You know I love a good weight loss story. You, too, huh? Know what I love even better? A weight loss story that starts with logs, tractor tires and Atlas Stones and ends with one strong, confident, badass woman. Girl power.
Now – if you were going to picture one of the strongest people you know, someone with strength so impressive it leaves you, well, speechless — you probably wouldn’t picture a 4’11”, 132lbs, red hair girl would you? Well, if you knew Ashley Lawrence, you sure would.
I had the opportunity to compete with Ashley at last year’s USS National Championship (watching her win the title in the Lightweight Women’s Open Division.) And, let me tell you this – it was impressive.
But, before Ashley was collecting trophies, holding USS records and making some serious waves in the Strongman world, things were a bit different. She has a backstory like a lot of us, a struggle with extra weight. Now, since this little spitfire is one of the most impressive people I’ve seen compete, I wanted to let you guys in on her weight loss story and journey to Badass Strongwoman (and, most importantly, let you guys in on how she did it.)
Believe me, you’re going to be impressed and inspired….
Back in 2011, Ashley topped the scales at 173lbs – that’s a lot to carry on her 4’11” frame. According to Ashley, “I was not happy with the way I looked, or felt in my own skin. I needed a change.”
Now, you’re probably thinking – how did she do that? Ashley said that she actually got her motivation from an upcoming vacation. After hearing her family was heading to the beach, (nothing like the thought of a bathing suit for some motivation) she felt motivated to get moving. Ashley found her way into her sister’s newly-opened gym and her evolution began. “I cleaned up my diet and attended group training classes six days a week. In seven short months, I was down 47lbs.” Now guys, forty-seven pounds is no joke. Just as a point of reference, that’s about the equivalent of five bowling balls, one male bulldog or my toddler. Rock on, Ashley.
Then a key moment came for her when she found her way into strongman. At her first competition, “I came in second place to none other than my big sis. I can’t really explain the way I felt that day, but I knew this is what I wanted to do. And I was hooked.”
Since then, Ashley has competed in 12 strongman competitions, racking up trophies, strongman records and fans along the way.
One of the things that I love most about Ashley, is that she is short – just like me. Not just a little short, but “can you help me reach the top shelf” short. But, instead of letting that hold her back and using that as a reason why she can’t succeed in strongman, she just uses it as motivation to work harder, push more and be as efficient as she can with her body and small frame. From one short girl to the next, Bravo, Ashley.
Ashley’s story isn’t just about dieting and counting calories and celery sticks, it’s about finding something that you love that allows you to move, exercise, sweat and get in shape while doing it. For Ashley, that was strongman. “It’s more than just lifting heavy things. It’s about building confidence. It’s proof that you are capable of doing things you never thought you could. It’s the people you meet, the friends you make, and the support that you get and give to your fellow strongpeople.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
I asked Ashley what advice she would give to other women interested in strength training. “The best advice I have for girls that are interested in strength training is to start now. Find a gym, training partner or trainer and lift. It doesn’t matter if you start with an empty bar. Just start. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish with a little hard work and dedication.”
Ashley and I share a love for strongman and what is has done for our bodies and confidence. And Ashley will be the first to say, “I am so thankful that I found this amazing sport, when all I was looking for in the beginning was a beach body.”
Ashley will be competing at the 2016 USS Nationals this June. I’ll be there competing beside her, cheering her on and silently being thankful that she’s not competing in my weight class. 🙂
Quick Q&A with Ashley:
Me: Where do you keep your USS Nationals belt?
Ashley: I have been meaning to create a space on the wall for the sweet trophies that I have accumulated. It is a little tough to decide where a viking helmet, a battle axe, sword and the belt would go best with my decor. But currently my belt is riding around in my car with me because someone always asks to see it.
Me: Do you train with a trainer?
Ashley: I have found that working with a trainer works better for me. I don’t seem to push myself quite hard enough on my own. It is also easier for me to stay on track because I have someone holding me accountable. And I think it is easier for someone else to see weak points in my training that I might be missing.
Me: How do you feel about your body now that you’ve started lifting and have seen changes?
Ashley: Since I have started lifting, I have learned to love my body. Something that I used to hate on a daily basis. I still hate shopping for clothes, because nothing ever fits right. But now it’s because my legs need a bigger size than my waist. Or a shirt is too tight, but in the shoulders now and not the midsection. I will never have a thigh gap and I’m okay with that. I’m really okay with that actually.
Me: Favorite lift?
Ashley: I absolutely love deadlifts. Which just so happens to be my most memorable PR. I had been training the 18 inch deadlift for the Hoosier Strength Challenge XI. I ended up at 505lbs no problem and set the new 123lbs record at 525lbs.
Me: What’s on your gym playlist:
Ashley: I’m not too picky about what kind of music I listen to while training, but I do love to blare Hard Rock Strength Training on Pandora. Anything loud and somewhat angry works for me!
Me: Do you count calories or macros? What’s your diet look like?
Ashley: My diet is a little boring to say the least, but it works well for me. I used to count calories, but over the years I have pretty much figured out what and how much I can eat to maintain my body weight. I keep it pretty simple. I eat a lot of meat, veggies, some fruit and nuts. I usually stick to white rice and sweet potatoes for my carbs.
Follow Ashley’s progress and training: Instagram:@ashley103010
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