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Alter Ego

I’m sure you guys are aware of my Unleash The Beast shirts, right?? Well there’s a reason for that slogan. 

As an athlete you’ve got to have an edge, you’ve gotta be raw and get grimy…. well that’s what I believe anyway. You can’t be too nice during training. You’ve gotta rough the weights up a bit, like someone who owes you money, show them who’s boss. You’ve gotta own the weights, the weights don’t own you. But you have to always remember to respect them, always show respect to your craft.

 When I train I am not Maya anymore, my alter ego comes out and we’ve named her “the Beast”. She’s raw and she’s not about the games. She doesn’t play around but gets right to business. She’s always angry, furiousand dominates anything that gets in her way.  She doesn’t entertain doubt and she’s alwayson GO

People already know that I don’t talk or smile much while training. I only chat when I’m on breaks or when I’m finished. If you’ve read my blog “Refocused” then you’ve heard this before. With my type of training I can’t be nice, I can’t be all happy go lucky while breaking my back every…single…day. I just can’t do it, its not possible. I really decided to let her out during training after I went to the Dominican Republic for the Pan Am Championships, because I saw how unapologetically fierce the other female athletes trained, and I was like “Oh, no way! This is how I’ve always wanted to train!” But held back because I worried how others might perceive me. However, right then and there, I left that fear on the training hall floor and found my Beast. If people don’t like it then that’s on them. Iknow what I’m working for.

I know it sounds a little weird or crazy to hear of an alter ego, like something from a movie. But art imitates life, it’s real. I’ve read of many Olympians, business professionals and entertainers who have created one to get through tough times, for example, Beyoncé, Bo Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, etc. 

Unleashing my alter ego, my Beast, helps me through the darks days. Days when I don’t even want seethe gym. She’s got my back! 

Las Vegas

Won first place in the Las Vegas International Open.

The week before the Las Vegas International Open, my weight and my lifts were on point, way better than for the Thailand competition the previous month. So I was as ready as I would ever be. It was Wednesday and my weight was 72.kg, just one kilo to lose “I got this” I thought to myself. I had a class that evening and wondered what I should carry to eat while in class. I wasn’t hungry so I just figured I’d eat at home after class. However, during my break I was ravenous, so I decided to have a slice at Pizza Pizza. It wouldn’t hurt, I’d been eating healthy all day, a slice wouldn’t kill me…boy was I wrong. 

The next morning I step on the scale and see 73kg, I had gained a whole kilo! What have I done! I was travelling to Las Vegas that same day and I knew that I’d have water retention because of the flight! I had barely eaten anything most of the day …I WAS STARVING. When I arrived at the hotel I weighed myself again and I saw 73.5kg!  I was stressing because I only had one day before I had to compete. The next morning I see 72.8, by this time I couldn’t keep this in anymore. I told my dad that I needed to go to the sauna because I need to lose 2kg. He kept it cool but I knew he was stressing inside because losing that much weight quickly decreases strength. The day went by and I had been to the sauna twice. Surprisingly, many female lifters were there as well; I’d thought that I was going to be the only one! I got to know a girl from Miami who was to lift later that day! That was a huge shock to me. 

By the end of the day I was 71.4kg, and I knew for a fact I would be right on the money the next day. The day finally came, competition day. While warming up in the back, I was moving fast and feeling strong. I opened with a strong 94kg/206lb snatch, but missed my last two attempts. Highly annoyed and irritated I tried not to dwell over the missed attempts because I had clean and jerk to focus on. During my last snatch I felt my right elbow over extend trying to secure it in the bottom position, so coach Greg Chin massaged a join/muscle cream to ease the pain. Still feeling it, I used tiger balm that I carry with me everywhere (my mom’s favorite smell…NOT). Trying not to allow this new issue to interfere with me mentally, I told myself “I’m good, nothing’s wrong”. 

I opened with a light clean and jerk just to secure my total. Coach Greg asked what I wanted next? I said 120kg! He was pumped and so was I! Knowing this would place me in first, I went into beast mode. I put my all into that lift; I can’t have what happened in Thailand happen again here, no way! That lift still haunts me to this day. So I go for the 120kg C&J and accomplished it which put me in first place! 

Standing on two international podiums in 2 months…not bad Maya! Experiencing the challenges of weight management, long flights and time zone adjustments was a hell to get through, but I came out on top. I have never been more proud of myself! This just reminds me that no matter what challenge life throws at me, I can overcome. 

