USAPL Raw Nationals was two weeks ago and I finally have my life together enough to write up my summary.
Some background–My biggest battle in meet prep has always been my diet/weight management. For many reasons (stress, poor relationship with food, mental health) over the last year, I had slowly allowed my body to get away from my control. I went from having to cut to 165lb to having to cut to 181 to then having to cut to 198 weight classes. Every competition I signed up for since last year’s Raw Nationals I never made it to the weight I signed up for. That affected me in ways that I never understood it could. I felt strong but incredibly weak at the same time. Many people don’t know, but I had signed up, trained and gone to compete in the Raw Challenge at the Arnold. It was just a few short months from the Nationals where I struggled through intense fatigue and cramping to complete the meet. I did not make weight at 84kg in order to compete in the Raw Challenge and chose not to compete as a “guest” competitor in the 84+kg weight class. It broke my heart that I let myself settle for the higher weight class because ‘obviously I was never going to make weight’.
What Changed? Honestly. Time. As time went on I got tired of disappointing myself. I also grew to love myself at the heavier weight. Once the sense of shame for not being a certain number went away I grew more confident in myself and my ability to be more disciplined. I also reached out to teammates who would hold me accountable and check in on me. They knew my long-term goals and helped me recognize small victories.
For Nationals I knew I needed outside help so in the final weeks of my trainer (shout out to my super patient Coach Mike Sarni) and I discussed how I wanted to approach Nationals. Mental strength is the biggest component in competition. I could have just cut normally and see what weight I landed on at weigh in without stressing myself out too much or I could continue to be aggressive with getting down from 201 to 184.8. In four weeks. I chose the harder path and enlisted the help of a diet coach, Riki . Her guidance along with almost daily check-ins from a couple teammates really allowed me to beliEVE THAT
I was feeling great just up until my first squat. I got red lighted on depth. Then came in all my self-doubt and flashbacks to having bad squats last year. I said a few prayers. Imagined me in the gym and smoked the second go around of the opener and the next squat at 418. I kicked myself for not having it together and leaving weight on the platform.
Next came bench. Warm-ups felt really good.I didn’t hit a PR. I really did do my best, everything was tight at that point so bringing in my delts really tight was a bit of a struggle.
Then came deadlifts…I was in major “who are you to be competing in primetime” mode I don’t know how my head got filled with self-doubt, but it did. I went up for my opening deadlift and it felt heavy. And then I basically gave up and grinding through the next weight. I had gassed out and lost my attack. Thankfully my opener was a federation PR, but it was not a good performance…I left a lot of weight on the platform. I ended up in 5th place which compared to last year was an improvement, but I missed 4th by 10 POUNDS. That was the weight I left on the platform. That was what getting in my own way did.
I regret nothing. I always strive to look at each competition in context. Of course that night after my last lift I felt all types of emotions some positive, many negative. I questioned all the decisions I made. I had lofty goals and I had fallen short so those feelings were understandable. The fact remains I did better than last year and I made weight in a healthier way. I tackled an obstacle that I had battled for over a year and had a small victory. I chose the tattered road that would be harder and came through it. I placed…last year I had not. I also know that sometimes you have to do things that scare the crap out of you to grow. I have grown more mentally and become more self-aware of my body and what I like in this sport in the last year than in all my 4.5 years of competing. As my mom always says, “experience is the best teacher” and boy has it been a lesson.