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Jessica is our 2016 Olympic Hopeful and Sarah is our 2012 Olympian in Weightlifting. We're setting out to be "Pretty Strong" and we encourage you to do the same.


Monday, June 2, 2014

If I Were Normal

If I were normal:

I would have money to spend.

My life would be less stressful.

I would have finished my education.

I'd live close to home.

Clothes would fit.

I'd have an easier time dating.

I wouldn't have been bullied so much.

My mistakes could go unseen.

I would know where I'm going to live a month, a few months, or a year from now.

I'd see my family all the time.

I wouldn't have to eat so much.

I wouldn't have to say "no" to my friends.

I could stay up as late as I want and sleep in.

The scars, callouses, stretch marks, bar marks, folliculitis, messed up hair, chalk in the eyes, achy joints, broken nails, ripped skin, sore muscles, would not exist.

I would be smaller.

I could find cuter shoes and accessories.

I wouldn't need to wake up at 3 am.

I would have more work experience.

I've been embarrassed/gossiped about in public/online

My career was almost ruined

I've lost many friends along my way.

But, lo! I was not normal:

I have traveled to Colombia, Greece, Turkey, England, Russia, Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador, South Korea, and France.

I have been to at least 23 of the United States

I have lived in 5 of them

I have seen the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Canyon, walked all the way to the top of St. Paul's Cathedral, swam in the Pacific Ocean/Lake Superior/Mineral Springs/Atlantic Ocean/Mediterranean Sea, Drove through the Rocky Mountains, Driven the Pacific Coast High Way from top to bottom, looked up at the clear sky and looked at the stars in the high desert, watched the fireworks from the lawn of the White House, and so much more.

I have experienced tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards, and volcano eruptions.

I know/have a friend in every state and have friends around the world.

I have watched, trained with, or competed against some of the best athletes in the world.

I have witnessed the birth of a child.

I hold records.

I have been considered the Strongest Woman in America and the Western Hemisphere.

I have worn USA emblazoned across my chest.

I have met celebrities.

I have worked with a fashion designer.

I have worked with a stylist.

I have met the President, Vice President, and the First Lady.

I have had photo shoots, and been in the news paper, the local news, and in science programs.

I have inspired many people.

I am so grateful for the amazing things I have been able to do and see and for the people that I have met and have helped me along the way. The journey is not over. Not fitting in, experiencing hardships, making sacrifices, and dealing with pain is all part of the package. The negatives make you appreciate the positives so much more.

If you find yourself having a hard time being "normal" or "fitting in" don't worry about it. Your life is probably destined for so much greatness and grandeur but, at this point is unimaginable. Stay true to yourself, work hard, and take risks.


Friday, May 30, 2014

May 2014

A lot has been going on a not not a lot all at the same time. Either way, I'll fill you in.

I've been in League City, Tx training for Team Houston Weightlifting now for 16 weeks. I have to say, I truly love it here. I still think this is the best move I made at this point for my career.

So far as training is concerned, it is going really well. I started with 3 weeks of conditioning and then I moved into training. I'm usually not impressed by a lot of what I do but, I will say I am very happy with the progress I have made thus far. By the time weeks 8-10 came around, I front squatted 185 kgs when my best ever is 190 kgs and I back squatted 210 kgs and my best is 227.5 kgs. By the time week 12 came around (last week) I snatched 115 kgs which is 5 kgs under my competition best and I clean and jerked 145 kgs which is 10 kgs under my personal best. I still do not feel 100% in shape but, I am feeling more hopeful about my future in this sport. I am still a little over a year out from being able to compete again but, that still means I have a little over a year to get back where I was and then some. If God is willing and I stay motivated and healthy, there should be no reason why I am not ready to break American/Pan American records when I'm allowed to compete again. With the time line, it may be narrow but, the Olympics are still an option as well.

The only major drawback(s) of being on a suspension is the obvious thing of not being able to compete. I already expressed my feelings of boredom. Not necessarily from being here or from training but, it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel sometimes. I get bored not competing. That stimulus does me a world of good. I was fully intending of lifting this weekend for exhibition. This would simulate competition without breaking any rules. (permission was granted through USAW so no worries) Well, the meet director was still apprehensive and the competition filled up so I will have to go I think until October to possibly be an exhibition.

