Preparing for the European Powerlifting Championship – Hoping for “Good Lifts” and “3 white lights”

Preparing for the European Powerlifting Championship – Hoping for “Good Lift and 3 white lights”

A big thank you to all wishing me well for the European Single Lifts powerlifting competition in Dublin next week. I hope I won’t disappoint you.

Over the last three months, I’ve been training hard, and now I’m in maintenance   mode. My nutrition is “angelic” the last time I had an alcoholic drink was at a wedding in August, a glass of prosecco. There I also had the last time sugary food – a beautiful dessert selection. From then on I ate lots of protein from different dairy,  plant and animal sources, good fats, lots of vegetables, nuts, fruit, some good carbs, but  no sugary food and no alcohol.

Ethically I would prefer to be completely vegetarian but once a week I have fish and a steak, to get the full spectrum of proteins from natural sources. I am lucky that I like cottage cheese, yogurt, kefir and buttermilk, all good natural sources of protein.

I have to stay at around 67 kg to compete in my usual under 70 kg category. The competition takes place over 3 days, Friday squat, Saturday bench and Sunday deadlift. I have to allow for putting on about 1 kilogram each day, as I will eat a lot to keep my energy up and stress levels down.

The biggest challenge is to sleep well coming up to the competition, and that is harder for me than sticking to good food. However, I’m working on it, with some relaxation exercises,  stretching and no scary movies before going to bed!

Powerlifting competitions are as unpredictably as any other sports competition.  Anything can happen! All the training and preparation has to come together and then each lift is over in less than 10 seconds.  Failure is public, but so is success!

The best image for a powerlifter is seeing the three white lights on the screen, showing that all 3 judges see your lift as successful.

The best sound for a powerlifter is the sound of the head judge announcing “Good lift!”

I’m looking forward to compete with the best powerlifters in Europe, I know what they all have gone through to be where they are now.

So, this is it – I can do no more – you hear from me again after the competition – hopefully in a good mood!

 

 

Healthy Ireland /Eine gesunde Initiative aus Irland

Press Release from the Department of Health, Ireland,  07 June 2018

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, with Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister of State for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne TD, launched the Government’s Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign in the Phoenix Park today.

The Healthy Ireland 2018 campaign seeks to encourage people to get out and get active together this summer – whether walking with a group, visiting some of our many parks and heritage sites with family or sharing a salad or summer fruit with friends.

Building on January’s Healthy Ireland 2018 campaign, which encouraged people to make a small, healthy change, the Summer campaign highlights the benefits of making those changes with others – getting out and feeling good together. Research shows that starting a healthy habit with someone, such as a family member, friend or colleague, is more likely to last than if you do it alone.

These positive changes are focused on three key areas: eating more healthily, being more active, and minding our mental wellbeing. With the opportunities that the summer brings – longer days and better weather, along with healthy, seasonal fruit and veg – people are encouraged to ‘pause the box set’ and take the opportunity to be outdoors, to connect with others in our communities and enjoy our natural amenities. Healthy Ireland, along with all of our partners, provides support and information to help people make these healthy choices.

Speaking at the launch of the Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign the Taoiseach said “The message of the Government’s Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign is simple; small steps can make a big difference to your health, you just need to start. And if you start with someone else, you’re more likely to make a lasting change. We’re encouraging everyone to get involved with your neighbours, friends and family or through Healthy Ireland partner organisations to join a group that can help you to take that first step to a healthier lifestyle. Summer is here and it’s an ideal time to plan to get outdoors more often, to enjoy our parks and other amenities, to go for a walk or a run or just take a mental break. These positive and sustainable changes can help us all build a healthy Ireland.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris said: “Healthy Ireland is about supporting people to improve their own health and wellbeing. This summer provides us all with a new opportunity to take those first steps to a healthy change. Creating a healthier Ireland is a job for us all and means every Government Department and every sector playing their part to achieve that vision. I’d like to thank all of our partners for their hard work and support. If everyone made one small change this summer, it would add up to a big change for the health of the whole population.”

Healthy Ireland is a major Government-led programme to encourage and support everyone living in Ireland to have the best possible physical and mental health and wellbeing.

