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Episode 9 – Michelina | My Body. My Story PODCAST| 45 Over 45 chapter

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

In this very motivational and inspiring episode(LISTEN TO THE EPISODE) Michelina talks about her journey of discovering herself and finding her own identity, about how she got into powerlifting after being a 3rd generation hockey player, and all the hard work behind the gold medals and World records. She holds multiple World records, World and National titles in Australia and New Zealand in powerlifting

She also talks about her amazing trips all over the world, walking with lions in Zimbabwe, nearly dying on a Nile cruise during her trip to Egypt and getting married in Las Vegas!

The word ‘Can’t” is not in her vocabulary and her motto “Don’t talk yourself out of doing things” helped her to become who she is now.


10 Facts About Michelina

(at the time of the project)

1. 46 years old.

2. Michelina was born in Marrickville, Sydney, but has lived in Wollongong since she was six months old when her family moved down there.

3. One of the most inspiring women who's had the biggest influence in her life, was her grandmother. Michelina has a sister who's younger than her, and she has an older stepbrother.

4. Michelina is married and has four fur babies, so they're her dogs who are the loves of her life. Next to her husband Peter.

5. Michelina traveled a lot - Asia, Africa, Europe, America, you name it. She walked with lions in Zimbabwe, nearly died on a Nile cruise during her trip to Egypt, and got married in Las Vegas!

6. Michelina works at Wollongong University, in risk management and business assurance, and internal audit. And she also works on the weekends behind the bar at one of the little local bowling clubs. She also personal trains a few clients on the side and squeezes her own training and lifestyle as well.

7. Michelina used to play hockey, and she was a third-generation hockey player. Her grandmother played hockey, and her mother played hockey, but after she had an injury and a plastic surgent had to reset her face, his advice was not to play contact sports anymore.

8. Soon after Michelina’s friend gave her advice to try powerlifting, she started her training. Now she holds multiple World records, World and National titles in Australia and New Zealand in powerlifting

9. Biggest challenge at this age – “Just the concept of getting older. I don't feel old. I'm a little bit fearful of the aging process. I don't want to be slowed down. I don't want to have Alzheimer's. So I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that doesn't happen. And keep my body and my mind as physically active as possible.”

10. Positive change with age – “Just embracing who I am. And being more aware of that. And I think not worrying so much about what other people think of me.. you get to that point - this is who I am, this is the person that I'm happy to be. And feeling strong in understanding your character, and the fact that ..all of your experiences have now made you to who you are, and the experiences moving forward will continue to drive you in that path.”

Watch Michelina's VIDEO interview HERE




INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT (auto-generated):

How about you tell us a little bit about yourself.

So my name is Michelina Weatherall and I'm 46 years old, and I'm still dealing with the fact that I'm heading towards 50. I'm from Wollongong. I was actually born in Marrickville. But have lived in Wollongong since I was six months old when our family moved down there. And we sleeve two doors down from my grandmother who was one of my favourite people in the entire world. And probably one of the most inspiring women who's had the biggest influence in my life. So yeah, she was one tough cookie and that's sort of how I aspire to be in everything that I do. I have a sister who's younger than me, and I have an older stepbrother. I think I'm probably the most stable out of all of us, although my sister might just be that I have four fur babies, so they're my dogs which are the loves of my life. Next to my husband. So I have a two mini dachshunds crossed miniature foxes that are my little princesses. I have a little pug cross who is a little rescue dog. And we've just got a seven month old. She's a bit of everything. dog named Dottie she's Dalmatian cross Valara cross Kelpie cross Staffy, and I've also just taken into care a little deaf. I'm a foster carer for deaf dog. His name's Marilyn. So she's a little American stuffy. She's only just 12 weeks old. So yeah, have a have my hands full with that little tribe. And, and then I have my husband who I met in 2014. And, yeah, we got married in Las Vegas.

Oh, nice.

Yeah, as soon as his divorce came through. So I've been through two divorces, which was that of my parents. My mom and dad got divorced in 1990. And I also went through Peters divorce, but I've only had one marriage. So I'm most happy about that. And I'll only ever have one because yeah, I've done enough.