Thailand

Thailand

When I found out I was travelling to compete in Chiang Mai, Thailand I was thrilled. I love travelling to exotic countries and lifting against competitors from all over the world. As the time was drawing near, I was becoming anxious and excited. I was putting everything into my training; I was going all out (BEAST MODE). The travel time was over 24 hours long with three flights in total; the farthest distance I have ever travelled…boy that was draining.

Competition day while warming up with snatch, I felt good, not my best, but strong; I had no doubt in my abilities. I pushed all negative thoughts out my mind because I had one thing on my mind and that was the podium. The competition was tight, so I knew I had to fight, but I also knew that I was going to medal. I had to.

When the snatch session was over, a man with a clipboard approached my dad/coach, Clance Laylor, and told him that I had won a bronze medal in the snatch. I was ecstatic! My first international medal! But I couldn’t get too distracted, the work’s not over yet. Had to refocus for clean and jerk. My last lift in the back was 115kg/253lbs, strong and powerful. I was ready. First attempt…missed the clean! I couldn’t believe it. I was thinking “not again”, because I had missed my opener in snatch as well. “COME ON MAYA! It’s just nerves…SHAKE IT OFF! You’ve done this many times in the gym.” Second attempt was shaky, but got it! “PHEW!” I thought to myself, on to the next one. The 120kg/264lbs clean was faster than my last lift. I had it on my shoulders and relaxed a little because I knew that the jerk was my strength; BIG mistake. I pushed it up with everything I had, next thing I knew my left elbow buckled and the weight dropped behind me! NOOO! That’ll teach me to NEVER relax even for a minute during a lift. I’d just lost second place medals in clean and jerk and total. But, I couldn’t be too disappointed because I had still secured third place. Considering the longest distance I ever travelled in my life, the 12-hour time difference and struggling with the limited food options, I did pretty well!

I had a permanent smile the entire time I was standing on the podium. I thought about the endless hours of grueling training, the blood, the sweat, the tears, the ups and the downs and about how it was ALL worth it because of this moment. Fighting back tears as the flags were raised and seeing the Canadian flag, knowing I was the reason it was up there. That just solidified my dream to compete in the Olympics.

Refocused


I am a pretty easy going person, I like to laugh. But, when it comes to my training, I’m as serious as they come. I don’t play around. I don’t like to smile a lot or talk too much when I’m working. My training sessions get really intense; I take it to a whole other level. My mood and energy changes and those around me can feel it. I can tell, because I feel the stares. But that doesn’t stop me from going “Beast Mode”.

I’ve been to the Junior World Championships twice and I loved the seriousness and work ethic of the athletes. At the training hall, they were there to handle business (that’s the way I like it). I have been away from international competition for so long that I had forgotten how exhilarating it feels. But that was awoken when I competed at the Pan American Games last week. I was there for business, I was pumped! There would be time for pleasure after the competition.

Seeing the focus of the athletes and their no nonsense approach to training made me feel right at home. I felt like this is where I was meant to be. They didn’t care how they came across to others; they were just working, doing them. That’s how I try to train, but, hold back because I’m afraid of what people are going to think of me when I really chose to unleash my beast. The aggression and intensity of their training opened my eyes. My dad used to always tell me to smile and greet people whenever they entered the gym. So I kept that in the back of my mind; “always be approachable”. Being told that I look intimidating by some, and others trying to make me laugh by telling jokes when I’m trying to stay focused, gets to a girl at times. With the type of training I am doing, I can’t always be “on”. Most days I don’t even want to get out of bed, let alone train! I do not feel like smiling and being friendly every day. I don’t go to the gym to socialize; I am there to work. I just feel like going to the gym, getting my work done and leaving. During breaks I don’t mind greeting people and having a little chat, but that’s about it. I get straight back to business.

Being around elite athletes with similar work ethic, helped me to refocus, and reminded me to just do me. I am doing elite training, and I get that some people will never understand me. But in writing this blog, I hope that they at least get a better insight into me. I’ve got tunnel vision. I know where I want to go and I am going to get there.

The Hill


I can’t stand walking long distances. Even when I’m at the mall, I find a seat every chance I get if my friend or family is taking too long in a store! Haha! I swear most of the time I feel like an old lady, which is what my sister calls me all the time.
Our gym LPS moved from the downtown location last year and it was way easier to get to by transit than the new spot; for me anyway. The new gym is set at the top of a hill, and the buses only stop near the bottom. It would take me about 15-20 minutes to walk it. I get tired just thinking about the walk. That walk was such a work out on its own, that by the time I reached the gym I’d have to rest in the change room before starting my session!
But thankfully, because of the new subway extension, they FINALLY changed the bus route. It now goes all the way up the hill and stops right in front of the gym! I was so ecstatic with the changes that I was jumping up and down and shouting with excitement on my way to the gym with my training partner, Justin. He was also happy, but I don’t think he was feeling as excited as I was.
For the whole day I was talking about this route change and wondered if others feel the same aversion to walking that I do.

