Tamara Walcott: After years of food addiction, record-breaking strongwoman says powerlifting ‘saved me from myself’

Tamara Walcott: After years of food addiction, record-breaking strongwoman says powerlifting ‘saved me from myself’


Tamara Walcott can still try to remember the 1st time she set foot in a powerlifting gym: the chalked palms, the strapped wrists, the yells and screams as lifters heaved weights off the floor.

As she took in the scene, Walcott’s competitive spirit willed her to attempt for herself. Quickly right after, she had a body weight resting on her again and was getting ready to complete her initially ever squat.

The spark was fast.

“When I felt that body weight on my back again, the 1st squat … I just fell in really like mainly because I was executing it for me,” suggests Walcott.

This was in 2017, and at the time, Walcott had presently been dumbbell training for a yr in a determined attempt to get rid of pounds. After obtaining kids and going through a divorce, she weighed 415 kilos and was routinely binge ingesting late into the night time.

The dumbbell education and healthier eating habits experienced presently observed her eliminate 100 pounds, but powerlifting became Walcott’s salvation at a time when her psychological wellness had deteriorated poorly.

“Powerlifting saved my existence,” Walcott tells CNN Sport. “It saved me from myself, saved me from food habit it was my therapy, it saved me from depression, and it altered my daily life.”

The non-public, deep-rooted significance powerlifting assumed in her life maybe goes some way to conveying Walcott’s accomplishment in the sport.

In July, she broke the Globe Uncooked Powerlifting Federation (WRPF) file for the heaviest cumulative raise for bench/squat and push, registering a whole of 1,620.4 lbs in the squat, bench push and deadlift at the American Pro levels of competition in Virginia.

In the identical competitiveness, Walcott broke her individual WRPF deadlift report with a fat of 639 lbs .. Set into standpoint, that is around the body weight of a Dexter cow or a baby grand piano.

But a long time in advance of she could even ponder lifting those people weights, Walcott had to find a way to turn out to be accepted into the male-dominated globe of powerlifting.

When she very first took up the sport, she would routinely be the only girl in the weight home, from time to time the topic of aspect-glances and snickers.

“I try to remember men telling me: ‘Don’t bench due to the fact girls should not bench. It’s heading to modify how your chest is, so you should not bench,’” claims Walcott.

“I could hear persons expressing I was not undertaking it proper. I bear in mind listening to a single man or woman say: ‘Why is she in here and not on the treadmill?’ … I trapped to it and just variety of saved going.”

Currently, on the other hand, Walcott has recognized a change in frame of mind and claims females are “taking the powerlifting local community by storm.” She started Women in Powerlifting in March this yr, an business dedicated to growing feminine participation in the activity and taking away the unfavorable stereotypes all-around ladies powerlifters.

For Walcott, who goes by the moniker “plus-measurement exercise queen” on social media, empowering other women of all ages to acquire up the activity is a person of her main aspirations.

“It’s why I don my hoops, why I use my lashes, why I have on my jewelry when I lift,” she suggests. “Sometimes, I have on lipstick – since it’s ok to be lovely, it’s all right to be attractive, it is alright to be a girl and carry large.

“To other females, I would convey to them to do what ever it is that you want to do – walk into the health and fitness center, personal it. It is given me so considerably more assurance.”

An influential female determine carries on to encourage Walcott’s very own powerlifting profession.

Her grandmother, a chef on the Caribbean Island of St. Croix the place Walcott grew up, passed absent in 2019, and Walcott gets to be emotional when recalling her grandmother’s much larger-than-existence spirit and open up-armed generosity.

“When she cooked pots, it wasn’t modest pots of foodstuff. It was like she’s feeding the entire neighborhood,” claims Walcott.

All over her powerlifting vocation, she has drawn energy from her grandmother’s memory, using it as fuel during her most challenging moments.

“I was chasing deadlifting 496 lbs . for like a 12 months, I couldn’t crack it,” Walcott remembers. “And then a couple of months following she handed, I broke it by channeling her strength, declaring: ‘I’m going to do this for you,’ you know? And I was ready to lock it out lastly.

“I don’t forget just becoming comprehensive of emotion. I was crying in the health club. Everybody was hunting at me at that instant – every person was cheering, every person was clapping … It is just about like she’s specified me her energy or anything, I do not know how to describe it.”

The effect powerlifting has experienced on Walcott’s life has been huge-ranging, giving her reason and self-self esteem when she required it most.

Central to that has been her adjusted romantic relationship with foodstuff and more healthy feeding on behavior.

“I’ll be totally trustworthy – is my foodstuff dependancy long gone? No, I just traded it out for just one other matter,” she describes.

“Early on, when I 1st started lifting and schooling, I bear in mind late at night I applied to binge try to eat when I was heavier, and I explained to myself: ‘You know what? When I start out obtaining these cravings, I’m going to get down and do 20 pushups or 20 situps, or I’m going to go drink a massive glass of drinking water.’”

Walcott’s new way of living also involves drinking a gallon (about 4.5 liters) of h2o a day and guaranteeing she gets adequate snooze every single night – which can be difficult when balancing exercise sessions with childcare and a entire-time career in authentic estate.

It from time to time means resorting to late-evening health and fitness center periods – feasibly finishing shut to midnight – and catching up on sleep at any free prospect. Walcott has even tinted her motor vehicle windows to aid get cherished shuteye during the day.

“I make it perform,” she states. “Motivation has died a lengthy time in the past for me. All this right now, it is pure commitment.”

Walcott perfoms a deadlift during competition.

Walcott now options to just take a break from competitive lifting. She struggled with arthritis in her knees previously this year – to the issue exactly where she could hardly squat and was decreased to hobbling up and down stairs just months right before her document-breaking lifts in July.

She talks about potentially competing at an intercontinental occasion at the conclusion of next year, but for now is dedicated to her “My Power is My Sexy” health club tour, where she is sharing her powerlifting journey at gyms throughout the US.

That’s not to say she’s lost sight of her competitive targets. She’s spoken to her mentor, Daniel Fox, about the intention of lifting “747” – a 700-pound squat, 400-pound bench press and 700-pound deadlift.

“Don’t that sound excellent?” says Walcott. “I’m a huge manifester I am large on putting matters into the environment, just permitting it grow and declaring it out loud.”

Placing – and surpassing – her own targets has been Walcott’s fashion ever since she 1st walked into a powerlifting gym five many years ago. She hardly ever seems to be at who else is on the roster at competitions and hates staying informed how hefty a bar is in advance of making an attempt a raise.

“I don’t want to listen to all that, it’ll psych me out,” states Walcott. She competes for herself, all her drive coming from in just.

“Right now, it’s just me as opposed to me,” she claims. “I’m complicated myself to be far better just about every solitary day – I consider I adore that component of it.”