This campaign looks to build on the work done by Healthy Ireland over the past three years, as well as a first phase of the 2018 Communications Campaign launched in January. The implementation of Healthy Ireland involves significant collaborative, cross-governmental work to develop and implement policies to address our major public health challenges such as obesity, smoking and physical inactivity, and to ensure related policy areas, such as education, planning, transport, rural and community development are aligned to facilitate and prioritise health and wellbeing.

Visit gov.ie/healthyireland and follow #healthyireland and #feelgoodtogether to find out about the changes you can make, and to find resources, tips and ways to get involved.

Implementing Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign with “Team Kitty”

Happy to make these healthy changes with “Team Kitty”: Moving weight training  outdoors 🙂

Kitty the cat outside with stones
Kitty the cat discovers new sporty opportunities.
Kitty and Katrin planning the weightlifting workout
Kitty and Katrin planning the weightlifting workout
Kitty and Katrin outdoors
Weightlifting with Kitty the cat
Weightlifting Training outdoors
Making the best out of the beautiful Irish summer: Weightlifting training outdoors

Pressemitteilung des Gesundheitsministeriums, Irland, 7. Juni 2018

An Taoiseach (Irischer Premierminister) Leo Varadkar TD, mit Gesundheitsminister Simon Harris TD und Ministerin für Gesundheitsförderung Catherine Byrne TD, startete heute die Kampagne “Healthy Ireland Summer 2018” der Regierung im Phoenix Park.

Die Kampagne “Healthy Ireland 2018” möchte Menschen dazu ermutigen, diesen Sommer gemeinsam aktiv zu werden, zum Beispiel  mit einer Gruppe spazieren gehen, mit der Familie einige der vielen Parks und Kulturstätten besuchen oder mit Freunden einen Salat oder Obst essen.

Aufbauend auf die “Healthy Ireland” -Kampagne, die die Menschen zu kleinen, gesunden Veränderungen ermutigt, hebt die Sommerkampagne die Vorteile hervor, diese Aktivitäten gemeinsam mit anderen zu machen. Die Forschung zeigt, daß es wahrscheinlicher ist, eine gesunde Gewohnheit beizubehalten, wenn man sie mit einem Familienmitglied, einem Freund oder Kollegen durchführt.

Diese positiven Veränderungen konzentrieren sich auf drei Bereiche: gesünder essen, aktiver sein und geistiges Wohlbefinden fördern. Mit den Möglichkeiten, die der Sommer bringt – längere Tage und besseres Wetter, zusammen mit gesundem, saisonalem Obst und Gemüse – werden die Menschen ermutigt, die “Box –Sets” zu pausieren und die Gelegenheit zu nutzen, sich mit anderen zu treffen und Natur, Parks und Strände zu genießen. Healthy Ireland bietet zusammen mit all unseren Partnern Unterstützung und Informationen, um Menschen dabei zu helfen, diese gesunden Entscheidungen zu treffen.

Der Taoiseach sagte beim Start der Kampagne “Healthy Ireland Summer 2018”: “Die Botschaft der Kampagne” Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 ” ist einfach; kleine Schritte können einen großen Einfluss auf Ihre Gesundheit haben, Sie müssen nur beginnen. Und wenn Sie mit anderen zusammen beginnen, ist es wahrscheinlicher diese Veränderungen beizubehalten. Wir ermuntern alle dazu, sich mit ihren Nachbarn, Freunden und Familienmitgliedern oder durch gesunde Partnerorganisationen in Irland einer Gruppe anzuschließen, die Ihnen helfen kann, den ersten Schritt zu einem gesünderen Lebensstil zu machen. Der Sommer ist da und es ist eine ideale Zeit, um öfter ins Freie zu gehen, unsere Parks und andere Annehmlichkeiten zu genießen, spazieren zu gehen oder einfach nur eine mentale Pause zu machen. Diese positiven und nachhaltigen Veränderungen können uns allen helfen, ein gesundes Irland aufzubauen. ”

