actually see my legs. But this wasn’t the start – it’s never the start – of these feelings. That’s a longer and more complicated story of images and expectations set by others… Coming from this point to being able to say, no scream, I LOVE MY LEGS is a big deal.

Thick thighs. I’ve had them all my life and used to HATE them. In high school I rarely wore shorts or skirts or anything tight so I could hide them. I was lucky grunge was the predominant style – I wore baggy EVERYTHING so I didn’t have to compare my thunder thighs to my friends and others who more closely matched the ideal I wished I could have. And now I think of them as THICC THIGHS.

With my thick thighs comes a little knee bump that prevents my legs from ever looking lean. This is an inherited trait (thanks Grandma) and will always be there. But man I hated it. They were never long and lean and the styles I loved (hello 1940s Katherine Hepburn) looked ridiculous on me. But what did I know thirty years ago? How do I feel about these now? Well, they’re just my knees and they help me with so much.

And then the length. Have I mentioned they are short? Short and squat. That’s how I’ve described myself forever. Again, the long and lean styles I loved from the 1940s looked awkward – flared pants with thick thighs? That doesn’t work. But with age came a knowledge and a laissez-faire attitude towards what others think.

But I’ve realized that I love my legs now. When did this happen? Well, I was driving into work one day and looked down at my legs and said to myself for no real reason “I LOVE my legs.” I’m forty-five years old and I don’t think I’ve EVER said that about my legs before. Mostly I’ve derided and hidden them because they aren’t conventionally shaped, they have large, powerful thighs with NO THIGH GAP (is this still something women and girls worry about?), and are relatively short.

But that day I realized that I love my legs. It’s not that I went to bed thinking I hated my legs and woke up loving them it has been a gradual process to be sure. They still have the same attributes they always have but I’ve learned that those attributes make me who I am. They still rub together when I walk, they are still short and I still have huge calves, and they still spread wide on the surface when seated. Nothing about my legs has really changed (well, they are MORE muscly now) but my attitude towards them has shifted.

This shift has taken place over the past several years, especially the last four when I began powerlifting. Yes, powerlifting (you were wondering when that would come up,  weren’t you?). My build seems perfect – thick shoulders to hold a bar, thick thighs and strong legs to help me squat and lift the weight. So while I will never be a conventional body I have learned to LOVE my body because now I know that it is built exactly as it should be – thicc thighs, knee bumps and all.

 

Week Six, Day 22

I just completed the 22nd workout of my Twin Ports Raw Open 2017 training cycle and I’m finally feeling it. All it took were some heavy weights and a little reflection. Man, I think this gets me EVERY training cycle. 

What was up? To start with I started a new training notebook (I filled my last one in February at the Minnesota State Women’s Championship) and didn’t have any reference with me for my lifts. Also, my memory of my last training cycle was that it was pretty much all smooth sailing – everything felt good, my low days didn’t leave me feeling like shit emotionally, I didn’t have weird aches and pains,  and the new training program suited me perfectly. 

Last page of my first training journal

I think one of the biggest reasons it has taken me half my training cycle to get here is that I hit a low point emotionally and had trouble coming out of the hole. <– See what I did there? Squat metaphor. I think means I’m officially a powerlifter. Anyway, back on track. Once in the hole I couldn’t see that I was making progress, things felt hard and heavy and I had aches and pains I didn’t like. No matter what they said it didn’t feel right. No matter what I knew it didn’t feel right. 

Maybe it was the rainy start to spring, the dry winter, too much pressure on myself, I think part of it was that I wasn’t talking about my problems with anyone. Once I started talking to people things started to shift in my brain and I now realize that my training is going just fine. In fact, being the data nerd that I am I started looking back at my last training cycle, the one that felt so good, and discovered that not only am I doing fine but I’m lifting more now than I did at the same point last cycle. 

Here are the comparison pictures. The left is my previous training cycle and the right is my current training cycle. I must admit that I’ve made progress. 