On the plus side, without having camps, or competitions or media stuff, I have time for a *gasp social life! I was on a pretty tight leash in Az especially when major competitions were around the corner. I didn't get a chance to make any friends really outside the gym and I hardly got to go home so I was having a lot of loneliness and homesick issues. Here, I have my coworkers, friends from church, and of course my teammates. It seems like I am always doing something or going somewhere.

The biggest struggle has been trying to pay off the debt incurred moving here and save money to get out on my own again. I am still having problems trying to find a roommate(s) that can hang letting me live there with as little as I can afford. Outside of that, things are going really well to my pleasant surprise. I am thankful for my blessings, my family, friends, coach, teammates, and others for support me through everything.

Here are some pictures from my recent exploits!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Why I decided to pretend I was a bikini model by Jess

Why I decided to pretend I was a bikini model by Jess

So, other than the designer of this amazing cheeky line is a good friend of mine and local business owner and I wanted to support her and help her anyway I could; I also saw it as an opportunity to overcome a fear.

I've purposely never tried on a cheeky (Brazilian style) bikini because of my body type. I'm by no means calling myself fat or out of shape but I'm also aware I'm not built like the models or surfer girls that wear them usually. When I saw the savage swim styles I knew after talking to Beth (the amazingly talented owner/designer) that it was important if for no one but myself to suck it up (and in) and put them on. Beth and I wanted to show everyone and anyone buying her bikinis that they can look good on any body type and sized person. It may have taken me 37 minutes to take my shorts off when we got to the beach but once I did and the camera started flashing and the other beautiful models were around me I realized even though I didn't look like them it doesn't mean I'm not beautiful in my own way.

The bikinis speak for themselves they're made to be able to surf in  and workout if you want. They may be small but they definitely don't move. If you like lululemon style/fit you'll love being a savage girl. Summer is coming and if I could try it and love it, you can :)

For more on body image and weightlifters go read my blog post for catalyst athletics:

And when your done go but your savage swim bikini at


Check the pics out on Instagram @jessicamarie979
Or my Facebook page: Jessica Marie Salvaggio

Friday, April 18, 2014

Never train like there's going to be tomorrow

I was reflecting on my truly last heavy day that I have had and it was mid-august. Just a couple of weeks after I heard the news of my suspension. The tension and emotions were still running wild. I was getting prepared for the World Championships and so I was in pretty good shape. I had already pulled off the team and we decided to keep on our training schedule. At least that's how I remember it.

Anyway, at this time I had serious concerns that my career was over. There went my Olympic prospects, there went my chances for American/Pan American Records, there goes my hopes for medals at the World Championships or Olympic Games. I remember telling myself, "Well, if this is the last time I ever lift, I better give it everything I got because, I may never have this chance ever again.

I started snatching and things were going really well so I deviated from the program and just lifted and lifted. I smoked all of my weights including this American Record attempt snatch at 129 kgs. After I did that, I went out to the picnic table outside the gym and cried my eyes out. Then I started to get ready for clean and jerks.

Clean and jerks were going awesome as well! I was super pumped and I was doing a sufficient job of controlling my emotions. I clean and jerked 155 and I went for 160 to break the American Record total in training. Well, I cleaned it and just missed the jerk behind as I was recovering my feet. After clean and jerks I went into the shower room and sobbed.

I composed myself yet again to squat 227.5 kgs to break the 500 lbs barrier I've been working on. This time I didn't cry. I was too tired both physically and emotionally.

If this was the last day of my entire lifting career, I'd want to make it memorable. I wanted to see what I could truly do. One of the lessons I have learned through this experience is to not take these types of days for granted.

I still have a lot of work to do. There are work outs and reps I have missed. Some that can never be made up again but, the least I can do is try to give it my 100% the next time I come in and try to stay on track. Are the Olympics still in the cards for me? Who knows? But, I am training my butt off and I am preparing for it just like I did the last time around.

