There are two things that played a role in drastically changing my life; powerlifting and the quote, "The work you do while you procrastinate is the work you should be doing for the rest of your life." - Jessica Hirsche
Let's start where my journey with fitness started. I began just like so many other media-misinformed women do with slimfast diets and hours on an elliptical trying to shed a few extra pounds that I didn't even have to lose. These habits made me miserable, and they caused a yo-yo effect with my workouts in that I had a lot of trouble adhering to them. I mean, after all, it's rather difficult to commit yourself to something you hate doing.
My favorite part of those early workouts, though, was the weight lifting. At that time I was lifting in more of a bodybuilding style (or really, a totally chaotic and uneducated style), and I hadn't yet started doing any of the powerlifting big 3. I had, however, developed a real taste for gaining strength and the progressive overload that inevitably has to occur with resistance training if you wish to see any change.
Now let's fast forward to college graduation when I was at a point of consistency with my workouts and sticking to resistance training solely, but I still wasn't quite powerlifting yet. I walked away from Texas A&M with an aimlessly chosen bachelor's degree in psychology and zero idea of what that was going to get me in the job-world. I had always just assumed it'd mean an entry level position at some big company where I'd work my way up the ladder to... well, to I-don't-know-what... And I was right. That degree earned me a 9-5, entry level position with a big company where I'd soon find out I was completely and helplessly miserable. Luckily the 'helplessly' part of the equation was up to me, though, and this is where the quote comes into play.
I toiled away at a job I hated for just about a year. The alarm went off in the morning, and I filled with dread. (Unless of course it was a Saturday or Sunday.) I'd drag myself out of bed and to the job that was slowly chipping away at my happiness. I'd do the mundane and unsatisfying tasks thrown at me from about 8:30 am to as late as 7:00 pm some days. Then I'd try my damndest to make it to the gym after that long and desolate day only to find myself skipping my workouts more often than I'd even like to admit. I'd go home filled with anguish, guilt, and exhaustion, go straight to bed, and then wake up the next morning and do it all over again.
For a year.
Until one day at work I stumbled across the quote that would change my life. "The work you do while you procrastinate is the work you should be doing for the rest of your life." What did I spend ALL of my free time either doing or thinking about? Weight training, health and fitness, answering questions for friends, writing programs for myself, blogging about fitness-related topics, googling more and more information on the subject...
It became clear to me exactly what I wanted to do; I was going to become a personal trainer, and I was going to be a damn good one. Now, I won't lie to you here. It took me a couple weeks to work up the courage to have this discussion with my husband and to find even more courage to quit my very financially comfortable job, but I did it. I ordered my study materials from NASM, I quit my desk job, I got a part time job in the fitness industry to tide me over while I studied, and I did just that. I studied like a maniac for about 6 months prior to taking and passing my certification exam, and after becoming a certified personal trainer things just kind of took off.
I found a great job that provided me with more knowledge than I ever would have imagined. I garnered over a year's worth of client contact hours working with a huge breadth of bodies, goals, injuries, and conditions. I've put together multiple certifications, and I have to say, my resume looks pretty damn nice these days.
But more than what goes on paper, I'm HAPPY in my career, and that change of course in my life led me directly to powerlifting.
By the time I got my first personal training job I had begun toying around with the powerlifting big 3, but I say "toying," because I had absolutely no direction or goals with regards to those lifts. I just found myself really enjoying squatting, bench pressing, and deadlifting. I absolutely loved the way it felt to be under the bar, and I liked feeling strong. (Even though at this point I'd barely even tapped into my strength!) So, imagine my absolute elation to find out that these lifts I found myself enjoying so much actually constituted an entire sport. Powerlifting.
Yep, that was something I was going to pursue. It was decided. So I took the aimlessness with which I originally approached these lifts, and I turned it into direction and dedication. I trained and trained and trained, and I loved every second of it, but I wasn't sure if I was strong enough yet to compete. Would my numbers even compare to the other women? Would it be embarrassing? Did I even deserve a spot on the platform?
All of these thoughts, and plenty more, ran through my head I assure you, but I registered anyway. After all, you don't have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great, right? (Another quote that has had a profound impact on me.) And, thank goodness I did register for that first meet, because it introduced me to an incredible community of people who were just like me; wanting to be the strongest and best versions of themselves.
I had an amazing experience at my first competition. Every single person I interacted with, including the staff and spotters, were more friendly and welcoming that I ever would have imagined. I was cheered for and congratulated by total strangers, and I made friends that I still keep in touch with today. Since that first meet I've competed in two others, and all three have been exactly the same; exhilarating and overflowing with camaraderie.
Powerlifting, and specifically getting into competitions, has been one of the best things I've ever done for myself second only to taking the plunge and making the career change from miserable desk-worker to successful personal trainer.
It's pretty incredible where following your passions will take you.
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