Y’all I love tribes. I’ve got my family tribe(s), my St. Augustine tribe, my Covington tribe, my yoga tribe, my work tribe, of course my Iron Tribe and many many more.
In 2018 I made some big moves. I re-aligned myself with a new power-lifting tribe.
I haven’t yet said a proper good-bye to Iron Tribe. I want to say that Iron Tribe was a total game changer for me. I went there to lose weight, I left knowing that I didn’t need to lose weight to be an athlete. That is not their mission, but it is a lesson that has been critical to my mission.
I will say that another way. I learned that I didn’t have to wait to have a different body to live my life fully. More on that another day.
After squatting 300lbs in December at Iron Tribe, I thought maybe I will check out competitive power lifting. I rallied my resources. I leveraged the community and my coaches past and present. I consulted all the wise allies that I collected over the years. I went to the coach at my gym, I got his advice and I got to work.
Half way through my training I looked around and realized something about my gym community. It was that however much in love I was with this awesome community of athletes and coaches and however much I felt I owed them for the gift of realizing my own power (in so many ways), they were just doing something different than what I was doing. My mission was now very specific and not connected to the mission of the tribe. They would have been happy to support me to the best of their ability, but it wasn’t a good fit anymore.
Just for the record. I love that place, the owners, the coaches and the people every day. For anyone that is not sure how to get started with a dynamic fitness program or wants to get super awesome in a cross-training environment – this place is amazing.
As I started down this path of training I had about 3 months before my first meet. Half way through I began to crave more. I needed to find a new peer group that could usher me into this sport. I wanted to be around people that could practice and talk about 3 movements - endlessly.
This is a post for another day also, but there is so much more to those 3 movements than people realize.
So, I opened my third eye and it saw a post on Instagram for a pod cast featuring Shawna Mendelson. I listened to it and there was something about her words that clarified my sense what was missing from my training. So, I looked her up and wrote to her and incredibly, she wrote me back immediately and we connected.
We got to work, she found my baselines, she corrected my form in some key areas and got me to my first meet, which I attended yesterday.
Here are 10 things I learned yesterday that I would love to share:
1. I am an athlete. From now on, I cannot think of myself as a strongish fat girl that can pick up heavy things. I am a person in possession of skills, strength, drive and discipline – all of which I will apply with integrity daily to compete with my best efforts to beat my best from the day before.
2. Hanging out with the other women lifters is an awesome time. We all watched each other and marveled in one anthers efforts. We shared space and baby powder, cheered each other on. We talked about what we loved and what we were afraid of.
3. The women of power lifting are some of the toughest, kindest most badass humans I have ever met. It is not surprising when I think of what it takes for a person to fight for themselves and their own strength. It takes equal amounts of courage and compassion. Everyone has known these women and everyone knows that when they are not lifting heavy weights, they are lifting all of us. Their strength is not just physical – it’ total complete emotional, psychological strength. These are the people that make the world turn even if they must do it manually.
4. The men in this sport are either helpful or oblivious. This is great. I have met nothing but awesome men in the powerlifting space. They are encouraging, helpful and pretty much never talk down to me or other women around me. Men who did not come to support women, are happily getting awesome on their own, which is also great.
5. Competing is so much fun. I know where I belong in my sport and that feels great.
6. I have a sport! I found an activity that my body loves. I don’t have to participate in sports and activities that make my body feel bad. I get to be comprehensive about my fitness, but I don’t have to fight myself. I am super strong. I am excited to combine that with better technique and experience.
7. A t-shirt and a singlet is hella comfy. Sure, you look shitty, but not one single person gives a shit. This was a great opportunity to stop thinking about how I should look or dress. Before the meet, I had a horrible 6th grade nightmare that I would arrive in my singlet and t shirt and nobody else would be dressed that way. It all worked out. Also, my nails were so on point, I didn’t need a better outfit.
8. Powerlifting is an individual sport that requires a team. Each of my success and failures reveal a new truth to me, that is useful only to me. I can’t access any of that without people to guide me.
9. Trust is everything. It is necessary to trust my coaches, spotters, and organizers. The foundation of my success rests on my ability to trust my guides and everything that they have learned and the work that they have already done.
10. I deserved my award. I got an award for being the best in my division. There was nobody else in my category….so it might seem like an overly gratuitous recognition. Not so. I am a 41-year-old, 300-pound woman using not one piece of gear. I used no belts, or wraps, or suits. I didn’t even use lifters. All those things are fine and I look forward to learning how to use those tools. I just didn’t use them this time. I arrived on that platform with nothing by my self. It took me an entire lifetime to make my way to that platform. The fact that nobody else that fits my specs was there with me, speaks volumes about how special it was that I made it. I guess sometimes you get an award for showing up, but showing up is the actual work and it is worth recognizing. There were a lot of awards, but there were also a lot of circumstances. Not one single lifter there was the same.
This experience was so precious to me and it was just the beginning of all the work I get to do with Shawna and my new tribe. Also, shout out to my dad who drove all the way from Bandera Texas to sit in a pretty uncomfortable chair for 9 hours and cheer me on. I could feel all day how proud he was of me. It was easy for me to branch out and be brave when I was so close to my roots. Thanks Dad, I love you forever.
One other thing that happened yesterday, is that there was a woman in the bathroom who said to me "I wish I could do what y'all do" I told her "you can". Everyone of us has power. We just need to reach out and grab it.