Gesundheitsminister Simon Harris sagte: “Bei einem gesunden Irland geht es darum, Menschen dabei zu unterstützen, ihre eigene Gesundheit und ihr Wohlbefinden zu verbessern. Dieser Sommer bietet uns allen eine neue Chance, diese ersten Schritte zu machen. Ein gesünderes Irland zu schaffen, ist eine Aufgabe für uns alle und bedeutet, dass jede Regierungsbehörde und jeder Sektor ihren Teil dazu beiträgt, diese Vision zu verwirklichen. Ich möchte allen unseren Partnern für ihre harte Arbeit und Unterstützung danken. Wenn jeder in diesem Sommer eine kleine Veränderung vornehmen würde, würde dies eine große Veränderung für die Gesundheit der gesamten Bevölkerung bedeuten. ”

Healthy Ireland ist ein wichtiges Regierungsprogramm zur Förderung und Unterstützung aller in Irland lebenden Menschen, um die bestmögliche körperliche und geistige Gesundheit und Wohlbefinden zu erreichen. Die „Sommer 2018- Kampagne“ soll auf die Arbeit von Healthy Ireland aufbauen, die vor drei Jahren gestartet wurde. Die Umsetzung von “Healthy Ireland” erfordert eine umfassende Zusammenarbeit zwischen den Regierungsabteilungen Bildung, Verkehr und Landwirtschaft, damit Strategien zur Bewältigung der großen gesundheitlichen Herausforderungen wie zum Beispiel Adipositas, Rauchen und Bewegungsmangel umgesetzt werden können.  Besuchen Sie gov.ie/healthyireland und folgen Sie #healthyireland und #feelgoodtogether um herauszufinden, welche Änderungen Sie vornehmen können und um Ressourcen, Tipps und Möglichkeiten zu finden, sich zu engagieren.

 

Weightlifting and the Positive Effects on Emotional Wellbeing

Since I started with powerlifting about two and a half years ago I noticed the positive effect the sport has on my mood. There is this calmness I feel after a good workout as I mentioned in a previous blog (My Powerlifting Journey).

Other powerlifters have also described the relaxation aspect of this sport and the reduction of anger, the emotional wellbeing. I agree with them. When I am preparing for a big lift there is this intense concentration with one single purpose. This is a quiet and meditative moment, nothing else matters but lifting the weight.

Now research finds that resistance training is useful in warding off depression and mental health problems. A study published in the JAMA Psychiatry international journal indicates that strength training or weight lifting has positive effects on mental health.
This large-scale study found that resistance training was comparable in effect to frontline treatments such as antidepressant and behavioural therapies. The review, comprising 1,877 participants in total, also found that strength training or weightlifting “is free from the negative side-effects and high costs of many medications and therapies”, according to Brett R Gordon of the Physical Education and Sport Sciences Department at University of Limerick.
The study found that depressive symptoms among participants taking part in the training fell regardless of whether they were healthy or had an illness, or whether they actually built up their physical strength during the research.
The positive effects of resistance exercise training on participants’ mental health did not increase the more sessions they took part in and researchers noted that further research is needed to “explore the optimal resistance exercise training routine” for dealing with depression.

 

The Game Plan of a Powerlifting Competition

It has now been a week since the European Championship in King’s Lynn, UK. Since I came back many friends, colleagues and other powerlifters asked me what I did for preparation and also what my game plan was to break two European records (Squat and Deadlift), win a gold medal in my category and achieve three personal bests. So I thought I write a blog about it.

As written in a previous blog, Nutrition – Strong, Simple and Sustainable to get stronger I not only train four times a week, I also eat nutritious food, try to get seven hours of good quality sleep and ensure that I take rest days also.

After having competed in 11 powerlifting competitions, including 5 international ones,  there are 3 rules I follow:

Rule 1: Prepare, prepare, prepare

There are no shortcuts in training – ensure that your technique is spot on, in accordance with the rules of your powerlifting association. Ensure that you regularly practice your main lifts, but also do plenty of auxiliary work, to strengthen the supporting muscles.

Rule 2: Know your personal best (PB)

For me, a PB is has to be achieved in perfect form and in accordance with the rules of  your powerlifting association, not a lift that is grinded out, almost injuring myself in the lifting process.

Rule 3: Pick your competition lifts wisely – don’t let your ego get in the way

Picking your lifts depends on your PB – but also on your form on the day.

