November 28th, 2015:

We stood there at the Lifetime Fitness taking turns back squatting I-go, you-go.

“You need to practice what you’re gonna do that the meet [with reference to getting low in the squat] just like you had to do full out routines in cheerleading before the competition; it’s important to do that in practice,” my mom said to me over the holidays.

“You’re not getting low enough in your squat; you’re gonna get hit for that; do it again like you will at the meet;” she added, “and probably more weight right?”

My mom may not be a competitive powerlifter yet, but she sure helped me prepare for my meet last weekend.

She even helped spot me at the meet in the warm-up room.

“Keep your back tight and be careful. I’m worried you’re arching too much.”

How cool it was to have my mom be so interested in one of my more recent adult hobbies.

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Last weekend I competed in my first USAPL powerlifting meet, but so we’re clear, it wasn’t my first time competing at a powerlifting meet; it was my second.

Not only did I have at least have a year’s worth of powerlifting training under my belt this time around, but I had less worries about the act of competing, wearing the singlet (see former concerns here) and making my 52 kg weight class (114 pounds).

Or so I thought.

However, with new rules, new faces (and old ones!) and a new location it all felt like my first time competing.

My first kettlebell coach, Ryan Steenrod of Rebell Conditioning, and very good friend at the end of the meet. Rebell had six ladies competing!

My first kettlebell coach and good friend Ryan Steenrod of Rebell Conditioning. This was snapped at the end of the meet. Rebell had five ladies competing!

The weekend brought a ton of new learning experiences, more respect for the USAPL federation, and a new eye for form, competition strategy and a bigger appreciation for my training.

Read on to see how I cut weight, why I ended up naked at weigh-ins, how I crushed an entire bag of jelly beans, and why this was the most fun competition environment I have ever experienced in my athletic career.

But first, let’s go over my goals going into the meet:

Squat: 200 pounds

Bench: 115 pounds

Deadlift: 265 +(something bigger than 255)

Check out last week’s CROF Weekly Update to read more about the numbers from my first meet in 2015 and why I wanted the numbers aforementioned.

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How I cut weight

If you read the CROF Weekly Updates often you know that I started my bikini prep last August weighing around 117-118 pounds and ended the prep at 110. However, the day I walked on stage I was actually 113.

I stayed around 115-116 for the next month or so and figured competing in the 52 kg (114 pound) category for powerlifting wouldn’t be too hard, especially after cutting from 124 to 114 pounds for my first meet.

Unfortunately, during the two weeks leading up to the meet my weight was between 118.8 and 122 consistently.

Boo!

When I woke up Saturday morning to head to Chicago I weighed 117 after little sleep and after doing two terribly horrible days of PSMF (protein sparing modified fast).

I had 2.5 scoops of protein powder microwaved with water and sweetner and headed to the airport.

When I got to Chicago I went straight to Rebell Strength and Conditioning to take Ryan’s mobility class.

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At 10 a.m. I weighed myself on their scale and mine (from my suitcase) and both read about 116.4

After that boost of confidence (you typically lose at least a pound over night while sleeping) I went to a nearby cafe with Ryan and ate some egg whites.

Then I had round two of egg whites (with incredible salsa!) at Nookies with my friends Karly, Shannon, Rachel and Matt.

Karly and Shannon and I  spent the rest of the day laughing and shopping.

Later that night, after placing my scale one hundred different places on the wood floors of Shannon’s apartment, it seemed as though I was somewhere between 116.8 and 117.4.

At one point it read 120.

My BFFs began to get glam for a black tie charity event.

For a few hours on Saturday I actually planned on going with them to the event for the first half of it. I even found a great dress….

Unfortunately after the makeup was done we realized it was sold out!

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I sent them off and went to Harry Carry’s with my Mom and friend Rachel and I am not sure why I didn’t “just say no” to dinner.

Maybe because I was in a better spot with my weight than the year prior?

I have no clue why I did this, but I ordered grilled shrimp and roasted veggies.

The veggies had salt and oil and boy, I could tell!

It tasted sinful after several days of protein shakes.

When I arrived at the hotel I weight about 117.8.

