Interview with Taylar Stallings

Here’s another interview from my old blog as I continue to merge the content. This interview is with Taylar Stallings, world record holder for… in a nut shell…  ALL THE WEIGHT CLASSES, 198, 181, 165, and 148. Since destroying the world of powerlifting, Taylar Stallings has since moved on to destroying the world of CrossFit. You can check out her stats for 2013 CrossFit games on her athlete page
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Taylar Stallings was recommended to be my next interviewee by Jen Proulx and seriously, I couldn’t be happier to have had the opportunity to ask Taylar about her training — She is absolutely amazing! I have been following her journey for a while and feel she is a truly inspiring female lifter. HER. NUMBERS. ARE. CRAZYYYYY!!!!!! So, so so fucking strong! I am obviously honored to have interviewed her for my blog!

As a current events update: Taylar and Jen are both competing in the Raw Unity Powerlifting Championships tomorrow, Sunday Feb 24th, in Tampa Florida. From what I hear, they have both successfully made weight and are excited to kick some ass!

Stats

Sport: Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, CrossFit

Competing Weight Classes: 195/181/165/148lb

Max Squat: 460lb
Max Bench: 275lb
Max Deadlift: 534lb
Max Total: 1260lb
Max Snatch: 170lb
Max Clean & Jerk: 225lb

Records:

  • Taylar holds 7 world records across 3 different weight classes and is shooting for 3 more world records in one more weight class (148lb). (update: she made these)
When and how did you first get involved with lifting?

I got involved in powerlifting 4 ½  years ago. I was only suppose to do a demo but ended up competing and won best lifter for the competition. From there, I got picked up by my current trainer James Jacobs and the legendary Tony Conyers to come train with them and I haven’t looked back!

How did you transition from ‘random chick in the gym’ to competitive lifter?

Well, I’ve always lifted but it was always in conjunction with the sport I was playing. I was a collegiate thrower, so lifting heavy things came natural to me! Once my collegiate career was over I still wanted to compete. I found out about a local competition through a friend and competed with sheer adrenaline and won my first competition. I’ve been growing and learning ever since then.

What was the biggest struggle you’ve faced while pushing toward becoming a better lifter?

The biggest struggle that I have faced while becoming a better lifter has been defending myself as a drug free, female, raw lifter. Society has deemed it “impossible” for females to achieve the numbers I have “steroid” free. Especially with me dropping weight classes and becoming stronger. I just try to take it as a positive that I am doing something right and continue to train harder.

What is your happiest/proudest lifting related moment? 

My proudest moment would have to be when I deadlifted 480lb for the 1st time. It was my second competition and I was lacking confidence. That pull started my powerlifting career and helped fuel my drive to become better

Later in life, here she is deadlifting 505 for 3!

How is lifting going for you now? What are your current challenges?

Lifting is going alright. I am training to compete in the Reebok Crossfit Games this year and juggling both powerlifting and crossfit is proving to be a lot to take on not only physically but mentally as well. Along with all this, I am dropping weight down to my 4th weight class and that takes a lot out of you as well. This is by far my hardest weight drop…but it’s going alright. hahaha

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Taylar, after making weight at 148#

Do you do this primarily on your own or do you have a network of people who help you along the way?

I have been training with my trainer James Jacobs for the past 4 ½  years and I have been surrounded with an extremely supportive group of both geared/raw powerlifters that keep me humbled, encourage me, and keep me lifted. Also being able to train with legendary lifters like Tony Conyers doesn’t hurt either!

What does your normal programming look like? Does it change much as you approach a competition?

Well in the past, when I was just focusing on just powerlifting, we would do a combination of moderate to high reps for conditioning. Then as it gets closer to competition time we only train 3-4 weeks out to make sure we are peaking at the right time and not overtraining. But now that crossfit is involved now, my training has been split up. I focus on powerlifting twice a week and I have my crossfit training 5 days. But trying to find a balance and making sure I am not overtraining has been my main focus.

What does your diet look like normally? Does it change as you approach a competition?

For the most part I am very strict on my diet. I load up on my protein and healthy fats and try to limit my carb intake on my days in which I know I have my most demanding days. I have my cheat meals and everything is pretty structured out to make sure I am having enough energy to support all my workouts and gets me through the day. As competition comes I will definitely become even more strict in order to reach whatever weight class I am shooting for but try to stay as close as possible to the weight class so I don’t have to make a drastic drop.

