Who is Kerri Kienzle:
I grew up in a small town outside of Dallas, Texas. Growing up I had a burning passion to travel so after high school I spent 5 years in the U.S. Navy. After my time in the Navy, I attended the University of Hawaii and earned my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. After finding my passion for fitness, I set out to become certified in personal training and fitness nutrition. I am very philanthropic; I enjoy volunteering for different organizations and finding ways to help others.
How fitness saved my life – Kerri Kienzle
I never had the healthiest eating habits, to begin with; I guess that’s where the trouble started. My parents grew up in a time when fast food was just starting to become popular. No one really knew fast food was bad for you then, they just knew it was a quick solution to the question “what should we have for dinner?” Luckily for me, I was active in high school, which kept me from gaining a lot of weight due to my poor eating habits. In 2007 I joined the Navy, and while you would think that would have helped me stay in shape, it was actually quite the opposite.
While on my first deployment I found myself using food as a way to make myself feel better when I was sad and lonely. I consumed sugar on a constant basis: for breakfast lunch and dinner. I would eat Girl Scout cookies, drink energy drinks, and buy junk out of vending machines every day. The more stressful my day was, the more I would buy. I would take it down to my office and binge eat everything until it was gone.
The Navy only requires you to pass a physical fitness test twice per year, and often if you are deployed they will waive the requirement until you get back. Due to the fact that I am naturally very bottom-heavy and I carry my weight in my legs, I managed to pass the Navy’s body fat percentage standards. However, my weight was a direct reflection of how I was doing emotionally. When I was depressed and lonely my weight would go up due to the fact that I used food to comfort myself. When I was happier and things were going well my weight would go down because I wouldn’t binge eat regularly.
While I was deployed to Afghanistan things really got out of control with my eating habits. The high-stress situation sent my binge eating into overdrive. The dining facility had all sorts of snacks out most of the day for people to go in and grab as needed to take out on missions. I found myself taking things into my room and secretly eating them along with the junk food that friends and family sent me in care packages. After I returned home from Afghanistan the secret binge eating continued. I was extremely depressed, and my anxiety was at an all-time high. Food seemed to be the only comfort I could find. I didn’t want to admit how bad I was struggling, so I would buy junk food, eat it in my car, and then throw away the trash before I went home.
WHILE I WAS DEPLOYED TO AFGHANISTAN THINGS REALLY GOT OUT OF CONTROL WITH MY EATING HABITS. THE HIGH STRESS SITUATION SENT MY BINGE EATING INTO OVERDRIVE.
After months of not being active and binge eating in secret, my weight hit an all-time high at around two hundred pounds. I don’t know the exact number of my highest weight because once I stepped on the scale and saw 198 I refused to weigh myself after that. In my mind even though I knew I was continuing to gain weight it wasn’t real because I couldn’t see the number. I would try to make healthier choices during meal times but ultimately I couldn’t seem to control binge eating. I would hide from cameras at events and parties; it wasn’t just being uncomfortable with how I looked, but how I was feeling. Being social was an absolute chore, it took every ounce of energy I had to try to hide how depressed and hopeless I felt. I didn’t want to admit that there was anything wrong with me, and I didn’t want people to think I was weak. The embarrassment of having PTSD after deployment overseas kept me from seeking professional help even though I knew I needed it.
I STARTED SEEING A PSYCHOLOGIST TO HELP ME DEAL WITH MY PTSD AND I MADE A CONSCIOUS EFFORT TO EAT HEALTHIER AND BECOME MORE ACTIVE.
I was on a family camping trip when my life changed forever. Everyone was having a great time kayaking, biking, and being active. I decided to go on a short hike with some of my family members. I was out of breath and struggling while my 60-year-old family members were leaving me in the dust. It was then that I realized how unhealthy and out of shape I had become. I made a choice then and there that I would get healthy, physically and mentally. I started seeing a psychologist help me deal with my PTSD and I made a conscious effort to eat healthier and become more active.
My journey was a slow progression over the course of several years. At first, I started walking more, choosing salads over fast food, and really worked hard at controlling my bingeing. I lost the first 30 pounds over the course of a few months. I found an adult gymnastics class that seemed like fun so I went and signed up. It was there that I met Dustin who, after getting to know him, told me he was a personal trainer. I knew I wanted to get into better shape but I really wasn’t sure what to do. I hired Dustin and worked out with him 2 times per week. Dustin always pushed me to have some sort of goal. He wouldn’t accept “become more fit” as an answer. I would set a small goal, and he would raise the expectation for me. If I said I wanted to do 1 pull-up he would raise the goal to 5.
