Alisha Jackson, A Total Newbie Takes 1st Place. Find Out What It Takes To Make A Transformation Like This…
Congratulations on your recent accomplishments, Alisha. Which competition did you competed in and how did you place?
I recently competed in my very first figure competition, the Natural Tulsa Bodybuilding Figure, Physique, and Bikini Championship.
- First Place in the beginner figure short category
- First Place in the open figure short category
- Second in Overall Figure
Wow, GREAT placings if your Very First Figure Show! What was your competition experience like?
It was soo much fun! I was a little nervous at first being by myself, not having anyone backstage with me but everyone was very helpful and encouraging. I made a lot of new friends and contacts that I look forward to seeing at future competitions. Stepping on stage was an awesome experience standing up there with the other girls knowing that the moment of all our hard work was paying off and we were finally getting to display our end result. Very satisfying!!!
Oh yeah, I remember the excitement, meeting people, and having fun and competitions. Have you always been athletic? Did you play sports growing up?
I was a gymnast from the age of 4 to 14, where the last few years I was competing at a very high level, often spending 40+ hours a week training. After sustaining career ending ankle injuries, I transferred over to cheerleading in my high school and college years.
With having a gymnastics background you could easily do Fitness Competitions too. So, what got you involved in Figure Contests?
One of my best friends who actually used to be one of my gymnasts when I was a coach. After our gym closed I found myself in a fitness gym 3 days a week learning how to lift and I was immediately hooked. She had competed in fitness and figure competitions herself and I wanted to experience it for myself.
Gymnastics seems to be the gateway to Figure and Fitness Competitions. How long have you been into fitness and working out?
I have always been a part of some athletic activity. After gymnastics and cheerleading, I was a gymnastics coach for 10 years. I have been working out and lifting weights for the past 4 years now. I started training for a show a few years ago but timing just never worked out. Then about August of last year I got serious in my dream of competing in my first fitness show and have hit the gym hard ever since.
Good job on the focus and getting the job done! What is your competition weight and off-season weight, and how tall are you?
I have always been small. My off season weight is around 106 lbs. and I am 5ft 2in tall. When I stepped on stage I was right at 100 lbs.
I was short and small too competing, and did quite well even in female bodybuilding. How long did it take you to prep for your figure competition?
I started right after Christmas and stuck to my plan and schedule each week until I competed for the first time on June 7. So a good solid 5 months of training and dieting.
Excellent drive and determination. Most people would have started after the New Year, you cranked it up a notch. So, what motivates you to keep in shape?
I love seeing the changes in my body and health when I started to combine proper nutrition and working out. It’s almost like a high to me. To see each week the changes that my body was going through was just as rewarding as getting up on stage. I have always been a promoter of healthy living, especially in our kids. But it brings me a lot of joy when I am an inspiration to other moms out there that think it is not possible to be in excellent shape anymore and be proud of it.
You ARE an inspiration to other Moms and all women. How do you stick to your goals?
I write my goals down and always have a reminder of why I am doing what it is I set out to do. I believe in seeing something every day that you want to achieve is a great motivator.
What a great way to keep motivated. What is your nutrition like off-season?
We are like 80% Paleo eaters in the off season. So we do the Paleo diet which includes lots of meat, veggies, fruit, and nuts but then I keep the oatmeal and whole wheat pasta and sweet potatoes.
Sounds like a great off-season plan, and it seems to work well for you. What is your figure competition diet like?
A ton of veggies and protein. I think since we already stick to a similar diet, it made the switch to competition eating easier. Eggs, oatmeal, chicken fish and steak, and lots of veggies. You get creative when you cook the same thing and I have to say I never had any complaints and neither did my family.
Perfect merge from off-season to contest prep. With a clean and well-balanced off-season, you come in better for shows. What is a basic cheat meal for you?
Pizza was always my go to cheat meal!
Can’t beat pizza. Are there any sacrifices? If so, how do you overcome them?
There were sacrifices sure. The time spent away from my family so I could go to the gym was hard but they supported me. Even tagged along a lot of the time. The holidays were hard because I couldn’t partake in the wonderful homemade dishes our families always make for gatherings. But everyone was super supportive so it made it easy to justify what I was working towards.
Yes, the holidays are tough during contest prep. What do you find to be the hardest part about getting into contest shape and how do you overcome it?
Sticking to the plan because I always wanted to do more. Workout more. But I knew you (Karen) had a proven system and I didn’t want to jeopardize the end results. I knew deep down that if I just stuck to the plan she was laying out for me I couldn’t fail. And I didn’t!
Yep. Your prep went perfectly. Your transformation from Christmas to June is unreal. You lost 8 pounds of fat and gained 4 pounds of muscle. And “they” say you can’t build muscle and lose fat at the same time. LOL What is your training split like off-season?
I still like to lift heavy but I also like to throw in HIIT workouts, Crossfit, or a Zumba day here and there. I try to keep my cardio up a little more because we like to participate in mud runs so we have to keep things mixed up.