Into the bathtub I went!

After the first scorching hot bathtub soak I weighed 117.4.

I got out, took a breath and got back in.

Every time I got in and out the scale went down only .2 pounds.

I cycled through this in and out of hot bathtub water sitting about five times until I was 116.4 on the scale when placed on one side of the bathroom and 115.8 on another side of the bathroom.

The best part was that my black makeup started to run until I basically sweat it off; meanwhile I had permanent red lipstick on I couldn’t get off so I looked like a drunken, sweaty clown in the bath tub.

Good times.

I learned this technique from my ex-boyfriend during my first weight-cut. He taught me well enough that I could do it again on my own. If you want to read more, read this article.

I continued to sweat a little when I got in bed.

I would up at 114.6.

Too high.

I got in the tub for one more hot soak at 7 a.m. and washed my hair.

When I arrived at the meet I saw 112 on a random scale in the bathroom and felt relieved.

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The actual weigh-in

I walked into B&W Gym for the meet armed with a gallon of water, a Diet Mountain Dew and a regular Mountain Dew, dates, jelly beans, Quest bars, popcorn, fruit roll-ups, hard boiled eggs and Chex.

I was so thankful when a few ladies I used to train with a Rebell called my name!

I know people here! 

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They gave me a mini-crown like they all wore so I could feel a part of the team.

They wore the crowns because they joked that this was their “big recital” (oh how I miss inside jokes with training partners!!) and we all spoke about how we were excited to weigh-ins over with.

After waiting what seemed like an hour (but was probably ten minutes) to weigh-in, we were told we had to get our rack heights first, before we could weigh-in.

Another hurdle.

I got this. Water soon. I just wanted to not feel like there was a desert in my mouth.

When it was time to weigh-in, I ducked behind the yellow, dirty curtain in the dark, crawl-space like corridor in what looked like an old locker room with cement walls and a leaky ceiling.

I approached the judge who had been judging for *almost* more years than my mom has been alive.

She was wearing very official gray pants, navy blazer with a “USAPL” embroidered breast pocket and a red scarf.

“You may strip down to your bra and underwear,” she said.

I took off my sweat shirt and sweat pants to reveal my singlet that was half-on; the sleeves were rolled down.

Then I took off my t-shirt and stood there in a sports bra and the singlet.

“You may not weigh-in in your singlet,” she said.

One minor detail…. I forgot to bring/wear underwear.

“Um, well, I don have any…”

“You can go nude. Back in the olden days that’s how we did it with a balance scale. Talk about a finicky scale. The way you placed long hair could throw it off. I’ve seen it all. Strip down.”

And there I was, butt naked in this creepy dark hallway.

I made weight!!!

I came in at 51 kilograms even.

Just as I walked back to my little snack area my mom walked in with Stan’s donuts.

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I ate four donuts after crushing two hard boiled eggs and two Quest bars.

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The Squat

The squat was the first lift.

Thirty minutes before the meet was to begin they changed the flights, putting me in the first one.

I went from crushing donuts in the audience to the warm-up room real fast!

A really nice lady named Raina from Rebell was close to me in the flight so it was nice to know someone in the warm-up area.

Not only that, but Rebell recently hired a kickass coach from LA named Jessica, or “Coach Kilts,” who was back their coaching Raina.

She had such a calm-cool about her; she helped calm my nerves a lot.

I did a warm up set with the bar, then 95 then 135 felt oddly heavy.

I was in my own head.

I did a set of two at 155 and 165.

Then I hit one single at 170.

That was it before I opened with 180.

I had done singles and even a triple at 185 before; I had to keep trust in that experience.

Practice proves strength.

I had even done one single at 200 but was pretty sure I hadn’t gone low enough.

When I opened at 180 I saw my old coach Mike Connelly in the audience and two very sweet members with whom I used to train at 6 a.m. at Rebell from 2013 to part of 2014.

I saw my mom.

I felt supported.

I went for the squat and nailed it!

Woo! First one done.

My next jump was up to 198.4 pounds, or 90 kg.

It was grinder…I was not going to give up.

