Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
3 Feb

Powerlifter Goes Primal, Lifts Very Heavy Things for the Win

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

On Primal I’ve gained about 10 pounds – 10 pounds of muscle that is.

Over the two past years, I’ve been trying to increase my strength and add muscle mass.

The first year, even though I was lifting heavy weights, I didn’t add much, if any, muscle. I was eating a low-fat, low carb diet (which was extremely flavorless and hard to maintain) and just got plain old skinny. Not toned. Not jacked. Just skinny.

I then of course fell off that diet and put on a bit of fat, which is when my fiance and I decided to start Primal.

Since starting Primal about a year ago, I’ve seen the scale jump up 10 pounds, but I look lean and more muscled than I’ve ever looked before. And my strength has also really increased over the past year.

It actually increased so much that two months ago I decided to train for my first powerlifting competition.

When I started training, I was told by another trainer at the gym, that I would need to eat carbs, like bread and stuff, if I expected to really see results.

I just shook my head and kept eating Primally and my numbers just kept going up. And actually the couple of times I did cheat, I had my worst workouts EVER the day after!

Although throughout the two months I planned to compete, I didn’t actually enter the MA/RI Powerlifting State Championship meet until right before the deadline. I was super nervous and could think of a bazillion reasons why I wasn’t ready.

One of my reasons not to compete was because my training wasn’t true powerlifting workouts. The second reason was that I’d gained a bit of weight throughout the training and especially over Thanksgiving.

But I’d committed to doing it, so I refused to back out. That last week before the competition, I threw in some longer fasts and only ate meat and vegetables. Everyone at the gym told me that I shouldn’t fast and that I needed to eat “real” food.

I didn’t listen to them when it came to fasting because I was eating real food just later in the day. Delicious meals like pulled pork, oxtail, rib-eye and chili.

And I dropped every ounce of fat that I needed to and felt super strong on the day of the competition. (I also did throw in some potatoes the day before and the day of the competition just to feel extra energized.)

Anyway, on the day of the competition I sat there in my wrestling unisuit, with no equipment and no belt, eating my Primal snacks (potatoes, apples, macadamia nuts and 100% grass-fed whole milk yogurt and protein) while everyone else sported some sort of equipment and chowed down on peanut butter banana sandwiches, protein bars, candy and Gatorade.

I definitely felt slightly out of place, but my fiance thought it was pretty “gnarly” and “bad-ass” that I didn’t wear a belt or use chalk or anything that lifters were supposed to use.

And the meet was a success even though I didn’t lift as much as I had in practice. I won both my weight class and received the MA/RI Powerlifting State Championship award for Best Lifter – Women’s Raw Division (PDF).

The Best Lifter award is a measure of relative strength, which means that this Primal Powerlifter, weighing in at 118, was the strongest woman in the Raw division at the meet!

I was thrilled to receive the award! And so was my fiance. He also ended up loving the fact that I kicked all of their butts while eating Primally. He liked it so much that he encouraged me to send my success story in to you! Actually he was SO excited that he told you I’d won when we saw you in the Boston airport. :-)

(Here is a video of the competition if you want to check it out!)

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Great job Cori! I was planning on Lifting Heavy Things tomorrow, you’ve inspired me to lift even heavier! And I love that you stuck to Primal despite all the bad advice from your fellow gym rats- are they believers now?

    spincycle wrote on February 3rd, 2012
    • Haha I have one convert, but sadly no, not all of them are believers.

      Cori wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  2. What a fantastic way to go. Congrats Cori. I also thought I was reading about a man initially. You are an inspiration.

    marika wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  3. Congratulations! Way to kick-ass!! :-)

    Jessica wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  4. Fantastic story – very impressive! You have earned the right to be proud of your powerful primal efforts!

