Inspiration and info for midlife women who lift—or want to start

Category: The Mental Game Page 1 of 2

Anyone who lifts or competes understands the importance of mindset. Learn to get more mastery over your mind.

Older woman holding smartphone in the gym, smiling because she knew how to get motivated and stay consistent.

How do I get motivated and stay consistent?

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I’ve been going to the gym on and off for five years. I go from fully committed, getting great results, great diet, etc. to falling off and starting again. I can’t figure out how to get motivated and stay consistent.

If this is a priority for you, stop allowing training and good nutrition to be a choice based on how you feel, or on motivation. 

Build habits. 

Surfer on a big wave at Jaws in Maui, Hawaii, as an example of overcoming fear when dealing with a heavy barbell in strength training.

How do I Psych Myself Up Before Heavy Lifts?

Do you have any tips for mindset and overcoming fear before heavy lifts? My issue is when I step up to a big lift I try to psych myself up but there’s always a voice telling me “you’re gonna fail this.” How do I shut that voice up?!

This is a common problem and one I deal with myself sometimes. I jokingly apologized to my coach recently for being a head case—my self-talk has been pretty poor as I struggle to come back from a back injury—and he kindly referred to me as a “psychological athlete” 😂 and said he’s going to tell me to just shut my brain off for the entire day at Nationals in a couple of weeks.

But, how do we shut our brain off? How do we stop thinking so much and just DO the damned thing? 

Thief with flashlight as a metaphor for comparison is the thief of joy.

Outsmarting the Thief of Joy

You know those days when you wake up feeling like a champion? Like you could eat the world for breakfast and in fact you just might? Those days when you feel strong and powerful and capable and you know in your bones that nothing’s gonna stop you?

I fucking love days like that.

Unfortunately, they’ve been rather few and far between these last few months.

Lately I’ve been waking up quite often feeling small and weak and scared and full of doubts. Doubts that I will be able to get past this back injury to put up decent numbers at Nationals. Which leads to questioning why I shouldn’t just say screw it and drop out, because I’m not going to win. Which reminds me of the videos I keep seeing of my friends PRing their 300-plus-pound deadlifts, when pulling 300 is just an elusive dream for me right now.

And on and on, down the rabbit hole of comparison and self-doubt.

These days happen to me more often than I’d care to admit. I share them occasionally, but mostly I keep them to myself and do what I can to hack my brain and endure the negativity until it passes. Talking about it feels self-indulgent and whiny.

But I decided to write about it because I figure I’m not the only one who has feelings like this sometimes. Maybe talking about them, and what I do to deal with them, might resonate and help someone else.

Stop Procrastinating: Start with Just One Thing

You can’t do everything, but you can do one thing, and then another and another. In terms of energy, it’s better to make a wrong choice than none at all. You might begin by listing your priorities—for the day, for the week, for the month, for a lifetime. Start modestly. List everything you want to do today or tomorrow. Set priorities by dividing the items into A, B, and C categories. At the least, accomplish the A items. Try the same thing with long-term goals. Priorities do shift, and you can change them at any time, but simply getting them down in black and white adds clarity to your life, and clarity creates energy.

George Leonard, Writer and Aikido teacher, in his book Mastery
Unmotivated woman sleeping on bed instead of morning training

How to Train When You Don’t Feel Motivated

This morning, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Daily Pump Club email mentioned something I often share with people:

Smiling makes you feel better.

(By the way, Arnold’s newsletter is terrific. Great value for a small time investment. Ten out of ten would recommend.)

People tend to assume they need to be happy to smile—that the feeling should precede the action. After all, isn’t smiling a signifier of our mental and emotional state? If we feel miserable, why in God’s name would we grin?

Lifting in the Middle

Australian powerlifting great Liz Craven posted something on Instagram recently that hit me, as the young folks these days say, “in the feels.”

She recalled breaking some IPF All-time World Records back in 2017, just before a forced six-year hiatus from World competition due to powerlifting politics and Covid (during which time she also overcame some incredibly challenging health problems).

Liz is finally heading back to IPF Worlds this year, and at 48 will be competing against lifters half her age. She writes:

there is a whole new generation up there.

Very few of the old guard (my friends) will be there, I will be around the middle these days and sometimes it is hard to find the drive to work that hard to be in the middle.

Everything hurts more, everything is harder. Will I even get to weight?

I have been trying to change my perspective though.

It is a privilege to still be able to get there, one other people would love.

So I’ll keep working hard and we will see what I can do after all this time.

Working hard to be in the middle

Working hard to be in the middle is what I do literally every time I train. That’s why this caption resonated so much.

Barbell and plates

The Iron is Pure

It’s been much longer since my last post than I’d planned. Or would like. 

Anyone in the powerlifting world probably knows why. 

For those who don’t swim in those particular waters, tremendous upheaval has rocked one of our federations here in the U.S., the one with which I was, until recently, affiliated. (If you’re an American powerlifter you’re almost certainly already aware of it. If you’re not, you probably have no reason to care—but if you do, here’s a quick synopsis here as well as my own commentary.)

Bottom line: I could no longer in good conscience remain affiliated with this federation, so a couple of weeks ago I resigned my positions as a state official and a National referee. Barring a complete change in ownership and management, I’ve decided not to compete under its banner again. I’ll still compete, just not in this fed.

A doctor wraps a woman's injured hand with gauze bandage.

Coping with Injury, Illness, and Other Training Setbacks

Typing these words is an act of defiance. 

The last thing I feel like doing right now is writing. Anything. 

Because, as has happened many other times in my lifting life, I find myself held prisoner by an uncooperative body (thanks, Covid). I can’t train, and it’s upsetting and depressing. 

If you’ve experienced this kind of setback—and nearly everyone has at some point–you know how epically it sucks. Everything’s going your way. You’re feeling strong and poised for big things—only to get shot down by illness or injury and having to start (what feels like) all over again. 

No matter how many times I deal with this, I’m somehow still surprised at how much it messes with my head.

A face of pain and fatigue with a barbell on my back during squat training.

Doing Hard Things

“A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot. It has to go through the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain.

Mildred Witte Stouven

Here I am again.

Well, sort of.

I started writing this when I was literally five miles above the far reaches of the Pacific Ocean, nothing but darkness outside the plane and a seemingly infinite expanse of black water below, 2,200 miles from the coast of Australia. 

Now I’m sitting at a hotel in Gold Coast, south of Brisbane.

I’ve never been HERE before. 

But I’ve been here before.

I’m two days out from a major competition and, depending on when you catch me, I’m feeling wildly powerful, ridiculously incompetent, excited, completely unprepared, totally ready, and anxious. 

When I unrack that bar and there’s more weight on it than I’ve ever moved before, will I be up to the challenge? 

Woman's bare feet walking a tightrope with sunshine behind her

Real Talk About Balance

For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have a confession to make.

I launched this blog at a really bad time.

As I sit here writing, I’m three weeks out from IPL Drug-tested Worlds in Australia, and two weeks from getting on the plane to Sydney. The intensity of training is ramping up, along with the anxiety that always comes with impending competition.

Work stress also happens to be high at the moment. I have all the other usual stuff in my life (a partner; friends; kids who, though semi-grown, still require some hand-holding; mice in the house; cars that need inspection…).

And let’s not forget the part about being menopausal, which means unpredictable and often disrupted sleep and even more anxiety thanks to the effects of hormone imbalances.

So why in hell did I decide to start a website and blog now?

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