You never know if you'll ever be in a situation like mine, or get injured, or have to work so much that yo have to sacrifice training, or meet the person of your dreams and want to move on, or whatever comes along your path. Your athletic career is very short comparatively to the rest of your life and you never know if there's going to be a tomorrow so I advise us all to never train like there's going to be.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Be Kind

I recently read a negative comment about myself. There have definitely been more good reviews than bad about myself, which I am thankful for. I would like to use this comment as a reminder to say kind things to or be kind to others. When I hear someone say something negative about someone else, I usually say, "I wonder what mean things people are saying about you, right now?" I am guilty of this as well. Sometimes when I am mad, sad, or jealous, I can say things I wish I could take back.

Here's the comment I read:

"Sarah Robles may be able to liftover 500 pounds, but she is neither attractive, nor feminine, or soft or sensual. It's a shame to look like this, for a woman. Where is her unique, gorgeous femninity? Why do we want to be men? :(" 

I cannot come up with a hilarious quip or be featured in a news story like other people to defend themselves. It's strange to say that I am not personally offended by this comment. I do, however, feel that this possibly insults two important people to me. God and my parents. To say something negative about another person insults those that created them. I know I was created with love and for a purpose. To try and negate their "craftsmanship" and "love" is what bothers me.

I do not care to be a model or seen as a sex symbol. In fact, I am glad I am not. What my body and career have done is something positive to help others. If people just liked or noticed me for what my body looks like, they would speak about that. My talents, abilities, and personality have helped cause a stir for positive body image, educate others about sport, and generally serves to make others happy. Those are the things that need to be talked about.

In regards to my "femininity," "sensuality," or "attractiveness," I only want to be that to two people: myself and my future spouse.

I will not ever apologize for the way I look and I never expect anyone else to do the same. If I go somewhere sweaty or dirty from training, so what? If I have acne or small boobs, or big feet, or calloused hands, or smeared makeup, or messy hair, etc. That's no one's business but my own. What matters? What matters is that I did my best for the day and made someone else feel better about themselves.

I encourage us all to be good examples to others, share a smile, give a compliment, help someone, be someone's friend and generally do the right thing.



Sunday, March 23, 2014

Why I chose Texas

A week or so ago, I asked for blog ideas. I was asked about movies, ice cream and a little bit about my training. One question that came in a little late asked for something like "Of all the places you chose to go, why Texas? Why that coach?"

I was in a hard place with my training. I was staying in Az to wait for the phone call to come back to training only to read I wasn't coming back after about 4 months. I was also waiting to hear the results of my full punishment at that time so I couldn't really talk to anyone about what was going on to even try to make a back up plan in case things didn't work out with me and my coach. 

A little while before hand, I spoke with Jessica about training with her again and possibly moving to Florida. She wanted me to talk with her coach but, I was too scared to do so. I decided to wait it out and wait for everything to be announced, let it boil over a bit, and see how I was viewed by the weightlifting community. I anticipated being hated and ostracized and the like. Things turned out better than I anticipated so I felt comfortable speaking to people more openly.

I had decisions to make on my own too. Should I go back to school? Should I move home? Should I just work? At the time, I was throwing hammer and I was considering just going back to track and field. When talking with my teammate and my throwing coach, I decided that if the decision was favorable, and would allow me to compete at the Olympics again (aka my lifting career wasn't over) then, I should seriously consider my options for lifting. 

So that's a little bit of a back story for you. 

In my mind, I've already lost too much time with lifting. I also knew that I would have one-three competitions before the 2016 Olympics. Two years is both a long time and not a long time off. If I were to make an Olympic team again, when it was time, I had to hit the ground running. I couldn't afford anymore mistakes. I had to be with a coach who has"been there; done that." I couldn't afford to be with a coach who hasn't been to the highest level of sport. Elite international competition is a completely different monster than domestic competition. I wanted a coach who's personality would match my needs. I thought "Who would want to work with me?" but, in particular "Who would want to work with me under these conditions?" Maybe coaches perceived me as a bad example to their athletes or kids, maybe they wouldn't want to associate with someone who's reputation is tarnished,, etc.