What do you do to help manage your stress and emotions during periods of heavy training?

Hahaha. To manage stress and emotions…I don’t think I have quite mastered that yet. Haha Sometimes it gets mentally draining so if that is the case I try to get away or do things that will take my mind off things such as go to the movies, hang out with close friends (who I know won’t talk about working out lol), watch some of my guilty pleasure tv shows (American Idol, the Voice, Family Guy, or any kind of murder-mystery shows), or treat myself to my favorite cheat meal!

What advice do you have for women who are just getting started in competitive lifting?

The advice I would give to women who are just getting started in competitive lifting would be to stick with it! Focus on your numbers and YOUR goals. Don’t worry about what the other girls who are competing against you are doing and set small goals for yourself. The sport may seem a little intimidating at times but you will meet some of the nicest and most dedicated group of women ever! Embrace the journey, train like an animal and look like a fox! :0)

Check out Taylar’s website to learn more about her — http://taylarmadefitness.com

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Interview with Jen Proulx

Another interview from my other blog as I continue merging the content. This interview is with Jen Proulx and one I really enjoyed doing 🙂 Since this interview,Jen is still lifting and being awesome – Facebook gossip has it that she’s been kicking ass in some CrossFit and Olympic lifting lately too!! Jen continues to be a huge inspiration for me, especially in regard to being able to manage a successful lifting career after having kids.

squat

Jen was recommended to be my next interviewee by Vanessa Gale and I couldn’t be happier with her choice — I absolutely LOVE Jen’s answers! And what a MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR motivation for people thinking of setting some New Years Resolutions for the upcoming year!

Stats

Sport: Powerlifting

Competing Weight Class: 165lbs/181lbs

Max Squat: 365lbs
Max Bench: 215lbs
Max Deadlift: 455lbs
Max Total: 1035lbs

Records:

  • Ranked #6 (2007 to present) for 181lb raw class on PowerliftingWatch
  • CPF All-Canadian Raw Full Power 75kg (squat, bench, deadlift and total)
  • CPF All-Canadian Raw Push/Pull 75kg (bench, deadlift and total)
  • Current APA Raw Nationals Best Female Lifter (April 2012)
  • Current Clash for Cash Best Pro Female Lifter (Sept 2012)
When and how did you first get involved with lifting?

I used to compete in track & field so I am no stranger to a gym – so this is more how I got re-involved in lifting.  To make a decade-long story short, after 7 knee surgeries, a couple of kids and a divorce, I found that I had neglected myself for far too long and it was time to get back in shape.  I hate to say it now – but I am one of those January New Years resolution gym people – but I’m one who was still there in February.  10 months later I had lost 110lbs and 14 dress sizes. The heavier I lifted, the stronger and healthier I felt – and the more fat I lost.  The time for myself made me a better mom, friend and employee.  I had found myself  again after all those years.

weightloss
How did you transition from ‘random chick in the gym’ to competitive lifter?

I had worked with a personal trainer through the bulk of my weight loss.  I knew I needed structure to continue on my journey.  I loved powerlifting most of all the different strength training styles I had tried out.  I did a little research and bought a copy of Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1.  It’s a great plan in its simplicity, and effectiveness.  I mapped out a plan for myself and set out on my own to get stronger.  While training on my own a few people asked when I was going to compete.  I did a little research, gained some perspective that was I was lifting was pretty heavy – and picked a day to compete.  This got moved up when I met Shane Church – who really accelerated my progression, and I competed earlier than expected.  I lifted at the CPF Pro/Am in June of 2011.  I was hooked and haven’t looked back since!

What was the biggest struggle you’ve faced while pushing toward becoming a better lifter?

Unfortunately, injury.  I had some great momentum going through the Summer/Fall of 2011 and then in January of 2012 I tore my quad and my meniscus in the bottom of a squat.  My left knee has never been 100% – it can’t be totally repaired through surgery – but this was a major setback.  Fortunately, the competition I had my eye on was raw with knee wraps, so I decided to go regardless of what I could squat.  10 weeks out I couldn’t squat the bar to depth. At 6 weeks out, I squatted a plate to a box.  Every few days I was getting a little more weight on the bar.  Through some excellent knee wrapping skills (thank you Jon Grove), and some serious stubbornness on my part – I squatted 358lbs in that meet – and won my first best lifter award.

440celebration
What is your happiest/proudest lifting related moment? 

