My Interview with Holley Mangold

You already know who Holley Mangold is. Even if you’re not an avid weightlifter, there’s no possible way you missed this.

Right off the bat, you know Holley has a stupendous sense of humor. She also competed on the US Olympic Team and, generally speaking, lifts more than most men.

You can of course find bits and pieces of Holley’s story on the internets, but her Instagram is where I really started stalking following her. She gives such a lovingly personal glimpse into her everyday life while also spreading messages of encouragement and positivity to her fans. Check out this picture below – and no, that isn’t her. But the caption is really, really important, people!

How cool is she??? I’m always on the hunt for well-known women who promote the balance between a healthy life and self-love, and I think we’ve got another winner.

Holley was kind enough to take time out of her schedule to answer some questions I had. And now we’re best friends. She just doesn’t know it yet.

The Lady Weightlifter: I read that you played football in high school and went to college on a track scholarship, so it sounds like you’ve always been an athlete. What drew you to weightlifting, and how did you get started?

Holley Mangold: I loved sports growing up and definitely loved trying new ones. When I was high school, I realized that I needed to get a lot stronger if I wanted to keep up with the boys on the football team, so I started power lifting with Larry Pacifico. Power lifting was great and I had fun for about three years. Then my father researched strength-related sports that could take me to the Olympics and that’s when we found Olympic weightlifting.

TLW: What is your proudest moment in weightlifting thus far?

HM: I would say Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics because that’s when I first really realized I had accomplished what I set out to do, make the Olympics. However, that is exactly the attitude I don’t want for this next time around, because I think I was too satisfied with just making the Olympics and not focused enough on trying to medal.

TLW: What are your goals for the future?

HM: Make the Olympics again and medal in an international meet, either Pan American Championships/Games World Championships or Olympic Games.

TLW: I read that you were a participant on The Biggest Loser, and you’ve posted on your Instagram before about experimenting with your diet and working with ModPaleo. After losing 96 pounds on the show, you mentioned that you felt weak upon first returning to training.

How do you feel these days compared to previous years in lifting? You recently posted on Insta that you’re dropping weight for Worlds. How’s that going?

HM: Coming back from Biggest Loser was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. When I got off the show, I was weak and out of shape (weightlifting-wise). I also had new problems with my weight and food that I had never had before, although I was super quick because I had lost so much weight. And since I was pretty weak, I had to perfect my technique; so there was some good that came out of the experience.

Now, I feel stronger than I ever have and I’m just trying to cut out the body fat. My ideal weight is 145kg. I’m shooting for 155kg at Worlds. ModPaleo is one of the greatest companies I have ever worked for. They are helping me with not only preforming well but learning how to eat properly for life!

TLW: What’s next in your lifting career?

HM: World Championships are in the USA!!!! They are in November in Houston, Texas. I hope all weightlifting fans will¬†be able to make it out. It’s truly special to have a Worlds in our home country.

TLW: Any advice for aspiring lifters wanting to follow in your shoes? How do you balance training with the other responsibilities in your life?

HM: My best advice is to keep on keeping on. Lol. What I mean by that is life and weightlifting will throw you curve balls all the time. They will knock you down and take you out for a moment, but it’s how you come back from your lowest points that defines you as a person and a lifter.

I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity to talk with this amazing athlete. Thank you, Holley! Your fans are cheering for you.

If you’re not already, follow Holley on Instagram here (and me here!).

This DIY Facewash is the Only Kind You’ll Ever Need

Does anyone else find it difficult to have nice skin in Vegas? You alternate between sweating buckets and watching your skin flake off like Goldmember in Austin Powers.
Austin PowersI’ve tried so many different kinds of facewash and have never been really satisfied. Some left my face greasy enough to fry an egg. Hello, breakouts! Others left my skin too tight to move. Ew.

I’ve also tried a number of homemade concoctions. Some have been okay. Others have…well…

DIY skin remedies

The redness was caused by apple cider vinegar, which I so delicately applied to my face using a cotton swab because I read it would minimize the size of my pores. It minimized them alright, along with burning off the first four layers of skin.