 With all these thoughts in mind, I made a list of coaches who I would want to work with. I whittled the list down to who would want to work with me. I whittled the list down to the ones who had experience enough to work with me. This made my list VERY small. My selection may have been small but, I had to be selfish and make the most calculated decision possible. This is my career. This is the Olympics, after-all. I would rather work with the best coach to put me in the best situation than potentially risk it all and wasted two years of valuable training time for anything less. That is not to say that every other coach is a lesser coach. I hope thos that read this do not interpret it that way.

At the top of my list was Coach Tim Swords from Team Houston Weightlifting. My first experience with him, he helped us out in the warm up area of the Jr. World Championships of 2008. After I won my silver medal he have me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. I think he called me his "hero." His athletes and I have competed on the same international teams and I always talked with Tim at meets where I would always get a hug and kiss. My old coach used to say, "You only like Tim because he kisses you." Haha.

When I called Tim up. and explained my situation, he was really nice, understanding, and nonjudgmental about the whole thing. He said I was one of his favorite people, that I'm still his hero and he would love to work with me. I was sold at that point. The rest of our conversations were spent working out the kinks and giving training updates along the way until I could move out there. When I arrived, I half way expected to have to "present my case" to him showing him all my letters and lab results, etc. He never even brought it up. That lets me know he trusts me. At this point, I really need to feel that.

Tim is one of a handful of coaches in the USA who started athletes and took them all the way up to the World Championship level. He has had 46 combined youth, junior, and senior national champions, and has taken athletes to every level of competition you can think of with the exception of the Olympics but, he has had an Olympic alternate so, he was pretty stinkin' close. I've seen the amazing things his athletes have done, I have seen him coach his athletes at meets and I felt strongly, that Tim was who I needed to be with.

So, after a couple months of saving and preparing to come, I got in my car, said "goodbye" to my old coach, my hammer coach, teammates, friends, and everything I worked hard for for the past three years for a new adventure that will hopefully put me on the Olympic podium in Rio 2016.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Small Choices

     There are lots of big, challenging choices we have to make in life. Most people just have to work or go to school and have to make all kinds of choices: easy and hard ones. Mostly because they have to. Lately, mine have been where will I live, where will I get a job, who will be my new coach? Making those decisions, especially for an athletic career can be challenging but, why even make them? I mean, competing in sport is really a choice right?
     It is. Why do us athletes chose to add one more stresser to our lives? Why do we put our bodies and our minds through hell? For what? Trophies, records, medals, or fame? Most of us don't know why we are compelled to do what we do. I'm learning over time why it is I chose to do this. It is not an easy life. It's not a bad life, it's just not easy. When I worry about if I can buy groceries or make rent, it seems kind of silly looking from the outside. Uh... Sarah, why don't you just work full-time or finally get your degree so you can just have a normal life?
     Well, normal sucks. I also love doing the seemingly impossible. I love traveling the world. I love the confidence I have gotten from sports. Increasingly, I also feel that my career, what I have accomplished and learned along my journey, is supposed to use to help others. Sure, I could quit and do something else but, that's not what I feel I am supposed to do with my life. At least not yet.
     As you have probably gathered by learning about athletes, especially Olympic athletes, we are a disciplined group of individuals. We have to make really important decisions every day. We have to make these decisions and change our game plans based on what our goals are and what life presents to us. How do we make the big decisions like the ones I have mentioned that I make earlier? I think it has to do with small decisions we make daily. Good choices take a good amount of will power and sacrifice but, with practice, they become easier and almost instinctual. When they become this way, the harder choices are easier to make and the goals you have set (big or small) then become easier to attain.