Yeah, he's you.

He is Yeah, it took us a while to me. And it's one of those things where you meet that person. And you've been to so many things before, but the timings never been right. And then all of a sudden, it just happens. And everyone needs to say that would happen, but I didn't quite believe it until it actually did. And then you get all right. So they really didn't know what they were talking about the older generation. So yeah, my I work a couple of jobs. So I work at Wollongong University, in risk management and business assurance and internal audit. And I also work on the weekends behind the bar at one of the little local clubs, little local bowling clubs and and then I also personal train a few clients on the side and, and squeezing my own training and lifestyle as well. So yeah, love to travel. I've travelled quite a bit around the world. Thank you to all of those men that broke up with me over the years because you are the reason I've had such global travel experience.

Break up what do I do?

Where do I go? Where do I go? I think one of the funny ones was I went through a bit of a nasty breakup and I couldn't get out of the country fast enough and I ended I'm doing a trip through Nepal travelling into India. So it's a combination of checking through the Annapurna ranges and rafting and doing this whole great experience in countries that I never ever thought I would get to, but that was the trip that was leaving as quick as possible. So I've got my Indian visa and, you know, checked off over there and had a stopover in Hong Kong waiting to catch the plane for Nepal and then realised I'd packed my swimmers and sarong when in actual fact, it was winter still in Nepal. Arriving in Kathmandu, my first trip was down to the markets to see how well I could bother down some warm clothing for myself to the mountain ranges. It was quite funny. So yeah, that was that was. That was a great start to the trip. But that was a fantastic trip. I absolutely loved Nepal, India with a different experience. I'm glad I've been there. My heart breaks for what's happening over there at the moment, but I can't say it's a country I'd get back to. Yeah.

So what's next for you?

What's next,

Now that you're happily married.. You have to really think through your travels. Right? They’re not so spur-of-the-moment

Yeah, I think, oh, no, I still like to be spur of the moment. And spontaneous The problem is I just drag Peter with me. Yeah. And as long as it's very far found someone that can look after the dogs, I'm more than happy to jump on a plane any time. I think what's next for us is we've gone through a real period of quite a few significant moments in our lives. So three years ago, we received a phone call at night, and it was letting us know that Peters mother had unexpectedly passed away. That same year, only not even six months later, my father passed away with Alzheimer's. And then we had a couple of years of battle with getting obviously Peters mother’s estate sorted out. And so that was a real learning experience and a fair bit of stress. In between that we were still travelling overseas and competing and trying to sort of keep our lives going as much as we could. At the same time my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and ended up we had to sell like my childhood home, which was my grandmother's so that mom could go into the Alzheimer's care facility. So managed to get all that done. And, and then in 2019, we're just when we thought we were sort of coming out of that period, we were over in Long Beach, California, and we competed in powerlifting meet at the fitness Expo, they're called Old Dogs. And we had a great conference was amazing trip, came away with a spike of metals. And and two weeks later, Peter walked into the bedroom at three o'clock in the morning and said, I'm not feeling really well, I need to go to the hospital. And he was then having a quadruple bypass. So we've gone through a real stage of rehab and can't wait to get back to competing with that. But it certainly makes you look at life a little bit differently, especially when someone so dear to you, you know has something that you have to stay focused and you have to stay positive. And you know, in between all that I've still got mommy in aged care and and then at the start of this year, she fell and broke her hip, and we lost her back on the first of March. So I guess the last three years has really been a learning experience too. It has been hard, but it's, it's how I feel it's like and I think we appreciate it a little bit more. Because what you realise is that you spend a lot of time worrying about things, whereas you need to just keep on living. And my mom probably was one of those people that she would always put obstacles in front of herself before she did them. And then she would talk herself out of things. So she always wanted to go to Italy, but she never got there. I went to Italy, I went to the Vatican. And when I said to her I was lifting she didn't really understand what powerlifting was it was are you be careful. And every time I said to her, I'm going to go here or I'm travelling to Africa or I'm going to Egypt she Oh no, don't go You can't go You can't do that. So that word can't is is something that's just not in my vocabulary because I would rather have a go and not succeed then go through wondering what if, and I think that moving through, we've just had such a tumultuous tumultuous period, and and then add COVID into the mix as well. It's really been a time of let's stop, Refresh and Reset and now move forward. So the world's our oyster, who knows what's gonna open up, you know, the next door, the next door and the next chapter to Alpha children's. So I know it definitely is not that. But there's still plenty room for more animals, although I think we have a rule in our house, I always said to Peter, if he wanted to divorce me or break up with me bring an iron into the house. And he said, if the same thing will happen to me if I bring another dog into the house, and all of a sudden we've got a foster fair baby, he's still with me.

