Meeting Yourself Where You Are: A Powerlifter's Story

Meeting Yourself Where You Are: A Powerlifter's Story

Taking a deep breath, I was trying to prevent myself from crying. An immense pain was shooting through the inner part of my leg.


I’m fine. You’re fine.” I kept repeating to myself in a futile attempt to calm myself down.


Something was wrong and I was not fine. I was in the middle of a training session for powerlifting and worked up to my top set. Once I attempted my top set- which should have moved fairly well- it didn’t even budge. Rather, a sharp pain began in my leg.


Little did I know this sharp pain was the beginning of a long journey.


Just a couple months out from my first powerlifting meet where I planned to qualify for nationals by receiving a specified total of weight lifted from squat, bench and deadlift, I was now considering dropping out. The pain in my leg turned out to be a significant strain of one of my adductors, causing it to be very difficult for me to squat and nearly impossible to deadlift. Now unable to do these two lifts that I was depending on to qualify for nationals, I was struggling to dial down my training and meet myself where I was.

I told myself that this pain was not really an injury and would go away in a few days after some extra foam rolling and hot yoga sessions.

Boy was I wrong.

Things only went downhill the more I denied things.


Finally, I decided to come to terms with the fact that I did, in fact, have an injury and I could not just make it go away by ignoring it. 


I had to actually meet myself where I was at and take care of myself. That mindset ended up being a game changer.


Meeting myself where I was involved a carefully calculated integrative approach of mindfulness based self care, nutrition, aromatherapy and physical care.

I began with being mindful of my body and it’s needs. If I went to the gym to train one day and my leg was in pain, I would reduce how much I was doing for that workout. To the contrary, if I went to the gym and my leg felt a little better- a rare but phenomenal feeling- I took it and ran with it, figuratively speaking. On the good days I would push myself a little bit more, but not to the point where my leg would hurt. Simultaneously, I incorporated specific exercises into my training sessions to strengthen my adductors without further straining them.


Avoiding stretching, because it would worsen the strain, it became a consistent self discipline practice for me to foam roll every single day. Foam rolling helped to loosen my muscles and increase my range of motion. One day, I even got a deep tissue massage. Which, LET ME TELL YOU. That deep tissue massage worked wonders on not only my injured adductor, but my whole entire body.


Incorporated into my integrative care routine to heal my adductor was the utilization of essential oils. A few times a week I would take a hot bath with epsom salt, peppermint or deep blue, marjoram, rhoman chamomile and lavender oil. Lavender and marjoram oils would promote relaxation. Peppermint, deep blue and roman chamomile oils each have properties that aid in muscle recovery and the epsom salt aided my body in detoxification.


Yoga, also played a huge role in my journey of meeting myself where I was. Ironically, I had to stop practicing yoga, because of the strain it placed on my adductor, but the meditative, mindset and breathing aspects of yoga carried over for me. Being mindful of my body and listening to it, things I learned from yoga, intensely helped me with my lifting, and life in general, while being injured.


Being injured and also being cognizant of needing to take care of myself caused me to step up my nutrition. Already I ate very well- mostly whole foods that were unprocessed, but being injured I knew that I needed to fuel maximal recovery for optimal results. To be completely honest and transparent with you, I have quite the sweet tooth.

Especially when it comes to cookies.

During this time period I would allow myself to have a couple of gluten free cookies (I have a gluten sensitivity) every couple of weeks, but overall I steered clear of sugars. Primarily I ate veggies (LOTS of veggies), fruits, chicken, turkey burger and tuna. Maybe not the most appealing diet to some people, this micro and macro nutrient packed diet plan maximally fueled my training sessions while aiding recovery from workouts and my injury.


All in all, this was a situation that threatened my ability to even compete for a few months, but with a growth mindset and meeting myself where I was I ended up being able to compete and receive first place in both my weight class and age class for my powerlifting meet.


Taking the time to take care of yourself is always worth it. Even if you do not achieve certain ideals that you expected, you will learn so much more about yourself and develop a deeper connection with yourself and others.


Haley Mills

Instagram: @theliftingtater


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