Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Alicia GIfford Interview
She is small in height, but if height was measured by dedication, determination, hard work, and sacrifice, Alicia Gifford would be a giant. She was not satisfied with her placings in her early shows, took time off to make improvements and came back with a 1st place (and overall) and a 2nd place. Some would cry, complain, or maybe even give up, but Alicia went to work and made the improvements, and now the sky is the limit. She works, goes to school (working on her third degree) and still finds time to build an amazing physique. Alicia is not only someone for women to admire for her physique, but admire her for the woman she is. By the way, you do not have to be female to admire her. Alicia has everything it takes to go far in this industry, and when she does, don't say I didn't tell you.
Q: First Alicia, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thank you for taking an interest in my passion! Its definitely nice to see someone so supportive of the women who work so hard in this industry.
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I am originally from Maine, and I moved to Kentucky for school/cheerleading. I am very close with my mom, she's been through a lot in life and she's quite the inspiration! I love my mom and stepfather very much and they've always supported me through every competitive endeavor in life. I am really grateful for them.
Q: Before the gym, were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports?
A: I have always been really athletic. I did gymnastics for 12 years, ran track through high school, skied since I could walk, and I cheered all through college. I am very proud to say that I have won 3 National championships with Morehead State University cheerleading and I was ranked number 1 in partner stunting in 2005. I have always enjoyed being active and I've recently dabbled in rock-climbing and I would love to get into it more.
Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: I never really had to workout due to the muscle mass that I maintained from gymnastics and cheerleading, but after receiving my degree in exercise science, I decided to implement my knowledge and get into the gym to see where I could take my body. I began lifting my last year of college and after college I began working out at Lexington Athletic Club where I met a lot of great, supportive people who motivated me to be there.
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: I understand the mechanics of the body due to my background in school, sports, and my background in physical therapy, so it is easy for me to understand how to improve certain areas. I began to see results very quickly, especially when I implemented a proper diet into the equation. I had never really worried about what I ate, so when you integrate a proper amount of protein and the right types of fats, it makes it easy to put on size and to stay lean.
Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: I began dating someone who was into bodybuilding, and with my physique, background, and desire to nurture my competitive side, it seems fitting for me to compete alongside him. He made it very easy and comfortable to workout, diet, and get on stage.
Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported at the time?
A: My family didn't support it at all actually. They know how much I work, and they know my schedule with school, so their main concern was that I was burning myself out and pushing myself too hard. I also got the comments of, "Why would you want more muscle....you look great the way you are." Those statements are frustrating, but as people see me compete and transform, their negative attitudes have dissipated. My friends however, were all gym rats and fellow athletes so they were very supportive of my efforts.
Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you?
A: Not exactly! The first time I stepped on stage I was nervous, and felt awkward. I walked off stage and I said to my boyfriend at the time..."I don't like this, I don't want to do this again." But the next few times I stepped on stage for the night show, then the show I did a few weeks later, I began to love it and I became hooked. I was also very surprised by how supportive all of the girls are of each other backstage and how helpful everyone is. We are all competing against each other, and yet there is a type of camaraderie that I haven't seen anywhere else. This industry is so supportive and it's really uplifting.
Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: Absolutely. I did my first show in March 2008, the Northern Kentucky Bodybuilding Show and I placed 5th. Then I competed at the Natural Northern Ohio in April 2008 and I placed 8th. I then realized that I was not happy with my placings and I took time off to make some adjustments. I came back in 2009 to compete at the Bluegrass Classic and placed 1st in my class and won the overall as well. I then competed at Kentucky Muscle and placed 2nd.
Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: My abs are definitely one of my strongest areas. I don't really have to work them that much, they are just genetically very strong. I would have to also say glutes.
Q: DO you have a favorite part to train?
A: My favorites change, but usually it's the part I know needs the most work. I train legs twice a week and shoulders twice a week right now because I know they are my weak areas and I need to bring them up. I absolutely love leg day though....such a great feeling to walk out with jelly-legs!
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: My normal training routine is 6 days a week in the off season and I don't integrate any cardio because I have an exceptional metabolism so I stay really lean regardless. In the off season my diet is pure maintenance. I try to eat about 1200 calories a day and I throw in 3-5 cheat meals a week depending upon my schedule. I usually do about a 6-7 week contest prep and I maintain a 3 day on, 2 day off schedule, integrating three sessions of cardio a week.
