I’m 200 Pounds and Fitter Than Ever

Powerlifter Katelyn O’Donnell transformed her body| using her size as an advantage to dominate what most people consider a man’s sport. Our friends at Shape have Katelyn’s incredible story.

Katelyn O’Donnell is living proof that strong is the new skinny.

Haven’t heard of her? This 25-year-old New York native is on her way to becoming the next big name in powerlifting. And at a current weight that fluctuates between 198 and 205 pounds| she’s using her size to her advantage in a sport that for so long has been dominated by men. O’Donnell’s current PRs include an insanely impressive 400-pound squat| 280-pound bench press| and 450-pound deadlift ¡ª but she wasn’t always the picture of health and fitness.

“As a very young kid| I was far from athletic|” says O’Donnell. “I was more of an honor roll kid who was teased| which was hurtful. Once I hit middle school| I was fed up with being picked on and always being chosen last for sports teams.” At 12 years old| weighing 220 pounds| O’Donnell started waking up early before school to watch Denise Austin workout videos and curl five-pound dumbbells. (Get started yourself with this four-week weight training plan for women.)

Little did she know that lifting those five-pound weights would ignite her love for exercise| helping her to build the confidence to join her first gym at the age of 14. O’Donnell would ride her bike 10 miles each way every Saturday and Sunday just to strength train. “At the gym| I would do leg presses and biceps curls| not really knowing exactly what I was doing|” recalls O’Donnell| “but I knew I loved the feeling of being strong and being able to keep up with the guys at the gym.”

As she spent more and more time in the gym| O’Donnell grew increasingly eager to reach out to other like-minded people that she respected and admired| and to learn from them. “I grew curious about powerlifting after high school ¡ª I had been so focused on putting on muscle| and as I grew stronger| I wanted to see what the sport was all about|” says O’Donnell. While spectating at a local powerlifting event when she was 19| she met her current coach| Chris Taylor| who encouraged her to train and compete. Four years later| O’Donnell finally decided to take his advice and kicked off her powerlifting career in 2013. (Amp up your weight training workouts with these three tips.) “As a spectator| I had gained such a respect for the dedication the competitors displayed on the platform. I thought| this is something I could do.”

In just two short years| O’Donnell has risen to No. 2 in the current National Female 198 Raw Open Powerlifting rankings ¡ª in her weight class of 198 pounds| she competes without the use of any suits| support| or knee wraps| except for a weightlifting belt. She is also currently No. 7 in the Powerlifting Watch Best of the Best American Lifter rankings. To maintain her status| she weight trains four days a week and works on cardio and mobility three days a week.

O’Donnell trains regularly year-round and competes at least twice per year. “Competitions are a huge adrenaline rush|” she says. “There are three weight attempts for each one of the lifts (squat| deadlift| and bench press)| and each competitor goes into the meet with their ‘opening attempt.’ You must pass this lift [performing the complete movement with control and technical accuracy] to be able to then take a second and third attempt in each lift.”

While her physical strength is awe-inspiring| O’Donnell says powerlifting has done more than just transform her body. “In this sport| I’ve learned that my mind is my most powerful tool on the platform|” she says. “Powerlifting has allowed me to attain a newfound sense of self-worth and confidence| which to me is the most rewarding aspect.”

But such a grueling sport is not without its challenges. “The most challenging aspect for me is making nutrition a priority|” says O’Donnell. “It can be very easy to want to reward myself after a PR at the gym with a burrito rather than a grilled chicken breast.” O’Donnell has begun adding two days a week of high-intensity interval training to her training regimen| which includes conditioning drills such as sled pulls| and started carb cycling (or alternating days of higher carbohydrate intake with days of lower carbohydrate intake) to burn fat| build lean muscle| and ensure adequate recovery. (Find out what to eat before and after a workout.) “My ultimate goal is to earn an Elite total in all three of the weight classes in which I’ve competed|” says O’Donnell. In layman’s terms| O’Donnell is trying to reach a combined weight lifting total ¡ª between the squat| deadlift| and bench press ¡ª of 1|053 total pounds for the 181 weight class| 1|130 total pounds for the 198 weight class| and 1|190 for the 198-plus weight class. At her last meet (in which O’Donnell competed at 200 pounds)| O’Donnell lifted a combined total of 1130 pounds ¡ª clearly| she’s well on her way to reaching Elite status.

