Breaking the Stigma: How Powerlifting Has Helped Me To Create Healthy Habits

If you’ve been following my story, you’ll know that I am not shy in talking about living with an eating disorder, depression and anxiety. I started powerlifting when I was at my sickest about 6 years ago as a form of recovery that involved creating healthy habits whilst still being able to do something I loved – lifting weights. I’ve outlined three of the most important ones I’ve developed below.

Eating Healthy

Healthy eating has been one of the most challenging aspects of taking up powerlifting. When I first started powerlifting, I weighed about 40kg – to put that in perspective, I weigh about 15kg more now.

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Left: 40kg > Right: 55kg

The first thing I had to do was introduce set meal times so that I could be kept accountable to eat on a regular basis. I didn’t eat breakfast for about 5 years, and lunch for more years than I care to admit, so the first step was reintroducing breakfast and lunch into my routine. Although the meals were small at first, it was all about baby steps to creating a healthier mindset.

From there, it was about picking food that was healthy and filling so that I didn’t stress myself out about “how much” I was eating.  I used MyFitnessPal to help me track what and how much I was eating in those early days so that I could learn how much I needed to eat to be able to train and fuel my body. My biggest lesson has been that on non-training days, I didn’t need to eat as much food as I do on training days – but everyone is different!

As the years have gone by, I eat at approximately the same time each day and do not need to track my intake through MyFitnessPal on a regular basis. I have been able to get to the point that I only use MyFitnessPal when I am in prep for a powerlifting competition and need to keep a close eye on my bodyweight and what I am eating so that I can make weight easily.

Structuring My Day

I learnt very early on that I had to structure my day so that I was able to fit in training, especially with working full time and studying.

My top tips for ensuring I can fit everything in:

  1. Pack your gym bag the night before, and make sure you have your supplements and intra-workout drinks ready to go (if you take them).
  2. Get your clothes for the next day out before you go to bed. The fewer decisions you have to make in the morning, the better.
  3. Prepare your lunches for the week in advance. I prepare four days worth of lunches for Monday to Thursday on Sunday’s so that I don’t have to cook each night or think about what I am going to eat every day.
  4. I do all of my grocery shopping for the month (except for fresh vegetables) in one go. I bulk buy my steak and cut it up myself into approximately 200gm slices and freeze it so I can pull out a couple of days of food at a time.  This is also helping me with budgeting and keeping my food costs down.
  5. When studying, set achievable milestones so that you can feel a sense of accomplishment and know that you are working at the right pace for the course you are doing.

Make Time For Yourself

The most important habit I’ve developed is making time for myself to do things I love outside of powerlifting. Whether it is spending quality time without distractions with loved ones, or spending time reading or gaming.

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When you’re not losing track of time feeling sorry for yourself, or sleeping because you have no energy, there is so much more you can do with your life. Loving yourself and learning how to be comfortable spending time with yourself is the most important skill you can learn.

The key takeaway – figure out what you enjoy, and what habits will make a positive influence on your life. Work on developing them every day. If you need assistance in creating healthy habits, there are some awesome apps available. I’m currently using an app called Done to help me with my three key habits I’m focusing on developing this year.

For those out there who need to hear this – you’ve got this! Feel free to reach out if you need an accountability buddy!

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