Powerlifting helps Lewter cope with loss

Brandon Lewter holds his trophies for winning the Tennessee state tournament, left, and national tournament recently. He will compete in the powerlifting world championships in Atlanta later this year.

When Brandon Lewter's mother died four years ago of renal failure, he went into a state of depression. His weight ballooned and he didn't feel he had much of a purpose. That's when Lewter, an Ardmore native who now lives in Winchester, Tennessee, decided enough was enough.

“I got up to about 310 pounds, and was just very unhealthy and depressed,” Lewter said. “I decided about three years ago I needed to make a change.”

That change began with him working out at his local gym, and has now led to him winning 12 powerlifting competitions, including the Southern Powerlifting Federation's national championship meet. Lewter finished first in the 220-pound Raw Masters class and will compete in the world championships in Atlanta Sept. 24-25. Lewter said he lifted nearly 1,300 pounds total in three lifts; the squat, bench press and dead lift.

“I started out in Strongman competitions, and at my second meet in Bowling Green (Kentucky), I almost broke my back,” Lewter said. “So I had to kind of reboot myself. I thought powerlifting might be a little easier on my body, so I started doing that last year.”

It didn't take long for Lewter to start performing well in competitions. In just a year, he has won 12 first place awards, including the state and regional championships.

And he is doing all of this at 40 years old and having weighed more than 300 pounds not that long ago.

“To come from 310 pounds down to 215 pounds, it's been quite a journey,” Lewter said. “I've been pretty impressed with myself to do what I've done.”

Lewter said he took care of his mother in Athens before she died, and then he moved to Tennessee. He remembers her health problems, and didn't want to be in a similar situation when he got older.

“I don't want to die young like she did,” Lewter said. “I'm a diabetic and have a blockage in my pancreas, so I really drove myself to get fit so I could be healthier as I get older. Once I got going, the competitive side really came out in me. Really, it's therapeutic. To compete puts me in a whole different mindset.”

Lewter said he has loved the past year of powerlifting and is looking forward to the national meet in September.

“It's been a lot of fun,” he said. “There will be lifters from Russia, Germany, Ireland and other places coming in to compete at nationals. It should be very interesting.”