A day in the life of a competitive female weightlifter
She’s the perfect combo of beauty, brains, and muscle
“You look manly.”
“You are going to scare the boys away.”
“You won’t find a boyfriend because you’re gonna be bigger than them all.”
“Lifting is for the men.”
“Your shoulders are too big.”
“You don’t look good in dresses.”
“Do you even want boys to like you.”
“Your legs are too big.”
“You look like you’re taking too many steroids.”
This is just a sample of some of the derisive comments that a competitive, female weightlifter, Colleen Skeirik, has encountered due to her passion for fitness and lifting. Maybe you’ve seen comments like these on female bodybuilder’s Instagram pages, or maybe you’ve even thought these things yourself.
Unfortunately it’s become way too common to, consciously or not, to think, “That’s just for men,” when we see a female lifting.
Colleen is a strong woman with an inspiring fitness journey. She’s just 21 years old, but is officially a nurse after passing her boards, and will go back to school next year to complete her bachelors before doing a capstone in the fall. We talk lifting, diet, dating, and female empowerment.
What initially motivated you to start weight training?
I never would have thought I would even be interested in weight training. I was a dancer for 15 years and was in shows all the time until I was about 18. I started going to the gym because once school and work got so busy I didn’t have as much time to dance.
I remember one day I saw a picture of myself in a bikini and I was all freaked out because I had gained around 15 pounds in two years. The next day I started going to the gym doing mostly cardio but also weight training and from then on I legit never stopped. I lost 12 pounds in a month and within five weeks I was addicted.
Before you got into your intense weight training, what was an average workout at the gym for you?
From the start I was taught that weight training is the most important when it comes to wanting to lose fat. So when I got the the gym I would do 20 minutes of cardio and I would go at a steady pace the whole time.
After, I would go into the weights. I split up my body parts so I was probably only hitting each group of muscles once a week – lifting four or five times a week.
What do you think is the biggest factor holding females back from hitting the weights instead of just cardio?
I think the biggest issue is that society has put such a stereotype on women lifting weights and has drilled into our heads that muscles and weight lifting are for men. Women are scared that if they start lifting they are going to look manly. The reality is that doesn’t happen, at all. Women don’t even produce enough testosterone to look like that naturally – even if they are lifting heavy.
What advice would you give to girls who want to start lifting but feel overwhelmed by the atmosphere?
It’s important to remember that everyone was a beginner at some point. Before I started actually lifting and became serious I would go to the gym when I was around 16 years old and I would never venture over to the weight lifting side of the gym.
It is very intimidating if you do not know what you are doing. The advice I would give is:
- Be confident and try – there are actually a lot of people willing to help.
- I would also recommend watching lots of youtube/Instagram videos. They are super helpful even if you go on bodybuilding.com you can find workouts that explain everything piece by piece.
- Watch what other people are doing…I would steal exercises from other people and copy them – maybe later on I would search it on Google and find out what it muscle it worked and add it to my workouts.
- Don’t be afraid to make things up because you will probably realize it is actually an exercise you can use !
- Go with a friend and do the workout you found together! A little motivation from each other goes such a long way and you feel so much more comfortable together
How did you deal with the hurtful comments that were said to you?
I’ve had what it seems like every stereotype thrown at me, and I will be honest – in the beginning it really bothered me, and I would get so upset by it but I think now WHO CARES! I do this for me and only me.
I used to tell them well “If I am bigger than a guy maybe he needs to lift more!” If a guy didn’t like me because of my muscles I can 100 percent guarantee that I wouldn’t like him anyways. It took me a long time to find my strong man that loves my muscles.
What separates your boyfriend from the guys who made derisive comments – is it self-confidence?
He’s the best. We actually met at the gym. He is one of my biggest supporters and always encourages me to be better. He actually was the one that encouraged me to do my first powerlifting meet which we competed in together (it was both our first meet and we actually both placed second in our weight class which was awesome). And it was one of the best things I have EVER done.
He understands the lifestyle fully. He has been lifting longer than I have, and I still learn a lot from him. He knows my love and passion for it because he shares the same one so it’s awesome that we can share that together.
He loves my muscles which is what I care about anyways. We have a really strong relationship, and I’m lucky to have someone as supportive as much.
Speaking of your first meet – why did you decide to do powerlifting as opposed to NPC bikini or something of that sort?
Competing is something I always wanted to do but I thought I wanted to do figure for a long time. It is is basically bikini competitions but it is for females with more muscle mass. Bikini just wasn’t for me – I don’t have the body for it. I am short and stalky, and I can hold weight on me easily (I am only 4’10).
But, lifting heavy has always been really exciting for me and I just have such a passion for it – it is such an adrenaline rush for me I can’t get enough, I am get hyped up right now just talking about it.
Also, I love eating. Dieting for 12 weeks before a show to get as shredded as possible isn’t something that I really want to do. I wanted to compete in something that I have more control over the outcome. I am able to dedicate myself to dieting and I am strict everyday but I like to eat to feed my muscles so I can become stronger. It is more fun to get out there and compete and throw weight around in a high-intense environment instead of posing on stage.
I wanna rewind to you and your boyfriend – do you ever go on dinner dates together or do you do mostly active stuff? If you go to dinner with him is it your cheat meal?
We go out to eat together a lot, but I don’t always cheat. I try to hit my macros everyday – I have goal numbers of my fat protein and carbs I like to hit each day and I track them. Many restaurants actually have macros on their websites which is great, but sometimes I have to “eye-ball” it. My go to is always steak, baked potato, and asparagus.
Demitri does not diet like I do and I love him for it. I am pretty strict but he brings out the laid back side in me because he teaches me to live my life. If I wanna get froyo one night then I go get it.
What’s an average day of food for you?
I take in 1250 calories a day.
- Breakfast: Protein shake, sometimes eggs later.
- Lunch: Turkey wraps with a low carb wrap for lunch and put salad on it or hummus and taboulI.
- Dinner varies: Chicken, steak, fish, pork, hamburger, turkey, lots of white rice
- Before bed: Protein shake
I try to stay away from peanut butter because I always eat too much.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from weightlifting?
That’s a big question – I think the most important thing I’ve learned is self discipline, which have applied to so many aspects in my life in and out of the gym.
I’ve learned to commit to a goal and follow through with it until I crush it. I have learned loyalty to my goals and my future and to be loyal to all important things in my life.
I really am a strong believer in if you want something bad enough, you’ll get it. I have big dreams ahead of me and I know I will get there someday because I won’t settle for less, just like when you have a goal in the gym, you know you will get there if you keep pushing. You’re body really is capable of so much more than you think; your mind needs the convincing.
I’ve also learned patience because results don’t come immediately, and you need to stay committed and trust the process because good things will come. I really think all that discipline and hard work I’ve learned from training is what got me through nursing school. Crazy as it sounds.
What would you say to those in society who don’t think weightlifting is for females?
I kind of just want to say “screw off” to society for making that stereotype to begin with. Anyone can be or do whatever they want, and that includes lifting for females. Many of the pictures that people have in their heads is of females that are on steroids, and not natural ones. Natural training females would never look that way.
I think it’s important to have an open mind to this lifestyle. It can be just has hurtful telling a female that she “looks like a man” as it is telling someone they “look fat.”
It’s their body and they work hard to look a certain way, and bringing them down with irrelevant comments is unnecessary. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and I totally understand and respect that, but I think it is just as important to respect those who are working hard to make their goals realized.
Follow Colleen’s fitness journey on her IG: @queeencolleen.