Funny, this one isn’t my heaviest lift – or my most successful competition – but everyone in the room at Clash for Cash 2011 can tell you that my 440lb deadlift that day was my proudest moment.  This is the moment that I discovered what adrenaline could do.  I had opened at 375lbs with a plan to creep up to maybe 410lb for a 3rd attempt.  The way my first came off the floor, the meet director Jake Impastato convinced me to take 410lbs on my 2nd.  Again, it flew.  I was in a position where I had secured 2nd place in my class already – and the win was out of reach, so I took the 200kg hail mary 3rd attempt.  When I got the down command and white lights, I was in total shock.  I ran off the platform and surprised a friend with a jump into his arms.  I think this is when I realized that the only limits I have are those I set for myself.

Coincidently, my other proudest moment came at the same competition a year later – it was my first time going 9 for 9 – and all PRs.  Now THAT is an amazing feeling!  Watching the video from the final lift though, I’m not sure who was more excited, myself… or Vanessa.

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How is lifting going for you now? What are your current challenges?

Lifting is going great!  I moved this past Spring and started working with a new coach, Paul Vaillancourt.  It’s wonderful to be at Ultimate Fitness now where there are other powerlifters to train with.  Currently I am working at dropping back down to the 75kg – and after that the 72kg weight class.  I have a goal of maintaining my strength while doing so.  So far so good… we’ll see how this goal pans out on the platform at Raw Unity in February.

Do you do this primarily on your own or do you have a network of people who help you along the way? 

I have trained alone, alone with a coach, and in a group.  Right now I train in a group some days and on my own with Paul other days – depending on the lift.  I still like to train my squat alone.  My programming can vary a lot depending on how my knee feels that day.

I have been honoured to have met a network of truly amazing people in this sport.  For the most part, we compete against ourselves, so I find fellow lifters all too willing to share knowledge, tips, feedback – and to be there to support one another.  I am especially blessed to be part of a sisterhood of PrettyStrong chicks – who I consider to be close friends – though we only see each other a few times a year.

bench
What does your normal programming look like? Does it change much as you approach a competition?

I train 4-5x/wk – with a day devoted to each of the competition lifts – and a 4th devoted to overhead work and more bench.  During the off season, I add a 5th day for volume squats and some unilateral leg work to increase the strength in my left leg.  There’s a pretty big difference in strength between my two legs but I’m working on it.  As I approach a meet that hypertrophy work drops off in favour of an extra recovery day as the training is more intense on the other days.

What does your diet look like normally? Does it change as you approach a competition?

I carb cycle.  I have high, medium and low carb days, depending on what I am training.  Right now I am working on dropping a weight class so my diet is a little stricter than normal (more medium and low days than high and a few less calories) – but I always eat clean – with occasional cheats of course.  I feel pretty awful when I don’t.  It doesn’t change as competition approaches – it’s what is best for my training as well as managing my arthritis.

What do you do to help manage your stress and emotions during periods of heavy training?

Training heavy IS my outlet to deal with the stresses of everyday life!

What advice do you have for women who are just getting started in competitive lifting?

3 things come immediately to mind…

  • Choose a competition, and compete!  I have met a lot of strong women with great potential as lifters who decide they will compete when they can lift X amount or total at least X.  You learn things about yourself as a lifter in competition that you can’t learn in training.
  • Take an active role in your own training.  Don’t just show up and lift things.  I am fortunate to have had two of the best coaches around – but I have been more successful because I have educated myself on training techniques, nutrition, mobility, etc…
  • Perfect segue to one last piece of advice – mobility and proper recovery time are as important as how you train.  I learned this one the hard way… you have been warned!

Interview with Vanessa Gale

Here’s another re-post as I merge my two blogs together. This is one of my favorite interviews, as Vanessa is one of my personal inspirations. She’s a total bad-ass and totally embodies the energy of her PrettyStrong movement.

