132kg/291lb clean at the 2015 American Open in Reno, Nevada
Growing up, I was completely self-conscious of my body. #TeamThighs was not something I was proud of, and DEFINITELY not something I would have advertised. Naturally, I was just taller and bigger than most girls my age. I mean, my dad is 6’5, it was inevitable. When I heard any comment, negative or positive, about my legs, height, or my size, it would get to me. And I mean REALLY get to me. From a very young age, I was always the one people would come to, to find comfort or seek advice but the matter of the fact was that I was never comfortable in my own skin and I didn’t know how to express this to anyone. So I stayed strong and never let it show. The absolute number one thing I loathed the most about my body were my legs. They were big, they stuck out, and they just didn’t look like the legs that everyone considered beautiful. But they were strong. One particular moment I will remember forever was track practice in 8th grade. One day they had all the girls learn how to throw the shot put so they could add the event into the big track meet at the end of the season. So the coaches had us all stand in line to give it a shot. A few girls went before me and made their measly attempts at tossing. Coaches were unimpressed, spiritless, distracted, and all the girls were in line whining about being bored. I was next. I spun (with absolutely no idea what I was doing, and most likely with horrible technique as well) launched it, and the shotput flew. I laugh now because thinking back it seriously FLEW. And I was completely mortified. Completely embarrassed. Embarrassed because of how strong I was. I had never seen a head whip so fast as I had seen my coaches when he checked to see who had just thrown that shot put. He paced quickly to read where it landed, jotted down something on his clipboard, and dismissed us. He pulled me aside and informed me that I had broken the school record that had not been set since years prior (mind you, it was only middle school). He told me that I should consider throwing in high school and meeting the coach. Had I’d known then how much my life revolves around power and strength now, obviously, my answer would have been extremely different. But back then, it was an easy and thoughtless “thanks, but no thanks” kind of deal. Yet part of me deep down really wanted to meet with that coach because I knew I had potential to be great at something, but I was too afraid of what others would say and the way people would perceive me. Point is, I spent my whole childhood and teenage life trying to hide my strength scared of people’s judgement. I didn’t know how to embrace it. What kind of girl would I be if I could throw a ball further than the guys? It just wouldn’t be normal and I did anything to reject my true talents and true self to stay in that lane of normality.
About two years after high school is where my perception of “normal” began to change. I heard about Crossfit and decided to try it out with one intention in mind: to lose weight. As time went on, without realizing it, my mentality began to change. There was no exact moment, it just sort of happened before I even knew it was happening. I was no longer going back to the box everyday for my initial intention, but rather to get better at being faster, stronger, and more efficient because pushing myself to be better was where my true happiness was radiating from. I started to care less about my appearance and more about the time I was posting for every workout. And more importantly, I had finally found a place where strength was accepted. People admired me for what I could do with my body (uhh mostly how much I could squat) and ultimately, it allowed me to start loving my body as well. Loving what my body could do. And in turn, loving myself. At last, I was comfortable in my own skin and it led to a vulnerability, finally a point in my life where I was comfortable enough with myself to open up to others. I was proud to talk about my strengths just as well as my weaknesses, with absolutely no shame. I began to fully accept and embrace the way I was made and I found the confidence I had been lacking all those years prior, trying to hide myself.
Fast-forward three years to present time and it’s shocking sometimes at where I’m at now. The strength I spent most of my life being ashamed of is now the thing I am most proud of and it is what my life revolves around. The part of my body I was once absolutely embarrassed of has now become what I am most grateful for. The sport of Olympic Weightlifting has given me the opportunity to come full circle because of the beauty and power it allows me to see in my body and myself. It’s constantly pushing my body past the boundaries that my mind has previously set, teaching me the most important lesson I’ve learned thus far: Your mind is far stronger than your physical strength. With a strong mind, what you and your body can do is limitless. Be you, accept yourself, and love yourself. Don’t settle for the basic because at the end of the day, who wants to be basic?