1st lift – the opener. This lift gets you in the game. I have learned that I need to calm my nerves first, and show the judges that I know what I’m doing. So my first lift is one that I can to twice in a row, after a late night out or when sick.

2nd lift –getting serious.  Now that you are in the game, you have completed a successful 1st lift,  this is a lift that should be a little challenging, but you should have successfully completed it before it in a previous competition. If you have not competed before, choose a lift that you can do once in perfect form.

3rd lift – push out the boat. Trust in your training. If you have trained regularly, focusing on your main lifts, your technique and auxiliary work, everything should be in place now for your biggest lift.  This is your moment; the reason you came for. But listen to your body when lifting, if something is off, led the weight go.

Overall – don’t get distracted by what other lifters lift. Powerlifting is a sport where you first and foremost compete against yourself. Of course it is nice to win and break records. But my advice is to leave this for your third lift,  when you have already two good lifts under your belt (excuse the pun) and are confident and ready to show them all what for are made of.

In the European Championship I lifted as follows:

  1. Squat: 92.5 kg. 97.5 kg 105.5 kg (ER)
  2. Bench: 42.5 kg, 45.0 kg, 47.5 kg
  3. Deadlift: 122.5 kg, 132.5kg, 137.5 kg (ER) 

 

 

Yes we can! Women over 50 can get stronger!

Yesterday I came home from the European Powerlifting Championship in King’s Lynn, UK.  It was a fabulous weekend! I broke two European records, in squat with 105.5 kg and in deadlift with 137.5 kg. Including  47.5 kg with bench press I achieved three personal best lifts. So all the months of training and looking after my nutrition,  paid off! Even over 50 women can still get stronger!

 

Gestern bin ich von der europäischen Powerlifting-Meisterschaft in King’s Lynn, UK, zurückgekehrt. Es war ein fabelhaftes Wochenende! Ich brach zwei europäische Rekorde, mit 105,5 kg in der Kniebeuge/Squat und mit 137,5 kg im Kreuzheben/Deadlift. Einschließlich 47,5 kg mit Bankdrücken/Bench Press erreichte ich drei persönliche Rekorde. So zahlten sich das monatelange Training und gute Ernährung aus! Selbst über 50 Frauen können stärker werden!

My Powerlifting Journey

Yesterday a colleague asked me how I got into powerlifting – at my age. This is a question I was asked many times before, so I thought I write a blog about it, to describe the beginning of the journey, the painful lessons, the successes, the benefits and what powerlifting does for me.

 

The Beginning of the Journey

I started lifting heavy weights in summer 2015 at the tender age of 54. As I had a month of work I thought it would be nice to get really fit and in shape, see what I achieve with exercise and good nutrition.
I had been a member of a lovely hotel health and fitness club for 20 years. However, none of the fitness routines such as treadmill, stepper and bike aerobics had improved my body, perhaps just kept me in reasonable shape.
I asked one of the fitness staff in the gym to tell me what else I could do “to get rid of the wobbly bits”. I was lucky as the guy I asked was also a strength coach in another gym. He advised me that I should start lifting weights.
I told him that I did not want to get bulky, look like a bodybuilder, but he said that there is “not a chance” as I would not have enough testosterone in my body to build big muscles.
So I thought I’ll give it a try. After a few weeks I saw results, my clothes felt more comfortable, I felt more energetic and lifting heavier and heavier weights made me feel very good. I slowly changed my nutrition, mainly more protein, less sugar, more vegetables. I learned about the importance of sleep, as the whole strength building process happens while sleeping (I’m sure there is a scientific rationale).
Soon I noticed in the gym that I lifted heavier weights than the young guys working out beside me. I looked up the weights I lifted on the web and the world records in my weight/age category were not miles away, in fact, I had already beaten the standing world record in deadlift many times in the gym!

