There. Now you all know it. I’m an impostor. More precisely, that’s how I’ve been feeling lately. An impostor in my own life – everything from home to work to the gym, I’m not who I appear to be. Though mostly I think I’m suffering from a very bad case of Impostor Syndrome.

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. (Impostor syndrome – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

I have felt out of sorts all week and, at least where it concerns my powerlifting training, it has to do with actually looking at and paying attention to the roster of lifters in both the Masters 1 (M1) 84 and 84+ weight classes whom I will be competing against WITH in the October Raw Nationals. I’ve been so used to my inherent strength being able to carry me through competitions and get me one step closer to my goals that its hard to see people I will be competing with who are already where I want to be someday. 

Yesterday it was my bench press. It was supposed to be a 4 x 2, 2, 2 cluster set. OK, I can do that. But I wanted to do it at 150 pounds. I was able to squeak ONE cluster correctly but the rest? My head was in the way. It was telling me that 150 pounds is heavy and that I can’t lift that for reps. All I could concentrate was on that weight. 150 pounds. 150 pounds. Shit that’s heavy. 150 pounds. And I struggled to get 2 singles up. Struggled really hard.

But I’m lucky – we have a resident sage at our gym. Not only is he strong AF, he’s smart AF AND intuitive AF. He just knows things and can see the struggle. And can help you give a name or a voice to the struggle. And so he calmly asked me (not in so many words, but rather with a twinkle in his eyes) to figure out what was causing the swirling thoughts in my head (and nicely didn’t ask too much about those swirling thoughts). My answer: thinking too much about the weight and not enough on the lifting.

I made the joke that maybe I should shoot some archery since it calms me. Instead of saying “yes” he simply asked me WHY it calmed me. Because archery is a mental game and powerlifting is a physical game. I LOVE mental games. But I’ve always struggled with physical games. So, why not look at powerlifting as a mental game, too? Sure, there’s a giant physical aspect but it’s totally a mental game. So I tried. This meant calming my mind of distracting thoughts and focusing on the task at hand.

Bench set up: start behind the bar, hands wrapped tight. Swing body under bar and onto bench, arching back to get better tension. Fix feet and butt positions. Reset shoulders. NOW look up at the bar, breathe deeply two or three times, kick everything else out of my mind. Signal for unracking the bar. Final bracing breath. Pull the bar to chest, slight pause. Push the bar up. Repeat bracing breath, pulling and pushing. Done. Two reps at some weight. More or less easy as pie. I can do it. I have the knowledge.

So while I may sometimes feel like an impostor I know that I’m not – I’m putting in the work to get the results you see. I just have to shut up and let myself do the work.

What I just realized

I knew it was coming. I have been planning for it for months, training for weeks. But today, right now, this moment it hit me like a ton of bricks. October 16th is coming up and I am going to be lifting in a national competition. It’s exactly 6 weeks away. From today. 
I texted my coach, the lovely and powerful JVB of Strong is Fun and Unapologetically Powerful, asking for this weeks training schedule. She responded with it and let me know that this week is heavy week, next week a de-loading week and the last weeks are a ramp up for nationals. Sounds pretty perfect to me. 

And then I was thinking about it. How heavy is heavy? What’s my 5-rep max?   What’s my 3-rep max? What does that calculate into a 1-rep max? OMG! I am freaking COMPETING in six short weeks. How am I going to hit the numbers in my head? What ARE the numbers in my head? Shit. This just got really real (again). Now I have to dial everything in – technique has to be solid, diet needs to be spot-on, I have to incorporate more walking into my week. Everything needs to go just-so. 

I also have to get my transportation lined up. Getting to Atlanta takes a little more coordination than getting to Duluth (which took enough, thank-you-very-much). I am planning on flying so there is a ticket to purchase and figuring out how to pack my gear – can I get it all in a carry on? Or do I have my parents bring it since they are driving? So many options! How do I navigate the competition and check in and all that? Crap. 

I know I can do it. But I really have to buckle down and make it happen. No one else can do this for me but I’ve got great support and am consistent with training.  As long as I keep it up I will be golden. 