We might remind him of that. But yeah, I think it's really, yeah, who knows what's going to be there. But whatever opportunity comes up, just take it and run with it. So we're looking at the New Zealand travel, but travel bubble has opened. So hopefully, we'll get to travel to New Zealand. Hopefully, we'll get to do a few competitions this year and get paid back on the platform after his surgery. And now that he's been recovering, since it was the ninth of November, and 20 19/9 of December. Sorry, 2019. So yeah, but he's back lifting and we've been training all through COVID. So yeah, it's we've got a purpose built garage in our backyard. So we had no excuses not to keep active cheering COVID

How did she get into powerlifting?

I used to play hockey, and I was a third generation hockey player. My grandmother played hockey, my mother played hockey and, and I seem to agree to playing hockey one drunken evening. And I rocked up with my little stick and shin pads to a game and I said What am I supposed to do? And the coach said, See that girl running? And I'm like, Yes. And she said, that's going to be you in a minute. And I thought, Oh God, I'm going to die. no training, no idea what I was doing. Yeah, it just ran ended up quite hooked on hockey. I met some fantastic people. But it was the ninth of December actually 2014. For me. We're playing into hockey and I came off second best to a hockey ball. So the ball smashed my face on the left hand side and had it gone five millimetres one way I would have lost my eye completely. And five millimetres the other way I would have ended up like Phil Hughes and not being here today. So I found a fantastic facial surgeon maxillofacial surgeon here in Sydney. And he reset my face. He was supposed to make me look like Claudia Schiffer at the same time. But you know, I guess the fact I can still see was a real bone. And, yeah, so then under his advice, it was don't play contact sports anymore. So I sort of went into a really dark hole, because I'd always been sporty and always been athletic.

And that's what your grandmother played. Yeah, it was your thing.

It was my thing. It was really a little niche. And I love the social network of it. I was working for mining, manufacturing companies, that project manager at the time and travelling around a lot. And one of the guys in the office saw me sinking, like literally thinking and I was going in a dark hole. And he said to me, why don't you go and start doing some some lifting. And I looked at him and laughed and said, I can't do that. He said yes, you can go and go and do some lifting. Go and see my friend. And I said to him, Look, I've been to gyms in Wollongong. And honestly, I felt worse about myself when I left some of those places that when I first walked in, it was just pretentious, and, you know, the personal trainers or weren't listening to what I was saying and, and I felt really useless and hopeless. So I was a little bit scared of my work colleague given they used to call him the beast and he was a former strong man in his day or third in the world, I do believe. So I went and visited this rustic workshop. So it was set up with a little gym at the side of a fabrication workshop and the people in there were it was very different to any other gym. But for some reason I thought this is where I need to be. So I remember having the conversation to Peter and he said, What do you want to achieve? And I said I just want to look better than I do and feel good about myself again like it was a really simple objective, lose lose weight, feel better about myself and get my mojo back a little bit after the facial injury so he said well come back tomorrow so how much work the next day very proud of myself home ology. Back and and my work colleague the best said, said, How'd you go? And I said, Yes, I'm starting tomorrow. And in his very limited vocabulary, when he was pleased with something, he said, very good. And that was it. So I went in, and one of the most amazing women that was training, there is now one of my dearest friends. And she'd survived a brain aneurysm. And she had, she also has three plates in her back and had been trained to be New South Wales, and Queensland under 75, strong woman of the year. So for me, I wanted to be strong like her, I just decided this woman has so much power, and so much inner strength. And that's what I want to be like. Now, I don't want to feel like this broken record that that has walked into this store, I never want to feel like that again. So I started training, and I started really enjoying it. And every day I'd leave work and, and go and train. And I was pretty crap, like,

