Girls Who Powerlift: Jessica Stalter

Women powerlifting, squats

Jessica Stalter is truly a women with a story, a story of hope, courage and perseverance. If you don't follow her on Instagram, you should, but if you do you'll know that she is a recovering alcoholic and addict. What I love about her is how honest and open she is about it. I was so honored to learn more about her and how powerlifting has helped her in her recovery. 

Please note, this is her story and how she personally dealt with her addiction. I am not a medical professional and not suggesting this is how everyone dealing with addiction should go about recovery.

Jessica and I wanted to share her story in an effort to encourage those who may be facing similar battles and to let them know that they are not alone. I hope you enjoy!  

Introduce yourself to the GWPL community---My name is Jessica Stalter; I'm 35 and I'm a personal trainer and an aspiring USPA strength coach. I'm originally from Baltimore, MD, but I have been living in Ocean City, MD since 2000. 

Best meet total to date?--My best meet total to date is a SUPER conservative 589.73 lbs. I've only competed twice and my first meet was in April of this year--my second was a short 8 weeks after that in June. I'm as green as they come, but I'm enjoying the process, as they say. I'm hoping for an over 600 total come November for the Maryland State Championships. 

You are very open about being a recovering alcoholic and addict. Talk to me a little about that.---First I'll give a little backstory: In 2013, at age 33, a few days before Christmas, I was taken to the hospital via ambulance because no one could control me. I was overdosing on cocaine and I had a toxic amount of alcohol in my system. I was also violent and causing harm to not only others around me, but also myself. When I woke up in the ER the next morning I knew I had hit my ultimate rock bottom. I was informed that I had suffered a mild drug induced heart attack on top of it all. When I was told I had to make a decision right then and there to enter a rehab program and seek counseling, I didn't hesitate. I knew something had to change. I was killing myself and hurting the people closest to me. The reason I'm so open about my recovery, is to educate and help others that are still sick and suffering. I'm not looking to gain attention or exploit the plight of the addict. If I can touch just one soul in this lifetime and help them in their journey, then that's good enough for me. Also, sharing my story with others helps ME in the whole recovery process. I remind myself every day that I'm lucky as hell to still be living and breathing. I got a second chance at life, and I'm taking full advantage of it. I don't dwell on my mistakes, but rather learn from them and in turn, strive to be stronger mentally and physically every day

When and why did you start powerlifting?---Well, I've only been back in the gym consistently as of 2 1/2 years ago. I was an athlete from the time I was in grade school all the way through college and I really missed being active. I wanted to get back to my roots. I was always happy and extremely content when I was playing a sport or in the gym. During my 20's and early 30's all I cared about was partying and numbing the pain, depression, and anxiety. I lost interest in what I really loved and just filled the void with copious amounts of drugs and alcohol. When I got clean in late 2013, I made a major life change. I quit bartending (which I had done for 12 years); met my boyfriend who was (thankfully) into lifting; and got right into the gym. It took me a while to find really get into it. But once I educated myself about it and started learning the ropes, I was hooked. I began following a true powerlifting program only about a year ago. Nine months later, I competed in my first meet. It was one of the most positive and encouraging environments I've ever been exposed to. There's honestly nothing like it. At the risk of sounding corny, I'd say powerlifting has played a major role in saving my life. It definitely helps to keep me on the straight and narrow. 

What is your approach to nutrition?---I am all about being flexible and keeping it balanced. I used to track my macros religiously but now I find that eating intuitively does the trick--For me, at least. I'm not knocking people who choose to track macros at all though...if it works for you, then by all means. But the freedom from having to track and feeling like I know what my body needs to get through the day, lifting or resting, is pretty damn liberating. 

 Favorite go to post workout meal---I always have a protein and carb recovery shake post workout before I get some whole foods in. If I'm out of the recovery drank, then I do a protein shake and eat a banana. You can ask anyone at any of the gyms I workout or train at---I eat a banana pre and post. I'm a weirdo like that. Lately, meal-wise, I'm into rotisserie chicken, black bean pasta, and sautéed zucchini. Winter time I'll change it up to flat iron steak, mashed sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts roasted in the oven with turkey bacon. I like to eat seasonally. 

 If you could do anything with your powerlifting career what would it be? Do you have any records you want to break?---Currently, I'm the USPA Maryland State record holder for the raw 67.5kg submaster division. I think this is both awesome and hilarious since I'm such a n00b. No one had set the bar prior to my first meet so I went ahead and did it myself. I just broke the bench record I set back in April by 5 lbs at my most recent meet in June. How's that for a "me VS. me" story?! Again, like I said before, I'd love to reach my goal of beating my poverty total and hitting at least 600 lbs. What I'm really obsessing over and chasing as of late, is that 300lb. deadlift. As far as my "career" in powerlifting goes, I'd like to continue to compete for many, many years to come. I think it's pretty cool that I picked all this up in my mid-30's and I hope to be doing it as long as my body allows. 

What advice would you give to younger you?---Wow! Good lord. So much advice. This question hit me right in the feels. I would definitely tell younger me to stick with sports. I would tell her to stay the hell away from drugs and booze...I would tell her that life is so much more than just getting effed up and being the center of drama and negative attention. Oh, I'd also probably talk younger me out of getting some of the dumb ass tattoos I'm stuck with for life now. Haha. Jk. 

3 tips for newbie lifters.---For n00bs even greener than myself, I guess I would give the following tips: 

  1. Pick a program and stick with it for AT LEAST a couple of months. One big mistake I see with fellow lifters as well as myself, back when I started, was "program jumping". You cannot see decent progress if you keep changing your method of training every two weeks.
  2. Fuel the body appropriately! Carbs are your friend. Even if a lifter is following a lower carb plan, at least learn how to time your carbs appropriately so your body can use them to power through a workout and also recover. 
  3. Have fun! I went through a weirdo phase where I was taking all of this way too seriously. I was pissy if I missed lifts and failed. I beat myself up constantly when my progress wasn't going the way I wanted it to. Now I embrace the bailouts and learn from the missed lifts. I make blooper reels of my fails. You learn from every mistake. Take it all in stride and learn to laugh at yourself. It'll make training a lot more fun. 

 Follow Jessica On Instagram


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