A year ago this month, I was in a powerlifting championship in Virginia and won in my age and weight class. I was lifting the heaviest I’ve ever lifted before. At that time I was able to deadlift 187.2 lbs, bench 80 lbs and squat 115 lbs with a body weight of 114, and fighting my spastic left side all the way.
Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. ~1 Corinthians 26-27
In November I wrenched my back and had to rest it and go to the chiropractor twice a week to get it back to normal. As soon as I got cleared to lift again I broke my left hand. I was out of commission for another three weeks. I got the cast off and found my little finger laying on my ring finger. While in the cast, a muscle spasm pulled the little finger out of place. The only thing that could be done was surgery. Doctors had to re-break my hand, put my pinky back into place, then put a metal plate in and insert four screws. I had my surgery February 6th of this year. I’m still in PT and OT but was told I only have to go once a week.
I’m getting stronger and increasing my range of motion nicely. A few weeks ago I was cleared to start lifting again. I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to grab the bar well enough to lift, but so far so good! I’m starting from day one with very light weights. That’s ok, at least I’m able to lift again. I’m so grateful for that and grateful that it wasn’t my right hand. It could have been much worse.
Although I don’t sit around feeling sorry for myself saying why me, I do believe all this happened for a reason. I’m not sure what that reason is, but obviously part of it was God wanted me to slow down quite a bit. I do know this; this whole thing has caused me to be even more determined to even be better than I was before. Even more determined to work around my physical limitations than I ever was. I push harder in everything that I do now and not just in powerlifting.I may or may not be the same again, but life does go on and so will I.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer ~Romans 12:22
As many of you know, this year has proven to be an explosion of unforeseen events. Well, to rock my world again, I had to have surgery on my hand on February 6th.
In January I broke my left hand walking upstairs. The otherwise routine break was complicated when my hand muscles spasmed while in the cast and pulled my pinky bone out of place. As a result, the break didn’t heal correctly. When the cast was removed, my eyes bugged out of my head! My pinky had rotated outward and was laying on my ring finger. My doctor, a hand specialist from Munich, Germany, said, “Well that s not good!” It’s a good thing he is cute and has an accent because at that moment I was in no mood.
He preceded to tell me I needed surgery to re-break my hand and put on a plate with four screws. I looked at him like a deer in headlights and preceded to ball my eyes out. The first thing I questioned after I processed the information was, will I be able to lift again? I was assured that I will be able to, but it would be a long, hard road.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. ~Galatians 6:9
I will be in a splint for four months, but I can take it off to shower and do my physical therapy. I began physical therapy about a week ago. I endure an hour of excruciating exercises twice a day that makes my wrist and hand throb for hours after. A few days ago I made a loose fist for the first time. The swelling won’t be down until months from now. I worked so hard to get to where I was strength-wise, not only on my left side but my entire body, and now it’s gone. I’m way worse than before I broke my hand. I know that sounds pitiful, but although I am depressed and angry, I am not a quitter and won’t stop until I get back to competition shape. It’s going to be a long time though.
My arm from elbow to finger is stiff and weak, but there is nothing I can do about it beyond having patience and applying myself to my physical therapy. Maybe that’s the lesson in all of this. Be patient—which I definitely am not—and don’t quit. I will never give up, and give all the glory to my Lord and Savior.
This past weekend I competed in the 100% RAW American Challenge National Championships in Zion Crossroads, Virginia.
I took First Place in squat, bench and deadlift for my weight and age group. The winning squat was 80 lbs, bench, 72 lbs and deadlift was 185 lbs. I weighed in at 113 lbs.
Although I won I learned a lot about the technical aspects of powerlifting. I made all my lifts but three were not counted because of technical mistakes. I can point to why I made the mistakes on the discounted lift. On every lift that didn’t count the mistake took place directly after a split second of doubt entered my mind. It was my first full competition preforming all three lifts: squat, bench and deadlift. It takes a lot out of you and I probably was not 100% mentally prepared.
Lay your hands on him; remember the battle—you will not do it again! ! ~Job 41:8
I’ve learned there is no room for any self-doubt. Next time I’m going to have to go into competition KNOWING I can do the lift and stop thinking about it while preforming it. Also, I have to work a harder on building strength and stamina.
