January 20, 2017 marked one year since the suicide death of her youngest brother who suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The next day U.S. Army Sergeant First Class (SFC) Jennifer Palacios channeled that pain into three State of Florida powerlifting records.
Assigned to U.S. Central Command operations division (CCJ3-R) as an Individual Augmentee (IA) Movements Coordinator, Palacios was introduced to powerlifting at Fort Devens, MA while attending an Advanced Leadership Course (ALC) in 2015. While there, she met her current boyfriend Scott Baranek, a Master Fitness Trainer Course instructor for the Army Reserve.
Dealing with chronic aches and pains from a diagnosis of osteoarthritis in her right knee, Palacios took the advice of Baranek, then her trainer, who suggested incorporating more ‘heavy’ lifting into workouts.
“Little did I know at the time, 2 years later I would be competing in powerlifting,” Palacios said.
A mother of 3 children, who trains first thing in the morning while maintaining a bustling daily schedule, Palacios decided to enter a competitive Powerlifting tournament over Christmas break, 2016.
“I’m a strong believer in doing something each day that is out of your comfort zone,” said Palacios. “What would I have to lose?”
On Jan. 21, 2017 at the Blessed Iron Training Center in Largo, Fla. Palacios competed in the American Powerlifting Association (APA) Thunder Bay Throwdown.
Competing in the Raw Sub Master (33-39) age division, Palacios squatted 230lbs also breaking a state record, while tying the state bench press record with 160lbs.
“In a way my determination had a lot to do with the feeling of honoring my brother,” said Palacios, after breaking the deadlift record by almost 100 lbs., hoisting a hefty 340.
Her total weight lifted for the meet tallied a whopping 730lbs, yet another state record in her division.
Last year prior to the meet, Palacios attended the Army Master Fitness Trainer course at Ft. Knox, KY, which trains selected soldiers in all aspects of the Army's physical readiness training system.
“The military has allowed me to pursue opportunities in a field in which I love; Exercise and Sports Science,” said Palacios. ”I give back by coaching and mentoring fellow comrades and colleagues with their health and nutrition goals.”
“Her recent record setting accomplishments, selfless service, and dedication to the CENTCOM mission are examples of how she exemplifies Army Values every day,” said CCJ3-R Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Diane Meleen, of Palacios. “I am proud of her accomplishments and thankful she is a member of my team.”
Dealing with recent physical and emotional setbacks, Palacios says that Powerlifting has been a source of healing.
“The competition in which I set state records was my first, definitely not my last, as I plan to compete soon again,” Palacios said. “I have found that something that has always been a passion, hobby, and habit of mine, exercise, has really helped me get through an extremely rough year.”