But, BUT, I’ve finally found something that works b-e-a-uuuuutifully. After doing a little homework, it looks like this. 1/3 cup of castile soap. I got peppermint-scented soap from Trader Joe’s. It smells like Christmas.


1/3 cup of honey.

honey for skin

Two tablespoons of coconut oil.

LouAna coconut oil

Before I go on, I want to say that I was a little concerned about the coconut oil. Last time I put this on my face, I broke out like a bi-yatch. It wasn’t until afterward that I learned this kind of oil shouldn’t go on your face, because the skin won’t absorb it. Instead, it sits on the surface and clogs your pores. Derp.

I also thought that two tablespoons was going to be way too much, and I immediately regretted putting it in the mixture. But it ended up being perfect. The oil separates and floats to the top, so you need to shake it up a bit before you use it! (I put my facewash in a spare soap container.)

When you lather up, it’s super thick and soapy and amazing. Make sure you send a picture to all your friends on Snapchat so they can see how hot¬†you are.

facewash homemade

The biggest problem with every other DIY facewash I’ve made is that it never removes my make-up, and I always feel oily after. Thanks to the castile soap, I’m squeaky clean now. The honey is full of antioxidants, and it’s also antibacterial. That means it’s good to keep you looking young and pimple-free. Hooray!

The coconut oil leaves my face soft and hydrated – and get this: I STOPPED using moisturizer. That’s never happened. Ever. Ever.

Even after an extra sweaty day at the gym, I use this stuff and my face feels like a baby’s ass. It’s stupendous.

Ditch all the chemicals in your store-bought wash and give this stuff a try!

I Got to Try Cryotherapy and It Was SWEET

I got a cryptic message from the Frenchman: “Meet me at this address on my lunch break.”¬†I never know what he’s up to, so I was curious, needless to say. The only clues I had were the three¬†items he told me I needed to wear: a sports bra, very thick socks, and underwear that covered my whole ass.

Well ok then.

I pulled into a strip center with all kinds of services: hair/skin/nails, massage, a French cafe and bakery. Ironically, my French boyfriend was not there to take me to a French bakery. (We still tried. It was closed.)

He met me at my car and told me to close my eyes as we crossed the street.¬†It took me five minutes to take two steps. “Ok how about you just look down?”

We stepped into a very clean, shiny, pretty front lobby, and the first thing I see is a sign about cryotherapy. My knees have been hurting me big time for the last month, making lifting – and sitting down to pee – very painful; so Frenchie surprised me with a trip to the freezer. I was overjoyed.

Cryotherapy involves exposing yourself to realllllly cold temperatures to help – in my case – speed up recovery, decrease pain and inflammation, and improve health overall (among a menu of countless other positive side effects). Today, I was fortunate to visit¬†Rejuvenice¬†and experience their “cryosauna.”

The two young ladies at the front desk were very friendly, and I was led to a room where they provided gloves, socks, slippers, and a robe. I kept my undergarments on, and Frenchie said he told me to wear “whole underwear” because he was worried my buttcheeks would freeze.

Here’s me looking sexy as fuck:

ready for cryotherapy

“What about the socks? They provide the socks. I didn’t need my own.”

“I was trying to throw you off.”

Mission accomplished!

The cryo chamber itself looked like something from a sci-fi movie – those things that characters step into to be transported to another time or planet.


The nice lady closed the door to the chamber and I DISAPPEARED INTO ANOTHER DIMENSION. Just kidding. But it was quite nippy in there. I threw her my robe over the wall and she started to drop the temperature.

At first, it was refreshingly cold. And I’m all, “Oh! This isn’t that cold! I like it! Is it going to get colder?”

And she’s all, “Yes, it’s going to drop about another 50 degrees.”

And I’m all, “Oh! 50 degrees isn’t that much!”

I didn’t realize this was all in Celsius.

Here’s me before my testicles started freezing through:


The temperature plummets and I’m all, “Well, shit. It’s a tad bit chilly in here.”

