By Brigid Morrissey

In life, it seems as if we spend each stage preparing for the next phase. We complete high school to get into college to step into a career. We date around in our youth to discover who we want to spend our future with. So when we think about fitness and preparing our bodies physically, why not create good habits in our youth so we’re better off in old age?

“I would want 90-year-old Hollis to high-five me for what I’m doing today,” says Hollis Edwards, 34. “I’m always doing something that keeps me healthy later in life.” When Hollis began at Crossfit, she weighed 225 pounds, but she has now lost 60 pounds.

But it wasn’t easy. It took patience, accountability, and significant changes in Hollis’ eating habits. “It’s 90 percent diet,” she says. “I didn’t lose weight for a while until we started the nutrition challenge. It was based on a daily point system. If I cheated, I lost points, and I wasn’t going to lose points. I’m too competitive for that.” Her competitiveness has even caused her a few setbacks. “That’s how I get injured,” she says with a laugh.

Hollis says the benefits she gets from a good workout gives her the motivation to stay consistent.
Photos by Melissa Donald

With her lighthearted spirit, you would never know that Hollis can take some heavy weight. Even with her current back injury, she still finds a way to train with the Louisville Strongman Team. Instead of the twisting and more extreme movements encompassed in Strongman competitions, Hollis has opted for power lifting, which consists of more stable movements and a lot of leg power. “I always make fun of the guys who don’t squat. Every day is squat day for me.”

Finding the Strongman Team has made the difference for Hollis. Unlike the name suggests, there are several women who belong to the group. “The Strongman Girls just get each other. They’re the best.” They get each other, because each one has felt the guilt when they skip workouts, the disappointment when they don’t give it their all, and the frustration when they can’t find the motivation to change their cycle. “When they expect you to be there and you don’t show up,” says Hollis, “they’ll want to know where you are. That helps.” Those negative feelings are few and far between for Hollis, however. She’s got a pretty good handle on self-motivation. “When I do a leg workout or work a large muscle group that uses a lot of energy, I know I did something. I enjoy lifting big numbers, and legs facilitate big numbers.” The physical transformation over time was initially sparked by a mental one. “Lifting weights and being strong does so much more mentally and spiritually than antidepressants or any medication, so even on days when I don’t want to go, I know I’ll be better off.”

By better off, Hollis means that she will be healthier and able to function in body and mind as she ages. By better off, she means that she’s doing what it takes now to reap the benefits long term. “I want people to know that they can start working out no matter where they are in life.”

Find out about Alison Cardoza’s fitness goals for next year and think about adding this exercise to your morning workout.