Outside my comfort zone

It may seem like my comfort zone is quite large and there isn’t anything that naturally falls outside of it. But all that is bravado and me not necessarily admitting that I even have boundaries. I am quite stubborn about not being told what I CAN’T do so mostly when someone asks me to try something I will. Though there are definitely some things that take me a very long time to agree to try because they are so far outside my comfort zone. Like skydiving. Exactly like skydiving.

My gym family, much like a regular family but better at pushing people outside their comfort zones in a non-judgemental way, includes several skydivers so naturally there is a yearly skydiving adventure. And this year, my third year with my gym, I decided to try it.

Like many people I had no idea why people would jump out of a perfectly good plane so I needed to find out. My fears of heights, hitting the ground, and the unknown PLUS my propensity for motion sickness were all contributing factors to my hesitation. Factors contributing to wanting to try: my love of speed, roller coasters, and new experiences, as well as a little FOMO. Ok, a lot of FOMO. What if I decided I loved this? I would never know as long as I never tried. So I decided to try it.

I waited until almost the last minute to sign up and even then didn’t tell people. Because why? This was something that I never thought I would do so I didn’t feel the need to advertise. Except I told my mom and a couple other people. Because mom always needs to know – right? Or maybe I used her a little – I knew she wouldn’t like it so I could “defy” her and do it anyway. Remember that bravado I mentioned earlier? Yea, something to that effect.

So a couple Sundays ago I drove to the drop site (I get to throw those terms around now since I’ve done it once) and met up with my gym family members who were planning their own jumps and those who were there for moral support. The day was beautiful – lots of pretty clouds and bright blue sky. It was a GREAT temperature and there was a good breeze. Really, the perfect late summer day. There was lots of joking and nervous laughter had by all as we waited for our group to be called. Also, a lot of trips to the bathroom.

When our group was up for training it kinda got real. The video they showed was reminiscent of those horrible videos they showed in drivers ed, minus the grisly photos and accident statistics. Skydiving is dangerous. No equipment is perfect. No one is perfect. The ultimate failure is death. You know, things like that. Now here are the releases, please sign and enjoy!

We were put into our harnesses and it was time to wait. Probably the longest, shortest wait ever. My trainer (James, I believe) was so very nice. Just enough jokes to take my mind off things but not so many as to make me question why I was strapped in a harness waiting for the plane to land. And patient with the likes of me.

The plane landed. Which meant I was being strapped to my trainer (the guy who knows how to do this) and loaded into a plane. I love being in planes. Planes mean adventures. And clouds. And freedom. And in this case the beginning of the end. My mind was racing – what did James say about how to jump? When was I supposed to arch? What were my hands and arms supposed to do? All of it rushing through my mind as I watched the details of the land grow smaller as we climbed to altitude. James kept showing me his altitude watch but I was in no mood to understand it.

Then it was time. The door opened. The real jumpers jumped. We shimmied to the end of the bench. There goes the first tandems. How many before me? I don’t recall. It was my turn soon enough. In the door. Wind. One (forward), two (back), three (out)! Ohhh fuuuck. Yes, those were the words I uttered before my brain remembered: head back, hands on harness straps, ARCH, hips forward, feet back. And we were in freefall. Noisy, interesting. Clouds, ground, other jumpers. Tap on shoulder – released my hands – flying. Whoosh.

Then the brakes. Harness tightened as parachute opened. I so desperately wanted to experience it all. Brief conversation, now my turn to steer. Pull the ropes and go left, now right. Crap. Not literally, but motion sickness kicked in. Nausea. Stomach turning somersaults. Go quiet and just experience it all – clouds, wind, silence.

And we landed. A bit abrupt but we were on the ground. All I really wanted at that moment was to curl up and nap away the nausea but I had to get up and return my stuff. And show my weakness. Which I really hate. Did I LOVE it? No. Why not? Motion sick, nauseous. Into the building to return the harness and get my certificate. I’d done it. Now I needed water. And time. Lots of deep breaths and sympathy. I would be OK.

BUT I learned something exciting: I tried something to see what it was like and now I don’t have to do it again. The old adage “you don’t know until you try” is true: as long as I never went skydiving there was always the chance that I would love it. Now that I’ve done it I know I don’t love it and don’t need to do it again. Next year I will probably drive out to the drop site and cheer on other gym family members as they experience skydiving for the first time or again. I’ll offer hugs and congratulations to everyone. And keep my feet firmly on the ground.


