The Final Stretch | Status Fitness Magazine Official Website

The Final Stretch

| Posted by Kimberly Merke | comments
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The last 3 months leading up to my show have gone so fast, it's incredible how things change in matter of weeks and even days. I have overcome some crazy obstacles that have helped me realize how strong and determined I truly am. After my eye surgery for a torn retina I was advised to not lift weights right away. So I gave myself 3 days than hit the gym.   

Things do not always go as we plan.  I was experiencing severe pressure and sharp pain behind my right eye. I contacted my eye Dr and was advised to come back for a follow up.  With the show only 2 1/2 months away I started to panic. My fear was that I re tore  my retina and would have to stop training. It was the end of the week and I could not get in to my eye specialist until early the following week. I decided to carry on with life as normal in the meantime , less than a week after my eye Sugery I had to be rushed to the ER from work with signs of a stroke. I had been experiencing strange symptoms that were not my usual daily POTS ones . My speech had been slurred for most of the day, I also kept repeating myself over and over. As soon as my face went numb that's when my husband drove me straight to the hospital. Once I arrived  I had Drs and nurses swarming around me examining and asking more questions than I could answer at that time .

 

I had to be rushed to the ER from work with signs of a stroke.

For the first time in more than three years I was actually scared something was terribly wrong with me. After  all the poking and questioning they thought I had a blood infection ,  but to this day there are not sure what really happened? I wished to be released and was. The scariest part of my ER visit was not one dr knew what POTS was? So I rather take my chances and go home I told them. I felt that I was in more danger in the ER,  How can a patient be treated safely  if none of the staff understand a medical condition. I know my body best, after finally getting back into my eye dr and being cleared of any danger I proceeded forward with my training and show prep.

Each day lost meant I needed to work harder to catch up. I once again felt disappointed with another speed bump but what could I do this was out of my control . The plan was to carry on forward, Any one who preps for a fitness competition knows first hand the challenges on a good day never mind the surprises that life may bring along the way. Outside of prep we have lives and responsibilities, Work and family take up majority of ones day so finding the time to workout and eating meals regularly can be quite a challenge. Children don't understand why mom or dad is running around like crazy going from work to gym and the grocery store constantly.

 

Any one who preps for a fitness competition knows first hand the challenges on a good day never mind the surprises that life may bring along the way.

The most valuable thing that I have learned is to make kids part of the prep, I have my youngest help me pick out my fruits and vegetables for the week. I also get my teen daughter to help with the food prep on ocasion. Rather than telling kids to stand back and trying to tackle all the tasks make family part of the process . This can alleviate ones stress and help family members feel like they are part of the journey.

All athletes  have one thing in common and that's passion for their sport, this passion is the driving force behind their success. All my experiences are a success in my eyes,  I do my best and always give it my all . One month before show time I suffered another seizure that has left me a little off my game. My mind was not as clear and i was having difficulty with my writing  and  speech.  I would joke with my family and say well there goes another brain cell, but the truth is that humour is how I cope with stress and my fears. I find that if I make light of my medical issues I feel better. I don't want to be treated different or babied, I am still a strong and independent woman and that's I want to been seen by those around me.

My journey has been a blessing the last 12 months,  I have truly amazing people around me and a team of individuals who were there the whole way never giving up on me even when I had doubts. I need to give thanks to my husband for driving me to all my medical appointments  and putting up with my mood swings and crying fits  . When I first sat down in my cardiologists office last year and explained my goal she was completely honest about how my daily life would become more difficult than it already was. I would have an extremely hard time over the next 12 months and I need to be aware of the dangers and physical challenges  that would be present during my journey. I still went ahead knowing what I could be facing, My parents were not keen on me taking part in a competition they had fears of what could and would happen during the months to come. Even though I am a grown woman with a family of my own my parents still refer to me  as kid. when my dad comes to visit he stands over me watching me train and eat advising me to take it easy and slow down, it annoys me in the moment but I understand as a parent myself where they are coming from.

 

My parents were not keen on me taking part in a competition they had fears of what could and would happen during the months to come.

To be honest if my daughter wanted to take part in a fitness competition I would not be jumping for joy. After her heart surgery she was on bed rest an entire summer I could sympathize with her. I could not imagine being a teenager who has had  gone through Surgery and has to stay in bed while her friends enjoyed their summer holiday. When a family member goes through a illness the whole family is affected not just the individual . My daughter has taught me to not back down and face my POTS and not let it dictate my life. At first I felt she was not being understanding or compassionate as I was when she had  gone through her health issues, It's never easy for a child to stand back and watch their parent need to be cared for. What my daughter was actually doing was pushing me to not give up on myself or my own goals . Her tough love gave me the strength to go after what i desired,  It's a crazy thing how our children are the ones teaching us.  

 

What my daughter was actually doing was pushing me to not give up on myself or my own goals. 