And the lady’s all, “Duh.” A few moments later, she informs me that it’s only been one minute. I have two more minutes to go.

And I’m all, “HAHAHAHAHAHAH. Wait, what?”

20 minutes later, she informs me that it has indeed only been another 30 seconds. By now, I’m all, “But…I’m really cold.”

Here’s me checking to make sure my balls are still even there:

cryosauna las vegasAside from the night I lost my virginity, this was the longest three minutes of my life. I felt it the strongest in my shins, which were cold to the point that it hurt. I closed my eyes and started doing my lamaze breathing and was a hop, skip, and a jump away from telling her to turn that damn thing off and let me out; but I really, really wanted to make it through!

And I’m so glad I did. I survived the whole three minutes and jumped out of the cryo chamber. Frenchie said the thing had dropped to -150 degrees Celsius (about -238 F!). The painful coldness was gone in maybe a minute. After that, I was just really fucking cold. Mainly my legs. But I had an odd, refreshing sensation throughout my whole body and even felt a nice little jolt of extra energy. (And then later on, I absolutely crashed. It was stupendous.)

It’s a very odd sensation to try to describe, but I definitely noticed a difference. The knee pain is still there, but a little less than before. And my body overall feels…cleaner? More awake? I’m a writer, and this is the first time I’m stumped for words. Whatever it is, it’s good.

I’m not the only one who had a positive experience, either. Although their Yelp page only has eight reviews (I don’t know why!), they’re all five-star; and I plan on contributing my own later on tonight.

I’m even more excited to get back to my training tomorrow and see if I can still notice a difference. Regardless, it was a cool experience, and I think everyone should give it a shot.

Thank you for my wonderful surprise, French!

I Crossed Back Over to the Dark Side

Clearly, The Vegetarian Weightlifter has gotten a minor facelift. I was always so proud of being a meat-free Olympic weightlifter, and that was why I created this blog.

After months of “experimenting” with meat and always assuming I’d never stick with it because HELLO IT’S MEAT…I did; and I’m a horrible, terrible, ruthless, hypocritical animal killer.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I actually did the ugly cry a few times after scarfing down a plate of salmon.

Kim Kardashian crying

I shed more than a tear upon finishing a piece of chicken.

Claire Danes

I gave it a shot – after two years meat-free – because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t holding myself back as a weightlifter.

I also felt like a steamy pile of shit 24/7.

My vegetarian diet, while mostly healthy with quite a bit of variety, also consisted of pasta and bread Рa substantial amount. Before I started lifting, these foods would make me chubby wubby; but weightlifting turned me into a calorie-burning machine, and I came to rely on these foods to keep me from losing weight.

For a long time, I felt good eating all these amazing carbs. And then I stopped feeling good. I was beyond exhausted, my joints hurts more and more, and I was SAD. Like…super, duper, what’s-the-point-in-waking-up-in-the-morning s.a.d. No motivation. Never inspired. Very NOT me.

Because my diet didn’t really change for two years, it never occurred to me that it could be the cause of this dramatic shift in my energy and mood.¬†As you all know, Coach Billy knows pretty much…everything.¬†I’ve done everything he’s told me to, except eat meat; but¬†I finally listened. Then he started explaining the connection between gut health and mental health, and what exactly I was missing as a vegetarian – like fat! I learned more about something that I now personally believe was a major cause of my problems: gluten.

We’ve all got our opinions on gluten; actually, I really didn’t, simply because I’ve never known enough about it. But I can tell you this: after almost entirely cutting out the bread and pasta – and replacing it with animal products – I finally feel better.

While my moral, ethical, and political beliefs regarding why we should never eat animals won’t change, I can’t sit here and deny the difference in how I feel. I started eating beef and pork chops and chicken and bone broth and butter. BUTTER.


And I’m not talking about the cheap shit from Smith’s (although I love Smith’s). Everything is organic, grass-fed…some of it even comes straight from a farm.

