By Jeff Labine
THE CHRONICLE-JOURNAL
Published: Aug. 7, 2016
Lifting weights has changed Holly McRae’s life.

 The 28-year-old mother of two started lifting weights less than a year ago. She said she was inspired to start pumping iron after being invited to participate in a lifting contest.
She called the experience exhausting but fun and life changing.

 “You learn a lot about yourself when you fail and when you succeed,” she said. “I think you learn a lot more when you fail. It kind of puts into perspective what matters and what doesn’t matter.”

 She said what matters now is being better than she was the day before and being the best for her children.

 McRae was one of more than 30 participants in this year’s annual Thunder Bay Strongest Man competition, which was in support of Camp Quality on Saturday at Pauluccis Wayland parking lot.

 The competition was broken down into a few categories including ones for women and children.

 McRae said while her youngest child doesn’t quite understand what she does, her older daughter does and was even joining her at the competition.

 “I want her to be independent and I want her to know that she doesn’t need anyone else,” she said. “To know that she’s going to be strong when she’s older makes me feel like I’m doing my job right.”

 McRae will be heading to a provincial lifting competition next weekend.

 Ashley Ceresino, 25, was also competing on Saturday alongside McRae. She started training about two years ago after receiving a personal trainer as a gift. She said she fell in love with working out, which led her to be entered in a number of weight-loss competitions and eventually weightlifting.

 She explained her biggest motivation is her own competitive spirit.

 “When I set my sights on something I want to do my personal best,” she said.
“Being around other competitive people just helps me get there. I think it is great for people to see other women doing it because it is so empowering to be doing it. It isn’t the fact that all women should be doing it but it awakens something in you that just gives you that confidence and to have new challenges always at your finger tips. You’re never bored with it; there’s always something bigger and better waiting for you.”