Sahy Lalime, vegan powerlifter

Sahyuri (Sahy) Lalime is an accomplished Belgian powerlifter with Japanese-American roots who has competed nationally and internationally, achieving fantastic totals.

In 2018 and 2019 she won best overall female powerlifter at the Belgian Nationals and she has also competed at the IPF World and European Championships.  The 2019 Europeans saw her weigh in at 62.25 kg, squat 152.5 kg, bench 80 kg and deadlift 180 kg.  The squat and bench press are her personal bests, although Sahy has beaten that deadlift with a 182.5 kg lift at the Belgian nationals.

She ranks her performance at the European Championships, alongside her performance at the Worlds and the two Belgian National titles, as her greatest performance – placing 9th of 22 lifters in her category.

She’s also recognised that there are other things she should acknowledge.

“I think my favorite achievement of all is a lot more mundane. Showing up at the gym consistently and putting in the work necessary to keep progressing is what I am most proud of. Because that’s the hardest part. 

“I had a rough stretch of training in the second half of 2019 due to outside stressors. I lost the drive and focus that I had preciously cultivated in my first two years of powerlifting. This experience made me realise how deliberate you need to be with your mental preparation to perform at your best. You can’t take for granted that you’ll always be ready to show up, because you won’t.  By the time you realize what’s happening, you’re already stuck in a giant hole with no choice but to either remain buried or claw your way out. 

“Thankfully, I made it out of that dark period. I have since spent the last month re-focusing, remembering why I’m doing all of this, and my mental game is stronger than ever. I am excited to see what I’ll do in 2020!”

Sahy works as a personal trainer in Brussels and offers online coaching in powerlifting and general fitness through her site, www.kaleandbarbell.com

Vegan power

Sahy has been vegetarian since 2003 and vegan
since 2015, decisions she made for ethical reasons. 

“My motivation to go vegetarian was based purely on not wanting to kill animals. Having experienced the trauma of losing my mother when I was kid, I became very sensitive to death and didn’t want to take part in bringing that type of pain and suffering to others. So after I left home for college, I became a vegetarian. 

While there, I learned about veganism from a bunch of hardcore punks I worked with at my college radio station. Until that point, it hadn’t occurred to me that the dairy industry was just as vile, if not more vile than the meat industry. I wanted to move towards veganism even then, but what held me back was a sense of guilt in making family members and friends go out of their way to cater to my lifestyle.  

So for a long time, though I adopted a lot of vegan practices like purchasing cruelty-free cosmetics/clothing and maintained a mostly-vegan lifestyle at home, I allowed some flexibility (cheese, butter) when visiting or eating out with others. Eventually, my sense of guilt over the animals suffering in the dairy and egg industries trumped my other guilts and I went fully vegan. My conscience has since thanked me.” 

Now Sahy eats a lot of oats, bananas, peanut butter, blueberries, tofu, rice, broccoli, cucumber and kale. “I also eat lots of protein smoothies, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, black beans, tempeh, seitan, quinoa, bulgur and seasonal fruit and veggies. I keep frozen veggies on hand for quick meals. Right now, as it’s winter, I’m making a lot of lentil and split pea veggie soups!” 

This fuels a committed and demanding training schedule. Sahy trains bench press three times per week and squats/deadlifts two times per week.  

“Though many powerlifters eschew cardio, I personally include two additional training days for cardio and conditioning work. It makes me happy.”

While she may be unusual as a vegan, Sahy feels
that her record speaks for itself.

“People can secretly think whatever they want, but at the end of the day, all that matters is how strong you are. The people I train with are my friends and one of my training partners is vegetarian, herself.  Of course, the meat-eaters like to do the usual joking around about eating steaks and stuff, but I have a good sense of humor. 

“The proof is in the tofu pudding when the ‘weak’ vegan is currently the #1 powerlifter in Belgium!”  

Future plans

“I am shooting for a Top 10 placement at IPF Worlds this year” Sahy told Great Vegan Athletes in 2020 “and a Top 5 at Europeans. This will obviously be really challenging, but I believe in setting lofty goals for myself.”

This leaves her with the immediate goals of ensuring she sticks to her training programme and continuing to eat well. 

“As far as long-term goals go, I just hope to stay healthy, injury-free and passionate about this great sport.”  

It also seems clear that Sahy wants to inspire
others.

“Do what you believe is right, regardless of what others will say or do. I wish I would’ve had the courage to stand for my convictions and go vegan much sooner than I did. I chalk it up to guilt-issues, but in the end it was also that I didn’t have the courage to stand for what I believed in when faced with losing something. Would I have actually lost anything? Probably not. But that didn’t stop me from giving in to my fears.  

The funny thing about standing up for what you believe in is that the more you do it, the easier it gets and the more self-confident you become. Courage requires practice, like anything else. When I finally stood my ground and put myself first, the depressive weight came off my shoulders. I was free, my conscience clear – and it was the best feeling in the world. So don’t waste time. Do yourself a favor and believe in yourself. Say what you mean and say it proudly.”

Sahy’s site www.kaleandbarbell.com

European results (63kg category)

Instagram sahy.fi

Instagram kale & barbell

Sahy’s Youtube channel

See other vegan powerlifters

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