     Here are some examples of things we have to make decisions about on a regular basis:

  • It's Saturday. My friends are going to go hang out at the lake. They leave in the morning. Training starts in the morning. Sarah decides to stay home and train
  • Activity night! Friends are playing "Capture the Freeze Tag" (yes, it's a real game.) There's running and jumping and tagging, and projectiles. Sarah sits on the sidelines and cheers on her friends.
  • I really want pizza but, I know simple carbs at night make me weigh heavy in the morning. Sarah saves pizza eating for some other time (ok some times I cave into a $5 hot-n-ready)
  • That dress is so cute! Oh yea. I forgot a couple of my sports bras are falling apart. Sarah gets sports bra instead.
Those are just a few examples of small choices I make. These prepare me for big decisions like:
  • Should I go home for Christmas or stay here to train for Olympic Trials?
  • Should I keep this stuff or sell it so I can afford to move for training?
Even though making these kinds of decisions are often not fun, they help me prioritize what is important in my life and teach me other valuable skills like frugality, creativity, and how to be an independent woman. These lessons and so many more are directly transferable to normal life. Lessons I probably would not have learned until later or not at all. 

I guess that's all I have to say about that. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ice cream, a movie and other things people want me to talk about

I got bored tonight and have extra time This is what you guys wanted me to blog about:

Kristen wants me to talk about ice Cream: Well, I had a local flavor recently called Mardi Gras or something. I normally hate vanilla flavored anything (it's boring) but, for a vanilla based ice cream it's delicious. It's flavor is based on King Cake which people down here eat. Which is not cake and has a baby on/in it. Another thing about ice cream: I wish Spumoni came in a pint sized container

Blake wants me to talk about tacos: Blake once had a dream about eating tacos with me. I thought he lived near my friend, Rachel so I was going to invite him to hang out and eat tacos. You know, make his dreams come true. lol Turns out though, he lives in another state. Sorry, buddy. All around where I live, breakfast tacos seem to be popular. I haven't tried them but, the two tacos I have had whilst here are surprisingly, not very delicious.

Goodrum woud like to know about a movie of my choice: A couple of nights ago, I wanted a movied called, "Boy" on Netflix. It was based in the 1980's in New Zealand about a boy whose mom died when he was younger and whose dad comes back into town after being in jail. He wants to get to know his father better. It's funny, innocent, and sad all at the same time. Great film.

My friend Mike asked, "Besides water, in what other liquids do you regularly swim?" I usually swim in a pool of my own sweat. 

Brad inquired about my a.) pre-workout ritual b.) what I think about before a lift c.) what I'm working on currently d.)and my thoughts on Texas. 
A.) Before my workout begins, I make sure that I'm rested. Usually, this means I have either completed a decent night's sleep or have taken a nap. I eat something because I hate being hungry during practice and I want to make sure to have energy. I ride my bike for a few minutes to get my body moving and my heart pumping a little bit. I stretch, and do a little mobility work then start my lifting drills. 
B.) Before a lift, I try to visualize what my coach has me working on. I try to see myself doing it perfectly. I try to think about 1-2 things I'm supposed to focus on. I try to keep these thoughts consistent lift to lift. C.) In training, I'm working on some conditioning and getting back into the swing of training. My new training regiment is difficult because I have the added element of employment. I am also working on flexibility and balance during my lifts. D.) Texas is an awesome place. I love the little town I live in. My coach and teammates are cool. At least in my area, the Mexican food, surprisingly, does not seem to be that great. People from Texas seem to be very proud to be from Texas. I also love that I have one friend here. Well, my teammates are also my friends. My friend Rachel is my best friend and she lives a few hours away. I have hopes to see her once a month. Financially, that won't probably be possible but, a girl can dream.  


Monday, February 24, 2014

Poor Athlete Recipe: Campfire "Apple Cobbler"

So earlier this month when Chrysler was giving me Sochi-Problems, I had to camp out because I had no place to stay where I was. Just because you're on the go does not mean you cannot eat well. You have to be creative and well-prepared and you're good to go.

During my camping trip, I built my fire and got to work!

Dinner: Kickin' Chicken with onions and zucchini
In an aluminum foil packet I added my desired amount of coarsely sliced yellow onion, 1 sliced zucchini, 1 lbs of chicken tenderloins, some butter, and Weber's kickin' chicken seasoning. I put this on the metal grill above the fire and cooked for a good 30+ minutes flipping it a couple of times. I mostly just followed my heart to know when it was done. While that was cooking, I prepped for my "apple cobbler."

