A Dainty Diary of Lifting

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PNLE Week 20: Powerlifting Provincial Championships

I didn’t update my blog last week. I tried to get myself to write something down all weekend to sort out of what I was feeling, but it was like I had tunnel vision and all I could see was my next meet, looming imminently on the horizon. I was really scared for a whole bunch of reasons: I didn’t lift up to my own expectations in my last meet, and it didn’t leave me feeling very good about myself. With only 6 weeks and a shaky training cycle between myself and that meet, I kind of felt like I might never have a good meet again. Add in a lot of insanely strong girls and I felt like I needed at least another year to prepare. Oh, and last Sunday I was still weighing in at 73.1 kg in the morning and yet, I couldn’t find it in me to go low carb for the week or even waterload in an attempt to make weight.

So in the end, I just focused on myself and trying to obtain some realistic goals: I wanted to make weight in the 72kg class, which I’d failed to do in North Bay. I wanted to deadlift 380lbs, which I’d failed to do in North Bay. And I wanted to get my wilks over 350 points, which I’d failed to do in North Bay.

Basically, I gave myself a do-over of my meet six weeks ago, except this time I actually managed to pull off the meet I wanted and in fact, I exceeded my own expectations. I am so incredibly happy coming off this meet. I’m not even sure I can put this feeling into words, but I dare say that I am proud of myself.

To kick things off: I weighed in at 69.7, so that was a great start to the day. This is a huge milestone for me. In July when I was somewhere North of 90kg and feeling crappy, I forked over a ton of cash for nutrition coaching, with the explicit goal of getting back into the 72kg weight class without having to starve myself or feel deprived. And now I can say I’ve arrived at that destination. I saw pictures of myself from this weekerd. I don’t even look fat, which is kind of a weird feeling. But at least now  I can continue with my PNLE habits, without obsessing over seeing the scale move down every goddamn week. I would like to lift at 63kg, but I’m at a point where that feels like an option and not a necessity, which is a nice place to be. Bonus: I weighed in only 0.1 kg higher than my competition weight at provincials two years ago. For comparison’s sake, that was a great weigh in.

As for the actual lifting, things went pretty well. I wasn’t sure what to expect on the squat. My squat has been feeling very inconsistent in the gym over the past 6 weeks: I feel like weight loss has really affected my squat strength for a whole bunch of reasons. One obvious problem is that my thighs are shrinking and my Rehband knee sleeves no longer fit. So I bought SBD knee sleeves on Friday, which I decided to wear for the meet, having never actually lifted in them. This was a huge source of stress for me, on top of the usual pre-meet jitters. Add in squat-related PTSD from my last meet, and I ended up taking fairly conservative squat attempts. I took attempts at 120 / 130 / 135, which was 2.5kg lighter than my previous meet. After getting white lights across the board, I walked off the platform saying “That felt easy. I really should have gone for more.” But that feeling is still 1000x better than missing my “easy” second attempt, so this was actually a good start to the meet.

On bench, I took the same attempts as I’d done in North Bay: 57.5 / 62.5 / 65. I had missed 65 in North Bay, but yesterday I hit it and qualified bench only for the first time ever. I had some cramping in my lower back during warm-ups, but in general I actually feel like my bench is improving in spite of my weight loss and my bench was definitely a huge improvement over the last time I competed at this weight.

But then it was time to deadlift, and I was absolutely determined to pull 380lbs, which I’d missed in North Bay, and which is a weight I feel I’ve been fighting with for almost 2 years. I was also excited to deadlift because after years of squatting with hip pain, I finally went to see a chiropractor for active release therapy a couple of weeks ago. I actually went to him because my elbow tendonitis from squatting had reached a tipping point, but he fixed that up in 15 minutes and then spent an hour dealing with my deadlift lockout and telling me how strong I’d feel once I regained some ROM. Obviously I was eager to prove him right.

I made my first attempt at 150kg easily and then I went for 165kg on my second attempt – I felt confident in pulling that weight for a single, and it would at least improve my total over my last meet. And then I went for 172.5kg and despite the fact that I started puking mid-lift and tried unsuccessfully to suppress it, I still managed to lock that fucker out and obey the commands. It was simultaneously unbelievably disgusting and just plain amazing. There is a video of this incredible lift somewhere, and I am going to share it with everyone I know just as soon as I obtain a copy – though I can’t say I will forget the experience anytime soon, with or without the video.

Nevermind that I have now earned the nickname “Squirt”, I pulled the heaviest deadlift in my weight class and earned a silver medal. I’m kind of in disbelief. This meet is a lot like the last one I did: the medal is not the important part. I got a 372 point wilks and achieved the three goals I had set for myself. And I added 24 points to my wilks score in 6 weeks, which I would find objectively impressive for any intermediate lifter. But more importantly, I lifted with a lot of insanely strong women. I said on Friday that there was no way I would medal in a weight class of 8 girls – and I was entirely okay with that. There are some women who I’ve followed since I started lifting, and I know they’re insanely strong. And then I came in second, and it really gave me pause. This is one of those moments where I have to accept that my reality does not quite line up with how poorly I see myself.

Anyway, it’s safe to say that my thoughts of never doing another meet are banished. Not only did I lift well, I saw a lot of other men and women lift well and I got to see some people who always make me smile. This meet was incredibly well run, and I cannot give enough props to the organizers and meet crew. I would do another one of their meets in a heart beat. Even if I had to weigh-in at 6:30 in the morning, I appreciate a meet that runs efficiently and according to schedule. Plus they got Kimberly Walford as a spot and gave out women’s cut shirts. It’s the little things that matter, and contribute to a great meet overall.

I am not entirely sure what’s up next. I want to go to Nationals in Newfoundland in April, so I guess that gives me about 16 weeks of training to make progress. I think I am going to stick to high frequency training. I need to get better at judging my daily maxes and not going to failure, but I did find that shorter workouts in the morning were more productive and fit into my life better than going for a few long stretches after work every week. I took the day off work tomorrow, so I can sit down and think through what that will look like a bit more conscientiously.

I’m also going to use my day off as a stand-in for my typical Sunday ritual & meal prep tomorrow. I have eaten a lot of carbs this weekend – cookies and chocolate and froyo and pasta and pizza and burritos – and I am just dying for some veggies & lean protein. I actually think this was a final take-away from the meet for me: I ate junk food at the meet, and I really enjoyed it. It felt like a treat and I didn’t have a perpetual feeling of guilt swimming around in the back of my brain all weekend. But now I just want to get back to my PNLE habits, and I take that as a sign that I am making progress towards healing my relationship with food. And that’s a more meaningful goal for me than any number I could put on the bar.

Overall, I would say it was a hugely successful weekend and I couldn’t ask for anything more.