Dr Seema Kanwal who has been working with my daughter and myself even before I was diagnosed with POTS has been an important part of my training progress. I was given particular guidelines and monitored carefully to watch for any sudden changes in my health. Each time I train I need to take pre and post blood pressure readings and document each session with or with out my trainer. I felt like I was writing an easy everyday, without  these guidelines and monitoring I would have not made the 12 month journey. I have had set backs and even a few scares that were a threat to my success. This is where having the right team behind you makes all the difference .

My personal trainer Sylvain Cyr works with Dr Kanwal so this made things so much easier than trying to blend a trainer with a Dr.  Every one needs to be on the  same page with my training and the precautions that need to be taken. My trainer took on so much more than a new client, he took on a 12 month  commitment and some nerve racking responsibilities with my sessions. My team deserves medals for all the patience and ongoing support.  My posing coaches Steely and Janine who between the two of them provided me with the confidence I need to grace the stage.  I never realized how important posing was until I was physically in a studio putting in the hard work and sweat. Posing class is not an easy walk in he park it takes patience and balance and most importantly confidence. I can't express enough how powerful my sessions were with these two women, they are both excellent at what they do and it shows in their clients. 

 

My team deserves medals for all the patience and ongoing support.

I also have huge appreciation for a woman who is dear to me Ocean Bloom, ever since I met this woman she has been a positive and loving support whether it be about my fitness goals or my spiritual and emotional being. Ocean has provided me with an amazing program with work sheets and projects that helped me work through my past ghosts and taught me to make room for the present. I must say at first it was fear and anxiety I was experiencing while working through past experiences, I also became emotionally drained in the beginning when I was forced to deal with my  past pain and disappointments. The things I most enjoyed about this work was physically putting your thoughts and feelings down on Paper and learning to work through them. You can get creative with these worksheets and projects especially when you make collages or a dream  board.


This journey has been so much more than prep for a show, this has been a year of growth tears laughter and most of all I truly got to know  and appreciate myself . Before I started this journey I  had became insecure and down on myself, i was viewing my self in a way that no one else was. When I looked in the mirror it was as if a stranger was looking back at me.  I never thought that I would become a negative and insecure person who was numb to life. When I was diagnosed just 4 years ago, I went  from being an active and  vibrant individual, to an insecure and lifeless  one . I was unsure how I was going to live my life now. It has only been the last 6 months  that I have truly felt unconditional love  for myself. It took a life altering event and diagnoses to open my eyes. I feel so blessed to be on this journey and to be able to share it on a blog, that Rodney Jang and Status Fitness magazine was so kind to help me put together. This was not just a one man show this was a project that required a team of incredible individuals that gave their time and energy. My prep is not like most I have an exercise intolerance, and my POTS does not allow me to change my eating habits or cut salt.

 

I never thought that I would become a negative and insecure person who was numb to life.

I have a unique diet that  sounds like a menu at an Italian deli. I had to increase my salt and potassium intake and will not be able to dehydrate for the show due to low blood volume . My cardiologist suggests going down to 2 litres of water day , as appose to the 4-5 litres I drink daily. This will cause a minor dehydrating effect to enhance my physique for the stage. I may not train and diet the same as the other woman I will be sharing the stage with, but I have the same passion for being part of this great event and will bring my best.

I am looking forward to meeting new people and finally finishing what I started many years ago. I am feeling blessed to be finally standing on a stage that I dreamt about  as a 14 year old girl. I feel that the WBFF will be the perfect choice for me, I put a lot if thought in to what show would be the one I take part in. This has defiantly been  worth the wait. Even after the show has come and gone I will continue to bey best version of myself.  

 

I am feeling blessed to be finally standing on a stage that I dreamt about  as a 14 year old girl.

I am proof that the impossible is possible . I also would like to express to individuals living with POTS  or any other  medical conditions, don't  let a diagnoses control your life. You have the power within to live the most amazing life ever. This journey I am on is no where near over it's just beginning,  I chose to live my life not simply exist.

I have been in the fitness industry for over 10 years; I started my career as a personal trainer working with incredible clients with some serious health issues. When my own daughter needed heart surgery I decided to create a program for teen girls called lil divas fitness to accommodate my daughter as well as other girls in the community. This program was close to my own heart as a child I faced many challenges of my own with self esteem and poor body image, so lil divas seemed like the perfect approach using exercise, and a combination of tools for these girls to learn how to love and care for themselves.

When I was diagnosed 4 years ago with POTS everything came to a halt including my diva classes, which was a heart breaking time for me and I had to step back and take care of my own health. So here I am today on this incredible journey that I was told would never happen. I have many challenges ahead of me before I reach my goal, but in the meantime I am embracing every moment along the way until my feet touch the stage this July for my first bikini competition.  My plan after the show is to focus on working with individuals who have health issues that desire to reach their own fitness goals.