Stats

Sport: Powerlifting

Weight Class: 148lbs. or 158lbs. (new IPF weight class)

Best Squat: In competition, 281lbs. (raw) & 352lbs. (knee wraps only)– In the gym, 305lbs (raw)
Best Bench: 165lbs. (raw)
Best Deadlift: 352lbs. (raw)
Best Total: 760lbs (raw) – 870 (knee wraps)
Records: I had the Junior USAPL 148 American Squat & Deadlift record at some point in 2010 – 2011, but it’s probably been beat by now, and I am no longer a “junior” to take it back J. On to the OPEN records!!!
When and how did you first get involved with lifting?
I started squatting and benching when I began running cross-country in high school. The only reason I started running was because my guidance counselor was the cross-country coach. They took one look at my legs and said they would serve me well in competitive sports. Before that, I had been dancing since the age of 4. I took ballet, tap, jazz, modern, ballroom, lyrical, acrobatics, musical theater; you name it I did it. I went to New York City for college and received my Bachelors of Arts in Dance. I took about three years off from the gym because dancers weren’t supposed to be big and strong, they were supposed to be skinny and limber. It wasn’t until my senior year, as graduation approached, that I began taking lifting more seriously and began moving away from dance all together. My body could do anything I asked of it up until this point. As I became more conscious of my body’s innate capabilities and aware of my scoliosis in dance class I decided that having a STRONG back was far more important than being a skinny little dancer with a nice arabesque. I had always wanted to put more muscle on my body, and so I decided to go for it. I also didn’t mind the switch of scenery from male dancers to male powerlifters, if ya know what I’m sayin! 😉
How did you transition from ‘random chick in the gym’ to competitive lifter?
I worked in the gym at which I trained, so having a specialty or being a competitive athlete looked good on the resume. I never have done anything without a goal in mind, so the term “random” doesn’t really apply. I was known as the “dancer turned powerlifter” overnight. Within my first month of training I squatted 215 lbs, benched 115 lbs, and deadlifted 280 lbs. For a 140 lbs. girl, I was pretty strong from the get go, thanks to the years of dedication to the art of dance.
Has your passion for lifting affected your career choices? If so, how?
Very much so! My path to become a Doctor of Chiropractic was initiated by my chiropractors in high school and college. Some said weight training was the best thing I could be doing, others said it was bad for my back. Obviously, you see whose side I’m on now. Studying chiropractic just seemed like the only option to me. Better nerve flow is the greatest gift a person can give to the world, in my opinion. Chiropractors turn on life!
What motivated you to start PrettySTRONG Powerlifting?
I have always wanted my leave my mark, and well-behaved women rarely make history, so what better things for me to start a blog about powerlifting, feminism, and chiropractic. The name “Pretty STRONG” came about when one of my training partners called Sara Cichorek and I “the pretties”… We all like to hear that someone thinks we’re pretty, right? – Not so much. I really wanted someone to recognize is our strength, our intelligence, our work ethic, and our passion for life. We went home that night and started the website. A day later we started posting articles about what it means to be “PrettySTRONG.” Now I post about all types of things that inspire people to be more than pretty! My idea of beauty is being who you want to be without anyone else’s/society’s opinion to consider, and only strong people can do that!
What is your happiest/proudest lifting related moment?
There have been many happy moments along the way, but the most important one by far is when I got my follow-up x-rays taken at my chiropractor’s office and saw that my scoliosis was straightening itself out! It is the black and white evidence that what I am doing is working. Principled chiropractic along with powerlifting was literally correcting my curve.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your lifting career?
Challenges are only as big as you let them get, but since you are asking, I’d have to say my greatest plight in powerlifting is maintaining strength while at the same time cutting weight for a meet. I have found that when I do not have to cut any weight, I go 9 for 9 and hit PRs easier than when I have to shed 2-10 lbs to make a weight class. Bench is the first to go when you drop bodyweight.
How is your training going for you now? What are your current challenges?