When life gives you lemons

This week I had to go back to work after a week long vacation. And no one ever likes to go back to work  but I was ready. I wanted to see what my team had been up to in my absence. My team – I had a new lead in place, two great full time analysts (one here and one off shore), and two great contractors. Before I left on vacation I had begun the process of converting one of my contractors to a full time analyst and by the time I returned I learned the deal was done. Yay! But, and there’s always a “but”, at the end of the day my new lead turned to me and said those dreaded words “I need to talk with you.” Those are never good at the end of a long day. And then he laid it out: he had been offered a position that suited his situation better so he would be leaving and his last day would be in two weeks.


So now what? Well, I’m going to take these lemons, squeeze them for all they’re worth and make some awesomely sour and sweet lemonade, that’s what.


Well, obviously my training will be even more of a release for me and I’ll need to hire a new lead, but also I think I’m going to take more risks, try new things, and in general not let this bring me down (though I admit that I took a night on my couch to mope about my feelings). But its on to bigger and better things and the right person to help me create the best department possible.

The opportunities for doing new things are endless: fly to Hawaii for a week? Sure. Go skydiving with my gym? Why not? Train harder and smarter? Of course! Pitch new business opportunities to clients? I’m on it! Figure out if there is something else out there for me to pursue – why not? I’ve got nothing to lose by trying and everything to lose by sitting back and letting things happen to me.

So what do you do when you’re handed lemons?


And now back to our regularly scheduled program…

Training Week 2 and a Virtual Powerlifting Meet

A couple weeks ago was about getting back into the swing of powerlifting training, learning how to eat my macros for a successful cut, and a virtual powerlifting meet to test my current strengths and areas for improvement. All in all it was a successful week for all three, though some more so than others.

Getting back into the swing of training is pretty easy though I do sometimes forget what I need to put in my bag on a given day – good thing I mostly remember the important stuff! I can do without socks and extra underwear, and even sometimes my sports bra, but it would suck without the right pants (or shorts) and tops. The other thing is figuring out what my working weights should be to keep increasing my strength – I try to push myself but sometimes I forget and go way too light (no more 16k kettlebell swings for me). But that’s what I have coaches for, right?

The next thing is my diet. Cutting is hard work. I actually have to pay close attention to what I eat and when. And track it. I’m working hard on this one – I really want to be in the 84k weight class by October. But I don’t know how well I’m succeeding. Again, it’s good that I’ve got a coach (Julia Ladewski) out there I can ask the questions to: what about meal spacing and timing? How does one eat 6 meals a day? What?!?!? And so on. And she comes back with answers to all my questions and suggestions to help me along. And then we go through the next week and start all over again. It’s definitely a process.

The fun part of the week was incorporating a virtual powerlifting meet into my workout. When my coach JVB hosts an online powerlifting meet to cap off her 12-week Unapologetically Powerful coaching program the second week of training I can’t help but enter and see how I do. I decided to come into the week using the lifts for two things: 1) baseline for my strength in that lift and 2) a means to learn what I need to focus on during the remainder of this training cycle. And it was good for both. A little humbling, too.

I’ll critique my lifts in the order they appear in competition even though I did them in the order they matched my training days and on vastly different days.

First up, as always, was the Squat. It’s a favorite and I surprised myself with a PR of 308 in the last meet so I was feeling fine. I was totally thinking (OK, hoping) to hit 310, just because I could. First attempt at 265 was totally fine. No problemo. Second at 285 was good for me, too. But that third attempt at 310? Nope. Not happening. I admit to be a little down BUT I had a couple things going for me: 1) a GREAT spotter in Mark and 2) the video that helped identify my problem area – not staying braced through the whole lift. So yay! takeaways are awesome.

285 attempt is so good.

310 attempt – not so good but I’m caught by Mark. Failure teaches a lot.