    Condor wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  5. I haven’t posted in months but I had to come out of my shell and say that you are an absolute beast and my hero of the year thus far. Totally an inspiration! Lol I finally did my first pull up today without jumping… can’t wait to be stronger like you are though :)

    Nia wrote on February 3rd, 2012
    • Just keep lifting heavy things! Pull ups are hard and to be able to do one is awesome! :-)

      Cori wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  6. Great inspiration for someone like me just starting out.
    I look forward to that kind of power coming my way from strength training.
    Keep up the good Primal work 😉

    Sarah Martini wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  7. cool. I’m a martial artist and been teaching for 10 years now. It’s always awesome and soooooo HOT to see when a LADY can kick some serious ass. And what those guys doing in the picture. They did not think that this woman can lift. booyaa…..

    Butch wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  8. super inspiring! I’ve been wanting to start lifting but haven’t gotten off my butt to do it.

    also, is a hilarious url!

    becky wrote on February 3rd, 2012
    • haha thanks!!!

      Definitely start lifting. You just feel so good when you do!

      Cori wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  9. I thought it was going to be a guy who didn’t know how to spell “fiancee.” =) Great work!

    Suzanne wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  10. Cori, you are my inspiration. I have started lifting heavier — and I love how it affects the rest of my life. Cheers from Sydney, Australia.

    Katerina wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  11. Well, right when I thought I’d read every type of PB success story, I checked in today expecting to see pictures of massive weight loss or hearing about getting off of meds for some condition or another (all GREAT things!) and you throw this curveball at me. And yup, like the others, I was thinking let’s see this dude. Then I glanced at the first pic I thought…he has long hair! After .2 seconds I set, whoops…cute girl! And I mean that in the best way…being a powerlifter takes being cute to a whole new level…badass!

    A couple thoughts I took away:

    1. Many women shy away from weightlifting, especially beyond “sculpting” type activities with light weights…because they are afraid of bulking up. Here’s the proof they are wrong…a female lifter with a lean, strong body. You look great!

    2. All the CW we hear in the gym is rubbish. Primal nutrition provides the basis for great results, and can support the work needed to lift heavy things like YOU can!

    3. I was always a traditional workout guy (dumbbell/free weight sets with body part isolation, etc. Only since going Primal last year in June did I start doing the big functional stuff like deads and squats (nowhere near the angle of your squats…I’d never be able to stand up!) as well as pullups, kettle ball swings, and other CF type of stuff and LOVE all of it. And really understand the idea of functional strength and fitness and lifting heavy things. Your results underscore that.

    Fun story and video…congrats!

    Peter wrote on February 3rd, 2012
    • +1
      OH, so very well said! – especially “All the CW we hear in the gym is rubbish”

      PrimalGrandma wrote on February 3rd, 2012
    • I LOVE the big functional lifts! I do kettlebell swings like every week to help me with my deadlift. And don’t forget to include push ups!!!

      Cori wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  12. Very awesome Cori! Awesome video! You are an inspiration!


    Bill wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  13. You guys want more “Cori Inspiration” ? Check out the videos on ManBicep’s channel on uTube – like the Primal Fitness Playground video.

    rarebird wrote on February 3rd, 2012
    • That’s a great video. Not being able to get to the gym is never an excuse! Here’s the that video everybody.

      Peter wrote on February 3rd, 2012
    • Great Video! Proves that not being able to “get to the gym” is NO excuse. This is the video everyone, past in browser but take out the spaces. (leave in the period) pNK6CZKHUFE

      Peter wrote on February 3rd, 2012
      • The Primal on the Playground video was so fun to make! There are so many great ways to workout outside of the gym!

        Cori wrote on February 3rd, 2012
        • I bet it was. So creative! Keep those videos coming!

          rarebird wrote on February 3rd, 2012
      • You bet! I’m so inspired! I plan to embarrass my kids and grandkids my next visit when we go to the playground! Monkey bars here I come! LOL!

        rarebird wrote on February 3rd, 2012
        • LOVE IT! :-)

          Cori wrote on February 3rd, 2012
        • Clarification – I plan to practice now at my neighborhood play ground. Its a perfect walking distance from the house. I won’t tell the kids what I’m doing. Then, the next time I visit I’ll surprise them by making like a monkey all over the playground! LOL! This plan will be just the motivation I need right now.

          rarebird wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  14. I’ve always looked forward to Fridays and thoroughly enjoyed all the success stories on MDA, but it’s these type of posts that just give me the “willies”.