But of course| there are the haters: many people have misconceptions about her being a female athlete in what so many view a man’s sport| offering opinions on everything from her weight to her physique| and questioning why such a pretty young woman would want to train so intensely in a sport that is all about physical strength. “I’ve learned that there will always be people with something to say| whether positive or negative|” she says. “What’s most important is focus on yourself and your goals at hand and to appreciate the positive people who support you.”

O’Donnell says most comments she gets about her physique are positive| in which her muscles and power are appreciated and celebrated. “Many people say I’m strong like an ox|” she says. “I have a body that is built with a great purpose ¡ª which is to be strong ¡ª and while some people understand and accept that| others just can’t. For those people who don’t like the look of women with muscles who are strong both physically and mentally| that’s just fine.”

Thankfully| O’Donnell is surrounded by positive support during her competitions and outside of the gym. “I usually don’t notice until I’m out of competition mode just what a blessing it is to have such encouragement|” she says. “But during a meet in September| I had three spectators approach me after I competed to shake my hand and congratulate me. It’s very flattering and nice to know people enjoy watching you do something you absolutely love to do.”

Love for the sport aside| O’Donnell is also passionate about spreading a body positive message| something she is excited to see as a growing movement on social media. “I wish as a kid I could have had an outlet and source of motivation that encourages women’s strength ¡ª not only physically but mentally| which is so crucial in today’s society|” she says. Now| O’Donnell has found herself as a part of that movement ¡ª and she’s honored to show women what the human body is capable of| no matter what your size. (Meet more strong women changing the face of girl power as we know it.)

O’Donnell has clearly hit her stride| but she’s still committed to climbing the ranks in her sport and inspiring countless women in the process. “At 200 pounds| I’m stronger than I’ve ever been before|” she says. “My goal is to be my strongest at whatever weight I am| and to help other women accept and love their bodies for the strength and athletic capabilities they hold.”

Image Source: Instagram user k_odon

I’m 200 Pounds and Fitter Than Ever

Powerlifter Katelyn O’Donnell transformed her body, using her size as an advantage to dominate what most people consider a man’s sport. Our friends at Shape have Katelyn’s incredible story.

Katelyn O’Donnell is living proof that strong is the new skinny.

Haven’t heard of her? This 25-year-old New York native is on her way to becoming the next big name in powerlifting. And at a current weight that fluctuates between 198 and 205 pounds, she’s using her size to her advantage in a sport that for so long has been dominated by men. O’Donnell’s current PRs include an insanely impressive 400-pound squat, 280-pound bench press, and 450-pound deadlift ¡ª but she wasn’t always the picture of health and fitness.

“As a very young kid, I was far from athletic,” says O’Donnell. “I was more of an honor roll kid who was teased, which was hurtful. Once I hit middle school, I was fed up with being picked on and always being chosen last for sports teams.” At 12 years old, weighing 220 pounds, O’Donnell started waking up early before school to watch Denise Austin workout videos and curl five-pound dumbbells. (Get started yourself with this four-week weight training plan for women.)

Little did she know that lifting those five-pound weights would ignite her love for exercise, helping her to build the confidence to join her first gym at the age of 14. O’Donnell would ride her bike 10 miles each way every Saturday and Sunday just to strength train. “At the gym, I would do leg presses and biceps curls, not really knowing exactly what I was doing,” recalls O’Donnell, “but I knew I loved the feeling of being strong and being able to keep up with the guys at the gym.”

As she spent more and more time in the gym, O’Donnell grew increasingly eager to reach out to other like-minded people that she respected and admired, and to learn from them. “I grew curious about powerlifting after high school ¡ª I had been so focused on putting on muscle, and as I grew stronger, I wanted to see what the sport was all about,” says O’Donnell. While spectating at a local powerlifting event when she was 19, she met her current coach, Chris Taylor, who encouraged her to train and compete. Four years later, O’Donnell finally decided to take his advice and kicked off her powerlifting career in 2013. (Amp up your weight training workouts with these three tips.) “As a spectator, I had gained such a respect for the dedication the competitors displayed on the platform. I thought, this is something I could do.”

In just two short years, O’Donnell has risen to No. 2 in the current National Female 198 Raw Open Powerlifting rankings ¡ª in her weight class of 198 pounds, she competes without the use of any suits, support, or knee wraps, except for a weightlifting belt. She is also currently No. 7 in the Powerlifting Watch Best of the Best American Lifter rankings. To maintain her status, she weight trains four days a week and works on cardio and mobility three days a week.

