"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Lao Tzu
Perfect quote for beginning any journey in life. And also a great analogy for how my transformation fitness journey began!
Below is an article I'd written last May about my life in regard to how body image and fitness have always played a role - negative and/or positive - in my life...followed with currently updated information.
"From the time I was a young girl, I can remember how ostensibly important it was to “be skinny”. This perception wasn’t because my parents instilled this in me, but rather what society seemingly pressured me into believing. From absorbing what classmates and friends said to magazine covers screaming “skinny girls have life easier/better”, it was just known that if you want to have a more successful life, you need to look the part.
Even as a “likable” and active youth athlete, I could share a plethora of body-shaming remarks and situations that I experienced throughout my impressionable childhood and teenage years. Hurtful, embarrassing moments that inevitable emotionally scarred me, and I’m certain, as minuscule as they now may seem, led to an adulthood of self-conscience “yo-yo dieting”.
Marrying a year out of high school, carpooling hours a day to college, having three kids, and living the “normal” adult life contributed to poor eating and fluctuating weight; gaining and losing hundreds of pounds throughout the years wreaked havoc on both my psyche and body. I have suffered through periods of starvation and/or binge eating. Religiously tried every fad diet, “magic pill”, workout program, etc. Some resulted in short-term success; some I simply padded someone’s pocketbook. Nonetheless, nothing worked until I learned that there is so much that goes into properly fueling the body...all of which starts with the mind.
Taking the steps to starting my last - and final - “diet” occurred three years ago after I saw pictures of myself at my middle child’s eighth grade graduation (pic above in black and white dress). I was not at my largest in this photo, but it was MY pivotal “wow” moment. I was so aggravated that I’d let myself get to “that point”...again. Being a teacher with “summers off”, I took that summer to wallow in self pity - gaining an additional 10 pounds - and finally convinced myself that I had nothing (but weight) to lose.
August rolled around. The first day of inservice was my “starting point”...that Monday (‘cause it’s commonly “known” that Monday’s the best day to reinvent oneself...wink), my journey began. I started off simple: quit drinking sodas and walking a mile three to four times a week. One mile turned into two, eventually averaging six miles a day. Dropping one unhealthy eating habit after another became easier. Lost 50 pounds relatively quickly: six-ish months. I began feeling somewhat better about myself, but I still had as much emotional baggage as I did pounds to get rid of.
I got up the nerve to join a gym where a ridiculous amount of various cardio and minimal weights were introduced into my fitness regimen. Lost an additional 20 pounds. After six months of relentlessly showing up, my “skinny” transformation was notably admirable. This led to me being asked to teach some HIIT classes. During this same time, I also transitioned into crossfit. This is where my love for lifting began. Instantaneously I recognized a strength in myself...a strength beyond the numerous plates I could squat, pull, or push. My mind was changing. I no longer was worried about others’ perception of me. I was only concerned about whether or not I was my best me: not just at the gym, but as a woman, a mom, a role model, an advocate for God’s plan. Transformations were taking place far beyond every ounce of fat I was losing or muscle I was gaining.
Here I am, almost three years - post the picture that started it all - living a lifestyle that allows me to be what I feel I was always meant to be: a Savage Babe. No longer am I teaching HIIT classes or crossfitting, but now, after teaching fifth and sixth graders to be their best selves all day, my evenings are spent training myself for upcoming lifting and bodybuilding competitions as well as I personal train other women. I GET to motivate, inspire, and empower ladies to be fellow Iron Maidens. Anymore, I don’t dream of being “skinny” - per my childhood image of what constitutes a successful woman. I’ve replaced overweight and skinny for living emotionally and physically strong. I have become what I idolized in other women.
I’m blessed that God led me down the path I’ve travelled - even the unbearable moments. My present strengths comes from my past difficulties. I am grateful to be part of a generational movement where women are no longer in the shadows. We have a loud and clear voice in the fitness industry. The absolute best part about this journey is that my children - particularly my girls - and husband have seen me grow and develop from a mom/wife that was insecure and beat-down by the harshness of life to someone who’s determined and unstoppable. I wake up everyday ready to kill it!"
Since the above detailed article over my journey to a healthier and happier me, my fitness life has gotten even more exciting. I started competing in powerlifting in July and have participated in two SPF and two USPA meets. I've set over fifty combined state and national records. My max three-lift total is 1062.9 (squat 407.9, bench 215, deadlift 440), and I have a meet Wilks score of 437. My most accomplished goal yet is that I now have the only all-female powerlifting team, Iron Maidens, in Oklahoma. Currently I have 5-8 members (five consistent lifters/competitors pictured below), and I've coached them through numerous state and national records. I plan to "recruit" at least one female for every age division. My end goal is to compete and coach at the International level. However, first things first; tomorrow I go in for an extremely invasive left shoulder surgery. This both scares and excites me. Scared for obvious reasons but excited because my shoulder has held me back from being the best lifter (particularly bench) I know I can be. I can't wait to recover and be able to bench at least 315!
Side note: David and Dawn Shirley and Invictus Powerlifting have been staples in my powerlifting journey - as both a competitor and a coach - the last three months. I'm thrilled about my possible future with IP and can't wait to continue blogging my recovery and powerlifting adventures!