Growing up "unworthy"
I grew up in a broken family. Multiple divorces, many moves and a lot of uncertainty. We lived in a town that turned from ordinary to sought after. All the executives of the automotive industry fell in love with our little town and drove up its value and taxes.
I went to high school with kids who drove brand new sports cars. We however, struggled month to month.
"We however, struggled month to month."
Looking back, I think things felt more bleak than they actually were, based on what I had to compare myself to. You were judged by what you wore and what you drove. This left me with a poor self image: inadequate, insecure, unworthy.
I moved out of my dad’s house at 17-years-old into a low-income rental house with some friends. I knew I needed to go to college to be “something.”
"I knew I needed to go to college to be 'something'."
I went out, got two jobs, and attended the only college I could afford: my hometown college no one wanted to go to.
Applying for jobs would be a huge challenge. What did I have to offer? Who would possibly hire me?
But necessity drove me forward. Failure was not an option.
"Failure was not an option."
Discovering the weight room
One of my roommates and his friends were really into lifting weights.
He had a whole set of weights in the basement of our rental home. Every evening five to six people would show up to workout. It was as much a workout as a social gathering. I wanted to be part of it, this community of people.
"I wanted to be part of it, this community of people."
They invited me everyday to come down and lift with them, but I was afraid.
I would be the only girl, and I was way weaker. They eventually wore me down and I got started with weight training. I started benching with dumbbells because I was afraid I would get trapped under the 45lb bar.
Each workout I got stronger, and I started to develop muscle.
After years of training, I was lifting the same weight as the boys.
"After years of training, I was lifting the same weight as the boys."
With this transition came confidence and security. A strong body helps lead to a strong mind.
My posture changed, my confidence changed, and I started to feel like I was somebody.
I later married that “friend” that got me into weight lifting. He has been my biggest supporter and fan from day one. Not just in powerlifting, but in life.
"It is important to surround yourself with people who believe in you."
It is important to surround yourself with people who believe in you.
Paying it forward
Growing up, we didn't have a lot of money for groceries, but my mom always made sure we ate healthy - much to our disappointment at times.
Today, I am so thankful for that.
I have been a teacher for more than 20 years, and it devastates me to see the state of health our children are in today.
When I was a student, seeing a “fat kid” was a rarity.
Today, it's almost the norm.
There are many reasons for this, but one is fattening food is cheap. Many low income families eat poorly because they feel it is what they can afford.
Actor Jeff Bridges started the No Kid Hungry organization.
This charity works with communities and corporate sponsors to supply kids with healthy meals. Often soup kitchens and food donation centers are full of processed food. No Kid Hungry actually goes into communities and shows families how to provide healthy meals on their low income budgets.
"No Kid Hungry actually goes into communities and shows families how to provide healthy meals on their low income budgets."
The idea behind this organization is not to simply provide food to hungry kids, but eradicate the need for it. Instead of putting a Band-Aid on a huge problem, thy are working to find a solution.
Because of their corporate sponsors and ability to work with charities in the communities, one dollar can provide ten meals for one kid.
A little bit can go a long way.
Grab yours here!