Conquering The Platform-Tomi Dement
Conquering The Platform is proud to present Tomi Dement. Tomi shares her story of losing herself in an unhappy marriage to finding her bliss again on the powerlifting platform. Be sure and check out Tomi's custom design "Demented", now for sale in the Intense Attire store. Now Tomi's story in her own words...
How do I begin to describe a 10 year journey into Powerlifting and ultimately to the platform. I guess starting at the beginning would be fine. I was a two sport collegiate athlete, honor graduate with a degree in Sports Management and Health Promotion. I’ve always enjoyed sports and working out. I tried every sport imaginable as a kid and when I entered High School I quickly started to excel at Volleyball and Softball. I loved it. Practice was a fun challenge, games were a new way to test what I had learned and I wanted to keep doing it so I pursued a college scholarship. I found a Division II school that allowed me to play both sports and even gave me some money to do it. It was an amazing four years and then like most college athletes I went Pro in something else.
I started working full-time in a job that didn’t quite fit me and I met a guy who also, as it turns out, didn’t quite fit me either. I started making sacrifices in the way of my true passion fitness and sports to make others happy and proud of me. I stopped going to the gym and didn’t eat my normal healthy diet because of the preferences of someone else. I gave up huge pieces of myself. I went back to graduate school to try and pursue something that would fill my void again. I got a Post-Baccalaureate Certification in teaching Health and Physical Education and then got a Masters in Health Promotion. I was feeling more like myself in those regards but I still was missing my athletic spark.
Flash forward a few years. I stopped caring if me spending hours in the gym led to a fight and focused on cooking the meals I wanted to eat. The fights became more frequent along with accusations and ultimatums. His drinking kept increasing and my desire to have more and be more finally won out. I was done with being belittled and my wants and likes not being valued. I was done with the drinking and the constant fights because I wasn’t giving in to his way anymore. I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, took a picture and decided to never see myself like that again. I asked for a divorce and he left the next day. I have not seen him in almost 4 years. That was also the last day I saw that version of myself.
I started going to the gym 5-6 days a week for about 2 hours a day. I cooked a lot of chicken and veggies and I lost about 30-35 pounds. I started traveling, something I always wanted to do but was held back from. I was feeling more like myself every day and I was happier, but something was missing. I wouldn’t realize what that something was until April 2018 when I stepped on the platform in my first competition. Before January of 2018 I had heard of powerlifting before, but knew with my competitive nature if I stuck my toe in the water I would dive head first all out towards it. I was deadlifting at the gym one day when a guy came over and asked me if I was a competitive powerlifter. I laughed and said no and he spent the next 20 minutes telling me why I should. This moment meant a lot to me for a few reasons. One it really sparked my interest and I looked more into powerlifting and started to seriously consider it. Second it was the first conversation I had with someone in the gym in 3 years. In the 3 years I had been going to the gym no one had come up and talked to me and I soon started to find out why. I was known as the Scary Bitch of the gym. I was there to do work. I didn’t go around hugging people, I was lifting weights heavier than some men, and I always had my headphones on and was focused. People assumed I was a mean bitch.
When I decided to compete for the first time I needed help. I had never even been to a powerlifting competition before and had no idea what to expect. So I had to go outside my comfort zone and start talking to new people who knew what one was like. This introduced me to a whole new group of training partners and friends. People who I have opened up to and understand what lifting has done to help me be a better me. The new group of friends and people I have met through powerlifting has helped me grow tremendously to the person I am now. The person who will compete in her third meet in less than 7 weeks and is looking to qualify for nationals and by June chase down the Bench Press World Record in my weight class and division. These wonderful new people also help to motivate me in the gym when I’ve taught middle school all day and then coached a 2 hour practice after. When I spend 12 hours on my feet in the hot sun and with loud screaming going on all around me and I want the solitude of my headphones they bring me back to life. I am thankful for my powerlifting family.