I still remember paid his face when he did my first assessments on my squat and bench and we got to deadlift, and I think it was the deadlift that gave him some hope, when I was able to lift 80 kilos of the ground and didn't look completely ridiculous in the way I was doing it. So then I went with them to a comp, there was a little crew, and they were all competing. And that was really exciting, because it was exposing me to something that was so different, and a whole different sports field and seeing sort of how much you go any lift on the platform, but it's actually team that gets you there. And it's the team that's running that's wrapping your knees that's putting talcum powder on your backside, that's getting your water and your lollies putting in your numbers. So I said to Peter after that, because the team had qualified to go to Queensland nationals, and I said, I'll come and help like, I'm more than happy to come up and feel like part of the team. And about four weeks out of it. He said, Just letting you know you're competing, and I'm doing what? I'm not ready. And he goes, No, we're just putting you in the deadlift only, and, and come up and compete. And it was next level. And I had never felt such an adrenaline rushes that like I was shaking when I first went up to the platform. And on my first attempt, I broke two world records into Australian records in my deadlift. And I lifted 130 kilos, which I'd failed in the gym a couple of times. And I finally got it on the platform. And I was so excited. I was so hooked. And by then him and I had formed a really strong bond and a really strong friendship and a relationship together. And, and yeah, and then after that he was we were talking one day, and he was saying how he always wanted to go to Vegas for world titles. And me being me, I'm not one of those people that talks about things, I go and book them so nice that he was booked to do world titles. And I signed up as well thinking I was this superduper lift, huge star gonna change the lifting world. And when I got over there in world titles, I found out just how much of a novice athlete I was. And I had a lot of learning to do because I went over and I had sponsors and I had all these people I was gonna make so proud of me. And I tore a callus and couldn't hold the bar properly. So and he got one lift out of three. And I was devastated. And I think it was one of my most humiliating moments where I was just sitting crying in the middle of this major world titles. And there was a beautiful woman who was an experienced lifter came up and she grabbed hold of me so I could get on the platform and get my lifts. And she shook me. And she said there is no crying in lifting. And then a couple years later, when I was over competing at another world titles, I actually won Best lifter against this lady and she was one of the first ones to congratulate me. So I was so proud to be on the platform with her. But yeah, these are the people that you meet and the personalities that made and then so we came back from Vegas, and then Peter had torn his quads. So he didn't have the best meat either. But we came back from Vegas. And then I think it was a couple of weeks later, we competed at world titles in Sydney. And I got to meet some of the most amazing lifters on the planet. Like you know, some of these big guys are just gentle giants, you know, really, but their strength and power. I don't know. It just makes you feel really good to be around and makes you feel strong and powerful. So yeah, so I've been hooked ever since then. Interesting journey. So I never take anything for granted. And I always say to any person starting out, in lifting that the bar will humble you just when you think that you've beaten it will We'll just bring you down to size.

Yes. Yeah. It's very inspirational. Would you say that is your that what you're most passionate about? Is there anything else that you most passionate about powerlifting or travelling or just life in general or anything else?

