Thursday, February 3, 2011
Abby Huot Interview
In this interview she mentions how she has yet to finish top five in any show. The reality is, even before she steps on stage Abby Huot is a winner. The change she made in her life is both amazing and inspiring. And she is making the change the right way, the healthy way. A trophy may signify success on a stage for a few short minutes, but her transformation signifies success for life. And to be honest, looking at her photos, I have little doubt she will also soon hold that trophy and have that success to go along with it.
Q: First, Abby, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thank you so much for talking to me- I think what you're doing is really cool!
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I am the youngest of two girls-- grew up in a small town called Lake Elmo just outside of Saint Paul. I was a tomboy basically living in the country. I spent most of my childhood building forts, climbing trees, and all that good stuff. I had an extremely pure childhood. I was never in a hurry to grow up and I was very active. I started gaining weight in high school and my weight was all over the place in my late teens and early twenties.
Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: We had a pool at our house and I basically lived there as a kid in the summer. I didn't really do team sports... I wasn't necessarily a competitive kid but I did seem to want to prove that I could do anything just as good as the boys could. I played volleyball in junior high and ended up on the swim team around 9th grade. I guess I was always more of an aquatic-oriented person most of my life.
Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: My weight was getting out of control by the time I graduated from college. I was pushing up near 200 pounds and I had to do something. My sister referred me to a friend of hers (who is now a dear friend of mine) and he introduced me to the idea of eating more, lifting weights, and attempting to do something outside the water. That in itself was a major physical and psychological hurdle for me because I'd always done something in a team atmosphere, where a coach wrote a workout for me, and I had people surrounding me. I had never done anything outside the water, by myself. Absolutely terrifying initially.
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: Yes and no. At the time, I was enrolled in night school and I was working full time. I was really having a hard time dedicating the time to training and making food because I literally just had ZERO spare time. I was perpetually exhausted. But I promised myself that as soon as I finished school, I would really give it a try. I completed school in 2007 and pretty much dove right in.
I'd say I saw results pretty much immediately once I started to eat more meals and move more. It was a bit of a hard sell in the beginning but the results made me more apt to stick to it.
Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: The same friend that taught me about weight loss started talking to me about shows when I still had 44 inch hips. I'd never worn a bikini in my life. He showed me pictures of figure girls and said, "You could DO this. You don't even know!" I dismissed him and said he was nuts from 2005 to 2007. In 2008 I completed my first triathlon and two days later went "Meh. I just did a triathlon. I can do anything, I'll try this once."
Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: My parents were a combination of terrified and horrified when I first sat down and told them in 2008. My Dad actually made me cry because he said it was the stupidest idea I'd ever had and that it was a dangerous sport. My mom just didn't get it. And frankly, especially here in Minnesota, nobody knows what the hell figure is. Most people associate it with bodybuilding, steroids, or starvation. I knew that they were reacting out of misinformation/fear/protection so it actually didn't upset me that much. It frustrated the hell out of me but it didn't WOUND me. My sister and I explained everything and how it worked, what I would be doing, etc. They calmed out eventually.
I can't say to this day either one of them really get it or LIKE it, but they are glad I'm happy and healthy and they know I'm not starving myself, so they're much better about it now. Most of my friends are in the same boat.
Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: Competing has been a very strange thing for me. I guess I didn't know what to expect at my first show and 2 years later... I still don't. I learn something new about the sport and frankly, myself, every time I do a show prep. I think shows bring out the absolute best AND the absolute worst in every person. It's a very strange mix of emotion.
I think I just continue surprising myself in how much I can change/manipulate my body and how different everyone's physiques are. I learned from my very first show to throw expectations out the window because you don't know who is on the judging panel or what competitors are going to show up on game day. Placements can't make you or break you or it will really ruin all the fun of it. I think staying in competition to yourself and ignoring everyone else will really keep you grounded.
Q: Can you share your contest history?
A: My contest history basically consisted of local NPC, NANBF, and FAP shows. I have yet to place in the top 5 in any of them. lol I'm still relatively new to the sport and I have to embrace the fact that I'll never be the girl who just does two or three shows and starts to win. I'm earning my way up the ladder but I'm having a good time doing it. My most proud moment was placing in the top ten at Figure Universe in Miami last June-- that felt really damn good.
Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: My back is wicked. I was a distance swimmer for years in college and really, junior high THROUGH college, I never kicked my legs much because I just had a stronger upper body. I gave myself a really nice, thick V-shaped back that I'm proud to show off. I earned that between the lane lines from 15 to 22 years old.
Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: That's a toss-up between shoulders and hamstrings. I love a good shoulder burn but I love doing heavy deadlifts. I love leaving the gym feeling sufficiently fatigued.
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: Training routine consists of one-a-day workouts 6 days a week for the first two months of show preps. Then i start doing 2-a-day workouts for the last two months of show preps, sometimes three (one sprint workout). I carb cycle throughout the whole ordeal and cut out cheat meals when I'm 6-8 weeks out. I get my best results when I lift heavy throughout my whole show prep.