O’Donnell trains regularly year-round and competes at least twice per year. “Competitions are a huge adrenaline rush,” she says. “There are three weight attempts for each one of the lifts (squat, deadlift, and bench press), and each competitor goes into the meet with their ‘opening attempt.’ You must pass this lift [performing the complete movement with control and technical accuracy] to be able to then take a second and third attempt in each lift.”

While her physical strength is awe-inspiring, O’Donnell says powerlifting has done more than just transform her body. “In this sport, I’ve learned that my mind is my most powerful tool on the platform,” she says. “Powerlifting has allowed me to attain a newfound sense of self-worth and confidence, which to me is the most rewarding aspect.”

But such a grueling sport is not without its challenges. “The most challenging aspect for me is making nutrition a priority,” says O’Donnell. “It can be very easy to want to reward myself after a PR at the gym with a burrito rather than a grilled chicken breast.” O’Donnell has begun adding two days a week of high-intensity interval training to her training regimen, which includes conditioning drills such as sled pulls, and started carb cycling (or alternating days of higher carbohydrate intake with days of lower carbohydrate intake) to burn fat, build lean muscle, and ensure adequate recovery. (Find out what to eat before and after a workout.) “My ultimate goal is to earn an Elite total in all three of the weight classes in which I’ve competed,” says O’Donnell. In layman’s terms, O’Donnell is trying to reach a combined weight lifting total ¡ª between the squat, deadlift, and bench press ¡ª of 1,053 total pounds for the 181 weight class, 1,130 total pounds for the 198 weight class, and 1,190 for the 198-plus weight class. At her last meet (in which O’Donnell competed at 200 pounds), O’Donnell lifted a combined total of 1130 pounds ¡ª clearly, she’s well on her way to reaching Elite status.

But of course, there are the haters: many people have misconceptions about her being a female athlete in what so many view a man’s sport, offering opinions on everything from her weight to her physique, and questioning why such a pretty young woman would want to train so intensely in a sport that is all about physical strength. “I’ve learned that there will always be people with something to say, whether positive or negative,” she says. “What’s most important is focus on yourself and your goals at hand and to appreciate the positive people who support you.”

O’Donnell says most comments she gets about her physique are positive, in which her muscles and power are appreciated and celebrated. “Many people say I’m strong like an ox,” she says. “I have a body that is built with a great purpose ¡ª which is to be strong ¡ª and while some people understand and accept that, others just can’t. For those people who don’t like the look of women with muscles who are strong both physically and mentally, that’s just fine.”

Thankfully, O’Donnell is surrounded by positive support during her competitions and outside of the gym. “I usually don’t notice until I’m out of competition mode just what a blessing it is to have such encouragement,” she says. “But during a meet in September, I had three spectators approach me after I competed to shake my hand and congratulate me. It’s very flattering and nice to know people enjoy watching you do something you absolutely love to do.”

Love for the sport aside, O’Donnell is also passionate about spreading a body positive message, something she is excited to see as a growing movement on social media. “I wish as a kid I could have had an outlet and source of motivation that encourages women’s strength ¡ª not only physically but mentally, which is so crucial in today’s society,” she says. Now, O’Donnell has found herself as a part of that movement ¡ª and she’s honored to show women what the human body is capable of, no matter what your size. (Meet more strong women changing the face of girl power as we know it.)

O’Donnell has clearly hit her stride, but she’s still committed to climbing the ranks in her sport and inspiring countless women in the process. “At 200 pounds, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been before,” she says. “My goal is to be my strongest at whatever weight I am, and to help other women accept and love their bodies for the strength and athletic capabilities they hold.”

Image Source: Instagram user k_odon

All You Need Are 3 Ingredients and a Slow Cooker to Make Healthy Applesauce

The following post was originally featured on Cook Eat Paleo and written by Lisa Wells| who is part of POPSUGAR Select Fitness.

An easy 3-ingredient crock-pot applesauce with no added sugar.

Here’s another easy slow-cooker recipe for Fall. The apples and cinnamon cook all day| filling the house with the aroma of apple pie. It’s a warm and cozy treat for crisp Autumn days.

The key to this recipe is picking apples that are sweet enough that you don’t need to add any sugar. My local farm market had several varieties to choose from. For this batch I used an early variety called Paula Red| but you can use any apple recommended for sauce.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler ¡ª coconut oil| apples| and a cinnamon stick. I used a potato masher for a slightly chunky applesauce. If you like your applesauce smooth| you can puree it with an immersion blender.