As soon as I heard the cheering, I knew I would keep pushing, and I made it up! I stepped forward immediately; I wanted that heavy bar off of me ASAP.

Because I didn’t wait for the judge’s cue to rack it, it didn’t count.

And, because it was such a fight to complete the lift, I dared not go to 203 pounds (92 kg), because if I missed that lift I would end up with 180 as my squat number, a far cry from the 200 I wanted.

I went in for 198 again, (after all I wanted 200 pounds for the squat); I now knew I could do it, I simply had to follow the rules and repeat the lift.

I took a huge breath and approached the bar like I do in practice, almost like I used to grab the gymnastics bar!

I was so thankful to have the help and support of Coach Kilts. She helped reassure me that I should stay at 198.

The environment was so chill, too: small arena, low ceilings and rather hot but very informal. I loved being able to run over to my mom after the lift!

Unfortunately my dad and step-mom April didn’t make it until right after the squat, but when I saw my Dad’s shirt, it didn’t even matter. It made my day. I was glad they could make it.

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The Bench

Not only was the vibe of the meet very chill but it was professional in that the rules were stringent and the judges, assistants and volunteers were incredibly helpful.

Moments after my dad and April arrived so did my friend Karly.

While the second and third flights were going I helped teach them a little more about how a powerlifting meet works and what was going on with the squat etc. as they watched.

Next thing I knew it was time for me to go warm-up for bench.

Naturally, I invited them to come back in the warm-up area with me.

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It is important to know that this gym looked like something out of a 70’s movie.

My parents joked that it looked more outdated than their tiny college weight room at Miami of Ohio.

Even though the facility’s equipment was old and looked kind of like a museum it had everything you could want or need to get strong.

I later found out my friend Gideon Akande used to train there when he was younger and I can totally see it being a super hardcore place to train during regular hours. He said he loved it.

It grew on me; still not sure if I could see myself training there.

Anyway, there I was in the warm-up room with my parents and Karly.

“Channel my 115 bench,” my mom said.

“Keep your back tight,” she added.

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My mom is coaching me; this is epic.

The thing about USAPL is they make you keep your heals flat on the floor when you bench.

When I bench I was trained to drive through my toes and naturally your heals lift up.

See below.

Keeping heals down is a huge challenge for me. I didn’t practice it enough.

During warm-ups I realized it was easier to keep heals down when my feet were wider.

I did the bar, 70, 95 100 and 105 in warm-ups.

I opened with 105 pounds.

I grinded through 110 pounds in my second attempt and they said I was “drifting to the bar seconds before they said ‘rack'” so it didn’t count.

Bummer.

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I had to do 110 again. But, for whatever reason that wider stance was really putting more uncomfortable pressure on my mid-back.

I didn’t want to miss the lift but I also didn’t want to strain my back before the deadlift so I used a belt for my final bench!

I have never benched with a belt.

It felt SOOOOOOO GOOD!!!!

Technically 110 was a PR because I’ve never done it in a meet, however, I really wanted 115!

On to my favorite lift…..

(besides this one)

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The Deadlift

The deadlift is my favorite lift.

I feel the most confident in this lift.

I did not feel rested, however, after the grinder squat bench lifts.

I planned to open with 250 pounds (more than twice my bodyweight).

But I wasn’t so sure after benching…

I was tired in my back. It was a long day and I didn’t sleep well the night before.

But then I remembered that I did the following after three cocktails, two hours of sleep and one bad hangover at 6 a.m.:

In the warm-up room I was about to do a set of two reps at 215 pounds when I realized my belt had  almost come all the way unscrewed.

Thankfully Ryan was right there and used his thumb/a key to tighten it up.

Phew!

I would die without that pretty pink belt!

My warm-up looked like this:

Five reps at 135, four reps at 185, three reps at 205, two reps at 215, two at 235, one at 245.

It was game time!

245 felt fast in the warm-up, but I had never gone higher than 255 on the deadlift.

250 went up easy.

Thanks to Coach Kilts giving me confidence to strive for 265 on my second attempt, I went for it.

I had never done this before; it was my “pie in the sky” hope for this meet.

I figured if I missed it I could still try it again in the third attempt.