First day logs
10×2 deadlifts
6×3 Deadlifts
5×3 Bench
Day 22: 5×3 Squats

The moral of my little story? The best way for me to get out of my hole is to talk about it and just stand up with the weight. <- I did it again, finished with a squat metaphor. I know I’m going through some shit right now but when I keep it bottled up I can’t see the good that is happening around me and the progress I’ve made. So I’ll keep talking about it. 

I’m looking forward to Day 23. And hopefully I’ll tell you all about it! 

An Ode to Half-Time Show Comments

This has been in draft state for a while but with recent comments about Lady Gaga’s body I thought it was time to dust this off, polish it up, and publish it out to the world.

Recently I saw the film “Embrace: one woman’s journey to inspire everyBODY” and I came away with a realization: I am still on this journey and probably always will be.  I know I preach the ideas of “be at peace with the body you have now,” “dress your current body,” “love yourself” and so many more but I haven’t done a lot of soul searching to understand why these revolutionary thoughts mean so much to me. I kind of skipped a step in the healing process and this film has made me want to go back and explore that a little more.

Of the MANY images shown in the movie of how the media portrays the “ideal woman” there was a shot of Kate Moss and reference to “the waif” look of the 1990s that really gave me a gut punch. This was prime time for me developmentally and I certainly didn’t have that “waif” look – once puberty hit I got ALL the curves and that hour glass shape was in direct contrast to the “ideal beauty” of the day. To make matters worse for me (this is not meant to be a slight or anything) both of my sisters were (and still are) taller and thinner than me – one was even literally a princess having come in second in the local beauty contest (she did it for the scholarship money, but she was still a princess).

Me? I was (and am) of average height and larger than most of the people around me. Plus, curves and a chest for days. Totally NOT the ideal. I hid myself fairly well in baggy clothes – thank GOD grunge and the waif thing were happening at the same time! Baggy flannel covering EVERYTHING suited me just fine. I judged myself harshly against others, covering up what I saw as my flaws and failures based on what society was telling me was acceptable. For years I hid myself in oversized clothes and a smile.

But why? Why would I let my happiness and acceptance of myself be dictated by the nameless, faceless masses? Probably because I’m a normal person and not above the images that were bombarding me daily. Ugh. Growing up being different didn’t feel like an asset. It felt like all eyes were on me, judging me against impossible standards. I didn’t know then that my differences were my strengths.

How did I break through my own thoughts and preconceived notions? I’m really not sure. Maybe age, maybe relationships. Definitely by finding my tribes.

Let’s start with relationships, always a good place to start. I met my husband when I was 20 – young, impressionable, naïve (oh so naïve). One of the best things about him was his total acceptance of me as I was – something I hadn’t been able to do for myself. It was great having someone outside my immediate family love me for who I was but it wasn’t a total break through. I still felt like I wasn’t good enough because I didn’t conform to society’s “ideal.” I was thick and strong when the world (or at least the world I was exposed to) was looking for small and delicate. 

As I grew older I knew I was missing something but I didn’t know what. I was smart and successful and had the things society told me I needed – a husband, a career, a house, a nice car. But I wasn’t whole. I was still trying to live up to what others expected or what I perceived that others expected of me. Until I found two things: a reality TV show and a gym. 

Now you may be scratching your head about that reality tv show thing but I’ve got to tell you that “What Not to Wear” helped me in no small way to realize that you didn’t have to be a waif-thin model to dress to kill. Stacy London and Clinton Kelly taught me to dress the body I have and to wear what makes me feel good. They were my first therapists and my cable bill was worth every penny. They accepted everyone and really tried to keep the makeovers true to the person. And I loved it. 

Next was the gym. The first gym I found that encouraged me to be who I was – a thick, strong woman – was a crossfit gym. I was able to move heavy weights and my body responded positively – building muscles and strength like it was going out of style even as I was learning what my style was. There was a strong community, tribe even, of like minded women (and men) who helped me on that initial part of my journey. 

And then my world was rocked by injury and depression. I quit the gym, kind of quit life and sat on my couch for a year trying to figure out what was next. My self doubt was so very strong and the voices of convention were gnawing at my heels. I let those voices into my head and they kept telling me I wasn’t enough, I wasn’t doing it right, I wasn’t good at anything and couldn’t move myself forward. 