I still feel guilty. And so terribly hypocritical. Raw meat grosses me out, and the Frenchman does most of the cooking. There are times when I have to tune out my meal as best I can and just eat, because the thought of what I’m doing upsets me so badly. I have to block out everything I’ve learned about the killing of animals for our own consumption, and try to ignore the fact that it goes against what I believe so wholeheartedly.

I’m also grateful that these animals are here to help me feel better. I’m still tired, but not as bad as before. I still have my sad days, but I don’t wake up every morning wishing that I hadn’t. I haven’t felt this good in over a year.

SO, from here on out, you will now be reading The Lady Weightlifter. I can imagine your excitement.

My Interview with Badass Rita Benavidez

One of the coolest things about social media is reaching out to a well-known figure and actually getting a response. ¬†I’ll never forget the day Annie Thorisdottir tweeted me back. ¬†I wet myself.

So you can imagine my delight when I left a comment on the lovely Rita Benavidez’s Instagram asking if I could steal some of her time for a quick interview, and she said yes.

If you’re not yet familiar with Rita, what’s wrong with you? ¬†She’s been doing CrossFit since 2008 and can clean and jerk a small sequoia. ¬†She also happens to have the nicest head of hair I’ve seen in a while.

Rita Benavidez

I was thrilled to get to know a bit more about this gal, so naturally, I took this opportunity to ask¬†her some of life’s most earth-shattering questions.

Favorite cheat meal?
Pieology pizza, with butter instead of red sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, smothered in bacon and pepperoni.

Part of your body you love the most?
I love my HAMSTRINGS.  The bigger they get, the better!!!!

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started training?
I wish I knew how sexy muscles were.  I was always afraid of looking too buff.  Silly girl.


Most embarrassing moment at the gym?
I don’t really have any embarrassing moments at the gym. ¬†I’d say I’m more embarrassed when I try and dress up cute in heels and it’s super obvious to everyone else that I am no good at it.

Which athlete is your ultimate girl crush, and why?
My ultimate girl crush has gotta be Jackie Perez! She always pops up first in my mind. I’m so proud of her for always putting in the work and for finally facing her fears of bigger numbers on the bar!

Favorite lift?
My favorite lift is the snatch. ¬†I think it’s fun and challenging, a kind of gamble. ¬†I’m always chasing the next number.

What’s your most memorable moment in weightlifting?
My most memorable moment in weightlifting would have to be when I finally snatched 170.  It was a number I had been chasing for such a long time.

Song that gets you the most pumped up?
My favorite lifting song is Danza Kuduro by Don Omar; and for CrossFit, I never hear the music, so I don’t know. ¬†Maybe “Let It Go” from Frozen!!!

If you weren’t training every day, what would you be doing instead?
That’s a toss-up between sleeping, reading, and sun bathing.

What intimidates you?
AMRAPS!!! AMRAPS are my achilles heel.

When do you feel the most beautiful?
I feel the most beautiful when I am lifting in the summer sun!

Rita, you had me at pizza.

If you want to creep on Rita as much as I do, be one of her 54k+ fans on Instagram and follow @wittlespoon.

What CrossFit and Weightlifting Taught Me in 2014

At the end of 2013, I wrote this slightly dramatic but still thoughtful post¬†in my other blog about what the year had taught me. I figured I’d follow up with Part II and a few things I’ve learned from CrossFit and lifting in 2014. I know you’re waiting on the edge of your seat, so here it is:

#1 You’ll have a two-week span where you add ten pounds to your clean. Wahoo! The week immediately following, you’ll suck harder than you’ve ever sucked before. Everyone goes through their slumps.

everything's going so well

#2 Whatever method you think you’ve perfected for avoiding wedgies, no.

wedgie meme

#3 Farting doing GHD sit-ups: Don’t judge.

you're hired!

#4 You’re super lucky when your gym friends become your gym family.

CrossFit Max Effort friends
Labor Day WOD!

#5 You’re super duper lucky when your partner shows up to every competition to cheer you on (and you even compete together)! Double bonus!

