Continuing with our weekly column, “That Girl”, we are celebrating the accomplishments of real women who make health and fitness a priority because we know that true athletes come in all shapes, sizes, ages and athletic abilities from around the world. So this week we’re celebrating Dana McMahan, an inspiring powerlifter who reminds us of how powerful it is to be strong–mentally and physically. She says if you really want something bad enough and work hard enough for it, you can get it. We love that!
37 years old
Fitness/health accomplishment you are most proud of:
It’s a tie. Getting my first unassisted chin-up was huge at the time. I joined a gym with no athletic background and wanted more than anything to get over the bar on my own. It took six weeks and when I did it I felt like Superman (or woman, I guess!) A few weeks later, at the beginning of 2011 I wrote down five goals for the year on a piece of paper: 10 chin-ups, 30 push-ups, 100lb bench press, 200lb deadlift and 200lb squat. By Thanksgiving I completed everything on that sheet and then some. Since I was injured just this January and will have to change sports, I’m so very glad that I met those goals. I didn’t know I truly had a time limit, but it shows that you should train like you do!
What inspires you to get fit every day?
Nothing feels better than being strong, and knowing I’m capable of doing anything I want. Right now all I want is to get back to that feeling so I’m working just as hard at physical therapy as I did in the gym.
What do you do when you don’t feel like working out?
I never feel like that! That sounds obnoxious, but it’s true. I love working out, and it’s always the best part of my day. I absolutely cannot wait wait to get back at it!
Favorite energizing meal:
An apple absolutely slathered in almond butter pre-workout. And a huge Italian meal the night before really heavy lifting seems to always make me stronger (but I know from experimenting, it doesn’t work to eat like that daily!).
What’s your favorite way to chill post-workout?
Write a blog post about what I learned or what I need to work on. I’ve blogged since my first workout in September 2010, and I’m dead honest about the highs and lows and what I’ve learned along the away.
What is your top kick-ass workout?
Pre-injury I’d say 5 sets of 5 heavy squats. In my book the squat is the single most effective movement you can do to build strength (and a great ass!). Squats are off limits to me for now, so if I were able to do anything I wanted (and bear with me — I’m a little ADHD without a set program) I’d start with double-under practice (I’m not very good at them and want to be). There would definitely be a bunch of chin-ups, maybe with added weight. And some overhead presses because putting weight over my head is just extra fun. If there was a rope around I’d climb it and if there were rings I’d work on skinning the cat. Then I might see how long I could hold a heavy weighted plank.
Where is your favorite/most unique place you’ve ever exercised?
I took a Muay Thai lesson at an open-air gym in Bangkok. The instructor, a pro fighter, almost laughed when he saw me. But he took me seriously and put me through my paces for nearly two sweaty, insanely difficult hours. I left wobbly legged, bruised from head to toe and with the biggest grin of my life.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned through sports?
Conquering heavy weights taught me that if I wanted something badly enough, and worked hard enough for it, that when I got under the weight and the only person in the world that could move it was me, that I could do it. And that means I can do anything I work hard enough for, including recovering from injury and getting back into sports.
Calling all female athletes (that means you!): Do you surf, ski, swim, climb mountains, mountain bike, compete in races or stay fit with any other sport? We want to inspire other women with your story. Send an email to editor@Blisstree.com with the subject “That Girl”.
Photo: Dana McMahan