Until one day I did. I had had enough of the voices and I found a new gym. One focused on training the mind as well as the body. And slowly, class after class, month after month I realized I had found my new community and my new tribe. The focus wasn’t on comparing yourself to others it was on being better everyday. And being better meant being better at anything that mattered to you. And what mattered to me was improving my self love and remembering that I’m the best at being me. 

I have learned to accept myself – most days. I love my current incarnation and am working hard to strengthen myself inside and out. But I can still be derailed by a comment or sideways glance. The difference now? I can stop myself before I spiral into old habits and thoughts. Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it people like me. 

So, what did I think of the film? I think it should be in everyone’s list of must-see documentaries. The media and pop culture are starting to get it but we still have a long way to go when children see themselves as fat and in need of dieting. Children need to be loved and taught they have value, not that they need to look or behave a certain way. 

I’m going to continue to be a voice for acceptance of who you are and being proud of YOUR accomplishments. No matter what you do I will be there cheering you on, cheering on your better every day. And I’m going to encourage you to brag about your accomplishments because dammit, you deserve it. You can hear me brag on the Women Inspired podcast, hosted by April Seifert. 

And here, for your viewing pleasure, are some of my favorite photos – of me being me. 


This month in training: My hormones and me.

This month in training has been pretty awesome (for the most part). I’m loving this training block: on each of the main lift days I work up to 1 heavy rep that I could do for another and then back off to my working weight for the scheduled set/rep routine. It keeps me feeling strong by reinforcing that I can lift heavy and my strength continues to grow. 

Bench

I’ve really upped my bench game. I’ve gone from a meet PR of 165 pounds to a training PR of 180 pounds. 


Squat

What can I say about my squat? It has gotten heavier relative to my size so I’m pleased here, as well. And I’ve got to play with heavy walkouts. Can I tell you how fun it is to walk out 385 pounds and then only have to squat 185? It’s pretty awesome. 


Deadlift

Oh how I love th deadlift. And how it has loved me back. This cycle I have beat my plateau and I’m ready to take it on th road for a meet test drive. All I can say is “I’m a f@&!ing UNICORN” when I deadlift. 

I’m learning more and more about how my body reacts during my cycle and it is oddly soothing. I know now that it’s “normal” to have days and weeks where heavy shit feels like heavy shit and days and weeks where heavy shit feels just right. That these days correspond to the phase of my menstrual cycle is great knowledge – I now KNOW that shit feels heaviest right before and during my cycle and it’s ok to back the weight down and do the prescribed reps as pretty as possible.

Why is this good knowledge? Because I have found that most people, women especially, who are training for a competition feel like we should always be improving, increasing the weight we are moving during each training session. It gets frustrating when the weight on the bar this week or this session feels so much heavier than last week. 

So did you know that it takes longer to recover after a max lifting attempt and that it will be harder to lift as heavy the following week? Yea, neither did I. Or rather, I didn’t acknowledge this fact until recently. Until this training cycle, really. So try as I might, I couldn’t keep the weight from feeling really heavy on subsequent training days after my really good sessions. Now I don’t fight it and when I plan what I am going to lift I take last week’s accomplishments I to consideration. 

How did I come to this realization? Was it just aahappenstance? Nope. There are a lot of resources out there on the interwebs and I happened upon this article from T-Nation on the hormone cycle and female lifters and it was a jumping off point to understand this. 

Armed with this knowledge women can take a step back and ask a couple of questions going into there training session and plan accordingly: 1) did I max out on my lifts recently? and 2) where in my menstrual cycle am I?  The answers to these questions will help you understand why things are feeling heavier or easier. 

I do ask these questions as I plan my warmups and working weights for any given training session. There are many more variables that affect my lifting each day, but these two are key for me. I have a very competitive nature and even if I’m competing against myself I can get easily discouraged when I don’t increase or improve on my previous stats day after day. Now I look at each session individually and check in with myself to see if today is a day to go for it or a day to drive strength gains. 

Since I train for Powerlifting competitions and my training cycles are based on competition dates, I don’t know that I will necessarily adjust my training routine but this is good knowledge to have and I can do micro-adjustments to keep myself feeling strong.

