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NOW READING Woman Wonder: The Heavy Lifting It Took to Regain My Confidence
July 8, 2017

Woman Wonder: The Heavy Lifting It Took to Regain My Confidence

Inspired by Wonder Woman, we asked the K-Beauty Squad to share with us how they are a Woman Wonder in their own lives. Here, contributing editor Sheryll Donerson reveals the heavy lifting it took to regain her self-esteem.



After living in Vietnam for a couple years, I moved to Phuket, Thailand, last year. One might think I moved there for the stunning beaches, amazing food, and the ability to breathe fresh air again after choking in motorbike exhaust for two years in Ho Chi Minh City. All of these things are true, but there was a bigger force at play.


There is a street in Phuket called Soi Ta-iad, more affectionately known as “The Soi.” It is literal fitness heaven. There are protein smoothie stands, gyms, Muay Thai camps, MMA camps, fitness camps, and tons of healthy food that occupy the land on the 2-kilometer road. It was my goal to move to Phuket and finally lose weight after trying unsuccessfully for years.


Let’s rewind. When I was in my mid-20s, I suffered through a bout of depression and emotional eating that left me nearly 30 pounds heavier. I yo-yoed the weight off back and forth, even dropping nearly 20 pounds while I lived in Korea, only to gain most of it back eating my life away in Vietnam (pho is dangerous, ya’ll). I told myself that by my 30th birthday I wanted to get my weight under control once and for all, so when moving to Phuket came up for discussion, it was a no-brainer to go to a fitness camp there. I chose Unit-27, a total conditioning and fitness gym, specializing in high-impact strength and conditioning workouts. They had great reviews and the crazy intense, hour-long classes seemed fun.


heavy lifting


When I arrived for my first day at Unit, one of the coaches, Joy Somers, checked my weight and body fat and discussed goals with me. She suggested I start CrossFit, and I’m sure I looked at her like an insane person. All I’d ever heard about CrossFit were the gross dude bros who all hurt themselves trying to lift ridiculous amounts of weight using terrible form. She assured me this wasn’t the case, and told me to try it once to see if I liked it. I agreed.


The next morning, I took my first class and nearly died. But I was 100,000% sold. I couldn’t lift anything and almost passed out at the end, but everyone was super encouraging and helpful.


As the weeks went by, I started to catch on to all of the lingo, terminology, and moves that CrossFit is known for. I could back squat properly for the first time in my life. I could do a deadlift. I even started to work on my pull-up, something I never thought I would ever be able to do. And slowly but surely, I started lifting heavier, too.


The author before, left, and after.




As the weight I put on the bar continued to increase, my confidence grew. My body shaped changed. I stopped looking at the scale and instead started to track how much weight I was squatting during each workout and how I could improve. My whole perspective on my body changed. Instead of viewing myself as this sad, tired, depressed, and overweight woman, I transformed into a fearless, strong, confident weightlifting machine who could literally deadlift your boyfriend. (Literally — I just pulled a 205-pound deadlift the other day.)




CrossFit and lifting heavy weights have changed my life. When I get on the weightlifting platform and load up the bar for a set of squats, shoulder presses or deadlifts, I feel invincible. When I feel the weight on my shoulders or grip my chalky hands on the cool, sleek metal of the bar, there’s no one on the planet stronger than me. The number on the scale is a long-gone memory — I weighed myself a few days ago and instead of recoiling in horror, I thought about how that weight allows me to push myself each day during my workouts. I may not have abs or perfectly chiseled Michelle Obama arms, but I am strong. I am fearless. I am a Woman Wonder.


How are you a Woman Wonder in your life?





Sheryll Donerson got her start as a beauty writer by writing K-beauty reviews for her blog, The Wanderlust Project. These days, she's lifting heavy weights, eating tacos, drinking (too much) coffee and is 1/4 of the beauty podcast, Beauty Beyond Basics (or Triple Bees for short). You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @sheryllrenata.



Happy that there is also another K-beauty and fitness freak like me!! Giving the strength not only outside but also inside. I call this Na Sigan. Gym-food-mask-relax :)

Whoa! Your Korean rocks! :)

Meanwhile in Korea... I lift boxes full of cosmetics! not the same weight .... xD

Sheryll, thank you for motivating me to hit the Gym again!!