Tamara Walcott has only been powerlifting for around four years but in that time, she has made waves in a highly competitive community. “You know what? I think powerlifting kinda found me,” shared the lady from the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix, on her 2018 appearance on The Ellen Show. In that interview, Tamara Walcott explained that an emotional divorce had led her toward food addiction, ballooning to almost 450 pounds while trying to hold down a full-time job and take care of her kids.
Finally, in an effort to turn her life around, Walcott made the decision to get healthy and lose some body fat, but instead of relying on the treadmill to trim down, powerlifting became her passion.
This turned out to be a life-changing decision in more ways than one, since Walcott currently holds the world record for the heaviest raw deadlift after pulling an incredible 636 pounds in September 2021. Now, the “Plus Size Fitness Queen” is on a mission to tell others that it’s never too late to reset and use negative energy as fuel, in order to take control of your own destiny.
M&F sat down with the inspirational Queen and soon learned a number of takeaway facts that many of us need to hear.
1. It’s Never Too Late to ‘Reset’
There’s no doubt that life tends to have a way of making us go with the flow. Sometimes making any type of change to our lifestyle feels like it will disrupt our homeostasis, and so we repeat the same mistakes because they become familiar even when they are not good for us. For Walcott, there was a nagging voice in her head that told her a reset was needed, in order to make positive changes in her life.
“I stopped taking care of myself,” recalls Walcott. “So, I would go to work. I am an excellent community manager, when I go to my job, I give it everything that I’ve got, when I take care of my kids, I give it everything that I’ve got. For me, I stopped taking care of myself, so that mental reset was, ‘Tamara, you can’t go to work, give them 150 percent, and then come home and give yourself sloppy seconds.’”
2. Small Steps Lead to Giant Leaps
Tamara Walcott’s ascension in the world of powerlifting has been rapid, but it is her eagerness to get started and apply herself that has turned small steps into giant leaps. “The first time, actually lifting any weights was just dumbbells,” shares Walcott, who was first introduced to weight training when she enrolled in fitness circuit classes. It would be a further four months before she was encouraged to hold a barbell on her shoulder with no plates. Then, after moving to Columbia in 2017, Walcott enrolled in a powerlifting gym in an attempt to fulfill her curiosity and dive deeper into the discipline.
In high school, Walcott had always competed in sports, including shotput, basketball, volleyball, and baseball, and once she began to stack the weights, she found her passion to push herself returning in a big way.
3. Powerlifting Is Great for Losing Fat
For Tamara Walcott, powerlifting presented a chance to become active again after losing her motivation due to the rigors of divorce and a busy family life. “I was always heavy, but I was always active,” she says. “So, I think that’s the one thing I missed with having kids, getting married, and then going through a divorce. Like, all of that stopped. Like, I stopped being fit… so that competitiveness is what brought be back to it.”
While many people think that cardio is the only way to burn fat, neglecting the weights could be a big mistake. Walcott says that she lost 100 pounds in her first year of powerlifting. Indeed, the act of loading your muscles with heavy weights requires the tissue to recover once you have left the gym, meaning that a higher number of calories are being burned even in your resting state.
4. Making Time to Work Out is Tough, But Not Impossible
As a single mom, Tamara Walcott is required to work a full-time job in order to pay the bills, but she still finds time to hit the gym. After clocking-off, this queen cooks for her kids, helps them with homework and settles them into bed before finally leaving her beloveds in the loving care of her own mom. For Walcott, the only way to fit training in, is to complete it late at night, often finishing a session at 11:30 p.m.
“Motivation kept me going,” says Walcott on how she was able to make such drastic changes to her lifestyle and fit long gym sessions around a hectic home life. “I saw the changes in the mirror, I saw that I was more structured, I saw that my life was just overall better.”
5. Dedication Outweighs Motivation
Once the initial excitement and quick wins associated with making positive changes to your lifestyle start to feel less heightened, your motivation levels naturally begin to stall. At her lowest bodyweight in years, Walcott had gone down to around 250 pounds, and was at first being driven by the significant changes to her body that powerlifting was delivering.
Nowadays, as an experienced lifter, maintaining the structure associated with planning her schedule and eating the right things requires something more permanent than a state of motivation. “I’m driven by dedication now,” says Walcott. “So, the motivation has burned off and it’s gone, it’s second nature for me now, it’s dedication.” Indeed, waiting for lightning bolts of motivation to strike will lead to diminishing returns, so when you get to a point that you hit the gym even when you are having a tough day, this is where dedication takes hold, and keeps you consistent with your training. And there’s nothing more satisfying than completing a workout when you almost skipped it!
6. Be Flexible
It’s important to say, that even with the most dedicated of intentions, there will be times when completing a workout on a particular day is taken out of your hands. This is where flexibility saves the day. “So, my weekly routine, I’m guaranteed to be in the gym three days a week,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what three days though. So, I’m not like everyone, like ‘squat Monday, upper body Wednesday,’ I gotta get it done when I can get it done, because with my schedule, my kids schedule changes at the whim sometimes. Sometimes they may need me emotionally to be home on a Monday night versus a Tuesday night.”
For the Plus Size Fitness Queen, it doesn’t matter when those sessions take place, because she knows that three to four hours of solid work will be put in whenever she gets to the gym. And, if she can add a fourth session at the weekend then that’s an added bonus.
7. Turn Negativity into a Positivity
“People are like, what are you doing before your deadlift set up?” says Walcott on some of the comments she gets on social media posts. “I’m channeling a lot of different things: the naysayers, what the future holds for my kids by me being successful, things of those nature. I’m channeling that my family knows that I can do this.”
Since appearing on The Ellen Show and smashing world records, Tamara Walcott has received a lot of attention, and while there are trolls out there with a desire to bring her down, Walcott is able to take a mature approach and focus on the positives. She has also made sure that only people who follow her are able to comment on her posts.
“I can honestly say that I’ve had a lot of positivity. I mean, I see online some of the negativity, but at face value I’m getting a lot of good responses,” says Walcott, who recently shared in an Instagram post that those who count her out provide her with further fuel to drive her successes.
With a growing social media following on both Instagram and TikTok, the Plus Size Fitness Queens knows that it is important to put herself out there in the media, in order to provide representation for others that may wish to follow in her footsteps. People of all ages are reaching out to her in order give their thanks for the inspiration that she provides. All hail the Queen!