Ever since I was a little girl, I was always last to speak up, always last to raise my hand (even though I knew the answer), always last to get picked for teams. You could say I was the shyest student out of the entire school. I would wear layers and layers of clothing in hopes that my peers couldn’t see what I even looked like, and more specifically how embarrassed I was that I wasn’t like the rest of my friends: skinny. Five days out of the week, I was hiding in my hoodie even on the hottest day in southern California, anxious to go back home to sit on the couch and watch television where I felt comfortable. When I was 10, my family went through some emotional turbulence that led us to moving to Arizona without any notice. I was very upset because at the time I was finally feeling like my friends started accepting me. This anger seeped through into middle school where I found some sort of identity with skateboarding and riding bikes- you could do it alone without counting on anybody. The simple act of being outside helped me forget about the negative feelings I had, which were handled with A LOT of food.

My escape going into high school was music. There was recreational smoking, drinking involved and a space where people didn’t have to converse but were brought together by noise. This continued through college, where my addiction with alcohol ruled my life. I suffered with toxic and obstructive relationships; I let people take advantage of me because I didn’t value my own life. After an escalation of sexual abusive encounters, I forcefully had to understand that in order to create a life of real joy, I had to look at myself in the mirror and forgive myself for being so cruel to the people that offered guidance and love throughout the years. I had to detach myself from the people and environments creating pain and trouble in my life.

When I “cleaned up my act” with my jobs, my family, my education, the drugs and alcohol, I met myself. I realized that for some years, I concluded being alone was the same thing as being lonely. It was not. Being alone was something I eventually was comfortable with because I didn’t hate myself anymore; asking for forgiveness is one of the hardest things I have done, especially from myself.

While I was in college, a friend of mine introduced me to yoga. Against my fear of doing anything active anymore, I fell absolutely in love with the practice. From the meditation, from the community to the work, everything fell right into place and I really felt myself healing. Yoga transformed my broken spirit into a brighter (sober) woman with a clearer vision.

Because I was practicing constantly, sometimes twice a day for 90 minutes, I detoxed and lost the extra baggage on my body however, I noticed I lacked physical strength. I signed myself up to a gym that I would frequent at 5am due to my work and school schedule. One day, I saw a young woman wearing basketball shorts and a large tee squatting in the squat rack- somewhere I wouldn’t dare go because it intimidated me. I saw her squatting with the “big girl plates” (45lbs on each side of the bar) and I thought to myself, “I want to do that!”
I went home to research barbell movements and I started studying ways to become stronger in my yoga practice with weights. I felt amazing! Strength training while in college was also an escape from the accumulated stress in my life, and a great way to distract myself from the club scene. The confidence strength training gave me transferred over into my daily life swimmingly. It gave me so much courage, so much enthusiasm that (jump a couple years when I met my now husband and moved to Washington) I joined a crossfit gym!

I wanted to be better. I was nowhere near finding a halt to this new found bliss. I found a strength coach at this gym which is how I got introduced to powerlifting. Once I got the hang of the basics, I wanted to compete. My coach at the time signed me up for a meet in October 2015 in Seattle and I had so much fun! I have been competing ever since and have added over 115 pounds to my total.

I recently competed in the 57kg class (125lbs) in the nations #1 drug free federation, USAPL. I went to Raw Nationals in October in Florida where I tied with 4 ladies for the 18th spot out of 80 women in my weight class, out of the 930 people that competed in Orlando, I came in 84th, I am currently 4th in Washington, I have a masters total (top 5% ranking) and I qualified for Nationals again for 2018.

I have immersed myself in the strength world because I believe it can change lives for the better. I was given the opportunity to recreate my life from guilt, sadness and a non existent self esteem to an adventurous, loving and bold life. If you want to change something in your life, no one can do it for you but you.

Women need to let go of the archaic concept that lifting weights will make us look masculine. We can’t be afraid of being a beginner- I know what it’s like feeling like we’re “not strong enough”; I too have thought this. We have to start facing those fears, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t dare dream I’d be a full time fitness coach or a nationally ranked powerlifting competitor. Being active is the most woman I have ever felt. If I can do it, so can you.