    Going from already good, to great, to flatass “knock ’em out” is just one or two more feathers in the PB lifestyle! — not to mention the incentive you’ve given all of us (men as well as women) to go for it and be the best we can possible be! Congratulations on your achievement!

    PrimalGrandma wrote on February 3rd, 2012
    • Yep – young and old, too :-).

      rarebird wrote on February 3rd, 2012
      • rarebird – I’ve probably got you beat on the “old” part — I’m 67+ and still hangin’ in there thanks to PB.

        PrimalGrandma wrote on February 4th, 2012
        • Yeah, at 59 I’m still officially middle aged anyway. I guess I won’t be allowed to call myself “old” until 65, right? Anyway, its all relative, isn’t it?

          rarebird wrote on February 4th, 2012
  15. Wow, love your story Cori! I’ve been Primal for a year but I just started powerlifting a couple weeks ago. I am 5’7″, 126lb. I am at bench 85lb; squat 135lb (probably could do more but I am still nervous about squatting and form); and dead 165lb. I love doing deadlifts! Haven’t tried the sumo stance yet for them, I think I will next week. Guys at the gym are constantly asking me what I am training for when they see me deadlifting and such. I’m like, nothing specific, I just love heavy lifting! You have totally inspired me now though, I want to train for a powerlifting competition! Will you be my trainer?? :-)

    Jennifer wrote on February 3rd, 2012
    • Hi Jennifer

      If you live in Boston, I would be more than happy to workout with you!! :-)

      Shoot me an email and we can even discuss training programs!

      Cori wrote on February 4th, 2012
      • I just LOVE seeing people meet up to support each other this way! You go girls – and don’t forget to make some videos, please :-).

        rarebird wrote on February 4th, 2012
  16. EEk! I love this! I love you Cori!

    I put on 10lbs when I went primal and started powerlifting (after being a 13x marathon running vegetarian for 3 years). I’m pregnant now and taking it easy, but I can’t wait to get back in the groove.

    haha and for the record, I picked up you were a female the moment I read “fiance” without the extra E. My husband heard me squeal with delight :)

    Charmaine wrote on February 3rd, 2012
    • Congrats!

      I love the fact that you went from being a runner to a powerlifter!

      Cori wrote on February 4th, 2012
  17. ROCK ON! That is a great tale told. Thanks for sharing the video too. I really enjoyed that. You are an inspiration to us all. Proof that dynamite comes in small packages!

    Dana Zia wrote on February 3rd, 2012
    • I just saw a t-shirt that said: “I’m not small, I’m fun sized”. :-)

      rarebird wrote on February 4th, 2012
  18. “Everyone at the gym told me that I shouldn’t fast and that I needed to eat “real” food.”

    Funny–everyone tells me I’m destroying my health by skipping breakfast too–and I’m not even a power lifter. As for the “real food” comment, I never cease to be amazed at the processed garbage that atheletes, particularly body builders and runners, have been convinced they should jam down their craws with the belief that it gives them some kind of edge over those of us naive enough to eat *gasp* meat and vegetables Jell packs, NO Xplode, soy protien bars–ugh…please.

    Cori, your story is awesome. Way to go and keep up the great work!

    fritzy wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  19. I love it when a girl isn’t afraid to lift heavy weights and eats red meat. Oh my dream girl!!

    Frank Sabia wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  20. Maybe your story will be the motivation my wife needs to workout more. She’s worried what she’ll look like if she works out, now I have something to show her. Thanks for the story. Good work.

    primalzen wrote on February 3rd, 2012
    • Yea trust me…if anyone has tried to get “big” it’s me…and there is just no way of that happening unless you take steroids.

      Cori wrote on February 4th, 2012
  21. That video is totally awesome!!! I love seeing women empowered by eating real food and lifting heavy things. Too many ladies slog it out at the gym focusing on hours of cardio….seeing them at peak hour reminds me of hamsters madly spinning in their wheels…they are going nowhere fast! Congratulations on your primal eating transformation and awards at the power lifting competition. You truly are an inspiration! Strong is definitely the new skinny :)

    Sarah wrote on February 4th, 2012
    • Congrats Cora, you are an inspiration… truly! I got a new, used weight bench 2 days ago and benched 35lb on my first try. No problem! I’m headed out today to buy more weights!

