Diabetes Forecast

Teen With Type 2 Breaks Powerlifting Records

By Lindsey Wahowiak , , ,

Leeann Hewitt

Leeann Hewitt: Strength-Training Teen

Athlete: Competitive in both Olympic weight lifting and powerlifting, with an eye toward breaking every record in her age group—and participating in the 2020 Olympic Games

Age: 17

Hometown: Royal Palm Beach, FL

Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes (diagnosed in 2012)

Gear: Metformin, regular blood glucose tests, healthy eating, and exercise

LeeAnn Hewitt had no intention of joining her school’s weight-lifting team. In fact, she went to her first practice just to get her freshman year leadership teacher off of her case. But it was love at first lift. “I was naturally awesome,” she says. “My first day on bench, I remember specifically I was easily repping 100 pounds. At the time, I didn’t think that was good. But now, as the captain of the weight-lifting team and [through] helping to train the other girls … I know it’s good.”

Two sides of the barbell

LeeAnn does Olympic weight lifting for her school’s team but competes in powerlifting on her own. The differences are subtle but important. Weight lifting calls for quick motions while powerlifting involves the slower, classic lifting moves you might see in an average gym: the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. LeeAnn trains twice a day almost every day to get the most out of both styles, then adds some cardio for conditioning.

Breaking records

With her high school team, LeeAnn won first place in the Florida state girls’ weight-lifting tournament this year. Outside of school, she competes with the USA Powerlifting world team and holds six world records for her age group. She can squat 529 pounds and bench 240 pounds. LeeAnn’s lifting has resulted in her needing less medication to control her blood glucose overall. It also lowers her blood glucose level during competitions. She makes sure to eat carbohydrates to maintain a safe blood glucose range, and she tests in between lifts to make sure she is neither high nor low when performing. “With weight lifting, I thought I had to become a better athlete, and I had to take better care of myself,” she says. “Weight lifting saved my life.”

Wise words from Mom

Without a doubt, LeeAnn’s biggest fan is her mom, who makes her protein-packed meals and drives her to all of her practices. Pauline Hewitt encourages her daughter to go for big things in life—even when it’s scary to watch her teenager lift way more than she weighs—and tells other parents they should do the same, especially where sports are concerned. “Here’s a sad child who becomes a confident child and just looks forward to life,” she says. “That is the positive of having your child involved in sports.”



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