The key to success; complete and utter catastrophic failing.

The key to success; complete and utter catastrophic failing. 

The one ingredient of success that no one talks about; failure. Complete and utter total catastrophic failure. 

In order for you to get the impact of this video; you need to understand the back story. 

In powerlifting you only have 9 total attempts. (3 for each of the squat, bench and deadlift). 

There are a lot of rules depending on the federation you choose to compete in. USAPL is considered one of the most strict federations.

I have competed in more than a few sports in my entire life. I had visualized my lifts for my meet. I had been fueling my body with fuel for months. I hired great coaches. I had a ridiculous amount of support. 

All 9 of my attempts I have done before. 
(With a perfectly controlled environment. No crowd, no judges, no ridiculous chafing 1970s asbestos-filled polyester singlet, my own music(perfectly timed to the height of the most amped part of the song), my own spotters, my most comfortable time of day, when I had to only complete one type of lift(pr squat, dead  OR bench), if I was injured-I took that day off, all the stars were in align, the starship enterprise could land and Rocky would run the Philadelphia Art Museum steps all in perfect jubilee).

So yeah, competitions are DIFFERENT. 

My first squat 225. I do this for 20 reps in my gym. Nailed it (someone on the side lines after told me that I got a red and asked why? I didn't know I didn't get 3 white lights(perfect). It still counted but I had no idea what the warning was for).

Second attempt I asked them what I did wrong before and they couldn't remember. 

245. Boom. Easy weight. Nailed the lift. 

Red lighted. For what? I asked.....Moving my foot? Shit. When did I move my foot? I didn't know. 

So third attempt I'm totally focused on never moving my feet and missed the lift. 270. Which I have done in the perfectly temperature controlled gym on a perfect day with Rocky and Starship enterprise. 

Hmmmmmm.  (squats not my worst. Bench is. Which is up next........ SHIT(we are about 4 hours in of competition with 4 more to go)in my mind I'm trying to shake it off but in reality I'm like 'omg. I just lifted what my 20x rep max is. DISASTER.'

Ok. So the bench story. I had been struggling with my bench for a while. Most I've ever done was 185 on incline. Not with a pause. So I KNOW I'm capable of big numbers. But I have been battling a shoulder issue for months (no excuse to not put up a small number to get a lift on bench).

So coach and I choose 125(actually he chose 135 and I asked for 125) I 10-rep this in the gym. 10-Rep. 
(Warm up with 115, easy and perfect and did all the calls with TWO other coaches-confident)...

First attempt. Totally focused on commands and form falls a part at the bottom. FAIL. 

Second attempt I get it up but did it before the command. FAIL. 

Third attempt (announcer YELLS over microphone 'everyone give it up for Jenna PETRI! SHE HAS TO GET THIS LIFT TO STAY IN THE COMPETITION).....I, at that point, lose my breathe, my focus, my EVERYTHING.

Complete and utter total catastrophic fail. 

Everyone. Watched. Everyone!!!!!!!!
The entire crowd who had high-fived me all day tried to hug me and say it was ok. Strangers. Totally felt bad and pitiful for me. 

Olympic and Arnold athletes just stopped what they were doing to cheer me on and I FAILED. 

Gulp. Excuse me mister judge? Where can I go to die? Make it fast, please. 

How bad do you feeling reading that? Omg. Illllllllll feel bad for THAT girl. 

So I was disqualified from my first meet. I had trained for for 33 weeks, hired coaches. Paid for lots of equipment and FAILED. 

I knew I needed the experience so I knew I needed to stay for deadlifts. 

Before I started training I hated deadlifts. I was terrible. 275 was a struggle. My DREAM 3rd attempt was 315. Dream. My form was awful. Coach was always on me to take the slack out of my arms, push against the floor, and lock it out....

Over time I learned to love deadlifting. It's easily my favorite day of the week. 

So. Here I am. I can totally go to my comfort zone. Call it a wash and QUIT. Easy way out. No one would judge me. They wouldn't. I can coach everyone else (which I know I'm good at) or I can attempt my lift. 

Now my first attempt lift was 290. I had already sent that in and couldn't change it. Before my meet I was CRAZY confident about 290.

NOW. Not so much. My confidence was at an all-time low. All of my friends were saying things like 'good job, at least you got out here and tried something new!, or that's not the Jenna I know, or I'm still inspired by you-------it all was hard to hear. 

In my head I was struggling with whether or not I could pull 290#. 

So I went into an adjacent crossfit box and loaded the bar with 135, easy. Then 225, easy, 265, easy. 275-started to grind. Shiiiiiiit I'm not going to get my first attempt! I'm going to fail deadlifts too. Noooooooo. FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. 

At that point I said. 'Stop!'