Exclusive bonus: click here to get a free printable Paleo shopping list.

P.S. take a look at the Paleo Grubs Book. With 470+ easy-to-prepare Paleo recipes in 17 comprehensive categories| you’ll never wonder what to make.

More easy paleo crock pot recipes:

    Paleo Crock-Pot Chicken SoupCrock-Pot Whole ChickenCrock-Pot Cauliflower Chicken Chili

3-Ingredient Crock-Pot Applesauce

From Cook Eat Paleo

3-Ingredient Crock-Pot Applesauce

Crock-Pot Applesauce Recipe

Ingredients

1 tablespoon coconut oil6-8 large sweet baking apples1 cinnamon stick

All You Need Are 3 Ingredients and a Slow Cooker to Make Healthy Applesauce

The following post was originally featured on Cook Eat Paleo and written by Lisa Wells, who is part of POPSUGAR Select Fitness.

An easy 3-ingredient crock-pot applesauce with no added sugar.

Here’s another easy slow-cooker recipe for Fall. The apples and cinnamon cook all day, filling the house with the aroma of apple pie. It’s a warm and cozy treat for crisp Autumn days.

The key to this recipe is picking apples that are sweet enough that you don’t need to add any sugar. My local farm market had several varieties to choose from. For this batch I used an early variety called Paula Red, but you can use any apple recommended for sauce.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler ¡ª coconut oil, apples, and a cinnamon stick. I used a potato masher for a slightly chunky applesauce. If you like your applesauce smooth, you can puree it with an immersion blender.

Exclusive bonus: click here to get a free printable Paleo shopping list.

P.S. take a look at the Paleo Grubs Book. With 470+ easy-to-prepare Paleo recipes in 17 comprehensive categories, you’ll never wonder what to make.

More easy paleo crock pot recipes:

    Paleo Crock-Pot Chicken SoupCrock-Pot Whole ChickenCrock-Pot Cauliflower Chicken Chili

3-Ingredient Crock-Pot Applesauce

From Cook Eat Paleo

3-Ingredient Crock-Pot Applesauce

Crock-Pot Applesauce Recipe

Ingredients

1 tablespoon coconut oil6-8 large sweet baking apples1 cinnamon stick

Ariana Grande and Ariel Winter Shut Down Body Shamers

Ariana Grande is once again schooling the Internet about body positivity while calling out cyberbullies for body shaming. E! News explains the singer’s reaction after an anonymous user posted comments on an unnamed forum pitting her physique against Modern Family actress Ariel Winter. Ariana took to Instagram to let the body shamer know that she’s not having it with this strong statement.

And Ariel was quick to respond with support via Twitter.

Thank you @ArianaGrande ?? Women should empower one another.Celebrate each other- you’re all beautiful. https://t.co/FpmCmB0K5W¡ª Ariel Winter (@arielwinter1) November 2| 2015

Great to see divisive comments bringing these two closer together and reminding women everywhere to define and love themselves.

Image Sources: Getty / Tommasso Boddi and Getty / Joshua Blanchard

Ariana Grande and Ariel Winter Shut Down Body Shamers

Ariana Grande is once again schooling the Internet about body positivity while calling out cyberbullies for body shaming. E! News explains the singer’s reaction after an anonymous user posted comments on an unnamed forum pitting her physique against Modern Family actress Ariel Winter. Ariana took to Instagram to let the body shamer know that she’s not having it with this strong statement.

And Ariel was quick to respond with support via Twitter.

Thank you @ArianaGrande ?? Women should empower one another.Celebrate each other- you’re all beautiful. https://t.co/FpmCmB0K5W¡ª Ariel Winter (@arielwinter1) November 2, 2015

Great to see divisive comments bringing these two closer together and reminding women everywhere to define and love themselves.

