When you’re a competitive powerlifter, the question everyone always asks is, “when’s your next competition???” Over the past 5 years, I’ve competed 7 times, trying to average at least one competition a year, sometimes two.
My last competition was October 2015.
I didn’t compete at all in 2016. I actually was so focused on other things (which I’ll get into in this post) that I didn’t even realize that the year was ending and I never made it onto the platform.
I LOVE competing. I never thought I would, but I do. I love the energy. I love the feeling of hitting a lift. I love that people who don’t even know you are cheering you on. I love the sense of community. I love the excitement of hitting a PR. I love my pink singlets and pink converse and pink socks and pink belt. I love the trophies (come on, who doesn’t?) I love making my coach and my family proud.
I’ll start out by saying I never really intentionally ‘sat out’ competing in 2016. I just never really felt ready.
One of my main goals for 2016 was to get my diet straightened out, fix my metabolism, and maintain my competition weight of 114 pounds. For an entire year. This meant that I was training at a lower body weight than normal, which obviously changed some things.
Let’s backtrack for a second. Why did I want to maintain this bodyweight? Simple. I hate cutting weight and I hate feeling awful on competition day.
For the past 5 years and past 7 competitions, I would train at a bodyweight that ranged from 118-125. Which meant I would have to cut sometimes up to 10 pounds for my competitions! I was stuck in a vicious cycle: training would feel great –> I would start my weight cut –> I would make weight –> I would have a terrible competition –> I would gain all the weight back after the competition –> and repeat.
No matter how carefully you do it, no matter how early you start, when you train at one bodyweight and compete at another, things are bound to feel different. Even if you have a 24 hour weigh-in and spend those 24 hours bloating back up.
This is one thing I’ve never really understood about powerlifting. If you weigh 125 pounds for most of the year, why not just compete in the 123 class? Why risk losing muscle cutting 11 pounds to get into the 114 weight class? Of course, I’ve done this. I’ve been that girl. I’ve cut 10 pounds because I felt my lifts were “more competitive” in the 114 class.
That’s bullshit. And I know that now. Competing isn’t about being competitive with other girls-it’s about being competitive with yourself. And if I could have hit some huge numbers in a heavier weight class, why didn’t I just do that?!
(I still don’t know the answer to that question, FYI)
SIDENOTE: there are two obvious exceptions to this line of thinking. One, if you are trying to break/set a record in a specific weight class and have a pretty good chance of doing so. And two, if you qualified for a meet in one weight class and must compete in the meet in the same weight class.
So. Why did I want 114 pounds to be my goal weight to try to maintain? Simple. I feel the best and believe I look the best when I weigh around 114-118 pounds. That’s where I feel the most comfortable in my skin.
For the past year or so, I’ve been carefully monitoring my diet and my weight. I’m proud to say that I’ve been able to maintain in the 114-118 range, and never went over 118 (that I know of – I did weigh-ins once or twice a week).
I focused a lot of my energy on my diet. You may know that I suffer from IBS and had to switch to a low-FODMAP, gluten-free, dairy-free diet about 2 years ago. I’m still figuring out what does and doesn’t affect my stomach, but I did an elimination diet this past year which helped a LOT. I was able to pinpoint specific foods and even specific amounts of foods that cause distress. Once I stopped eating foods that made me bloat (which made me heavier), things got much easier.
For training, I couldn’t lift as heavy as I used to at 125 pounds. So I basically started over. I built a strong foundation at ~115 pounds and am just now starting to build on that. At first, training sucked. I hated that everything felt heavier. I hated that I couldn’t lift as heavy as I used to be able to. But I knew in the back of my mind that come competition day, whenever that day may be, I wouldn’t feel weak on the platform. I also hit a huge squat PR in September of 200 pounds at 115 bodyweight, which has been a goal of mine for about 2 years. So I know things are moving in the right direction.
So what are my plans for 2017? Continue to get strong AF and hopefully compete either in early summer or fall. I’m leaning towards a June competition because I am itching to compete, but I’ll see how I feel.
So for everyone asking “when’s your next competition?” and “why aren’t you competing anymore?”, I hope you have your answer now! Believe me-I wish I could compete every weekend but it’s physically impossible and honestly would probably be a stupid thing to do anyways! 😛