10 Month Journey To Nationals

Thea Lund, 21 years old. Former dancer of 16 years, Crossfitter for 7-8 months and weightlifter for 10 months (and counting).

I competed at my first weightlifting competition with the Dynasty Team in the 63kg category, weighing in at 61.2kg. I ended up with a 127kg total. I snatched 54kg and hit a 73kg clean and jerk. This performance matched my current PRs in both lifts. The experience was overwhelming but it also gave me a taste of something I knew I wanted to do more of in the future.

Nationals 2016, Richmond BC. My first encounter with what competitive Olympic weightlifting looked like. Watching these athletes move big weights was exhilarating. I had only been officially weightlifting for 3 months since quitting crossfit and shifting my focus only to barbell work. Both my Dynasty coaches and I watched the whole 58kg class session then they hinted to what next year could look like for me. I thought it’d be cool but wasn't sure on how to go about cutting weight for that weight class, what kind of gains I needed to make in my lifts and competition experience. Remember, I still had only one local competition under my belt. The 63kg class begins and Maude Charron throws up something like a 90kg+ snatch as her opener and locks it out like a routine lift. We all look at each other with wide eyes. Yep, I'll cut to 58.

I started meal prepping, being more food conscious and eating "healthier" to “trim the fluff”. I still didn't know what my body needed in terms of nutrients and how it would respond to how I was fuelling it. I thought I was doing nutrition the “right way” but wasn't even close. I was naive to how much impact every little thing had on making my weight fluctuate. Water, caffeine, carbs, stress, period cycles and especially sleep. A week out from my next competition, Seafest 2016, I was waking up at around 134lbs (60.9kg) which isn't ideal for me and my body. I decided to hop on a water loading cycle. Drank 8-10L of water, sat in saunas, sleep in layers, tracked my weight morning and night. I was mind blown of how much my weight went up and dropped overnight.

Fast forward to Seafest 2016. Weighed in at 58.9kg and felt absolutely depleted. This brought me to compete in the 63kg class. Ended up hitting new competition PRs for both lifts which was more than I expected to get out of it. After the competition, Kat approached me and asked me how I prepped for my weight cut leading up to this day. I gave her my little shpeal and I saw her eyes light up. All she says afterwards is "Give me your email and expect to hear back from me in 5 hours." Woah efficiency, alright why not. She had cut from 69 to 63 and weighed in at 61.2 so I figured she probably has her sh*t together.

The week after I was on vacation so I didn't dive into what she had planned for me until I got back. I wasn't sure how to go about entering macros and calculating everything I was eating. She had me on 2150 calories a day with a very high fat and protein intake. Barely any carbs.... It took me about two weeks to get used to and then got the hang of it. One afternoon after training, I decided to weigh myself for fun and the scale read 127.7 lbs (58.04kg). HOLD THE PHONE. How is this possible? I'm eating way more than I'm used to, I taking more calories, doing the least amount of cardio I've ever done in my life and almost no carbs. Boom, there it is. All fitness myths busted in that one sentence. It was all coming together. I finally understood the impact of the smallest shifts in my nutrition planning and execution. Also, eating more whole foods made a huge difference. I love to eat. A LOT. So it took some practice to know what foods where higher in certain macronutrients to be able to input them into my day. Veggies and fruits vs complex carbs and lean protein sources vs quick protein shakes. I felt on the right track and my body felt better than ever.

August 14th, driving up to Kelowna for Ogopogo 2016. I had been waking up at 58.5 or lower all week, which was more than what I could ask for. I woke up that Saturday at 58.4 which freaked me out a bit considering I did a small water load that week and was basically back to where I was Monday. I wore a garbage bag and sweats the whole ride there, drank hot liquids to sweat it out and slept a ton. We got to the facility around 4pm and I weighed myself on their scale. 58.2kg. Still unhappy because I wanted to see results NOW. Went to bed semi dehydrated, but content knowing I had done very thing in my power to get to this point. The next day, I weighed in at 57.0kg and almost cried.... I never thought it would happen. I hit a 62kg snatch and a 83kg clean and jerk. This gave me a 145 total that cleared he national standard by 2kg. Goal achieved and crusssshhhhhhed. It was an exhilarating weekend and learned lots about my body and myself.

September 2016, Nationals standards are raised by 7% all around. On the BCWA website, "national" was changed to "prov. I" beside my name in the rankings. I was pretty upset and the next qualifying competition wasn't until November, Kilo Open 2016. At this point, as an athlete there's noting else you can do but out your head down and grind it out.

After the Island Invitational mid-September, Kat put me on a bulk cycle where every second week I had a higher carb intake to help my body put on some mass. Having done a dexa scan at the end of August, I had a good idea numbers wise how much room I had to work with to optimize my nutrition. It read 21.1% body fat. Ideally in this sport, females want to sit around 18% and no lower (which is what I was told during my scan session). So just a little bit of wiggle rooms for some strength gains. My weigh sat no higher than 60.2kg unless I had a treat meal the night before when it would spike to around 60.7kg. Weeks go by and I felt stronger and more in tune with my body than ever. PR’d my front squat, back squat, clean (no jerk) and snatch. I was in good shape, numbers wise, to hit a qualifying total at Kilo Open 2016 coming up in November.

6 days out to platform time. Monday morning I step onto the scale and it reads 60.3kg. At this point, I had already started mentally prepping myself to lift the next day in the 63kg category. I had convinced myself there was no way I’d be able to drop down below 58kg. Kat gave me a plan of attack for the following two days and micro managed me for that whole week. Fasted cardio everyday in three layers of sweats and a garbage bag (yep for real), caloric drops and macro percentage adjustments daily, water intake monitored closely, eating specific foods that will flush out of my system quickly, sleeping 9+ hours every night etc… It wasn’t until Thursday rolled around and I weighed 59.1kg. That was the second wind I needed for myself to keep pushing through until Saturday. I felt a little depleted but nothing extreme. Kat knew exactly what to program for my body and knew exactly how it would respond.

Saturday AM I weighed at 58.0kg right on the dot and I felt so relieved. Weigh in wasn’t until 1130am so I had just enough time to stop by the gym to do my last batch of fasted cardio. After sweating everything out, I arrive at the competition facility and hop over to their scale to test its accuracy. 57.3kg bodyweight. If that’s not validation of how hard work pays off, I don’t know what is.

Now, it was go time. Ate my post weigh in meal, relaxed a bit, stretched, got dressed and set to warm up. Went 64, 66x, 66x for snatches. A little disappointed but snatches aren’t my forte so no surprise. I then knew I needed to hit 89 to get 153 which is the qualifying total I needed for nationals. 89 being 2kg over my max, I went into clean and jerks kind of unsure. Hit 84 on the platform and it was a little shaky. Coaches put up 87 on the board and I hit it beautifully. This was it…. 89 was up next. All or nothing. 30 second buzzer goes off, I stare down the bar, everything goes quiet in my head except “rev it off the f***ing ground”. I set my body tighter than ever. Once I got it up from the clean, I stayed patient in regaining my core, trusted my body even if the weight was crushing me, loaded my legs as I dipped, dropped under the bar and caught it perfectly. Everything after was a blurr. I heard the buzzer, slammed it down and screamed. Then I cried (classic).

Everything that I never thought would happen this week, happened.

It's good to push boundaries in life because without doing so, you’ll never know or find what your true calling is. The future is unpredictable so might as well see what the ride has to offer for you. After graduating High School in 2013, I thought I would be dancing for some big name artists in LA by now. Today, I am a nationally qualified weightlifting athlete aiming to represent Canada Internationally. How’s that for unpredictable.