California’s Strongest Woman Recap

As I sit here reflecting on this past weekend, I can’t help but be filled with a sense of peace. The event itself was the cherry on top of months of physical and mental training, weight cutting, and changing some social habits to keep me on track. I’ve thought long and hard what I was going to write about after this competition and I think I’ve narrowed it down to two things: set goals & put yourself outside of your comfort zone. Cliche as they are, it’s as simple as that.

I had two main goals in mind leading up to this event. The first goal of this competition was to cut at least 13lbs so I could compete in the Middleweight Division of this competition. If you all know me, I am not one to obsess about my weight. I hardly make any meaning out of my or anyone else’s body weight because it doesn’t really matter. I love food, I love to eat whatever I want in moderation, and I like to obsess about what I can and cannot do as opposed to a stupid number on the scale.

Now, if you have known me in the last 4 months, you have known me to obsess about my weight – HA! I talked about it constantly, I weighed myself every day, I talked about “eating like a bird,” and I made sure to let everyone know that this was my goal. To me, this was how I held myself accountable. I was fully aware that I had to not let this shit get to my head though because it’s just a number on a damn scale. The way that I shed the “lbs” was by playing the Whole Life Challenge with DEUCE Gym and by practicing intermittent fasting for the last month of training. This is what worked for ME over a span of four months, and boy did it work! I ended up losing 17lbs… Goal #1, CHECK!

The second goal was to win the competition – DUH! This required SMART training. I knew the events and weights of everything months in advance so I trained very specifically and made sure that I could do everything that was going to be asked of me. When my body told me to rest, I rested. When my body told me to go hard, I went for it. I used a ton of accessory work to improve my overhead and deadlift strength. In order to compete and even win, you must be physically apt but you must also be as mentally tough as you could ever be. When I tell myself I’m going to do something, I do it. I told myself I was going to win, I trained with no other option in mind, and I did it. Whether or not this had been the end result, I trained like a winner and there is so much learning just in that. Goal #2, CHECK!

Growing up I had always played team sports. Being in the spotlight in an individual sport is something to get used to as a team player but it is SUCH a great way to grow as an athlete and as a regular person in your day to day life. Putting yourself outside of what is comfortable is huge. We do this every day at the gym and if you’re into living your best possible life as your best possible self, you gotta do that every now and then! For me, it’s competition. For others, it may be just showing up to DEUCE every day… whatever it may be, DO IT!

The event itself was awesome. The events were perfectly programmed. There were over 60 women competing together. I had people I love with me and people I love cheering for me from afar and it was FUN. I am so truly grateful for every one of you who supported me through this! This winning attitude and confidence that I trained with is what ultimately lead me to come out on top but I got so much more out of this competition than the top of the podium. So, thank you again to everyone who came up to Santa Cruz, texted me, posted a photo, or just gave me a high five at the gym – you guys rock! Can’t wait to ‘Hold the Standard’ again at Nationals this October!


Emily Russak



4/1/16 WOD

Complete 5 rounds for time of:

6 Burpees

9 Chest-to Bar Pullups

12 DB Shoulder to Overhead (50/30)