You Vs. YOU. 

Go to that place you love. You're bigger than this weight. YOU need this. YOU have to execute. YOU can salvage this day. 

275. Boom. 

290. Boom. 

And then I went out to the gym and didn't talk to anyone; I pulled MY own confidence out of the shitter and I EASILY pulled 290.

Second attempt( judge said what do you want -

315.(she was a little skeptical I think because she had seen my earlier nightmare).

Yes. Ma'am. 

Back to the crossfit box. Loaded the bar with 315.  Growled and yelled. 

Boom. Got it. 

Out to the gym with my heat-same song 'Eminem Til I collapse' on repeat. 

This one I'm nervous about. Was it a fluke the last one still went up. 

Stepped on the platform. Literally grumbling with perseverance and mad with disappointment.... 

315. Boom. Easy. 

Scorers table. 340# please. (In kilos it ended up being 342#)

(At this point people are trying to high five me and congratulate me. They saw my all day shit-show. I mean noBODY wants to see ANYONE compete and fail. No one. Everyone wanted me to nail those lifts).

I walk through the crowd. Literally FINALLY finding my inner alter-ego. Breathing heavy, big breaths through my chest. Numb limbs from emotion, all of my supporters had left(including my family-I sent them home(kids were sick))and I was ALONE. Just like in the gym, on a regular day, with Rocky flying the starship enterprise. The ONLY PERSON I needed to prove anything to was 


So back to the crossfit box. All alone. At this point I knew I had a few more minutes because I had lifted heavy enough I moved up a few spots. (Btw you lift in order of the weight you are lifting which makes it easier for them to rack your weight-I didn't know this before my meet)!

Instead of taking my time to catch my breath I had FEAR in my throat. I started the 235 lb (how much I used to weigh-not how much I lift) Jenna negative talk. 'Jenna you can't do this. You've failed everyone today. You're kids saw you fail. Your friends saw you fail. Everyone at your gym saw you fail. You have only ever lifted this one time. (340# not #342). You can't do it.

 (Don't text me and ask if I'm ok or pm me and say I didn't let you down-I KNOW THIS. This is what years of negative self-talk takes you back to..... It's a very bad habit that I have to work on every day).


The song starts over. 
Eminem says 'when you feel weak and tired and you wanna quit----you gotta find what's in you....'


Nope. Not today, Jenna.

Lift the %#^*!%# weight. You CAN do it. 

340#(of bumper crossfit plates literally takes up the entire bar)

Did it. 

I walked out to the gym when I was already in the hole. Two more people then ME. 

I saw tunnel vision like Rudy getting ready to come out of the tunnel. 

Here I was doing my Rocky run up the stairs, my Vince Papali into the end-zone........ 

I was so focused that I walked up the the platform with my head phones on. 

The judge had to waive at me to tell me to take them off. 

I approached....

And this happened......

I've never in my life been so proud of myself than I was at this very moment in time. 



The hardest thing we ALL have to do. 

The missing ingredient in success is complete and utter catastrophic failure. At this very moment I have never been more driven to compete. I have never felt more extraordinary. I have never felt that I find figured out the last piece of the puzzle. I was SUPPOSE to FAIL today. I need this in my toolkit for survival. I will never forget this moment in time. 

I had 8 lifters come up to me after the meet and tell me watching my deadlift series changed their vibe and they got pr's. 

I had to epically fail FIRST to really prove to myself what I was made of. 

My coach believes that you should never fail. I hadn't ever failed in practice, so once I did in a meet I wasn't prepared. I was stunned and shocked. I'm not saying you need to set out to fail. 

But IF YOU HAVE TO FAIL; I promise that you will learn. And learning is the key to progress. And ANY progress, no matter how big or small-is always good. 

Keep failing. It is the tipping point to where YOU overcome YOU. And that's where the magic happens. 


Simply summed up by my 6 year old tonight at bedtime..

Me- Olivia what did you learn from watching mommy compete today? She only saw the bench 0/3.

Olivia- 'That even when you do bad, you don't quit, you keep trying and come back and do awesome (word for word her response!)'

The story of my last 4 years. 

March 2012- my youngest was admitted into the children's ER for RSV for the second time. Husband was traveling a lot and I was working to spearhead raising millions for my job at the Charlotte Chamber. Trying to lose baby weight was not a priority, sleep was. I would stay up all night with my sick son making sure he could breath and then go to work all day. After our entire household had been sick from November to May; I knew we needed to change. I was around 200# that entire summer. 

On sept 3 I got a phone call that my good friend Jamie had been shot and killed by her ex boyfriend. 

