Panich, Cheryl

My trek to a better, healthier life began 7 years ago. I was depressed and living with the pain and discomfort of carrying so much weight. My knees ached, I was always out of breath and I did not have the energy to play with my daughters. I would actually sit in a lawn chair in my yard to play catch with them. I cringed at what my neighbours would think and broke my own heart to have my daughters see me this way. That was enough to light a fire in me.

My first day in the gym I was nervous but before I attempted any exercise I stepped on the scale: 230 pounds. I needed that visual and motivation, I never wanted to see that number again. I went hard, I committed 5 days/week to the gym, one hour each time with a mix of cardio and weights and I tracked my diet relentlessly. In my first month I lost 26 pounds, like it just melted away! Such an unbelievable feeling! I had a goal and wanted to stick to it.

Within the first few years I had a couple dozen foot races under my belt but I was getting bored and that's when I found an ad on Spartan Races. It was a new challenge and a different method of training. I loved it and it introduced me to strength training. In my opinion, there is nothing more empowering than lifting heavier and heavier week after week and feeling your body adapt to these changes.

I wanted more!! That's when I was introduced to powerlifting. It changed my life! I was the healthiest and strongest I've ever been and in my life, and in my mid 30s to boot. I trained so hard for months and entered my first competition. I had no idea what to expect so I approached it as a learning experience and I was hooked. I was scouring the internet for upcoming competitions and found my next one in 6 months. I trained my ass off (literally) cutting 18 pounds to meet in a lighter weight class and increasing my lifting strength immensely. To my surprise, I did It! All that hard work paid off and I got the provincial record for the dead lift in my weight class. I was so proud of myself, and my daughters were as well which meant the world to me. They would brag to all their friends that their “mommy is the strongest woman in Alberta!” Hahaha! Not exactly true, but they believe that I am and they're proud of my success. Even better is that they want to be strong like mommy too.  

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