      “strong is the new skinny” — love it!

      September wrote on February 4th, 2012
      • Oops… Cori!

        September wrote on February 4th, 2012
  22. Great job Cori! That is so awesome. Thanks for sharing.

    Missy wrote on February 4th, 2012
  23. Wow awesome raw lifting there.

    Onge wrote on February 4th, 2012
  24. Mark, thanks for sharing and offering a guest blog, that girl kicks some serious butt, awesome of her to challenge herself in so many ways, BIG respect!

    Zach Even - Esh wrote on February 4th, 2012
  25. Very cool story! Congratulations Cori!!

    masterrower wrote on February 4th, 2012
  26. Congrats, well done. I had a similar experience. I won NY state championships in my weight class while eating primal/paleo. Crushed all my PRs and was the strongest I’ve ever been in my life.

    Brian wrote on February 4th, 2012
    • Awesome! Congrats!!!

      Cori wrote on February 4th, 2012
  27. Wow, congrats! Very impressive! (I’m a Cori too!)

    MusicMama wrote on February 4th, 2012
    • Another female powerlifter!?!

      Cori wrote on February 4th, 2012
  28. Great job! You are cute, strong, and Paleo. That is my definition for a perfect woman.

    Roger Jack wrote on February 4th, 2012
  29. Absolutely fabulous! Congrats!


    Shirley wrote on February 4th, 2012
  30. Awesome video!

    Nicky wrote on February 4th, 2012
  31. I love it! Primal girl power!

    Tina wrote on February 4th, 2012
  32. Two thumbs up!

    Sgt. Gator wrote on February 4th, 2012
  33. Gyday People..

    Thats a very uplifting story to be sure….

    Well done mate.

    PS: The ‘Grand Canyon’ is awesome…..someone lifting is not awesome….it can be alot of things that need adjecives to describe it/them. But awesome is a very tired worn out word to describe someones achievements.

    Can we ban the word ‘awesome’….please!

    zephaniah wrote on February 5th, 2012
  34. It’s really time for me to do less cardio and lift heavier things. I have the plan in place, and now this gave me the inspiration!

    Deanna wrote on February 5th, 2012
  35. Awesome! If Charlie’s looking out for some new Angels I’ll let him know to give you a shout.

    foxmayan wrote on February 5th, 2012
  36. I am inspired! Definitely have to kick it up and lift heavy things. New goal to shoot for over the the next year. Thank you for sharing Cori!

    Jodi wrote on February 5th, 2012
  37. It’s great to see that so many “serious” athletes are starting to lean towards paleo type nutrition. That’s inspiring.



    BoxFit wrote on February 6th, 2012
  38. Very impressive work! However, please be careful on the deadlifts. I hope you talk to your weightlifting coach about the proper alignment for your back when doing deadlifts. It looks like you are rounding your back, which is an extremely dangerous thing to do when lifting heavy things.

    Primal Guy wrote on February 6th, 2012
    • Thanks for the critique! I actually train myself. And I know I round when I get super high in weight…it’s the nerves..what can I say haha :-)

      Cori wrote on February 6th, 2012
  39. Hey Cori,

    You are doing great. You do more raw than some of my old teammates at similar weight were able to do with gear, especially for deadlift.

    This is not meant as a critique but a suggestion. If you could have someone coach you on your form your weights moved would go up dramatically. I noticed this the most on your bench. If you arched your back, pulled your shoulder blades tight together, and pushed through your legs, you’d be up to 135 before you could believe it. For your squat you could keep your chest out a little bit more at the bottom and that might get a few more pounds out of it, also again with the squeezing of your shoulders. Deadlift, man, I won’t even try to coach you on that!

    Kat wrote on February 6th, 2012
    • Hi Kat

      Thanks! I’ve actually been working on correcting my bench form and my weights have gone up.



      Cori wrote on February 7th, 2012

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