I think I'm just passionate about life and living it to the fullest. I think the lifting forms part of that, because I think what I find is that I hope that I can inspire, inspire other women to take a step forward and overcome their fears. Like I have had to do in the past, and now includes a fear of flying, you know, you travel all over the world, but you have a fear of flying. It doesn't quite make sense. But I think that, yeah, just we are our own worst critics. And I think that particularly when it comes to the way that we see our body image, we spent too much time comparing it to other women. And we don't take a look and own it ourselves. And and even I've had clients that come and say, Oh, I've put on weight, or I've done this, or I've done that, okay, well, that's what's happened in the past, how do we move forward in the future? How do we take you on your journey, and it's not about the scars is about what makes you feel good about yourself. So lifting, when I'm lifting, and I'm feeling strong, and my physiques on track, I feel strong and empowered, and carry that into my workday, and every other aspect of my life. And I think that if I can bring my passion and inspire other women to feel the same about themselves, then that's a really good thing to do. Because a lot of the women that I meet in lifting are doing that for me every single day. So, and as I'm getting older, I'm finding that some of the most powerful and the strongest women that I've met in the world are over 45. And they're out there setting records and, and I'm doing my damnedest to try and chase them down. So you know, but these women are have all got stories, or they've all got journeys. In the US, there's just some amazing women who have, you know, been in the military have, or have had experiences where they've had a lot of things happen in their life. I've met women that have come from from being drug addicts, and then lifting has sort of helped brought them out of that and replace that addiction. Same for men as well. But I think that when you find that community, and you have that feeling of belonging, and it's a positive thing in your life, that's what makes me passionate about moving forward. I don't have time for negativity, I don't have time for toxicity. And I think that too many people spend more time hanging on to that, than just letting it go and moving on.

So that's changing that rather than just thinking about what's happened or what they missed out on.

That's right. And dwelling on the past. You can't do anything about the past. It's how you move forward in the future. So even you know, losing Mum, it's it was gut wrenching. It was heartbreaking, but there's no use me sitting around dwelling about that. Because at some point, I'm going to be in the ground next to her. I don't want that to be anytime soon. So my tribute to her is getting on and living my life to the fullest so that she'll be wherever she is. She's going to be proud of whatever I'm doing. So yeah,

it's not your time yet. So you need to keep leaving. And that's what your mom

that's right. And I've had a couple of close calls. So I do think I've been account, you know, in a past life. So I did have a close call in Egypt where I thought I was coming home in a body bag. And that was when we discovered how bad my allergic reaction is to seafood.

See, you had to find that out, overseas,

cruising the Nile farm land on one side, desert on the other. And I had a small piece of what I thought was just a pizza and had to you know, at some kind of Egyptian tuner on it, and I instantly started to react. And honestly, if there was a whole thing's when you go, that wasn't my time. So our guide, Ahmed had a friend who was a doctor. So he phoned him to say, what do we do? We were coming up to a town that was an unscheduled stop but the boat captain organised to stop there and have a taxi waiting for Ahmed to go to the pharmacy where his doctor friend had phoned through and told them what he needed to get. On our trip. There was a lady who on our tour group, a lady who was actually a nurse who administered whatever was in the green vial, the red followed the yellow to a ginormous host needle in my backside. And it worked. So you know, 15 minutes later So 15 minutes before and before the needle, I was at the point where I was losing consciousness. And the thing that I remember was I was sitting outside on a banana chair because I said I wasn't going to die in a Tim Kaine room, I wanted to see the sun. And one of the other the members of the tour group were running, getting ice packs to try and help counter the swelling around my neck, and I was going in and out of consciousness. And there was one chap on our tour, Tony, he had hold of my hand. And I remember as I'd sort of laps out and come back, I was just listening for his voice and trying to feel his hand like squeezing his hand. And he was just talking to me the whole time. And, and it was pretty scary. But I thought, well, you know, if I'm going to go, this isn't a bad way, floating down the NARS a bit of a travel story that I won't be there to tell. But yeah, you know, after the giant horse needle, I remember saying to Ahmed, couldn't you get something small? It was a needle. Time to think. And yeah, and then we all went for coffee about 15 minutes later, just to come down and let the adrenaline settles.

You almost you're on your deathbed, and you're worried about big needle.

Yeah. Trust me, it was a massive needle. It was huge. And even Angela, who was the newest on our tour, she goes, Oh, wow. Oh my God, just stick it in. That's right. And we've in from that trip, I had some amazing relationships and friendships. So one of them was Mike, he ended up being my roomie Clinton. And I really want to make special mention of him because his, his grandmother and him came to my very first powerlifting comp, and Nana sat through and watched me lift like, it was really cool. So that's sort of the bond that was formed from that, you know, near death experience. You know, I'm sure a lot of other people have worse than me. But yeah, that was a that was definitely an adventure, although forget. Carry the epi pens at all times. Oh, wow.<