Saturday, 24 February 2018

Why I am a Competitive Powerlifter

I often wonder why I put myself through the rigours of getting up on a platform once or twice a year, to be watched by hundreds of people while I pull the ugliest faces I am capable of and potentially pissing myself in the process.  There is nothing glamorous about competing in a powerlifting comp, and for someone who openly cares about her appearance and throws makeup on every day, it certainly doesn’t align with how I appear on the outside. Then there is the lead up; I commit to twelve full weeks of no drinking, early nights, good quality food and weighing myself regularly.  

One of the ugly faces!

So why do I do it?

The line is drawn: I know what my ideal body weight is for my size. Once a year, by competing, I am ensuring that I maintain my weight. It gives me a reason, other than the way I look, to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight for me. Everyone’s weight fluctuates, even mine. Knowing that I need to sit in a particular weight class to compete each year keeps me accountable to my weight and my health. Not that this is all about the scales – to be honest, I don’t even weigh myself when I’m in an off-season. However, I know what my body looks and feels like at the correct weight for me, so I don’t allow myself to creep too far from that range because I know how hard it is to get it back off for comp season.

An uncomfortable goal: I’m not ecstatic about competing to be honest, which is exactly why I do it. It’s uncomfortable. There is no point setting goals that sit in your comfort zone. There is no sense of achievement at the end. It’s like, meh. When I get to the end of a comp and I know I have committed myself entirely to that 12-week process, it is an incredible sense of achievement (and relief!). Because there are many, many times during the prep process where I consider giving up. So, to get to the end without quitting, be on-weight and hit a couple of PBs along the way, is always something I am exceptionally proud of. Throw into the mix the juggle of motherhood and business and I know I have achieved something great (for me).

Challenge misconceptions: Competing in a powerlifting comp is also about challenging what is ‘normal’ or ‘acceptable’ for a mother who has had two kids and a hysterectomy. Whilst there are loads of mothers powerlifting, there can never be enough as far as I’m concerned. Let’s change this misconception that we lose our strength through childbirth and motherhood, or that it isn’t ok to lift heavy things because you might hurt yourself and be unable to look after your kids. Oh yes, I’ve heard all of it. The other misconception that I try to smash every year is what the perceived maximum weight is for a small person like me to lift. For a long time, I ran a belief system where I had a maximum capacity for my lifts. What I have come to realise over the last few years is that the only limit is what you place on yourself. If I can continue to add even just 1kg to my lifts each year, I am continually improving and getting stronger, all whilst getting older.  Yes, mass moves mass, according to the powerlifting community, but I also believe strength moves mass. So I’m choosing to get stronger, not bigger.

Injury prevention: Yes, you read that right. I put myself in a State Powerlifting comp to prevent injuries. When I am following a carefully structured program, training regularly and progressively loading the body, I have less injuries. I also invest in more maintenance during this time, like chiropractic treatments and massage. This ensures I successfully achieve that uncomfortable goal. So, if you tend to live in a constant state of injury, perhaps change your thinking about your training – maybe you need to get MORE uncomfortable with your training goals. Additionally, when the focus is sharp, there seems to be less time for the unnecessary dialogue that can lead to unnecessary injuries or self sabotage.

My kids: They are the driving force for most things I do. I want my kids to grow up seeing their mum put herself out there and challenge herself. I want them to remember me as someone full of strength and determination. Someone who led a healthy life and set stretching goals and then did everything she could to make sure they happened. When I feel like giving up, I think of them and what I want them to do in times of significant doubt – and I soldier on.

So I ask you – when was the last time you set a goal for your training that made you feel physically nervous and very very uncomfortable? A goal that made you put your body, your health and your training higher on the list of priorities?
I’m not just a full time powerlifter, I’m also a mum, a partner and a business owner working extraordinary hours. I do facilitation work, I mentor other business owners and I write. I am also a powerlifter – why? Because it enables all of the other areas of my life to work cohesively together.
Perhaps it is time to rethink your goals.


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