Q: When someone sees your physique or hears you compete for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: Ehhhhh, you know, I don't talk about it a whole lot unless someone asks me. In general, people look confused and just don't get it. And that's ok, it's not for everyone. Women can be catty about it so I'm fairly mum about it depending on who is around. It's really hard to explain what figure is to people. I end up saying that we look like Barbies with muscle but not as big as bodybuilders. They just give me a blank look and say "oh."
Overall though I'd say it's about 80% positive and 20% negative. And I really don't care about the 20% negative. I don't have time for people who just give me a hard time about it. Sometimes you just have to let it roll off your back.
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: "WHY CANT YOU EAT DAIRY??? HOW DO YOU GET YOUR CALCIUM??" I'll bet that is the most common one. Followed by some comment about how I'm weird that I don't drink alcohol much anymore. People stare at you like you're an alien when you tell them dairy is a no-no.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: I wish people would understand that I don't do this to gain other people's approval, nor am I getting up there cuz I want to prove I'm better looking or superior to anyone else. I do this for me and my satisfaction about pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. I do this to challenge myself physically and emotionally (and believe me, ask my boyfriend about the emotional aspects of competing I go through, especially in the last month). I think a ton of women who DON'T compete judge me on the spot and assume I'm superficial or that I judge other people for not living the lifestyle I do. That's just not the case. You do your thing, I'll do mine. I don't care if you eat McDonald's, I just don't want it. That's it.
Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: I love training. Oh my gosh, I can barely wait to get to the gym when I had a stressful day at work. I suppose the tough part of it for me is when I AM really honing in on the last few weeks and the intensity of my workouts (and length) goes up. That gets physically and emotionally exhausting. I'm NOT a morning person in any capacity so I completely suck and waking up for AM cardio. It's like hostage negotiation for me to get out of bed, especially this time of year when it's pitch black at 5:45. At least in the summertime, the sun is coming up by then and I can go outside and run.
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: There are numerous girls that I really look up to locally. Eva Cowan has the best physique on the planet in my opinion. I've never met her though-- maybe someday!
Locally, Lori Harder is the current Miss Bikini Universe for Fitness America, as well as the reining Miss Bikini AND Miss Figure America. She is extremely down to earth and always kind to me and willing to help. You'd never know she held so many titles-- she is just good people and always had good help and advice for me.
There are a lot of local women here in Minnesota that are just awesome in general and are always willing to help me. Tara Thatcher reached out to me when I was brand new to figure and offered to help me with anything I needed. I had a lot of online support at the time but knew no one here. I really have tried to pay it forward to new competitors since.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
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: I'd tell her that she can do it but it will take more time and commitment than she is probably expecting. No doubt about it, kids, it's a lifestyle switch!
Q: Do you think it is becoming more accepted by society to see women training as hard as men in the gym?
A: It probably depends on what gym you go to. There are quite a few girls that play with as heavy of weights as the boys at my gym but there aren't many. I say screw what society thinks. :)
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I went to cosmetology school after I got my B.A in English Lit in 2004. I do hair and makeup on the side for friends and family.
I'm actually a very artsy kind of person. I'm starting my out suit design business and I'm really looking forward to bringing all of that to light in 2011. I'm just starting to get it rolling and it's a lot of fun. It's a healthy, creative outreach for me and it's pretty fun to help other people get sparkly!
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Abby Huot?
A: In general, I'm up at 5:45 and head to the gym for 45 minutes of cardio. I hop on the bus to downtown Minneapolis and put in my hours at work (an engineering firm) and then catch a bus BACK to my gym, work out from 5 to 7, 7:30, go home and eat/make my food for the next day, hang out with my wonderful boyfriend, and pass out around 10:30 or 11. It's not exactly wild. lol
Q: Describe Abby Huot in five words.
A: Silly, Outgoing, Sensitive, Creative, Fearless.
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I know how to make balloon animals. True story!
Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I'm competing at Mall of America in Fitness America Great North on April 23, then onto Miss Natural Minnesota on May 20th, and from there I'll be preparing for Fitness Universe (figure and bikini classes) in June. Busy, busy, busy summer!
Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: Look for my business in the next few most for suit design. I don't have everything up and running yet but you can contact me through facebook if you want me to make and sew OR just stone a suit for you for a very reasonable price until I get my website up!
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Abby Huot the athlete and competitor?
A: Yes, I'm absolutely looking for sponsors, especially anyone who has money in their budget to help pay for show costs and travel. I currently have one product sponsorship through a wonderful company based out of Orlando, FL called Anafit (http://www.theafstore.com/home.php) and I've used their supps for years.
You'd be getting one of the hardest working, down-to-earth, genuine people you've ever met. What you see is what you get with me. I don't play games, I won't participate in high school drama, and I work HARD. If I don't like or stand by your product, I won't work with you. If I love it and believe in it though, I will stand by it fiercely. Anyone who wants to get a hold of me can find me on facebook or contact the owner of this page for my email address.
Q: Abby, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go
A: Thank you so much for talking to me! I think it's great you're taking the time to do this to help figure get more exposure. My advice for anyone who wants to compete but isn't yet is that the only person holding yourself back is you. We are all our own worst obstacles. If you can overcome yourself, you can do anything!