I’ve been having problems with my bench and asked JVB to help me get a stronger bench by programming my training to help build my back and upper body strength. My goal for my meet lift was to hit 165 pounds – what I had missed at my Twin Ports meet a month earlier for not waiting for commands. My first lift was 155 and it was good – hard, but good. So here is where I need to start working on attempt selection and getting consistently stronger with the bench: I thought I could get that 165 up so I increased bench to that amount. Well, I was wrong. Twice. But I didn’t give up or go home out of anger. Instead I analyzed the stick (a little shoulder positioning, a little too heavy) and now I have goals to work toward.

My 155 bench is good.

My 165 bench? Not so much…

And last, the deadlift. Ah, the deadlift. There is no lift that looks so easy and cause so much joy and heartache. I missed a attempt at Twin Ports – 360 pounds just wouldn’t come off the ground. Why? It was heavy! Or it could have been mental. I’ll never quite know but for this virtual meet I redeemed myself. I pulled 330, 340, and finally! 350 pounds for a tough but fair deadlift. What a way for me to end the meet. Was it perfect? Hell no. Was it lovely for me? Hell yes! I know I have work to do and pounds to before I reach my current goal of a 400 pound lift, but this 350 sure felt good.

My 350 dead? You bet it’s good! (By the way – look at that arm!)

And now I’m off to the races, training those weak spots and getting better every day.

When I was a girl…

Thursday night was historic. Whether you agree with the politics or not it was an historic night – or rather an HERSTORIC night. And quite literally it is the night I have been waiting for since I was a twelve year old girl. And I realized how incredibly lucky MY nieces (ages 7-12 and 26) are to be living through this moment in time. Now that there is no ceiling, the sky’s the limit for them and all the young girls and women to come.

These posts by my sister Janine made me realize just how important Thursday was:

Responses of two of my nieces to Hillary’s speech.

But let’s look back to 12 year old Donna and why this moment is so important to me, so impactful.

I was very lucky to be raised by parents who instilled the virtue of “civic duty” and the idea that you could do whatever you wanted, no matter who you were. They followed politics because they knew that even though it happens thousands of miles away it has very real impacts on our daily lives. Because of this I was introduced to the political process early – my earliest political memories are of Jimmy Carter, though only vaguely, I was only 8 when he lost the 1980 election to Ronald Reagan. I think it was the Reagan assassination attempt that made me realize that politics were here and now.

It was the election of 1984 that really caught brought my attention to politics and the feminism (I think I was a 12 year old feminist, even before I knew what that meant). I was a smart, bookish dreamer with a love of history and a desire to make the world a better place. Enter Walter Mondale, Democrat from Minnesota (this is important – that’s my home, too) as the Democratic party’s nominee. Now this was a man running against a VERY popular president. I mean, Reagan WAS a movie star. And who did Mondale choose to run with him? Senator Geraldine Ferraro. A woman. My 12 year old brain and heart nearly exploded. This really meant I could do anything.

Up until that moment I don’t know that I had thought about politics and the President as anything other than in an historical context. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (who had one of the BEST political spouses – Eleanor). But now there was someone who looked like me, someone I could relate to (even if I was only 12) running for vice president – picked because she was smart and qualified and AWESOME. (That’s how 12 year old girls think, right?) I was in love. She was so strong, so wonderful. So historic. I loved catching glimpses of her on the evening news (I’m really dating myself, aren’t I?). Poised. Articulate. Respectful. It wasn’t meant to be, however. As progressive as I thought we were in 1984 the country chose to stick with Reagan. After the loss (yes, I remember) I was a little heartbroken.

But I was paying attention for the first time to Senators from other states – Olympia Snowe (who always makes me think of Olympia Dukakis) and Barbara Boxer are the two who stand out. They were there, in the Senate, fighting for me. They had power and people listened to them. I had a new dream: Senator.

Why Senator? I always said it was because that is where the real power lies, that the President can’t get things done without them. And while this is true I now think it was because I had never seen someone like me embraced as Presidential. I mean, Eleanor Roosevelt was wonderful and smart and had all the qualities I want in a President but even she had to settle for being “First Lady.” That was the highest office a woman could achieve – being the wife of the President. And I certainly didn’t want to be anyone’s wife.

