Andersen athlete pushes limits, wins Guam bodybuilding competition
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series. These stories focus on individual Airmen, highlighting their Air Force story.)
Many Airmen work out to pass time, relieve stress or get into better shape.
For Senior Airman Kelly Berger, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management journeyman, working out goes beyond lifting weights.
"Being in the gym and lifting weights has always been a huge stress reliever for me," Berger said. "Every year on this island, they have the Guam bodybuilding competition, which I decided to set as my goal and dedicate everything to it."
In September, Berger competed in and placed first in her division in the 2015 Guam National Fitness Championships and International Invitational.
In preparation for the competition, Berger formed a new lifestyle focused on a strict diet and workout regimen. To cut out empty calories, she took in little to no sugar, counted the essential macronutrients -protein, carbohydrates and fats, every day and ate every two to three hours to boost her metabolism.
"As an Airman, you epitomize excellence," Berger said. "I try to be the best in everything I do. When I started lifting, I slowly became addicted to it, wanting to be the best. I wanted to push myself further than I ever thought I could, much like being in the Air Force. I always try to push myself and be better than I was yesterday."
After three months of disciplined work, Berger started to feel confident in her ability to compete. While women naturally carry more body fat than men, Berger set herself the ambitious goal of cutting down from 20 percent body fat to eight percent. She started out with the body weight of approximately 140 pounds and eventually cut down to 120-125 pounds when she stepped on to the competition stage.
"During the first two months of preparation, I felt great," Berger said. "I could look in the mirror and see the changes. During the last month when I was really trying to get my body down to that low body fat percentage, it was really taxing on me and was very challenging physically and mentally."
All of her hard work paid off when she placed first in the figure tall division - 5'4" and above. She went on to compete in and win the overall bodybuilding event.
Berger, a native of Columbus, Ohio, didn't always have the confidence it takes to step on stage.
"Before I joined the Air Force, I was very unsure of myself," she said. "I didn't feel like a powerful female. After joining, I realized I could accomplish things I never thought I could before. I have gained a lot of self-confidence. Since I arrived here, I started lifting weights and I gained this huge sense of empowerment. Nothing feels better than to feel strong, powerful and be an independent female."
When Berger isn't in the gym, she is setting animal traps, spraying bug repellent and gathering stray dogs across base.
"Berger has an insatiable drive to excel in all aspects of her work since she arrived to our shop," said Jesse Chaco, 36th CES pest controller supervisor. "I have noticed she is always open to all types of feedback, negative or positive, and chooses to grow from all experiences thrown her way to become a better Airman every day."
Even though preparing for the competition tried her mind and body on a daily basis, Berger said she plans on continuing to compete in the future.
"Since I placed first in the Guam bodybuilding competition, I became a national qualifier for the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness," she said. "From here, I plan on competing off-island next summer and work my way up through different competitions and hopefully one day get my pro card."
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