UNLEASH THE BEAST


I am creating t-shirts with the slogan “Unleash The Beast”. I love this saying, because when you first meet me you wouldn’t think I do what I do or how hard I train. In the gym I listen to loud, aggressive music in order to get me hype while training. People are very amused with me, by the way I train and the type of music I like because most of the time I’m generally quiet, polite and reserved. But, when I train, watch out because I “Unleash The Beast”! I can SO relate to this slogan because that really sums up the weightlifting Maya.
A year ago, I had been interviewed for a podcast by Quinnie Rwahwire, who is also a weightlifter, and what I most remember from that was what she told me. She said that she hadn’t expected me to be the way I am when she first met me at a competition. I had just finished lifting and she was surprised to see how quiet and reserved I was afterwards. Especially because of how beastly I was on the platform. Quinnie was shocked and was thinking “who is this girl”? I found it very interesting getting a view of myself from someone outside of my friends and family.
Despite how reserved I may be, whenever I step out onto that platform, my goal is to be the best that I can be. So whenever I step onto the platform, I “Unleash The Beast!”

Hairstyles


I’m sure you guys notice that I change my hair styles pretty regularly. It is important to me that my hair is on point…I can’t say that it is all the time because that would be impossible. But I like to keep it fresh, looking cute and switch it up from time to time. As a female lifter, who trains often, it is extremely difficult to keep a nice hairstyle while being in the gym on the regular. That’s because caring for it is difficult as is, and all of the sweating and activity does not help. So I am always on the lookout for pretty and protective hairstyles that fit my lifestyle. This isn’t easy, but I won’t give up, because to me looking good is feeling good.

Finding Jeans


I dislike shopping for jeans. I get so stressed from trying them on, because half the time they don’t stretch to fit my thighs or if they do the waist is way too big! Then I would have to wear a belt and that just ends up feeling uncomfortable and looking bulky. Usually, I go up 1 to 2 sizes for jeans to fit my quads and bum. I hear this from a lot of my teammates, male and female. So my solution to the jeans dilemma is to buy “jeggings”. They are just stretchy jeans and leggings blend. I find them most comfortable and for me comfort is a must. Wearing anything too tight and restricting whenever I go out is not only annoying, but is all that I can focus on. I guess this is just one of the many struggles Olympic Weightlifters have to endure.

Sick While Training


Anyone one who knows me knows that I am a big-time germaphobe. I hate being dirty, I hate touching dirty things if I can’t wash my hands right after. I get uncomfortable being around sick people and I hate getting sick! Being sick to me is like the end of the world. I usually get a swollen sore throat, mega headache, I become even more listless and drained than I usually am. I’m basically a zombie. All I am able to do is lie in bed, watch my British soaps and drink my grandma’s homemade soup. But, when I do that, I feel guilty for not being able to train, I feel like I am missing good quality training because I am under the weather. Then I start feeling paranoid about losing my skills, because I know that every training day counts and feel like I am slacking off if I miss one or more. I hate feeling like a slacker. Luckily, my mom is able to calm me down by reminding me that I would do myself no favours training while sick. So, whenever I get a hint of anyone remotely sick in my vicinity, I stay FAR away from them. My family gets really annoyed with me because I make it a point to avoid any contact with them at all costs if they so much as sneeze.

Nutritionist

Nutritionist

The one thing that I have been dreading is approaching faster than I would like. My dad always said I would have to do this, but I never actually thought I would. I am going to be meeting a nutritionist, Dr. Marc Bubbs, and work on a healthy meal plan because I will have to manage my weight to be able to fluctuate between the 69 and 75 kilo weight classes in order to hit certain rankings. Like many people I LOVE food, food is my comfort. After LONG, HARD and taxing days in the gym, I like to indulge in sweet delights. But now all of that will be taken away and I will have to eat boring food ALL the time. I have to admit, food is my biggest weakness. Training is not a problem, I can train hard and long with no complaining but my food is no joke. I have wicked cravings and I do not play when it comes to my food. But sacrifices are to be made and I want this dream more than anything. So let me stop my ranting and raving and do what I have to do. But the Lord knows I am NOT excited about this change…at ALL!!!