Dessert: Campfire "Apple Cobbler"
Make another aluminum foil packet. Add slices of two apples. On top of the apples add one packet of "Bear Naked" brand "Morning Power Packs, Fruit and Nut." Drizzle honey on top, and follow with butter. To cook this, I added it after I started cooking the chicken and took it out a little while after the chicken. It's already ready to eat, I just wanted the butter to melt and the apples to get soft. I did not put this on the grill. Instead, I cooked this on the ground next to the wood that had turned into white-hot coals. I turned it once, flipped it over, and turned it again, all before taking it out.


Baked peaches:

Per the request of my hammer teammate, I am posting the recipe for my baked peaches. These are super easy to make and really cheap
-Halve and remove the pit.
-In a separate bowl make a paste of softened butter, cinnamon, and granola. It should almost be at a consistency where you can roll it into a ball but, not quite
-Add a heaping spoonful into the hole where the pit was
-Bake at 350 until butter is melted all over the place and the peach is soft the way you like it.
-Enjoy with Vanilla ice cream. This is the only time, next to bananas foster, that vanilla ice cream is an acceptable flavor of icecream

Kielbasa, sweet potato, and onions

In a frying pan heat up some olive oil. Add a whole sliced sweet potato and fry until about halfway done. Add 1 small sliced yellow onion and cook until potatoes are done and the onions get past the sweating stage but before the caramelized part. Add sliced kielbasa sausage and keep cooking 'til sausage is hot. This makes about two servings.

Onion $.50
Kielbasa $2.97
Sweet Potato $.75
Total: $4.22 or $2.11/meal

Friday, February 21, 2014

Face to face by Jess

So I posted on my Facebook asking what y'all wanted to read about from me since I haven't blogged in awhile. I was obviously disappointed when no one asked to hear about how amazing my new socks are or how long my hair is getting... But whatever.

There were two subjects that I actually really like talking about that I think fit with what's going on in my training and life right now. The first is about the effect of training environment on lifters.

I strongly believe the safer you feel in your box or gym the better you perform. If you have teammates or training partners in the room that have your back that would stand in front of a moving bus for you you're gonna push harder. My coach Greg Everett used to always say it takes a village to build a champion or something like that. There's only one person on the podium but look at the stands behind them.. All those people helped get them there. There are too many tears, blood and sweat lost in that room and on that stage to not have people who you trust standing by your side.

I was recently in Denver coaching a seminar at Crossfit Unbroken and met a bunch of strong, compassionate, tough athletes. They each inspired me in different ways but while I was there I read this article that made me understand where all their confidence came from.

"A sense of security is something everyone needs and desires. Security enables us to enjoy healthy thinking and living. It means we feel safe, accepted, and approved of. When we are secure, we approve of ourselves, we have confidence, and we accept and love ourselves in a balanced way.
You can't seek out your destiny when you've let fear slam the door, filled with self-hatred, condemnation, fear of rejection, fear of failure, and fear of others. Many victims of fear end up being people pleasures, prone to being controlled by other. They give up the right to be themselves and usually spend their lives trying to be what they think they ought to be in someone else's eyes.
Sadly, when we try to be something or someone we are not intended to be, we stifle ourselves and God's power in us. Without confidence even simple accomplishments are beyond our grasp. When we have confidence, we can reach truly amazing heights"
-Joyce Meyer

Who you chose to put in your corner can make or break you as an athlete. Do they try to clear the sky for you the shine, or do they cloud and darken it?

The second subject brought to my Book of face's attention directly related in my eyes. External effects on training and how to keep them out of your mind by keeping your faith strong and using it on the bar.

If you're not in the right environment it's easy to be distracted and lose faith.
"Three different times I begged The Lord to take it away. Each time he said, " my grace is all you need. My power works best I'm weaknesses." So now I am glad to boost about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, the. I am strong" 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

"Cast all your anxiety onto him because he cares about you" 1 peter:5-7

When I'm feeling down or defeated or distracted I read through my bible and remember he has my back. I know I can't control what other people do, say or act towards me. I can only control how I respond. I can control how it makes me feel and what I do. God is in control and he knows what he's doing i usually look at it as part of training, it's making me stronger, tougher and more prepared.

Fearlessly, j