Maureen Ngo

Where did you born and where do you live? 

Vancouver

What is your athletic background? 

Volleyball (7yrs), swimming (basically since birth —> now) (non-competitive swim team for 2 yrs), ultimate frisbee (3 yrs), hip hop dance (6yrs)

What sport do practice? and if it is applicable what category are you on? 

Olympic weightlifting; female 59kg

How long ago did you start and How did get into this sport? 

Started in jan 2018, so I’ve been doing this for almost 3 years. In the summer of 2017, I was playing ultimate frisbee for a competitive summer team and wanted to start working out at the gym for your typical high school girl reasons. I started at a community centre, moved to Steve Nash, then tried to find a powerlifting gym to start competing; this was all in the span of 1 year. I couldn’t find a good one so the next resort was a crossfit/Olympic weightlifting gym. I hopped around to different gyms in Vancouver and landed at Dynasty. I started out doing both crossfit and oly, but soon realized that I had a much greater passion for weightlifting than burpees. From there, it was history!

What is your main goal? 

Long term: Compete internationally for Team Canada. Generally: Be better than I was yesterday.

Tell me about a hardship that you’ve been through, that you turned into a positive

outcome and how your training help you? 

Jr Nationals 2020 I bombed out my clean and jerks due to bar oscillation and that really rattled me because I knew that it was a good lift. After flying back to Van, I was so determined to improve myself during my next training cycle. An even more massive hardship I’ve been through (and in some ways am still going through) is the pandemic and quarantine training. I am extremely grateful to have a home gym and train whenever I want in the calm of my garage, but there are definitely cons to all pros. I’ve gone through more “training mood swings” in the past 8 months than I have since I started weightlifting. Not having a stringent routine to follow slowed my drive and motivation to train. The thing about this sport is that it is individual — no one is waiting for you to come to “practice” on time, you have no teammates to push you through hard sessions, your coach is not always there in person, and no one is telling you that you MUST make it to X-championships, it is all up to YOU. I have learned that you cannot always expect stellar performances everyday and be driven to train like you were when you first started, however, it is the act of consistently showing up and putting small ounces of work that will gradually move you in the direction of your goalS. I have also learned to prioritize how my body FEELS rather than what I should be doing on paper. There is a difference between being lazy and procrastinating important tasks versus being physically and mentally drained from difference factors (e.g. stress from work/school, emotions, physical exhaustion, overtraining, injury etc.). Understanding these two differences and rationalizing how you actually feel that day will make a world of a difference to your mental health. There is no rush in life, so just #listentoyobody because this shit don’t happen overnight!

What has been your proudest moment or/and biggest accomplishment? 

Honestly, I am never really satisfied with anything I do because I always strive to be better. I feel that everything I have done so far inch me closer to my long term goals (athletic, school, career, and self-growth wise). I acknowledged the minor achievements I’ve had, but am always working for something greater.

What does keep you motivated? and what are your top 3 mental skills to keep you going? 

I am motivated by growth. When I look back old videos and training logs and see where I started versus where I am today, I pat myself on the back because it shows how my work has paid off. In these 3 years of consistent training, I have made drastic improvements in my technique, mobility, strength, and mental status. If I can come so far in as little as 3 years, who knows where I will end up in another 3.

 

What I do know is that my work ethic is strong and I can visualize myself at greater levels in the future if I continue to put in the work. Skills that keep me going:

  • 1. Visualize - Actively visualize yourself in the position of where you want to be, and keep that in the forefront of your head.

  • 2. Have fun - Athletes with big goals tend to suck the fun out of training after a while because we are always striving for perfection. We must be careful not to dwell on the minor mistakes for too long because it can lead to a cognitive dissonance between the sport and ourselves. I am NOT perfect at this, but I try to catch myself when I start taking things too seriously and remind myself to just lighten up and have a good time. After all, weightlifting should be fun and enjoyable!

  • 3. Self-love - Don’t overthink everything. I am the QUEEN of overthinking — I over think to the point of where I overthink my overthinking! But what we don’t realize that missing one training session, eating a “junky” meal, over/under consuming food, or having a Netflix night is NOT the end of the world and will NOT severely impact training. In fact, it may even be beneficial because your body is signalling to you that it needs to chill! As athletes, we beat our bodies so much and undermine the importance of recovery. I recommend for everyone to set a MINIMUM of once full rest day a week so your body and mind can rest, digest, and reset for another amazing week ahead!

How did you adapt your training during insolation and what did you learn the most about yourself during this time? 

In an ideal world, I would say that always wake up at 5am and start training at 7am and have an amazing session everyday, but that is just not the case. Some days I push my sessions to 9am, 11am, 1pm, and even 7pm! This is a bad habit that I am just now getting around, but biggest tip would be to get ready as if you have a full day of work/school and must get training done in a certain time. I know myself well enough to know that I feel best (during and after) when I have an early session, so I definitely make it a priority to train before the world wakes up so I am not distracted. But, life happens and stuff comes up, so control what you can and do something today that will make you a bit better than yesterday.

How have Covid-19 affected your training? 

I am not as ritualistic in my schedule As I was pre-COVID. I used to wake up at 4am, get out of the house at 5am, transit 45min to the gym, train from 6-8am, eat on the bus, be at school from 10-5pm, transit an hour home, meal prep 4 meals for the following day, and get to bed at 8pm. Although I definitely thrived off of that schedule, my life as drastically slowed down and I don’t have as stringent of a routine as before. Training can happen whenever in the day and motivation is up and down all the time. I’m also always training alone in my garage which can be awesome at times but can also be lonely with only spiders as your hypemen (they’re not the most enthusiastic). When I started coaching though, it gave me an opportunity to train after class with some people, which helped foster that aspect of “community lifting.”

How has your mental strength helped you deal with these times? 

I’ve gone through a rollercoaster of emotions during this pandemic; from highly motivated, down in the dumps, mundane, peppy, super active, lazy, the list goes on! I have learned that expecting perfection all the time is not realistic, and that the “down in the dumps” feeling is only a brief snippet of our lives. After all, the only way to climb up the ladder is to start at the bottom. We must cut ourselves some slack, allow ourselves to think rationally, and not take life so seriously!

Please give me the top 3 things/rituals/habits you do to stay on track towards your goals 

  • 1. Ritualize you’re morning routine - Maintain a constant wake/sleep schedule, make coffee, journal, write in my agenda, read, walk the dog while listening to a podcast, train, and get the day started!

  • 2. Socialize - Talk to friends and keep a circle of good people around you. It is important to have social contact to maintain healthy relationships and sustain your emotional wellbeing. Personally, I make it a goal to have one social event a week, whether it be grabbing coffee, lunch or going on a walk/hike with a friend so that I can unwind from the week and allow myself to not think about work/school.

  • 3. Keep yourself busy, but not too busy! - I thrive off of jam packed schedules because I love to “feel” as though I am being productive. I tend to get really lazy when I don’t have a substantial agenda, so I always like to pre-book appointments and events in my calendar (paper based, because it’s just better). However, I always make sure to make time for self-care so I don’t burn out!

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