Jamie really wanted to run a Tough Mudder that November. I wasn't ready but trained the entire year of 2014 and competed in November of 2014. I loved how it felt to do something I had never done before. To be able to run 12 cc miles and complete 30 obstacles was amazing. When Jamie died I vowed to take on the mission of 'give more, want less.' To give more to others and want less from people. This changed my entire personality, my entire world, who my friends are, how I thought...

In 2014 I decided to train for a bodybuilding show(although I didn't compete, I learned so much about myself and what I was able to accomplish. I was suppose to compete in April and had to have surgery; I had 6 weeks off to think about what I wanted to do. I decided to take a year and add muscle to my physique. 

In 2015 I fell in love with my training. I fell in love with being able to lift hard and heavy. At the same time I had been working with a nonprofit for sex-trafficked women. I took a step back in a world where so much focus is spent on how we look-and its so apparent that it doesn't make us feel better. Getting abs doesn't make you pretty, the hard work it takes to get abs is where you become humbled and you realize what you're made of. These women that I work with don't have amazing bodies. They also are very insecure, very broken children of God. 

I realized that me getting on stage in a bikini wasn't going to inspire girls like this. Girls like this need me. They need someone that has felt ashamed and hurt and not confident show them that they,too, can change their life. They too can become STRONG. They too can become something different than they are. 

And isn't it interesting how my journey started. A girl named Jamie. A beautiful blonde soul. Through domestic violence SHE inspired me to learn and live my life. 

So, if you're still reading..I'm sorry this is long, when you look at my four years of transformation photos, know that there have been shitty days, anxious days, rainy days, terrible eating days..


There have been entirely more awesome days, days where I look at myself in the mirror and I'm so grateful for the work that I get to do. I'm so happy that I'm showing my children that my body is my business. That my hard work is mine and no one can take it. 

Today was an awesome day. I can finally say I'm a powerlifter. I have trained for 33 weeks. The last 27 days every morsel of food was approved by my coach...and I can say I accomplished something amazing this year. And I can say I didn't do it for me, but at the end-I challenged myself, I saw what I was capable of and I conquered some things that I never thought were possible. Especially I learned that after a couple of terrible lifts I was able to change my mindset and come to go 3/3 on my deadlifts. I learned so much about the sport of powerlifting. What an amazing group of athletes. 

Big thanks to my coach of 33 weeks Brian Scott. Can't say enough awesome things about you. I never knew I could do what I did today. You knew exactly how to prep me. I remember asking you what you thought of my potential when I first trained with you and Sam at your house and you very carefully chose your words by saying 'you have some bad habits, but if you work hard and do what I tell you, you'll see progress'
(This lit my fire in a major way-every coach has always told me I'm strong. I was so pissed. Hahaha.).. Thanks for putting up with me and teaching me that prehab, proper warm-up, and patience and consistency are the name of the game. Oh and rest. (Still hate that!)

Rachel Allbaugh thank you for teaching me how to properly cut. You're so awesome to help me and be with me each day the past 27(16# worth) I never knew it was possible to lose fat and keep my strength-your knowledge is so appreciated. Thank you. 

My sponsor!! ANA Thank you Scott Hardesty for seeing a uniqueness about me and committing to me to be an ambassador of your brand. I wear it with pride. Maxxout was a major player today and is with all of my lifts. Thank you friend!

Fitfam! Laaaaaaaaaaaaawd. I probably need to do this individually as there are lots of personal appreciations to go out. But as a whole; y'all are incredible. I love our family. I love that we support each other no matter what. Thank you for being with me today and sending me messages and spotting me and working out with me. You guys push me to another place that I never knew was possible.  Love you guys.  

How am I impacting my family?

Every day my kids talk about being strong and kind. 

Two funny quotes from my kids from this prep..

Max (at his friends birthday party where they were going to go on a bear hunt in their back yard) 

M- ' i don't want to go'

Kids mom- 'ok you can stay inside if you want'

M-' my moms killed a bear'

(We both thought this was funny because my kids truly believe I can do anything. They think I'm stronger than everyone. It's awesome)


O - 'mom, if lifting weights makes you strong and makes you feel good about yourself-why doesn't everyone do it?'

Me- some people don't know what the benefits are of weight lifting Liv

O-'I'm going to tell everyone. '

I love my life. I love what I've been blessed to do. I'm so fortunate and grateful that people have watched my story unfold for the last several years. There are so many vital people that I didn't mention because it really does take a village. All of my coaches and friends and family all played a role in where I am today. I still can't believe that so many people have read my story and so many have reached out and thanked me for helping them change their life. Inspiring people is the best job/life I could have asked for. As a matter of fact I feel like I started my life when Jamie died. So technically I'm only 3 years old. 

I Cannot wait to see what God has in store for me. I am just a vessel. 

Thanks for reading. I'm truly honored.