CrossFit competition
Kingman CrossFit Barbell Mayhem

#6 Another reason you’re friggin’ lucky as heck? Your amazing coaches regularly point out your awesomeness, just to be encouraging. (Yeah, Brit!)

#7 Now’s a good time to stop arguing with the haters. You’re too busy backsquatting 300 pounds anyway.

haters gonna hate

#8 Passing out face down on the floor after a grueling WOD absolutely counts as a really long burpee.

let the bodies hit the floor

#9 You lift a lot. You gained some weight. Don’t panic. More muscle = more PRs! Yeah!

weightlifting gloves meme

#10 On that note, it’s ok to eat more, because your body might need it, and healthy comes in different shapes and sizes.


What did this year teach you?

– The NoMA

8 Ways to Use the Word “CrossFit”

CrossFit: It’s not an activity; it’s a lifestyle. It’s also a language all its own. You know it’s true: You and your CrossFit buddies have your own version of CrossFenglish that non-CrossFitters might not engage with.

1.) CrossFat

The feeling one experiences due to a lack of CrossFit.

2.) CrossFitty

When one feels like CrossFitting, but maybe just a little bit. (See also: CrossFittish)

Not to be confused with CrossFiddy:

50 Cent
Photo from Wikipedia

3.) CrossShit

A pre- and post-WOD sensation many athletes experience due to anxiety, heavy breathing, too much jumping, and/or trying to hold in a CrossFart for the duration of the workout.

4.) CrossTwit/CrossIdiot

A derogatory name given to athletes by anti-CrossFitters who most undoubtedly also do things like wear fanny packs when they work out.

5.) CrossSpit

An involuntary side effect of heavy lifting, particularly cleans.

CrossFit humor
Photo from Pinterest

6.) FitCross

A group of religious persons with a love of high-intensity workouts.

7.) CrossFitFam

The group of persons you become close friends with while cultivating muscles and becoming sweaty.

8.) CrossSplit

The exact moment the seam down the back of your pants rips due to a deep squat and an unconventionally rotund posterior.

Golden Girls quote
Photo from Pinterest


Can you think of anything I’m missing? ¬†Tweet me. ¬†Facebook me. ¬†Let’s be best friends.

— The NoMA

5 Things Only CrossFitters Understand

1.) The Fear of Leaving Ass Prints on the Floor

Sweat drips from every pore of your body, and the instant your skin makes contact with the floor, you leave your mark. You’re too self-conscious to ever sit anywhere, lest you leave a giant ass stamp where you collapsed after dying a little doing Fight Gone Bad in 106-degree heat. ¬†Get used to standing, moron.

Occasionally, you’ll run into the athlete who’s brave enough to sit wherever they damn well please, and they’re just all:

Spiderman meme
Photo from Pinterest

2.) Using the John After Someone Unleashed

It’s a daily occurrence. ¬†Someone at crossfit has to take a dipsy doodle; so they excuse themselves and sneak into the bathroom unnoticed. ¬†Shortly after their departure, you use the same bathroom. ¬†You’re almost asphyxiated. ¬†You pee the fastest pee you’ve ever peed, and you get out. ¬†Unfortunately, there’s someone waiting to use it right after you.

They look at you. ¬†You look at them. ¬†You both smell it. ¬†They think you’re the culprit. ¬†You want to rise to the defense. ¬†But the more you defend yourself, the guiltier you look. ¬†You legitimately want to say, “Look, I know it smells like shit it there, but it was actually the person before me.” ¬†Don’t bother. ¬†You might as well lie and take credit for it now. ¬†Spare what little dignity you have left. ¬†How sad.

dog poop meme
Photo from Pinterest

3.) Clothes That Never Quite Fit Right

Is anyone really comfortable when they’re working out? ¬†Is there such a thing as shorts that DON’T ride up every inch of your crack? ¬†Pants that don’t give you a muffin top? ¬†Sports bras that hold in your side boob? ¬†Sure, they exist–just like the Tooth Fairy.

