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I entered a strongwoman contest, and I didn’t win. My college friend invited me to compete at a local contest at Iron Sport Gym, in Pennsylvania. I had no idea what strongwoman was and had never seen any of the implements until I showed up on competition day. I remember during the press medley the dude who was timing me told me to stop after my first log press attempt. I listen to him as he described how to press it. I stopped for about 6 seconds to listen then grabbed the log and pressed that mother---- over my head
I loved the events, they were interesting to me. But I wasn’t the best. Other women were stronger than me, better than me. As much as I admired their strength, I hated that they were “better.” I knew I needed to get stronger, and needed to be able to compete with all of these women, I needed to be able to beat them. And that’s exactly what I did.
I have learned that you must have a healthy balance in your life in order to achieve longevity. While my training is the number one dictator in deciding my schedule, I’m also able to take a week off (or two) when I feel my body needs it. Training is important, one of the most important things in my life but, I do not allow it to consume me in a matter that makes it become an obligation rather than a fun release.
Mental toughness. I believe the hardest part of any sport is the gathering and consistent possession of the drive to continue on. It’s not hard to have one good training day. What is hard is training day after day, for 10 weeks leading up to a competition. An athlete must be able to rise above personal strife like heart break, job changes, friendship loses, and general self-doubt. Everyone has stress. Everyone has injuries. What separates a “competitor” from a “champion” is the athlete’s ability to push through life’s curve balls and stay focused on what she wants. That is hard to do and at times takes every ounce of mental toughness an athlete has.
Find a sport that you have fun participating in and JUST DO IT! Seriously, just do it. You’ll feel better about yourself. Once you have your foot in the door, create goals for yourself. Pick a contest, show, completion, marathon, or race to train for. Having an actual event to train for holds you accountable to continue training, and to train hard. Don’t worry about what your competitors are doing but focus on yourself and being the best athlete, the best competitor, the best person you can be.
I like wearing clothes that have meaning. It’s fun for me to look in my sock draw and decide if I want to be “EPIC,” “BEAUTY/BEAST,” a “FIGHTER,” or patriotic that particular training day. My favorite socks have to be my “SUPER HERO” socks. They have become my lucky pair. I think it’s a great reminder of how you want to be or conduct yourself. I look down and my socks and think, “Yes, I am going to train like a super hero today.” Besides that, they are high quality socks and they are FUN. It’s always important to remember to have fun when you’re training!
After winning the 150 lb North American Strongman (NAS) strongwoman competition at the 2013 Arnold Sports Festival, I felt I made a good step towards being “the best.” However, wining one competition, one time, does not mean you are the current best or the future best. After winning the Arnold, I was the best 150 lb strongwoman in America. But, in order to continue being the best I must continue to compete. In my mind, it doesn’t matter what an athlete does in training (if his/her goal is to win a particular contest). What matters is what that athlete can do after a full training cycle, after cutting weight, during the mental pressures of competition and, when directly compared to other athletes. Anyone can look good in his or her own gym or his or her own equipment. To me, the real test of an athlete comes during competition.
Physically, I have many weaknesses; just like any other athlete. First off, I’m very short at 5’2” tall. So loading events can be challenging for me. But, I know that and so I pay more attention to technique during such events. If I want to win, I have to. An athlete is foolish to ignore her weaknesses. Instead, it’s important to dedicate extra time into what you suck at. Then, you can turn what used to be a weak event into a strong event. I do not believe there is any physical limitation that cannot be improved upon through technique and smart training.
Entertainment matters, a lot. I tend not to make a “big fuss” when I lift or I compete. But, I think I’d be a better entertainer if I did. It’s challenging for me to “entertain” as I like to keep all my energy reserved. My output during any event or max lift is 100% effort. I do not feel I have any energy left over to “entertain.”
Everything, every activity can be turned into a competition. When I was younger I would turn hitting a balloon back and forth with my little sister into a competition. I would make a game out of it, full of elaborate rules and score keeping of course. When I swam in my grandmother’s pool in the summer, I would focus all my time on having my parents judge my cannon ball splash, see how many times I could go back and forth underwater while holding my breath, or how many sinking rings I could grab off the bottom in a single dive. Everything I did I made into a competition. I loved it. It entertained me. It gave me little goals to work towards, and it was exciting every time I proved I was better than the previous attempt. I preferred to compete against others but, I was content in competing against my own accomplishments as well. I loved competing. I craved it; always. I still do.