I am a firm believer in letting people know about me. Obviously, there is a little blurb of a biography that hits some of the key points of who I am, but for those like me who always have more questions, I wanted to go into greater detail of what lead me to this point. I try to be fairly open about most every aspect of my life, because I believe honesty is a lot easier than lying.
I was born a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. I am the first born of two kids, my sister is 10 years my junior…or what I referred to as the built-in babysitter plan. I was always a chubby kid. I was active but I didn’t seem to stop eating…and I loved all the food that was calorically dense and delicious, because southern cooking. I ate fast food all the time, often on the way to whatever sports practice was lined up for that day (most of the time it was soccer). I recall getting picked on some for being “fat” but it was not something that really stuck with me. I didn’t really begin to have feelings of insecurity about my body until towards the end of elementary school and the beginning of middle school. Sometime around age 12, I became self-conscious about taking my shirt off to go swimming or to change out for gym class around other students. I didn’t change my approach at that point, because I didn’t really recognize any problem. Many people assured me it was baby weight and would disappear as I got older. It actually got steadily worse, because as I got older, I became less active. Playing outside became playing video games. Once I got to high school age, I was significantly overweight. My weight wasn’t something I paid attention to or talked about. I noticed it as a difference in my appearance from most of my friends.
I went off to college and had a large campus to walk across for classes, which meant my weight didn’t fluctuate too much initially. As I progressed in my degree and didn’t traverse the entirety of the campus, rather staying in one particular section where all my classes were, my weight slowly began to creep up. I don’t recall if I was in denial or just oblivious to having to buy larger sizes of clothes. When I graduated, and started working in retail, I found that I continued to get larger and larger. I enjoyed eating and drinking and sitting around, and I was good at all those things. I can still recall the day the glass shattered for me, and I recognized truly, that I was not just a little overweight but was actually obese. I went on a cruise and on that trip, they took photos of the guests. I noticed how incredibly fat I had become the moment I saw that picture. But, I didn’t change anything.
Adulting is Hard
Shortly after my 30th birthday while I was in grad school, I wound up in the hospital with a kidney stone. I had never experienced such excruciating pain my life. I vowed that night to clean up my diet. I started drinking water exclusively, giving up sodas and sweet tea. I also made a commitment then to giving up fast food. These changes were all something that I have successfully kept as time has gone on. My motivation wasn’t to be healthy or to lose weight, but rather to avoid being in that level of pain again. I finished grad school and began working in the mental health field full time in a psychiatric hospital setting. My career trajectory would lead me to another hospital owned by the same company and a chance for continued growth professionally. At this time, I was spending 3-4 hours every day commuting round trip for work (thanks Atlanta traffic).
In what would become a defining moment in my life, a contact I knew from the first job I had in mental health reached out to me about a job that would be a substantial quality of life improvement. I interviewed, was offered, and accepted a position that allowed me to work from home. Shortly after accepting this new gig, I decided I no longer had any excuse to be unhealthy. I wasn’t losing hours and hours of my day sitting in a car trying to get from one place to another. I joined a gym in January. I didn’t have a resolution it just happened to be coincidental timing.
The Start of Something
I changed my diet and started paying attention to what I ate, tracking it on an app. I started doing strictly cardio at the gym. I didn’t weigh myself or set a goal to lose a specific number of pounds. My goal was very loose, simply to be healthier. I think the loose goal made it significantly easier to get into a habit of going to the gym. One small misstep would not throw off my motivation because I knew that I was working to be healthier. I was going to the gym 6 days a week and feeling more accomplished with each trip. Initially I couldn’t use the elliptical for 5 straight minutes without having someone on the verge of calling for medical assistance. As I kept going and was adding time and intensity I found that I kind of liked doing this stuff. After 2 months of strictly cardio sessions, and scouring the internet for advice, I decided to start incorporating strength training into my routine. I started with your basic machines and would scatter those in following any cardio sessions. It was around this time I started weighing myself consistently. The first time I stepped on a scale it said 297. I was stunned and nearly lost my motivation seeing number that I felt full well implied I had been over 300 before. I decided to keep going.
As I found my stride in resistance training with the machines, I began to see accelerated weight loss. I started to need new clothes. Friends and family started to notice a physical change in me. I began to regain some shred of the confidence that I had lost so many years before. I soldiered on, continuing this same routine into another year. In the first 10 months of going to the gym consistently and paying attention to what I ate, I lost over 100 pounds. The next year, on my one year anniversary of entering the gym, I changed my goals with regards to food. I had been eating at a deficit for so long, I wanted to make sure I would be able to maintain this new base weight before I got too excited. I changed to a maintenance number of calories at that time, simply wanting to be able to not slip back, while hopefully also making progress in my physical appearance too. I successfully maintained at a weight below my goal for that entire year, and as I hit my second anniversary in the gym, I set a new goal to start using free weights and doing compound movements.
For many with no prior experience, venturing into the free weight section is quite intimidating. Once I dove into squats and bench press, I was hooked. I loved the way lifting a barbell felt. For the first time since I started going to the gym, I felt powerful. It took me several months to work up to the point where I decided to try and deadlift. I had heard so many horror stories of people injuring themselves with deadlifts more so than any other compound movement that they intimidated me. I was very careful to research proper form for all the compound movements and practiced deadlifting at home in the mirror. I fell in love with powerlifting the day I started deadlifting. I worked on the big three for several months, seeing increases pretty steadily as I went (noob gains are amazing) until one day a guy approached me while I was deadlifting. That day opened my eyes to powerlifting as a sport, because the first words he spoke to me were “Do you compete?” We talked for probably a solid 10 minutes and he recommended I begin competing and pointed me towards some local meets. From there, I discovered a friend of mine was into powerlifting and she gave me a huge talk about what I needed to do. Less than a year after that, I would compete for the first time.
Why I Love Powerlifting
For me, powerlifting is an opportunity to compete against myself. I hope that one day, my lifts will progress to the point where I can even be competing against other people. For today though, competing against myself is ideal. I look at powerlifting as a metaphor for life. There are good days and bad days. Some days you are stronger than others, and some days just showing up is the best you can do. The goal for everyone at one point, was to be better than they were. For those who have gotten to a point of being strong enough to compete against others, they are still often competing against themselves wanting to hit PR’s and striving to be just a little better than they were. I think that should be a goal for everyone in their own lives, to always try to be a little better than you were. Powerlifting is a means to improve your life. It can help you lose weight, get stronger (mentally, physically and emotionally) and act as a form of therapy.
I started this site and this company to combine my passion and my profession. I love powerlifting. Powerlifting has given me so much in a short time. Several people talked to me about mental health and powerlifting, and I felt there was a need for the community to have something to fill what I perceived as a void. I want to help by being a resource to coaches who have athletes coming to them with issues that are beyond their scope, and to athletes who need some help focusing a bit more on the mental aspect of their lifting or even those who may be dealing with something and aren’t sure where to turn to for help. I want to help people get into the sport of powerlifting, because I think it can transform a person’s confidence in addition to their body. I truly believe that powerlifting has the ability to make such an impact in someone’s life that they will never be the same. That’s why we follow the simple phrase here of “Better Living, Through Lifting”. Thanks for letting me share.