Painful Lessons

So, thinking that I may have a talent for weightlifting I went to get a few lessons in powerlifting. Powerlifting is a form of competitive weightlifting in which contestants attempt three types of lift in a set sequence, squat, bench press and deadlift, which is called “Full Power”. Competitions are also held that include just one of these lifts which are called “Single lifts”, or a competition of two lifts.
In August 2015 I joined the Irish Drug Free Powerlifting Federation and in September I took part in my first competition in Ballina, Co Mayo, a “push – pull” competition, meaning bench press and deadlift.
What a (painful) learning opportunity! Similar to boxing, powerlifters compete in weight category and I thought, and still think, the weigh-in in the early morning is the worst part of the competition. Then I made so many mistakes, wrong shows, wrong belt, wrong technique, nerves….
I was disqualified after not being able to get one successful bench press. I wanted to drive home and cry! What had I been thinking! However after many encouraging words from another female powerlifter, I partook in the deadlift part of the competition, even though none of the lifts would be counted. I achieved three successful lifts, got a lot of applause and again I got a lot of encouraging words. Even though I left Ballina empty-handed, I decided to try again in another competition.

Successes and further goals

By now I took part in four world championships, in Wales, Italy, Belgium and Boston, USA. I broke and set some World and European records. I met other powerlifters from many countries, also passionate about powerlifting. My next goal is to partake in the European full power championship in the UK in May and beat my personal records in all three categories.

Benefits of lifting heavy

So far, I am enjoying the sport. Other powerlifters have described the relaxation aspect of this sport and the reduction of anger, the emotional wellbeing. I agree with them. No matter how much is going on in my life, I can put it out of my head for a few hours every week, without taking drugs. When I am preparing for a big lift there is this intense concentration with one single purpose – to get that weight of the ground. This is a quiet and meditative moment, I notice nothing else but the bar.

What does it do for me?

I think that my competitive sport enables me to manage the other aspects of my life – my hectic personal life, my managerial role in Trinity College as well as my scholarly work. Thanks to my sport I can completely switch off for a few hours a week.
I am now in better shape than ever. I am stronger, feel calmer, the best is really that the training, the discipline and determination gives me the ability to face better everything that life might through at me!

Nutrition – Strong, Simple and Sustainable

Many people have asked me what I eat and drink to give me energy for my competitive sport, powerlifting, while leading a busy life.

Over time, through trial and error, experimenting with different foods I learned that there are three principles that work for me. Nutrition for me has to make me strong, give me energy, be simple to prepare and the overall diet plan has to be sustainable.

Strong

When I started experimenting with my diet I used to call good nutrition “strong food”. That was before I heard the term “clean food.” But strong food means more to me, it is food that gives me energy for my sport and busy life. It does not make me feel sluggish and tired. I now see food as nutrition, as fuel for the day, helping me to stay strong and healthy.

Simple

Once I get the so-called “macros” right i.e. protein, fats, carbohydrates and making sure the food is varied so all necessary minerals and vitamins are covered I don’t worry about a detailed nutrition plan.

I am getting protein from natural sources, for example from dairy, such as kefir, buttermilk, yogurt, cottage and other cheese, and from eggs, chicken, turkey, beef or fish.

I don’t worry about the fat intake too much as I guess there is enough there in combination with the protein.

Changing my carbohydrate intake was the hardest. As I ate more protein and fat since taking up powerlifting, I had to limit my overall calorie intake from carbohydrates,  so I would no put on weight and stay within my competition weight category.

Carbohydrates can come from three key sources, sugar, starch and fibre. As sugars have a higher calorie density, I switched to more complex carbohydrates, starches and fibres,  for example vegetables, nuts, grains and legumes.  Nuts and legumes in particular have the added benefit of being  a good source of protein.

I now eat lots of vegetables, leafy greens, such as spinach, kale and cabbage, and other vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower,  peppers, beetroot, sauerkraut and asparagus.

Sustainable  ­

Sustainable means for me that I can stick to a diet for a long time – for life!  The food I eat needs to be easy and quick to prepare and available everywhere I might travel. For example, eggs, natural yogurt and cottage cheese are available in all countries I travel to, and so is spinach, peppers and most other vegetables.

Of course there is temptation to eat sweets. My weakness are chocolate and ice cream. So I usually eat chocolate during competitions, as a quick source of energy.  I stick to good quality chocolate though, ice cream and other treats, and thoroughly and consciously enjoy them!