At left, Teron Sazue and his mother Maria Provost (Teron is a senior at Crow Creek, Maria a teacher in the District.) At right is Provost (Center) at a recently completed power-lifting competition in Rapid City.
By Rich Winter
When Maria Provost was in 5th grade, someone made a comment about her being chubby. As one of the only Native American girls in the locker room that day at public school, the comment stuck with Provost and tormented her for much of her life.
As she moved through middle and then high-school, in the back of her mind, her mind set was telling herself she needed to be skinny.
“My 8th-grade year at Chamberlain I tried to see how far I could go without eating,” Provost said.
A successful high school basketball career landed Provost a college scholarship. During her first-year at college Provost still wanted to be skinny, but now she had people to answer to. Her coaches put her on a weight program and kept track of how much she weighed. During that freshman year in college, Provost found out she was pregnant, and her idea of being skinny was gone.
“When I found out I was pregnant, the whole idea of being skinny went out the window because I knew I was going to get big,” Provost said.
After her first son Teron Sazue was born weighing 11 lbs. Provost wondered again how she could get skinny. The Billy Blanks Tae-Bo workout was Provost’s answer.
“I lost a lot of weight with that but I could feel myself flirting with anorexia, trying to be skinny and counting calories,” she said.
After her third son Kyrie was born in 2013, Provost kept on with the cardio workouts that helped maintain her ‘best’ version of herself. But, again, her eating disorder wouldn’t go away.
“I was still doing heavy cardio,” Provost said. “I felt good but I was starting to count my calories and was really picky with myself and how I looked.”
Somewhere in 2016, Provost said she began picking up weights more frequently.
“In 2016 I started messing with some dumbbells and barbells and in the summer of 2017 I started following a program,” Provost said. “I wanted to get stronger and that’s when things took off for me mentally, physically and emotionally.”
While Provost continued to work out at the RSTDPP center in Rosebud, there weren’t exactly any ‘other’ women power-lifters to learn from or train with. So, with the help of you tube, Provost went to work. She says in December of 2017 her mind shifted from wanted to be skinny to wanting to get stronger.
Earlier this summer, Provost entered the first-ever USPA Sanctioned Power-Lifting competition in Rapid City. Power-lifting consists of Bench pressing, Dead lifting and squatting. Somehow during her registration process, Provost ended up not signing up for the squat portion of the competition. So, she did just the bench press and dead lift, as part of her first-ever competition.
She did well, out lifting everyone in her age group and in the open competition. While her bench personal best is 190 lbs., Provost bench pressed 176 at the lifting competition.
“The judges are really picky and you have to do the lift correctly,” she said. “You have to go in with a plan. You can’t just put the weight on and go for it.”
Provost said she’s the heaviest she’s ever been (165 lbs.) That mentality of wanting to be skinny has been replaced with the desire to get stronger. She uses her lifting and getting stronger as a means to get through her everyday life.
“I told myself it doesn’t matter your size, doesn’t matter your waist size, but, if I can pick up all this weight then certainly I can deal with any of the emotional stresses that might come up during the day,” she said.
So, how does an active, mother-of-three that has a full time teaching job find the time to get in the gym so regularly?
“I go to bed thinking ahead trying to get a plan ready,” Provost said. “I need 90 minutes or two hours sometimes if I’m walking on a treadmill or walking outside.”
Occasionally, the gym just isn’t in the cards.
“Life happens,” Provost laughed. “If I don’t have enough time because life happens I just tell myself that it is OK.”
Most of her lifting and workout experiences over the last few years took place at the Diabetes Prevention Center in Rosebud.
“Working out at DPP the people and trainers really inspired me,” Provost said.
Provost and her family moved to Crow Creek this summer after teaching in White River since 2016.
“White River was an amazing experience for us,” Provost said. “The teacher to student ration is small and all my boys were comfortable and loved it there.”
Having moved back to her home, the place she grew up, Provost is looking forward to making an impact on the youth and the community.
“I always wanted to go home so when a spot opened up, we went home,” Provost said. “Crow Creek has a nice weight room and a lot of resources so if the kids want to work out with me, my answer is ‘LET’S DO IT.’”
A gigantic thank u to Maria Provost for sharing her story and her journey…What she shared with us is something that a lot of people deal with but never seem to talk about. Since moving to Stephan (Crow Creek), Provost continues to be an ambassador for talking about things people don’t talk about….Things like mental health and even counseling.
Thanks for sharing and caring, now go kick some ass in Minneapolis at the next power-lifting competition.