Girls Who Powerlift: Lisa Maximus

Have you ever talked to someone and immediately feel connected to them as if you've been friends your entire life? That's how I felt the first time I chatted with Lisa. We started talking about her becoming an admin for Club GWPL, our Private Facebook Group and we talked about it and everything in between, even doing our very own seminar focused on Women's health! (Details to come!!) And let me tell you guys, she's a freaking genius! Keep reading to get to know my amazing brilliant and strong friend, Lisa Maximus!

Introduce yourself to the GWPL Nation

Hi GWPL Nation! My name is Lisa Maximus (MacDonald).  I am 31 years old and I live in Salt Lake City with my husband Bobby Maximus, my son, and my step-son.

When did you start powerlifting and what are your best lifts/total?

I started powerlifting 18 months ago (although I have over 8 years in the fitness industry). My best deadlift is 391lbs, my bench is 205lbs, and my squat is 400lbs. I planned to PR all those lifts in the next six months but that has changed since I found out we have a brand new baby on the way.

You speak a lot about the differences between women and men and how it relates to life. Where did the passion to talk about that come from?

My passion for Women’s Health came from all the damage I did to myself during my own fitness journey.  I tried all sorts of fad diets to try and get more fit, leaner, and add muscle. There were times I wasn’t following a proper training program and I’ve suffered from an eating disorder. I actually lost my menstrual cycle for 7 years and faced some fairly serious health-related issues due to my under-eating and overtraining.  During those years I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I really thought I was doing the “right thing”.

Over time I realized that it wasn’t because I was failing or not doing the “right thing” but because I had a serious problem I had to fix. I also realized during my healing process that there is a ton of false information relating to women’s health. There isn't a lot of good information on the hormonal differences, psychological and physical differences between men and women especially when it comes to fitness. To top it all off there are all kinds of what I consider to be negative role models for women on social media and in the public eye.  Frankly, there are some women people look up to that they shouldn’t be looking up to. My life goal has become to educate women, inspire them, be a good role model and help women avoid going through what I went through.

You transitioned from being a bodybuilder type program to powerlifting- why and how did that affect your daily routine?

I was never a bodybuilder or physique competitor. I used to be into HIIT training very intensely, to the point that I was training around 6-7 hours a day.  I would run first thing in the morning, immediately go to the gym and do HIIT training, come home for a small lunch do a 20-mile bike ride, then go back to the gym and do another intense training session. I never saw the progress I really wanted to see. This pattern of overworking and undereating continued through my first pregnancy. After I gave birth to my son I wanted to get more fit so I was doing a lot of cardio work and cutting back on calories. That exasperated milk supply issues I was having so I had to back off cardio and just lift.  At that point, I realized how much I loved lifting and how much I actually hated cardio. My husband said, “You can just lift if you want. It’s a sport called powerlifting”. We got the opportunity to visit Westside Barbell and I jumped at the opportunity to go meet everyone there. I immediately fell in love with the sport. I went on to pursue my Strength and Conditioning Certification through Westside Barbell. Only training 4 days a week and the intensity of training was such a change for me. I loved it. I loved working hard and learning to recover and eat for my fitness goals.  It gave me new insight into how important calories are and how much neglecting recovery can affect real progress.

What was the toughest time period you've ever been through and how did you get past it? 

The toughest time period of my life was dealing with my eating disorder. I had convinced myself that wanted to look lean and muscular and essentially starved myself. My eating disorder never got better though. Not until I realized that my eating disorder didn’t stem from a desire to be skinnier but rather stemmed from some deeply seeded psychological issues.

Once I realized that the path to curing myself was simple but certainly not easy. I started to do some serious self-work and I discovered that I had issues with self-image and self-worth and that they went deeper than I could have imagined.

I started doing therapy and began to understand how my upbringing affected me in such a negative way. The therapist helped give me the tools to make a change. I needed to change my mindset, my perspective and focus on my healing my trauma. I also had to learn coping mechanisms to live a happy and healthy life. It was only then that my body image started to change, and I took control of my Eating Disorder.

You're a wife, a mom, a business owner, and a powerlifter. How do you balance your life?

When it comes to balancing being a business owner, athlete and mom it takes determination and being good at “scheduling”.  I don’t let work appointments mess with my training schedule. That is sacred. The best advice I got about time management was to “be the dentist” (Ever try to make a Dentist appointment? You’re on their clock. Not yours). This means that I have a standing appointment with myself for my training and nothing comes above that. If someone asks me to meet during a training session I simply say no. We can always meet at another time. If you are serious about your training I suggest you do the same.

What's the best advice you've ever received about lifting and how did it impact your life? 

The best advice I received about lifting was that “you have to believe it for it to become true”- Bobby Maximus.  My husband told me that I needed to believe that I was going to be the best to actually be the best. That meant that I needed to eat, sleep, breathe and train like a world champion lifter even though I wasn’t one at the time.  I had to focus on recovery and eating to make gains in the gym. I had to prioritize my training. I had to sacrifice girls’ nights out and hanging out with friends if it would affect my training. I had to work on mindset exercises and sports psychology to help stop negative self-talk and set myself up for success. I had to treat myself like a champion in all aspects of life and believe I was a champion. Doing that really helped me change the way I looked at myself and the way I treated myself as an athlete. It also was a major catalyst for success.

If you loved this and want to get to know Lisa a bit better find her on Instagram


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