Lauren Mercer - Bikini Competitor

Lauren: I have always been very passionate about health and fitness. I believe in bettering yourself physically and mentally on a daily basis. I would have never guessed, however, that I would end up being a NPC Bikini Competitor. I am the girl who has always worn shorts over her bathing suit bottoms at the beach! But, the more I researched what it means to compete and what it takes, the more intrigued I became. I wanted to prove to myself that I could reach that level of physical fitness and show my clients that I am not only challenging them but I am also challenging myself. So about four months ago, I started my journey to my first NPC show. I competed on May 14th of this year and placed 3rd in my overall class.

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Dieting: I am a believer in counting MACROS (flexible dieting.) I have utilized this method in and out of contest prep. I did however realize that I benefit quite a bit from eating the same meals on a day to day basis during prep. The meals did get very repetitive, but I always knew how much I was putting in and how it would affect my body. I counted the MACROS in those meals to keep track of my carb, fat, and protein intake. It is very easy to lose track of what you are eating when you're just counting calories. It is also easy to have a deficit in your protein intake, which can keep you from maintaining the muscle that you have worked so hard to build.

Failed diet: I did not allow myself any cheat meals during my four month prep. Because of this, I had so many cravings and there was no end in sight for when I could have the meals that I desired so often. This also made it hard for me socially. I did not go out to a restaurant to eat at all during the four month period. On one hand, I was extremely proud of myself for that. I realized that I had more will power than I had ever imagined. However, if you are doing multiple shows a year, living that way can really affect you in a negative way. I definitely think it is necessary to find a balance. The other monster that came a long with that was how ravenous I felt post show. I gained over 10 pounds in less than a week following my show. I felt like I couldn't get enough of the things I was deprived of for so long. This is why it is so important to keep a healthy relationship with food and have a reverse diet plan that you can stick to following your show.

Training: I started off my prep with minimal cardio and quite a bit of heavy strength training. Then as time went on, I implemented a cardio session in the morning, as well as in the evening. HIIT cardio is extremely popular right now and can be incredibly effective if done correctly. I did high intensity cardio on the treadmill for the first 8 weeks of my prep. I definitely saw fat loss results in my stomach and legs during that time. In the last 8 weeks I was very depleted, which can make it really hard to do HIIT the most effective way. I also wanted to be sure I was building up the muscles in my hamstrings and glutes and not tearing them down. For that reason I implemented the step mill into my cardio routine and utilized LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio. I saw great results and I found that I did not mind spending a little more time on cardio. I used it as time to catch up on Hulu and YouTube.

I have never felt as confident as I did on show day. I was extremely nervous but I knew that I had worked as hard as I possibly could and I was more proud of myself than I had ever been. I knew that I did everything I could possibly do to get myself ready for that day and I was ready to celebrate that.

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Show day was an experience like no other. There were 626 competitors in the show and I only had a 30 minute break in between pre-judging and finals. It made for a long day back stage. I definitely understood why everyone says you “hurry up and wait” on show day. I read just about every article I could find to figure out what it would be like and I was on YouTube non-stop watching “Show Day” videos. I’ve found that there isn't all that much information out there. That’s why websites like this are so helpful! Any information that can help you feel prepared for your competition is extremely important.

Future plans: I am now in prep for a competition coming up in July. As hard as it was to get right back into prep, it seemed like such a natural thing to do. It’s easy to feel a little lost post competition. You spend so much time with one single goal in your mind that you are working towards day in and day out. The relief you feel as soon as the show is over can be short lived. I woke up a few days later (10 lbs heavier) thinking “what’s next?” So what’s next for me? The Georgia Bodybuilding Championships on July 9th. Maybe I will see some of you there!

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