265 felt fast on the platform.

Kilts’ opinion was that I should go for 275.

My thoughts?

Why not!

Before I went on I looked at her and said, “I haven’t grinded through a deadlift in a long time…..”

“Well, today you just might do that,” she said with a smile.

I went out there, remembered to take a HUGE breath (another cue from Coach Kilts).

As I looked down at the paint mark on the floor I had decided to spot, you could hear a pin drop it was so quiet.

I pulled as hard as I could.

You can hear her yell “Pick that up!”

It took everything inside me to not do a [cheerleading] high-kick as soon as I turned around to double check that I got at least two white lights from the three judges.

HUGE PR.

Unexpected PR, and for those I like to refer to call them FRs, first records!

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What I ate

At my first powerlifting meet in 2015 I weighed in 24 hours beforehand which gave me a good chunk of time to re-hydrate, to eat carbs and to sleep well.

Not this time.

However, I still remembered that last meet I really liked eating dates, so I packed dates, fruit roll-up bar things, oatmeal and Quest Bars.

The morning of the meet I realized I had no way to cook or pack oatmeal.

I needed non-sugary carbs and something else, but wasn’t sure what.

My mom and I went to CVS on our way to the gym and got Honey Nut Chex, light popcorn, a bag of jelly beans, hard boiled eggs and some water and sodas.

As soon as I saw all of the other competitors with designer donuts (not kidding) I was like “there is no way I am not going to eat a donut after basically fasting for two days.”

Mind you, I had no idea how I would feel eating a TON OF FOOD after not eating much for two days.

The previous cut was miserable and the next day I still felt weak and weary.

The good news this that time is that I started off much leaner and lighter so I figured I’d be OK.

I looked at the designer donuts form Mariano’s, looked at my Mom and she knew.

I immediately ordered her an Uber, she googled the nearest donut spot and off she went to retrieve some stellar donuts.

I ate four of them after weigh-ins.

I kept the jelly bean bag with me in the warm-up room; it sat alongside of my pre-workout (which I had to mix with flavored water from my gallon I flavored with Dasani drops), and my gallon of water.

I ate at least 12 jelly beans in between every lift on the platform.

In between flights I crushed the popcorn.

After the meet I walked into my old favorite pizza place, Mista’s Pizza, to meet Matt, Karly, and Shannon…the manager greeted me by name, just like old times.

I had my usual heart-smart pizza, half of my mom’s bianca pizza, salad with chicken, meatballs and the rest of the dates I didn’t eat at the meet.

I bought a cookie at the airport.

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What’s Next

Going into the meet I felt like this would absolutely be my last meet for a while for a few reasons.

First,  have two bikini contests for which I must prepare. The first one is in 10 weeks.

My new suit arrived today (the ay after the meet)/

My new suit arrived today (the ay after the meet). Here’s me post food coma.

Second, the training has been taking a toll on my body.

My knees have been achy.

The maximal lifts can be hard on you!

I woke up today feeling like I got drunk, got in a fight and then attacked by a bear.

Just kidding, it was more like I got hit by a truck after being drunk.

Either way, my body needs a break from the maximal lifts and I am excited to keep grooving power lifts at lighter loads with bodybuilding pump work.

The meet was such a ball though!

If every meet meant I got to hangout with my friends, family, old training partners, crush donuts and lift weights I would do five a year.

Unfortunately I do not think I could re-create this weekend if I tried.

It was a true time, as Karly would say.

I am thankful for my health and wellness and that I was able to make it to Chicago for the event.

I am proud of myself for getting low enough in my squat, keeping my heals down in the bench and fighting for every single lift.

I learned a lot and I don’t think I’m done competing. I simply don’t have a next meet in mind at the moment.

There was something about being single, wearing a ponytail, earning a trophy as my parents looked on and eating snacks that made me feel like I was 15 again this weekend.

Oh, and that someone asked me where I went to college….LOL

I had a blast cheering on the ladies of Rebell and I laughed a lot.

I can’t wait to see what else 2016 brings.

My final total was 582 pounds at a bodyweight of 112.

#DaretoLIFT

 

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