Cindy Shanley, Managing Editor, Marketing and Communications, Pearland Administrative Offices
Three years ago, Cindy started working out with a personal trainer two days a week to get in shape, be healthier, and maintain independence later in life. As she lost weight and grew stronger, she and her trainer increased the number of workout days and made the workouts more challenging. Last year, they started training for and competing in powerlifting meets – and winning gold medals. Cindy says she’s proof that anyone can reach their goals if they put the effort into it.
What got you started on your journey to wellness?
My youngest sibling passed away from complications related to Type 2 diabetes. In the years since, I’ve become more aware of how family history and genetics might affect my health if I didn’t pay more attention to it and decided I wasn’t going to just sit back and passively wait for the future to unfold.
What changes did you make?
I started focusing on what I was eating by tracking what I ate in MyFitnessPal. A month later, I joined HIIT Houston in Pearland and started personal training sessions with the owner, Minh Tran. In the beginning, I went two times a week because I was really out of shape! As I became more fit, I upped my sessions to three times a week.
What does powerlifting involve, and when did you start competing?
Powerlifting is a form of weightlifting where the goal is to lift the most amount of weight possible with a barbell in the squat, bench press, and deadlift in a specific weight and age category. Minh started training me for powerlifting last year and we competed in two meets, the first one in May 2021 and the second one in October 2021.
What challenges did you have to overcome?
Just learning something new was challenging and it was definitely out of my comfort zone. It still is! But I have a great trainer who’s a stickler about form and safety, which helps boost my confidence. Just five days before the first meet, I unfortunately strained a quad muscle during squat training. I still competed and won a gold medal but wasn’t at my best. Not only did the quad strain hinder me, but it also took months to heal and for me to mentally get over my fear of reinjury. Fortunately, by the time of the second meet, with Minh’s patience and help, I was stronger and more confident. I won another gold medal and ended up hitting personal bests for my squat and deadlift.
What keeps you motivated?
I’m pretty determined and don’t give up easily, which has worked in my favor. Once I commit to something I put my all into it. Otherwise, to me, it’s not worth doing. Seeing results is the best motivator, and my trainer varies my workouts so they’re never boring. Working out is hard but fun, and I enjoy it!
What are the keys to success?
I’d put commitment and consistency at the top. You really have to get rid of your excuses because that’s the single biggest thing holding you back. Make the time to take care of yourself.
It’s also important to surround yourself with the right support. Having the right person cheering you on, motivating you, keeping you accountable to yourself, and making you feel you can accomplish anything makes all the difference. Whether you have a significant other, best friend, family member, workout group, or an awesome trainer like mine who goes above and beyond, it should be someone you trust and can count on.
What advice do you have for others who want to be healthier?
First of all, there are a lot of myths about diet and exercise. One such myth is that if you work out with weights you’ll bulk up or ruin your knees or back. Another is that cardio is the ultimate weight loss workout. Many people also mistakenly believe that all carbohydrates and fats are bad for you. You can waste a lot of time and effort by buying into such misconceptions, so do your homework.