Q: When someone sees or hears you train and compete for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: Usually people say, "Wow you're so small though" because I am 4'10" and I weigh about 100 in the off season. People don't realize that under my clothes is a muscular physique. People are usually very impressed though with the determination and structure it takes to compete in general. I definitely hear more positive quotations than I do negative ones.
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: I would definitely have to say "..but you look great the way you are." People as a whole are very complacent with their appearance. They don't seem to understand that their body is theirs to do what they want with it. They can mold it, transform it, and take care of it in a way that keeps them healthy, brings up their overall appearance and allows them to be more confident as a person. Training and competing is a way of life, and a though process and can better every aspect of life through overall health and confidence.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: Women who first start a training regimen are always afraid that they are going to get "too big". This misconception is illogical first of all and just plain silly secondly. Women are not built to get "big". It takes a certain level of training and diet to get that way, so if it's not what they want, then they simply don't train in that manner. Working out does not automatically mean "manly" and I wish that more women would understand this, and thus more women would subsequently workout without fear and with greater motivation.
Q: What is the best and worst part of competing?
A: I would have to say two separate things.... the first being the diet. For me, I do well for the first few weeks and then my motivation begins to taper off. I have gotten a lot better with this over time, but it was very difficult for me at first. Secondly, the makeup, smell and inability to wash your hands!! It sounds silly but the day of the show, you wear a ton of stage makeup and that by the end of the day just feels like a mask., you can't put on deodorant so you smell terrible, and you cant wash your hands or you'll wash the tan off. It's quite the process and I'm huge on hygiene so this drives me insane!! The best feeling is getting into the shower the night after a show!
Q: Do you have any competitors you admire or are a fan of?
A: I am class A so I tend to be drawn to the pros that are shorter in stature. Thus, I follow Andrea Watson and Heather Mae French. All of the pros are certainly an inspiration though and I admire all of their hard work and physiques.
Q: DO you have a favorite cheat food?
A: When I end up cheating, I usually eat the same things. I am a cookie monster.... I love any and all and I crave them all the time. I also lean toward pizza, or a cheeseburger. I guess I'm pretty all-American with my food choices.
Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what is the one piece of advice you would most want to give her?
A: HAVE FUN! Seriously, too many women go into it thinking it's a job, or a goal to be reached. I say just take it one day at a time and have fun with your workouts. If/when you get bored or burnt out on a workout, try something new, read, get advice! Whatever it takes to have fun with it, do it.
Q: You are very beautiful. Is fitness modeling something that interests you?
A: If the opportunity presented itself I would absolutely seize it. It isn't necessarily my ultimate goal, but I would definitely enjoy doing it and it could definitely be an option!
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: Absolutely...I'm finishing up my third degree right now so that takes up a lot o time on top of my jobs, but in the little spare time I have, I love to pain (acrylics mostly), read, spend time with my gym girls, and catch up on the shows I DVR.
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Alicia Gifford.
A: Oh gosh.... well on any given day I have to be in class by either 7am or 8:30am. Class last until either 3 or 4, then I hit the gym, then head to work on most days. That's basically it in a nutshell... not very exciting! Every so often I do something fun like get tea with my girls, or head to a movie but overall, it's all fairly monotonous!
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I'm only 4'10"! My pictures make me look taller and people never realize how little I am!
Q: Describe Alicia Gifford in five words.
A: Dedicated, Ambitious, Stubborn, Loyal, Honest.
Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: Yes... I'm doing a show in Indiana in July, then following up with the Kentucky State show in August and ending my season with Jr. USA's in Houston. I hope to re-qualify for next year and possibly begin the necessary steps to possibly switch over to Fitness or to continue to better myself again for Figure.
Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: I have a blogspot if anyone wants to read it lilbitty01. I have a Facebook page and a Myspace Page, feel free to add me! I am working on a website, but it isn't up and running yet, My blogger ID is email@example.com.
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Alicia Gifford the athlete and competitor?
A: Absolutely. I am fully aware that a sponsorship is a reciprocal relationship in such that by receiving money and recognition from them, I would be responsible for being a positive representation of their product. I would greatly appreciate a sponsorship and am willing to take on the responsibility that would come with that. If anyone is interested, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alicia, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: No, thank you for taking the time out to recognize the hard work that we put in! There are so many amazing women in this industry and I'm proud to be a part of it.