Training is going great these days! I am three months away from my next meet, which is the IPF Raw Challenge at the Arnold Classic. This is the most prestigious meet I have ever qualified for, so my focus in training has never been so paramount day in and day out. I am in what some may consider the “off season,” which in powerlifting means more work than the “in season” for some. I’m wrapping up a training cycle of much higher volume than I would normally do if I were peaking for a meet. I’m working with weight I’d normally do sets of 2-3 reps with for sets of 4-5 reps. I’m combining some Matthew Gary protocol with some Mike Turchscherer RPE’s right now, and I’ve never felt stronger! My biggest challenge right now is eating enough to bulk up to 158lbs. I am currently around 151lbs, and I know if I can get to 158, my bench will go up for competition day!
Do you do this primarily on your own or do you have a network of people who help you along the way?
I have a HUGE network of people. I’ve always said powerlifting isn’t a team sport on the platform, but it certainly is in training! My head coach is Matthew Gary of Supreme Sports Performance Training, who I only see a few times a year at big meets. He has programmed for me for over two years, but as I become more experienced, he lets the reigns out bit by bit, allowing me make my own calls on a day to day basis with his general guidelines towards the same end result. My boyfriend, Dave Bell, is my best and favorite training partner. He’s my back spot for every set, and he yells really loud when I need that too. We discuss our goals daily, and that helps us reach them together. Dave and I also are the Life University Powerlifting team coaches and the strength coaches at CrossFit on the Square in Marietta, GA, so we have an entire crew of people we lift with at every training session. My chiropractor, Patrick Anderson, is also a powerlifter and a great mentor for me through all of this. Then of course, there is the Internet; with Facebook, and PrettySTRONG, I can’t help but stay motivated to keep on doing what I’m doing to the best of my abilities.
What does your lifting programming look like? Does it change much as you approach a competition?
I stay within the 80-89% range pretty much all year. I am always competition ready, but as a meet approaches I scale back the volume and increase the intensity. I hardly ever perform max effort lifts in the gym. I like to keep my nervous system healthy and ready for the platform.
What does your diet look like normally? Does it change as you approach a competition?
My diet consists of meat and vegetables, with the occasional bowl of rice or a piece of naan. Yes, warm naan drizzled with olive oil; it has become my new post workout obsession. I also love the juicer. I make beet, carrot, apple, and celery juice pretty much every day. People think I’m drinking the blood of the weak. I don’t correct them. Sometimes I blend it with raw kale and avocado to make it creamy. OMG, my mouth is watering typing this. I am originally from New Orleans, so I’ve never lived a day of my life without good cookin’. My mom is the best cook in the world, and that’s not just my opinion. I like to think I just inherited that trait, but removed the gluten and dairy – except for heavy whipping cream. MUST HAVE HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM and COFFEE – can’t forget coffee. Mouth still watering!
Do you work to manage your stress and emotions during periods of heavy training?
My motto for PrettySTRONG is “live light, lift heavy,” so managing stress has always been something I found important. When I lived in NYC, stresses of life were a lot worse than it is here in Georgia, but being in graduate school produces different types of stress. I find that powerlifting is beneficial in itself at alleviating the stresses of life, unless overtraining occurs. The stress of overtraining can accumulate and you can end up worse off or sick. Training is something you can control, whereas the stresses of life are usually unexpected. So I try to keep my training at an optimal level of overload to increase performance, but not stress. When I feel stressed or even slightly overtrained, I like to cook a big nutrient dense meal, hike up a mountain, get lost in the woods, draw in my sketchbook, write an article for my blog about something more personal, or do some improv dance in a big, wide, open space. Clearing the mind and body of negative stresses and emotions is very importing for healing.
What advice do you have for women who are just getting started in competitive lifting?
The best advice I can give is to TAKE the ADVICE of a legitimate COACH. Don’t just lift weights with guys that have lifted weights their whole life, and don’t just lift weights with someone who has XYZ certification. Really research your coach and make sure he/she knows what they are talking about. Also, don’t go ALL OUT at the very beginning. If you are new to lifting, your central nervous system doesn’t know what it’s doing yet. I realize putting more weight on the bar will seem tempting and manageable, but at the beginning, every training session is a shock to your system. Time under tension is key for strength gains and it takes years to develop. So if you’re not in it for the long haul, you might as well quit before you start!