Image Sources: Getty / Tommasso Boddi and Getty / Joshua Blanchard

Chia Seed Pudding So Delicious, It Could Be a Dessert

Enjoy this fruity chia seed recipe when sweet cravings hit ¡ª Greatist15 steps to an easier Thanksgiving ¡ª Real SimpleA push-up variation for stronger arms ¡ª Shape8 pairs of leggings you will want to work out in ASAP ¡ª HealthA more flexible you in 8 moves ¡ª SelfThe right way to eat apples ¡ª Cooking Light Work your legs like never before with this lunge variation ¡ª Women’s HealthWhy you shouldn’t believe everything you hear about weight lifting ¡ª Fitness Saving on groceries is as easy as making them last ¡ª POPSUGAR LivingImage Source: Shutterstock

Chia Seed Pudding So Delicious, It Could Be a Dessert

Enjoy this fruity chia seed recipe when sweet cravings hit ¡ª Greatist15 steps to an easier Thanksgiving ¡ª Real SimpleA push-up variation for stronger arms ¡ª Shape8 pairs of leggings you will want to work out in ASAP ¡ª HealthA more flexible you in 8 moves ¡ª SelfThe right way to eat apples ¡ª Cooking Light Work your legs like never before with this lunge variation ¡ª Women’s HealthWhy you shouldn’t believe everything you hear about weight lifting ¡ª Fitness Saving on groceries is as easy as making them last ¡ª POPSUGAR LivingImage Source: Shutterstock

Allison Williams Credits This Workout For Completely Transforming Her Midsection

For four season| fans of the HBO show Girls have watched Allison Williams portray Marnie Michaels ¡ª the professional counterpart to Lena Dunham’s aloof Hannah Horvath ¡ª but Williams’s latest Harper’s Bazaar cover is a serious departure from her buttoned-up character. For the magazine’s December/January 2016 issue| Williams showed off her insanely fit physique in belly-baring crop tops and a cool selection of denim and leather.

The stunning editorial is personally significant for Williams| who expressed being self-conscious about her stomach. On her Instagram| Williams shared a photo from the shoot and wrote| “I am particularly proud of this one. For my whole life until 2 years ago| I was super self-conscious about my stomach. I dreaded bikini season. I kept it covered. Boyfriends weren’t allowed to touch it. No amount of crunches seemed to strengthen it.”

Her turning point? Discovering Pilates. She added| “Then I met Ilaria Cavagna who introduced me to the magic and focus of Pilates. I have never felt stronger| healthier| more focused| or more feminine. Now| I love my stomach because it keeps me grounded to my core. And it’s still the same stomach! Here’s to proving yourself wrong.”

Williams is one of many celebrities| like Kerry Washington and Lea Michele| to publicly praise the core-burning workout as of late (try it yourself with our two-minute Pilates ab workout). While we can totally get behind the transformative workout| we are surprised by her activewear advice. In Harper’s Bazaar| she said: “This is my gift to you: Spanx makes the most incredible exercise spandex. I wear them almost every day. They have a little control top| so they’re flattering.”

Related: The Ultimate 30-Minute Cardio Pilates Burner!

Image Source: Instagram user aw

Allison Williams Credits This Workout For Completely Transforming Her Midsection

For four season, fans of the HBO show Girls have watched Allison Williams portray Marnie Michaels ¡ª the professional counterpart to Lena Dunham’s aloof Hannah Horvath ¡ª but Williams’s latest Harper’s Bazaar cover is a serious departure from her buttoned-up character. For the magazine’s December/January 2016 issue, Williams showed off her insanely fit physique in belly-baring crop tops and a cool selection of denim and leather.

The stunning editorial is personally significant for Williams, who expressed being self-conscious about her stomach. On her Instagram, Williams shared a photo from the shoot and wrote, “I am particularly proud of this one. For my whole life until 2 years ago, I was super self-conscious about my stomach. I dreaded bikini season. I kept it covered. Boyfriends weren’t allowed to touch it. No amount of crunches seemed to strengthen it.”

Her turning point? Discovering Pilates. She added, “Then I met Ilaria Cavagna who introduced me to the magic and focus of Pilates. I have never felt stronger, healthier, more focused, or more feminine. Now, I love my stomach because it keeps me grounded to my core. And it’s still the same stomach! Here’s to proving yourself wrong.”

Williams is one of many celebrities, like Kerry Washington and Lea Michele, to publicly praise the core-burning workout as of late (try it yourself with our two-minute Pilates ab workout). While we can totally get behind the transformative workout, we are surprised by her activewear advice. In Harper’s Bazaar, she said: “This is my gift to you: Spanx makes the most incredible exercise spandex. I wear them almost every day. They have a little control top, so they’re flattering.”

Related: The Ultimate 30-Minute Cardio Pilates Burner!

Image Source: Instagram user aw