I WAS OUT OF BREATH AND STRUGGLING WHILE MY 60 YEAR OLD FAMILY MEMBERS WERE LEAVING ME IN THE DUST. IT WAS THEN THAT I REALIZED HOW UNHEALTHY AND OUT OF SHAPE I HAD BECOME.
The system he created ignited my passion for fitness. I learned that I was constantly underestimating myself, and my abilities. I started training more often with Dustin and lifting weights. The feeling I got from reaching the goals I set was the best feeling in the world. I started expanding my horizons and trying new things. I joined several recreational sports teams, my favorite among them being flag football. I had managed to keep off the weight I had lost, but I had plateaued at around 155-160 pounds. I was eating much healthier in general but I would find myself making poor food choices and binge eating when things in my life got more stressful.
I tossed around the idea of doing a bikini competition and even contacted a coach at my gym about it. However, I got nervous that I wouldn’t be able to see it through and I decided not to do it. A few months later the same coach saw me at the gym and sat down and talked with me about competing. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to lose enough weight in time but Bernice told me she was confident in my ability to get there. We made a plan and I started a 16-week prep for a show in April. When I started my prep I had no idea if I would actually get on stage or not. I just knew that I was going to follow the plan and see what happened with my body. I watched my body transform as I lost twenty pounds and over 10% body fat. It was then that I learned the power of nutrition and what it can do.
I JUST KNEW THAT I WAS GOING TO FOLLOW THE PLAN AND SEE WHAT HAPPENED WITH MY BODY.
My first show was a local NPC show in Hawaii called the Stingray Classic. I had a great time at the show and I learned so much about myself that day. There was definitely a roller coaster of emotions involved with prep but stepping on stage made all of my struggles worthwhile. I knew I wanted to compete at least one more time just so that I could take what I had learned and apply it the next time I was on stage. I had dreamed of doing a WBFF show for years. Now that I knew it was possible to transform my body to where it needed to be for stage, I set my sights on competing in the Fitness Diva Category. I started seeking a coach who was familiar with the WBFF, which is how I found my coach WBFF Pro Alyx Ulbrich.
Working with Alyx as my coach helped me place 2nd at WBFF Vancouver and 4th at WBFF Worlds in Las Vegas. Alyx really pushed me to grow as a person. It was with her coaching that I learned how to truly be happy. Fitness is about more than a trophy, or how much weight you can lift. It’s about setting goals, pushing yourself, and being confident in who you are. When I started this journey three years ago, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined my life how it is today? Fitness has helped me find the strength to overcome the hardest times in my life. It has taught me that with hard work and dedication you can achieve your goals.
My training plan changes slightly depending on if I’m prepping for a WBFF show or not. Generally, I work out 6 days per week. I’m currently training for strength and explosiveness for football. I like to vary my rep ranges for maximum gains in strength, muscle growth, and stamina. For cardio, I usually run routes and skill drills for football. When I train for a show I will typically trade out my low rep heavy lifts for moderately heavy lifts in the 10-15 rep range. I also replace my football skill drills with sprint interval cardio sessions and add in about 30 minutes of steady-state cardio every day.
I’ve found that prepping my meals in advance is the key to success for me. I typically eat 4-6 meals per day consisting of lean protein and lots of veggies. I also enjoy fruit and complex carbs like sweet potatoes when I’m not prepping for a show. For supplements, I love Magnum Nutraceuticals’ Fit stack and Hi5 amino acids.
What would it mean to you to grace the cover of Status?
For me being on the cover of Status would be a dream come true. I used to look at the covers of fitness magazines and think I would never look like that. I would love to inspire others by showing them that nothing is impossible.
Status is a magazine for athletes. The articles are informative and well written. I love a magazine that focuses on science instead of the current fad in the fitness industry.
You got the opportunity to work with some of the key Status Fitness Magazine staff directly. Share your experience.
Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine’s Editor-In-Chief is such an amazing person. His creativity and vision for the fitness industry are so inspiring. I was in awe when he took the time to speak to me in Vancouver. I can’t thank him enough for giving me the opportunity to share my story. I was beyond excited to work with him when he explained to me his vision for my photoshoot in Las Vegas.
Based on the amazing stage photos I received from David Ford I was just waiting to jump at the chance to shoot with him in a photoshoot. Shooting with David was the most amazing experience of my life. Working with David was so effortless, I almost forgot I was in a photoshoot and I was just having an amazing time lifting weights like I normally would at the gym. He has such an amazing eye for lighting and angles; he’s by far my favorite photographer to work with.
“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.” – Rikki Rogers