I didn’t realize how long I had been waiting for another woman to be passed the torch Geraldine Ferraro had lit until 1992 when a man from Hope, Arkansas introduced the country to his wife. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Hillary Rodham Clinton. So progressive. So liberal. So real. So much her own woman. No, she didn’t have time to bake cookies. She had shit to do and much to accomplish in her own life. I had found a new love. She was tough, smart, and said what she wanted. She couldn’t be “handled.” And I wanted HER as my president. I settled for her husband.

In the intervening 20-odd years (and I mean odd) I have waited and hoped and gotten excited and heartbroken each time a smart, articulate woman came close to matching the fire lit by Geraldine and Hillary. When Minnesota finally elected Amy Klobuchar I was over the moon. We joined the progressive states who needed and wanted women in power. (I’m still waiting for one to fill the Governor’s office.) There were several female candidates during the 90’s and early 2000’s but the country still hadn’t found the one.

Then it happened. In 2008 my second love decided to run for the Democratic nomination. Hillary.Rodham.Clinton. My fire was re-lit and my excitement for the race was high. She was fierce. She fought hard. But it wasn’t meant to be – though if she had to lose, losing to Barack Obama was alright. And I thought it would be many decades (if it even happened in my lifetime) before I would have the opportunity to see my dream of a female President. It seemed to me that the patriarchy (took me long enough to get to them, didn’t it?) would never allow a woman into that most exclusive, exclusionary of clubs: President of the United States of America. So many other successful countries had benefited from female leaders and yet we, the progressive country that we are, couldn’t make it happen.

Until Thursday night. When we came one step closer to shattering the highest of glass ceilings. And I am so proud to be part of it, to have nieces as excited as I about this moment in herstory.

What does this story have to do with powerlifting? Mostly nothing. Except this: if you don’t try you won’t know how far you can go. And I’m trying so the sky’s the limit.


The brains for the brawn

It’s finally happening. My life is about to be turned upside down in the best of ways. It’s a mere 13 weeks until USAPL Raw Nationals and my training is about to begin. I’ve got me a couple awesome coaches for the journey: JVB for strength and lifting and Julia Lawdewski for the hardest thing – nutrition. Yup, I’ve committed to an eating style that will be VERY new to me. But I’ve got a plan and this is part of it.

I’ve always  loved talking goals and making plans. I do it all the time (hellooo retirement in France). But it never seems real until I’m in that moment, the proverbial night-before-school-starts moment. All the jitters and worries and fears come out to play “what if I can’t?” “what if it sucks?” “what if I don’t succeed?” “what if…”

But this time I’m doing it right and I’ve got a team behind me. Yes, I’ve hired the brains to help me gain my brawn (I just thought of that and I love it! I’m changing the title of this post right now!) and cut weight to compete in the heavyweight division. Yikes! Cutting weight!  With the help of the right people and the right tools I’m committing to be the very best Masters I Female heavyweight (if the cut works) that I can be and turn in the performance of my lifetime. And I’m so excited to begin this stage of journey.

So, as you may have guessed by the fact that I’ve never tried to leave the super heavyweight division before, I love food. All food. All the time. And adult beverages (though not usually as much as food) so this whole cut thing has me worried. I’ve never really done a diet before and have definitely never done a cut. A cut for the laymen out there is the practice of losing weight prior to a sports competition (for me, Raw Nationals). And it means carefully watching what I eat and when, and not drinking adult beverages while I’m training to lift heavy. It kind of means that for the next 12 weeks leading up to Raw Nationals I don’t get to have fun in my usual ways. But I know it will be worth it!

How will I get through this? Well that’s why I hired my coaches – they’ll help keep me on track. I mean, they won’t be doing the work for me but they will be there in the back of my mind when times get tough and I just really, really  want that popcorn. Or chocolate. Or adult beverage. I’m counting on them acting upon my sense of guilt (which is quite advanced, I must say) and making me think twice before I do something that could affect the outcome of this cycle negatively.

And to all the food and adult beverages out there (I’m looking at you tequila): This is not goodbye, only “see you later.”

Twelve weeks will go by in the blink of an eye and I’ll be standing on the platform leaner and stronger than ever before. And I will be thinking of only one thing: lifting as heavy as I can.

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.