'I was ready to go': How powerlifting saved a De Pere woman's life

"I was ready to go': How powerlifting save a De Pere woman's life
Posted at 7:00 PM, Apr 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-02 20:18:04-04

BELLEVUE — A story of strength and perseverance. Lauryn Cudworth, a powerlifter who trains in Bellevue at Crossfit 920 earned her pro card at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio on March 5 of last month.

But there’s much more to her story than just tossing around the iron.

“It’s a whole different ball game when you put the gear," she said about powerlifting. "Essentially, you're lifting like 200 more pounds than your raw max.”

After winning the bench press and squat at the Arnold’s – Cudworth had to deadlift 491 pounds to win the competition and earn her pro card.

“I just knew I had it," she said. "I had a gut feeling. I went out there and I did my thing. Took my breath of air and it was done in a matter of seconds.”

All those hours, months, years of training she accomplished her goal of going pro.

“When they brought that pro card out — I mean, I cried internally," said Cudworth. "I was just at a loss for words.”

But the thousands of people who watched her that day only saw the end result. Lets rewind to the beginning of her journey.

“From a girl who couldn’t even get up out of bed and take care of herself everyday – now I am lifting all this weight and doing all these amazing competitions,” she said.

In middle school and high school, Lauryn was never satisfied how she looked. Kids at those ages can be cruel to one another as they all try to make their way in life.

“I thought maybe if I looked different, if I was skinnier, then maybe I’d have more friends, I’d like myself more, I’d feel better about myself and I just took it to an extreme,” Cudworth.

That extreme was anorexia.

“5 pounds turned into 15. 15 turned into 25. I went through waves for many years," Cudworth said. "Lots of relapses. Lots of recovery periods, but I would always be triggered by something. I couldn’t find my niche in recovery, something that really pulled me out of it.”

Her mind just couldn’t fathom putting anything into her body.

“I wasn’t eating at all at one point," she said. "I wasn’t brushing my teeth, I thought toothpaste had calories in it. I convinced myself of all of these very irrational thoughts that sounded very logically at the time, like all these things that – I truly believed with my whole heart, eating after a certain time would make me gain weight or all these foods that I was genuinely scared. It was all these irrational thoughts that sounded like my own. That was the hardest part of my eating disorder. Getting better was like what’s real and what’s not.”

It all culminated into a breaking point when she was 15.

“2012 was my worst," said the powerlifter. "I was in the hospital for awhile. I was like 89 pounds. I had the feeding tube. I was ready to go.”

After she went to treatment she wanted to weightlift, not just run on a treadmill.

“It felt super awkward at first, but then I kept doing it, I kept going," said Cudworth. "I was usually the only girl in the weight room with a bunch of senior high school football boys and then my senior year of high school I decided to sign up for a powerlifting meet.”

The love of weightlifting eventually turned into a love for powerlifting and turning around her life.

“The iron is best form of an antidepressant than what a doctor could have prescribed for me," she said. "The sport has given me a voice. It’s given me confidence. I can talk in front of lots of people. I would not be who I am without powerlifting. It saved my life.”

It’s the supportive community that she has surrounded herself with that has helped her immensely. She didn't truly feel comfortable with who she was until about 2 years ago.

“I don’t know where I’d be now and quite frankly I probably wouldn’t be here without my family and my friends and the wonderful love and support from every single direction that the sports has given me.”

Lauryn shares her story by giving speeches to high schools, colleges and to anyone who will listen.

“I just wanted one person to talk to who understood what I was going through, if I could be that person for one person. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

Lauryn’s next competition will be in Las Vegas at the Mega Nationals on June 11.