As a primary care physician, Heather Mackey-Fowler, MD, routinely encourages her patients to eat healthy and exercise. But, like many people, Dr. Mackey-Fowler found that giving health advice was much easier than heeding it, until she took that first step toward fitness.
“I ran cross-country in high school, and my husband played soccer at the collegiate level, but when we looked at our lifestyle now, I realized we weren’t being very health conscious,” she said.
In 2016, Dr. Mackey-Fowler’s mother died from lung cancer at age 57. To help her through her grief and focus on improving her own health, the doctor heeded her own advice and incorporated physical activity into her daily routine.
Turning to the gym, weight training became part of her workout regimen. Dr. Mackey-Fowler discovered an untapped strength - in mind and body. As her workouts became more challenging, she found that self-motivation was often the toughest part of working out. With that in mind, she began to look for camaraderie.
“I needed to be accountable to someone other than myself, she said.
She found a website whose community was doctors who lifted weights. Through e-mail, web posting and Skype, Dr. Mackey-Fowler could benefit from others’ experiences and share some of her own.
In the gym, Dr. Mackey-Fowler was lifting twice her body weight – 230 pound squats and deadlifting weights over that amount.
Under the guidance of her trainer, Julia Girman, Dr. Mackey-Fowler set her sights on a USA Powerlifting competition held on June 3. Six months prior, her training became focused for that event, learning to perfect her body positioning to perform lifts with heavy weight without getting hurt. In the process, she lost 15 pounds of excess body weight while building up lean muscle.
The USA Powerlifting Massachusetts/Rhode Island 2018 Championship took place at Twin River in Lincoln, RI. It was Dr. Mackey-Fowler’s first time competing against other athletes. Competing in the Women’s Masters category, she took second place and was awarded a silver medal.
“It was a learning experience,” she said after the event.
While the medal is a great way to start, Dr. Mackey-Fowler said that the benefits of any type of exercise are its own rewards.
“I’ve gotten a lot of personal satisfaction from power lifting, apart from the health benefits,” she said. “Now I’m able to discuss the power of exercise with patients who are recovering from grief, wanting to improve their ability to set goals, and other life benefits.”
She’s also not ready to end at a lone silver medal.
“I can’t wait to sign up for another meet,” she said.
Dr. Heather Mackey-Fowler practices Family Medicine with South County Medical Group Primary Care, Medical Office Building, 70 Kenyon Ave., Suite 211, Wakefield, RI. She can be reached at 401-789-8543.