Kimberly Mercer - IFBB Physique Pro

My name is Kimberly and I currently reside in North Carolina. I am an IFBB Pro in Women's Physique. I work full time as a Paramedic Captain for a busy county 911 system. I started as in intern just over 13 years ago. When I first started, I couldn't lift a patient. I struggled to carry the necessary gear bags. Working EMS is a huge strain on your body. Long hours, rotating shifts, crawling in cars, ditches, you name it. My paramedic sergeant at the time gave me some brutally honest criticism. Figure out how to meet the demands of the job or quit. That was my first introduction into the gym. I will be the first one to say I was scared shitless. I did not know a single thing about lifting. I was too scared to ask for help while I was there. So ultimately I turned to the internet for all my answers. I started reading, researching, and asking questions. I have never looked back.

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I trained consistently for two years before I set a goal to compete. I saw flyers for a local bodybuilding show and I was intrigued. I had never thought of lifting to be competitive. It seemed to be all the buzz at the gym. Trainers were all making their "teams". I was approached by a local trainer who wanted to help me step out on stage. I was following a training program from the internet and a very low calorie diet comprised of chicken, eggs, and sweet potato. This particular trainer took my diet and cut all the carbs out. He told me I didn't need them. He cut my portions down even lower and advised me to drink a shake if I was hungry. For weeks I was fatigued, faint, and weak. I thought to myself, how do people do this? My expectation of bodybuilding and stepping on stage like an Olympian... crushed!! I stepped out like a flattened waffle.

After prejudging, I went home and just starting raiding the snack cabinet like an uncontrolled child. I had no idea what was going on in my mind, but I couldn't stop. All I wanted was chocolate and sweets! I ate until I literally passed out. When I woke up to prepare for the night show, I couldn't believe it. I had veins all over my body and muscle definition that I assumed was long gone. My mind could not comprehend what was going on inside my body. That was a pivotal turning point for me. I needed to know the science!! It is one thing to lift and eat seemingly healthy, but to step out on stage is truly science.

I have read article after article regarding diet and training specific to bodybuilding. Understanding that no two people are the same, it has been trial and error. I follow macro nutrient dieting in a cycle form. Carbs, proteins, and fats, all play a vital role in building muscle and losing body fat. You can not keep the same percentages everyday and expect to make change. For me, a cycle consists of high carb/low fat, low to moderate carb/ moderate fat, low carb/ high fat, low carb / high fat. I have a 4 day rotation and it repeats. I typically eat clean all year. During the off season I will often eat higher portions less frequently. I also enjoy having a cheat meal on a high carb day. While I am prepping for a show, I stay consistent with portion sizes and frequency. That hardest part is finding balance. It's hard to look at one's self during prep and not compare it to the off season weight gain. There is a huge mental shift that takes place. I have to convince myself that I do not need to do an hour of cardio after I eat a piece of pizza or have ice cream with my children. You can enjoy those things in moderation without feeling guilty or hating yourself the next day.

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Typically I weight train 5-6 days a week with a minimal 3 days of heart healthy cardio. I work night shift, so I usually train in the afternoon before work. I have a lot more freedom with my training during the off season. I include every style of lift from Olympic lifts, powerlifting, crossfit etc. I can appreciate something about every program out there. The goal is to challenge myself. I think a closed mind restricts growth. Most of all, I enjoy just lifting! During show prep I keep a very strict training schedule. I maintain 6 days a week of fasted cardio plus 6 days of targeted muscle lifting. I'm not going to lie, it is exhausting! It almost feels like everything else in your life is just falling to the edges of the earth. I find that I need that 1 day a week to just be a person. I want to be mom and wife to my family. I make that their day. I have enough will power to make them a special breakfast or homemade dessert, while I continue to eat out of my Tupperware. I absolutely love bodybuilding, but I love my family more. You have to make time for what is number 1 in your life.

It has taken me over a decade to get where I am now. I have never been one to rush anything. In fact, I am always scrambling at the last minute! I have competed every year in the NPC after my first local show. I started in Figure division and moved into Women's Physique. I qualified for Nationals 5x. However, I didn't go. I had a vision of where I wanted to be and I knew I wasn't there yet. After I won the Overall in Figure, I set my goal to move into Physique. I was always amazed at these beautiful women dancing on stage. Strength and femininity can be achieved if it's done correctly!! I had learned so much about my body during every prep and peek weak. I took it all and told myself 2017 was my year. I won the overall Women's Physique division for the NPC and announced I was competing at North Americans in PA.

I only had a few weeks between shows. Not long enough to talk myself out of it! I got off work on a Tuesday morning and we drove up. I am pretty sure I was half asleep at check-ins. My line was empty so I was able to check in and walk right out. The nerves actually came the morning of show day. I remember waking up in a panic like what am I doing?! I practiced my posing and my routine before the morning spray tan. After tanning, it was a mad rush. I did my own hair and make-up, fighting for space in the bathroom with the hundred other female competitors. Women's Bodybuilding was first for prejudging and Physique was directly after. I knew I didn't have a lot of time before taking the stage. It was a rush of quick carbs, pumps, touch-ups, glaze, and lineup. I could feel myself shaking. I had made it to Nationals! Did I do enough? I was looking at all these beautiful women in my class while waiting to do my individual routine. Looking around just added to my nervousness.

When it was my turn, I remember hearing my heart beat. It seemed that loud. I am always nervous to take the stage. I am reserved, quiet, and shy. Crowds of people are not my thing. Once I started my routine, it all just kind of melted away. I could hear my husband yelling and it made me smile. The whole thing was over before I knew it. After the individuals was the comparison rounds. I was immediately top call outs and center. My confidence was up and I posed with everything I had. With no water on board, posing is the workout!! After top calls, I was in high spirits. We ate, napped, and I was back up practicing for the night show. I am not entirely sure where the time went between prejudging and finals. I felt like I was back in the pump room before I had time to process what was going on. I was immediately separated into the top 5 group. Numbers and names were being called and it wasn't me. I remember thinking to myself, before my name was ever called, I did it. Your new IFBB Pro Physique #345!!!! I swear I didn't hear the rest. It was everything I had been dreaming of.

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I am currently sitting in the off season. I am training freely, meal prepping, coaching clients, working full time, and juggling family life with two active boys. I wouldn't have it any other way. I firmly believe you can have everything you want out of life, if you are willing to work for it. I plan to make my Pro debut in 2018. I will really start making plans in January. To anybody thinking about competing, I'd say take your time and do it right. You do not have to take every piece of advise that comes down the pipe. Remember advise is free, take it or leave it.

Contact info:
IG: @kcxena8

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