pushing leggings to the limit
Photo from Pinterest

4.) Not Wanting to Reveal What You Ate That Day

You’re envious of the people who follow super strict diets and survive off of wood chips and arugula. ¬†If anyone asks what you had for lunch, you casually describe the watercress salad and shot of wheatgrass you purchased from Whole Foods. ¬†Nobody ever has to know that you gorged yourself on half a pizza–although that pizza had pineapple on it, thank you very much.

pizza food pyramid
Photo from Pinterest

5.) Wondering What Your Butt Looks Like to the People Behind You

You’re trying to deadlift 250 pounds. ¬†Enough said. ¬†Get a spot in the back row. ¬†Against the wall. ¬†On the other side of the gym.
Mr. Rogers deadlift shoes
Photo from Pinterest

— The NoMA

CrossFit Competitions Still Give Me the Anxiety Pees, and 5 More Things I Learned This Weekend

This weekend, I headed back to lovely Kingman, Arizona for another CrossFit competition held by Kingman CrossFit. They do not disappoint–welcoming crowd and great programming. As was the case the last time I joined them, I left the event Saturday starving, sticky, and having learned so many new things.

1.) Bring your own chalk.

This kind of chalk:

Liquid Grip by

Liquid Grip from ¬†Rub this between your hands and it isn’t going anywhere. ¬†The regular stuff¬†is super, but this especially¬†comes in handy when the nearest bucket of chalk is across the room laughing at you because you’re too far away to use it.

2.) Know when to sprint and when to slow the eff down.

I climb a flight of stairs and I’m ready to take a nap. ¬†So that 1000-meter row this weekend? ¬†For me, slow and steady won the race, with the exception of the last 300 meters, when I moved what I consider fast…which is most people’s warm-up. ¬†The 90-second farmer’s carry was another story entirely–the perfect time to speed the hell up, even though I still walked slower than an old man with a knee replacement.

3.) Think you’re at an unfair disadvantage during a workout? Don’t be afraid to speak up — respectfully.

During the last event, my already-sometimes-humiliating double-unders stunk even worse because I didn’t have enough room to do them. ¬†I was either hitting the girls in front of and behind me, or I’d turn the other way and hit nearby equipment.
I wanted to stop completely and request to go in another heat.  Instead, I kept on attempting to squeeze them in until giving up and standing there like Derpina McDerpinstein until I had the room I needed.  Pinhead, party of one?  Your table is ready.


Me during double unders

4.) The girl next to you doesn’t look that strong? ¬†You’re an idiot.

She’s not taking a break while you’re in the middle of your second round. ¬†She’s already¬†done. ¬†Move faster, loser. ¬†Why are you watching her anyway?

5.) Get it all on camera.

I finally started doing this, and I’m learning so much about all the things I suck at (and what I’m doing right). ¬†It’s not narcissistic. ¬†It’s educational.

When I post them on Instagram later on, THAT’S narcissistic. #gainz #crossfit #ilikewatchingmyselfoncamera #whodoesnt

6.) If you’re thinking, “It won’t be that hard,” tee-hee.

That’s cute. ¬†Have fun barfing on a cactus later.

7.) They’re not kidding when they say that every rep counts.

Never stop moving. ¬†It doesn’t matter what happens. ¬†You could have snot coming out of your nose the entire time (been there!) or your shirt could be halfway down your boobs (done that!). ¬†Nobody cares.

That’s a lie. ¬†They care. ¬†But you’ll care more when you lost by two reps because you were too busy wiping a booger on your shoulder.

8.) Don’t be a Bitter Betty when you lose.

This is my second CrossFit competition, and I had my ass handed to me both times. ¬†Badly. ¬†Frustrating? ¬†Yah. ¬†Does it say anything about the effort I put in? ¬†Nope, because I know I did my best, and I know that the people I was up against were better than me, plain and simple–like my new pal Ashley. ¬†She is full of muscles.

You learn a lot when you win.  You learn even more when you lose.  I should know.  I lose frequently.

— The NoMA