 

Oh. Hi There.

Let me introduce myself. I know we’ve met before but I want to give you a little more of my background, help you understand what motivates me and the reasons I do what I do. And how and why things around here will be changing.

I’m Donna Adams, aka Donna the Destroyer. I am an avid Powerlifter, Software Quality Assurance professional, outdoorsy, liberal woman. My current mood is to let my liberalism out into the world and see where it leads me. Afterall, it is this liberalism that helped me find my voice though powerlifting. You may be wondering how, so I’ll tell you a little story about me.

I grew up in a blue collar, lower-end middle class household, the fourth of five children. This was a strong democratic household. My parents showed through their actions that it is our civic duty to vote, and they leaned heavily democratic. My first memories of politics were in the 80’s – Reagan vs. Carter, Reagan vs. Mondale. I remember being upset that Reagan kept winning even though he wasn’t for the little people, the people NOT in power. I realized that I was a Democrat and that the Democratic party was the party for the people and by the people – ALL PEOPLE. Not just the rich, not just those who looked like me – ALL PEOPLE. And this was important to me then and it is important to me now.

Maybe it was because I was picked on for being different (which is odd, since I look at myself and see a VERY white, privileged woman), maybe it was because I was a girl growing up smart in a male-dominated world (subtle sexism, anyone?), but whatever the reason I always chose the side of the other, the different, the oppressed (if they truly existed in my pocket of suburbia). I have always surrounded myself with people of like mind and always wanted to do more. There were so many good intentions, good thoughts, moments of anger and rebellion where I wanted to take action but didn’t – it wouldn’t do, it wouldn’t be lady-like, don’t rock the boat, your voice isn’t big enough for people to hear. But in the back of my mind I knew that I needed to find and grow my voice.

I am fortunate in many ways, privileged in a few (color, class) and due to this fortune I was able to seek out my current tribe. I had the time and money to go after what I wanted. I began looking for a place where I felt included regardless of who I was and what I could do and where I would learn the ways of the Jedi (ok, not the Jedi but where technique would be the focus, not just “getting done” with the workout). And soon I found the perfect place, the people I whose tribe I wanted to join. These people celebrated the strength of women, cared about the foundations of strength, and seemed fairly liberal.

First I stalked them (social media, facebook, hello interwebs) and then I got the courage to find them in person. In the beginning I was quiet and tried to hide in the background, not making waves, trying not to be noticed. I just wanted to absorb everything and everyone and give the minimum so I could be part of the group. Not because I am selfish (sometimes, but not always) but because I am shy. My voice was still small. But my spirit was growing with all the talk of inclusion and helping and being a community for ALL the people. The liberal inclusive light was shining on me.

It was not until a fateful day in November 2014 (wow, two years ago!) when someone uttered the words “who wants to do a powerlifting meet” that my ears perked up and my voice began to come out. Powerlifting made me feel powerful, strong, able to take on great things. For a long time this simply meant my relationships, my work, my immediate life. But then things began to shift within me, my focus began turning outwards. How could I help other people? I began encouraging other women (and some men, too) to see that building strength on the outside helps to build strength on the inside. My voice began getting louder. And I started a blog to chronicle my powerlifting journey.

I have taken you from my little gym and local meets all the way to the national stage and since then I’ve been trying to figure out where I should take you next. The events of this past week have helped me figured it out: I’m taking you all on the journey as I find out how loud my voice can grow and shout out to the world that while I will accept the president I will not accept the changes that I fear will come. Oh, most of this blog will still focus on powerlifting and my progressions, regressions, aches, pains and triumphs. But here and there, sprinkled amongst the words of strength and encouragement about lifting will be messages of solidarity, hope, and action for the nation.

And here is my first action: I’m marching on Washington in January. I had planned to participate in the inauguration of the first female president but instead I am going to march, show my allegiance to all WOMEN and all minorities. Because this is a stand I have to take. I am not going to let OUR current rights be diminished because someone can’t hear my voice. I’ve finally found it and now is the time for me to see how loud it can grow.