Erin Sendejaz remembers what she thought of herself when she used to look in the mirror.
“I hated myself. I hated who I was. I thought I was worthless,” Sendejaz said.
At the time, Sendejaz was overweight. Now she is a power lifter at Unrivaled Strength and Fitness is North Canton. Power lifting helped her lose 60 pounds.
“Losing the weight did not make me worthy. You still feel the same after you lose the weight,” she explained.
“A focus on performance helped me understand that I have intrinsic value beyond my appearance,” she added. “When I discovered power lifting it helped me gain my sense of self. It helped me understand who it is that I am and that I am a capable person.”
Recently, Sendejaz competed in a bikini competition. She won first place in her class.
“Power lifting gave me the confidence to step on a stage and be judged on my appearance and regardless of what the score was I could feel good about my effort,” she said.
But not everyone appreciates her new look.
“When people notice that you have muscles and you’re a woman they don’t know how to approach that. A lot of people are disgusted or put off by it because they think it is not very feminine to have muscles,” she said. “I think strength is not a quality specifically held by men. Women are strong. Therefore strength is feminine.”
Initially, Sendejaz came to the gym to lose a few pounds, but what she ultimately gained far outweighs her initial expectations.
“Four years ago I couldn’t even do a single pushup. Now I can lift hundreds of pounds off the floor,” she said confidently. “But I think looking into the mirror and feeling proud is my biggest accomplishment.”