I am glad I made the mistakes that I did (although not in the moment) because I learned a lot about what I have to work on and therefore improve myself. I am grateful to God who put me on this path. I had no idea that I would be in this place a year and a half ago. Thank you to my husband, Ryan, for driving me to and from competitions, thank you to all my coaches who are incredible, and to all my teammates who help motivate and encourage me.
Thrilled to step in here to say that Linda’s story and blog has been picked up and shared by a local New York newspaper. Such a great article to help spread the word about what determination and belief in God can do to transform a life. ~Jennifer Deschanel
In powerlifting I have to train my body to lift increasingly heavier weight each week; To do so I must add a few pounds to the bar each week. For example, the deadlift is my strongest lift so I increase the weight five pounds each week, from 150 pounds to 155 pounds and so on. There may come a time at the end of the six week training cycle that I have to make 2 pound jumps. The idea is to keep increasing weight each week.
The strict curl on the other hand is harder for me because my left arm is much weaker than my right, and my left hand doesn’t turn all the way over. I usually keep with increasing in two pound increments no matter how well I’m curling. It’s tricky because increasing the weight too much too fast risks not making the lift, and in turn psyching myself out. It is so easy to say: I can’t lift that.
Week after week an attitude like that will make you miss more than a lift….
“With God’s help we will do mighty things, for He will trample down our foes.” ~Psalm 108:13
The truth is, we are our own worst enemies. No matter what there will always be times of doubt. In those times you have to say to yourself, “I’ve done the training, two more pounds is nothing.” Think about it, what weighs two pounds? A snack sized bag of potato chips, that’s what. Most people can lift a snack-sized bag of potato chips. I know I can!
Powerlifting is not just about being physically strong; it’s about mental strength strong as well. If you tell yourself, “I don’t think I can lift that” or “that is so heavy”… you won’t lift it even if you are physically able to. Getting mentally strong takes just as much training as getting physically strong. They go hand in hand. A positive outlook takes discipline especially in a day and age where photo-shopped images of perfection are everywhere ready to challenge our best image of strength.
When I first started powerlifting I wasn’t able to squat the empty 45 pound bar. It was way to heavy, and when I squatted I fell backward every time. After a while my coach, Jill, increased the weight very slowly, at first a quarter of a pound each week and as time went on my balance got better and I wasn’t falling backward anymore.
It took me about eight months to be able to squat the 45 pound bar with a few added pounds on it. Then I worked on getting in the “hole”–the term used when there is at least a 90 degree angel in your leg at a squat. I was getting physically stronger and my balance was improving, but I wasn’t consistent in getting deep enough. That was mainly because I wasn’t mentally strong enough yet. I had to train my mind to outright know I wasn’t going to die if I got in the hole. I had to get over the fear of being crushed to death and know I could really do this.
That whole process took me at least three or four more months. I hit the hole each and every time now, when not totally exhausted and my legs are not Jello. When I started strict curling my arms had to be tied to my side with a truck strap because my left arm would wing out making the lift very difficult to perform. Curling was extremely painful because my of my left arm. In the beginning my left arm was exceptionally weak. Its been just over a year now and I’m curling 27 pounds without being tied up.
“He trains my hands for battle; He strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.” ~2 Samuel 22:35
It has taken the same amount of time to mentally “untie” my brain and train myself to be a pretty “ok” powerlifter. Right before every lift I tell myself, “you got this. Come on, Linda get it done.” Then… I think of everything and anything that pisses me off.
That usually seals the lift.
I hold a first place win in a National championship in deadlift. My winning lift there was 143.2 pounds in June of 2016. This past January I entered a Virginia State championship. I won first place in deadlift and bench press. My winning pull for deadlift was 181.7 pounds and my winning lift for the bench was 70 pounds all of these lifts were in the 114lb weight class.
I have noticed mentally training to be a powerlifter has made me more confident, more resilient, and, dare I say more grounded.
I put in the hard work and my coaches have pushed me and believed in me sometimes more than I believed in myself. I cannot praise and thank them enough. I couldn’t ask for a pair of more dedicated coaches.
I give all of the glory surrounding this whole endeavor however to God almighty. I am nothing, I can do nothing without Him. He put me on the right path to meet all of the wonderful people I had to meet to help me to become a National champion. Keep in mind ALL of the people involved are Christian. Kind of funny huh?