Interview with Rupa Bhattacharya

This is another post from my other blog since I’m merging the two together — Rupa is still fucking awesome and totally kicking ass!

Enjoy!

I chose to interview Rupa for my first interview on Lifterly because she has overcome more hurdles in her journey to becoming strong than almost any lifter I know of.

In general, I’m incredibly inspired by her, and I thought her story was one worth sharing.

Stats

Sport: Powerlifting

Weight Class: I’ve competed at 148, 165, and 181 (when 7 months pregnant and at 20 weeks postpartum). I’m currently trying to drop my baby weight and get back to the 148s.

Max Squat: 208#
Max Bench: 92#
Max Deadlift: 286#

When and how did you first get involved with lifting?
One morning when I was 22, I woke up and couldn’t walk. I was in excruciating pain all over, it kept getting worse, the pain kept spreading to different parts, and no one knew what was going on. By December of that year, about 10 months later, I’d been referred to my rheumatologist, who eventually diagnosed ankylosing spondylitis, an extremely painful form of autoimmune arthritis. At this point, I was mostly using a walker, and on very rare occasion a wheelchair. The boyfriend (now the husband) was lifting me out of bed and dressing me and tying my shoes every day, and I was taking huge doses of opiate-based pain medications.

My rheumatologist prescribed me Enbrel, which is an injected immunosuppressant, and as far as I’m concerned, a miracle. My first shot was 12/19/04; my first day of walking again was 12/20/04. Enbrel was close to brand new for AS at the time, and he suggested I build myself a safety net of strength in case it didn’t continue to be a miracle. Basically, he told me I should get stronger. So I did. (I had actually started lifting before I got sick. In 2002 we lived in Russia, and I had a job in the neighborhood in Moscow where all the embassies were. The boyfriend bought me a gym membership in that neighborhood, and because of location/cost, it was basically where all the diplomats’ bodyguards worked out. They thought it was HILARIOUS that I was there and basically made me their mascot — they let me pick the music, and taught me how to lift, and use kettlebells, and say terrible things about people’s mothers.)

So I was fortunate enough to know HOW to get stronger. I basically went on Starting Strength more or less immediately once I could walk again. But a very limited version, because when I started, I couldn’t make my left leg squat. (In the 10 months, there had been significant enough damage to my nerves that my muscle memory was basically at zero. I couldn’t really use my left leg — the quad fired but parts of the glute and hamstring didn’t, more or less — and my upper back/chest/shoulders were a mess. Other stuff too, but that’s sort of the bulk of it.)

So for the first 6ish months I looped a towel around like a leg curl machine and squatted like that. By the end of 2005 I could squat 3x5x45. By 2006 I squatted 3x5x100.

Rupa pulling sumo while 7 months pregnant!

The intervening years have been tricky. I was hit by a car in 2007, snapping my ankle and resetting my numbers, and became pregnant with my awesome son in May of 2011. Before I got pregnant, I had pretty much exhausted the limits of what I could do without fixing all of the remaining muscular/neurological issues from having been sick, so my recovery right now is both from the C-section I had in March 2012 as well as a complete overhaul of my muscle memory from the illness.

How did you transition from ‘random chick in the gym’ to competitive lifter?

One of the trainers at the commercial gym I was lifting at suggested I compete in paralympic, which was a great idea, but because paralympic is bench-only and my paralysis primarily affects my bench, I felt really out of place. Pretty much everyone else there could bench a house, and seeing the non-para squats and deadlifts I started realizing that I was actually a better squatter/deadlifter against the able-bodied than I was a paralympic bencher.

What was the biggest struggle you’ve faced while pushing toward becoming a better lifter?

Ha! See above.

What is your happiest/proudest lifting related moment?

At my first non-paralympic meet, I pulled 255, which had been a sticking point for a few years. It was a huge grind but I got it, and people’s reaction that day made me think I’d made the right choice by lifting in able-bodied.

How is lifting going for you now? What are your current challenges?

It’s going. I’m coming back from my pregnancy significantly more slowly than I’d anticipated but I’m coming back.

Do you do this primarily on your own or do you have a network of people who help you along the way?

I train with the morning crew at South Brooklyn Weightlifting Club: 2 Super heavyweight dudes, 1 very mellow programmer, me, and our awesome coach Paulie Steinman.

What does your normal programming look like? Does it change much as you approach a competition?

I was self-coached for so long that not thinking about my own programming is a luxury I am very grateful for. My programming is whatever my coach tells me to do.

What does your diet look like normally? Does it change as you approach a competition?

I eat paleo + cream in my coffee, basically, with PWO orange juice/whey/creatine. On the rare occasion I run the numbers I get something like 2500 cal/day, 200p/70c/165f. Been playing with a Leangains type model of late, which I’ve been enjoying.

Pre-comp, it depends what I want my weight class to be. I have done everything from absolutely nothing (when pregnant or nursing) to a monthlong meat-and-fat-only with a water-load at the end (when I needed to hit a total at a weight class).

What advice do you have for women who are just getting started in competitive lifting?
It’s a completely different world today than the one I started lifting in, in many ways for the better. There are more women and more raw lifting than ever before, and I have never felt less than thoroughly welcomed by the powerlifting community as a woman (and as a woman of color). Do it. You won’t regret it.

And for women who are just getting started in lifting — obviously, every woman is different, but I had a shockingly easy pregnancy, as pregnancies go (and it was still incredibly hard). Pregnancy is hard. Carrying around a munchkin all day is hard. Being strong helps with all these things. And frankly, my kid’s face when I throw him in the air is worth every single press I’ve ever done (and I hate pressing).