After a severe intestinal infection sapped her body’s nutrients, 19-year-old Alyssa Mercado’s weight plummeted to a mere 85 pounds (six stone). However, she is now unrecognisable as she prepares for her very first bodybuilding competition.
The New York based receptionist had been so ill at one point, she wasn’t able to leave her home. She suffered from a range of restricting symptoms including excess wind, abdominal pain, bloating, distention, diarrhoea and constipation.
Alyssa’s illness left her exhausted, depressed and with the feeling she was missing out on so many life experiences.
Back transformation?? June 2015-July 2017. The picture on the left was taken before I got sick so it shows my natural physique before serious lifting & dieting. I had always been naturally thin & putting on size was a struggle. My exercise routine consisted of mostly leg days with only the machines I was familiar with. I was always sure to stay away from the part of the gym where the "big scary musclely guys" would train. I neglected most of my upper body because I truthfully had no clue what I was doing and was way too shy to try. Gymtimidation is something I dealt with and kept me from training to my full potential. My diet was also all over the place and my calories were low. I didn't realize what an important part diet played in putting on size and so getting in enough meals wasn't a main concern for me at the time. In the picture on the right I consistently train 5 days a week. I have one leg day that's quad focused, one leg day that's glute & hamstring focused, one arm day, one shoulder day & chest day, and lastly one back day (my split is all personal preference). I do my best to eat 6-8 moderately sized meals a day & at the moment I am eating intuitively and not tracking macros. Although I do think tracking macros is a great tool to use, I'm working on finding balance this summer & learning to eat clean without stressing about how many macros are in my meal. At this point in time I can more or less estimate how much protein & calories I'm getting in and am still staying right on top of my goals. I've overcome my social anxiety when training which has allowed me to grow in more ways than one. My piece of advice to anyone struggling with gymtimidation: this should be a journey that you start because you LOVE your body NOT because you hate it. This is a journey that you should start for YOU and only you. Not to look like any of those edited pictures of VS and fitness models you see on social media but to create a better and healthier YOU. If you keep those things in mind and focus on you and only you, you'll realize that the people around you don't matter. This is YOUR life & it's time you take control of the reigns. & remember everyone starts somewhere?
Alyssa gave the following sad statement to Media Drum World:
During this time, I felt so alone and so hopeless. I kept questioning why me, as I continued to see social media post after social media post of my friends and classmates going to parties, enjoying senior year activities and just enjoying everyday life.
There were so many times I even found it hard to get out of bed in the morning.
Determined Alyssa decided to take action to get control back over her body. She switched to a gluten free diet, which alleviated many of her symptoms. At this point, things started to look up for her in a dramatic way.
According to Alyssa:
A few weeks after this, I was diagnosed with small intestine bacterial overgrowth. This overgrowth of bad bacteria in my small intestine was stealing the nutrients from the foods I would eat resulting in my rapid weight loss and stomach upset.
I was prescribed medication but before I even started taking them I had felt cured. Such a small change in my diet had made such a huge difference in my health and in my life. I was in awe that I was able to heal myself from months of suffering through nutrition.
This is what sparked my love for the health and fitness industry.
They told me I couldn't do it yet here I am a year and a half later. Not only a change in my physique but a change in my mentality. I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason. The bumps in the road that I faced when I became sick with a digestive illness has allowed me to find myself as a person and achieve what I have today. I've learned to appreciate the small things, chase my dreams, surround myself with those who truly support me, and love the person that I've become. Learn to take difficult situations and use them in a positive way. Set goals, challenge yourself, go after what you love and always focus on building a better YOU. ____________________________________________________ Also extremely excited to announce I am now a Dedfit Apparel Affiliate! Such an incredible company created by such incredible people and I am so honored to be a part of it. Use my discount code ALYSSAFIT to get a variety of quality apparel for 10% off for both girls and guys! @dedfit_apparel ⚒ ________________________________________________ Custom Workout Plans: [email protected]
Nowadays, amazing Alyssa is enjoying a new lease of life. She maintains a healthy weight through eating six to eight meals a day, chock-full of lean meats, complex carbs and healthy fats.
She trains her new muscular body five to six times a week, and has ambitions to participate in her very first NPC bodybuilding contest next season.
Her painful experiences have only made Alyssa stronger, and she hopes her story can help others:
Use trials and tribulations as a lesson to grow from and take it and run with it.
I hope when others view my journey and Instagram page they are not only inspired to take control of the reigns on their lives and their health but to also spread and radiate positivity, love, and support to others because our world needs more of that.
Alyssa is a fantastically inspiring fitness role model and I’m sure she’ll do herself proud at any and all upcoming competitions.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.