Natalie Yabut Vezina
Natalie Yabut Vezina

Back Squat: 128kg | 282lbs
Snatch: 69kg | 152lbs
Clean and Jerk: 88kg | 194lbs
Clean: 100kg | 220kg
Deadlift: 125kg | 275lbs x3


USAW National Coach

USAW National Referee

Chinese Weightlifting L1

Precision Nutrition - L1

Girls Gone Strong - L1

Bachelor's in Social Work

Weightlifting Coach

Natalie Yabut Vezina

Natalie graduated from Arizona State University in 2013 with a degree in Social Work. Her fitness journey began when she tried a 10k run in 2011, coached by her husband. In 2012, she became a certified Zumba instructor and started lifting weights just for fun.

Things took a turn in 2015 when her husband got into Olympic Weightlifting, and she decided to give it a shot. The next year, she had her first Olympic Weightlifting competition.

Since then, she's competed in various events, like the American Open Series 1 in Reno (2016) and the American Open Series 3 in Vegas (2018), as well as local meets in Arizona and California. In 2017, she won a silver medal at the Gemalyn Crosby Fitness Expo in the Philippines. In 2021, she achieved the second-highest state ranking and earned a spot in the American Open Finals.

In 2022, as a Masters Athlete, she secured third place in her first Masters National Championship. At the Howard Cohen American Masters, she not only won but set records in the Clean and Jerk and Total categories. She also qualified for the American Open Finals as a Senior.

Natalie's journey allowed her to work with coaches from the United States and the Philippines. She finds strength and peace in the gym and kitchen. And she's recently become a National Referee and National Coach. Natalie's story is a testament to dedication and passion, and she hopes to inspire others to discover their own strength, both in fitness and in life.

Contrasting life in American culture while striving to maintain my Filipino identity, I developed an unhealthy view of food and exercise. The Philippine culture values sharing food as a symbol of love yet doesn't hesitate to comment on one's weight. This led me to believe that food had to be earned, and it weighed heavily on me.

Moving from the Philippines to the United States when I was 12 played a significant role in how I saw myself. I was shorter and had a different body shape compared to most girls my age in the U.S. My legs were thicker, and I didn't have a gap between my thighs. These differences made me feel more insecure about my body. Visits with family members in the Philippines would highlight these differences, which made me feel even more self-conscious.

The turning point came during a family gathering. As we sat down for a holiday meal, I noticed the mixed emotions at the table. Food was a symbol of love, but it also carried the weight of body image expectations. That moment made me realize I needed to change.

My cultural background made it challenging, but I began to educate myself. I learned that food wasn't just indulgence; it was fuel for my body. Exercise wasn't punishment; it was a way to stay healthy and a celebration of what my body can do. I also discovered my love for seeing how far I could push my strength.

My husband, who was also my coach, played a crucial role in this transformation. He encouraged me to build a healthier relationship with food and exercise. Remarkably, I was a cigarette smoker when I met him, and his support helped me quit that habit.

This change in perspective had a profound impact. Personally, it freed me from the burden of earning my food or exercising to compensate. I found self-acceptance and emotional well-being. I performed better, set records, and qualified for prestigious events.

Listening to my aunties and cousin talk about skipping rice to avoid running extra miles was a turning point. It made me reevaluate my beliefs and start a journey toward seeing food and exercise as fuel for a healthier, happier life while embracing my newfound strength and self-acceptance, despite the cultural pressures and insecurities I faced along the way.

My legs have been called manly, my hands rough, but I wouldn't have it any other way now. Besides, rice is life anyway, and it helps me squat all the weight!

What drives my passion for fitness and weightlifting is the opportunity to connect with athletes on a deeper level. It's not just about what happens in the weight room or at competitions; their training affects their everyday lives, and vice versa. Helping athletes become better versions of themselves, both physically and mentally, is what keeps me passionate about coaching.

My personal journey, from struggling with an unhealthy view of food and exercise to adopting a healthier mindset, fuels my motivation. I understand the challenges of having an emotional attachment to food and the cultural pressures surrounding it. This empathy drives me to help others overcome similar obstacles.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and pursuing my fitness goals is essential because I believe in leading by example. Feeling good physically allows me to be a better coach, and that's important to me.

Networking with Olympic weightlifting coaches and expanding my knowledge of nutrition has further inspired my passion. Learning and growing in this field keeps the fire inside me burning.

To those facing similar challenges or cultural pressures regarding body image and fitness, my advice is simple: Just start. Take charge of your health for yourself, and the rest will fall into place. Your journey is worth it, and I'm here to support you along the way.