What is your training life when you are prepping for a contest?
With this being my first contest I stuck to the plan. 2 leg days, back, and upper body consisted of my workouts and I did the stepmill for my cardio. We had to experiment with how much cardio I could take without dropping weight too fast. It was always interesting week in and week out how my body would react to the diet and workouts.
Your body really responded to fewer cardio sessions. Do you track your personal best lifts and if so, what are they?
I only tracked my personal bests on 2 exercises: barbell squats and deadlifts. My main focus is always my quads and glutes so I always tend to pay attention to these. I was able to work up to 155lbs on each. Not exciting to a lot of people but hey I was happy!
Progress is progress. It’s what you define as success is what makes you a success. What do you do for cardio?
Stepmill! Some people say they hate it but I love it. I just stick my headphones in and get going. By the time I am done I am toast and know I just had a great workout.
That stepmill is a great piece of cardio equipment. Do you have any future competition plans?
I do actually. The first got me hooked and just a tiny taste of this new world and I am hungry for more. I want to see how much more muscle I can put on. I plan on attending the NANBF Natural Kansas City Classic that is paired with the IFPA Pro International on September 13! Then there is an NPC competition here in OKC that I am kicking around but we will see how KC goes. Looking forward to new experiences!
Even if you don’t plan to compete in them, you might just attend them for the experience, homework, and networking. Do you use supplements? If so, what are your favorite supplements?
I switched out Syntrax Fuzzy Navel and Max Protein in chocolate. I also took creatine and glutamine and lots of vitamins to keep my immune system healthy. It worked for me and I never got tired of it. I don’t like to take a lot of supplements because I want my gains to come from good old fashion work and sweat. But I realize I need a little help.
Yeah, I think a good round of quality vitamins and mineral are a real plus, especially during contest prep. Does your family support your fitness endeavors?
They do. It was a little hard to understand at first but once they saw how motivated I was and what I was doing they were completely on board. I think the only non-support I got at first was from my daughter. She just didn’t want me on stage in “that tiny bikini” she would say lol. But she was definitely proud of her mom after the end results!
My family didn’t know what to expect at first either, and my grandmother refused to go and “see Karen strip.” LOL I think all familys are the same until they actually go and see what it’s really all about. What hobbies do you have outside of fitness?
My kids are my biggest hobbies I would say. Busy with baseball, soccer and wrestling keep us going nonstop but I wouldn’t change a minute of it. I try to be crafty when I have a moment thanks to Pinterest. Whether it’s new recipes or an art project I am always looking for something new and challenging.
You sound REALLY busy! Being active drives you… What advice would you give someone who wanted to get in such outstanding shape as you are in?
I would say get a teacher who has a proven plan. That is why I chose you, Karen. Yes I knew how to work out and I knew how to eat healthy. But I didn’t know how to put the two together the right way to get into competition shape. You made it so easy and stress-free, I just had to stick to the plan. And I would also tell them to stay excited and don’t give up. It takes a few weeks to start to see the changes but once you do it’s an addiction and you look forward each week to see how your body reacts to the diet and working out. As long as you stay excited and have support, you can’t fail if you stick to the plan.
Thanks. It was Great working with you. You listened and it was awesome to watch your physique change on each check-in. With that said, how has competing in figure changed your life?
It has helped me realize that even though I’m in my mid 30s and a mom, I can still be in awesome shape and be in inspiration to others. It has helped me better understand the science between diet and exercise in my Personal Trainer schooling because I was the walking experiment. And it has shown me that with enough dedication and motivation I can achieve anything I want.
Do you have any long-term goals in the fitness industry?
In February of next year I will have graduated with my Associates in Occupational Health in Personal Training. I want to help others, of all ages and fitness ability, reach their fitness goals. Whether it’s helping someone who has never worked out before, the high school athlete, or the future fitness competitor, I want to be able to guide them the right way and safe way to reach their goals. And I am certainly hoping for some more fitness competitions for me in the future. I am thinking Pro card!
Coaching and training are very rewarding. I had my fun competing back in the day, now I have my fun helping others achieve what they want out of the sport. If you could give one piece of advice to a first time figure competitor, what would it be?
Believe in yourself! If you don’t believe in yourself it is hard to stay motivated and to have others support you as well. They will be able to sense the doubt in you if you have it. But you will have countless supporters if you believe in yourself first and never lose that.
I could not have done this without you, Karen, your proven plan, and the constant support. I searched many late nights for the plan that I wanted to follow and there was just something about this one that touched a nerve and I knew it was the right one for me. I cannot thank you enough for your time, commitment, and knowledge you have given me through this journey. It is only the beginning of hopefully a long, rewarding future ahead!
Thank you. It was great working with you and taking you to the stage and seeing you win your first comp. I pretty much knew you had First Place when you sent me the line-up pictures. 🙂
Before we go, do you have a Facebook Page so your admirers can become your followers?
Just my facebook page. Under my name Alisha Jackson from Tuttle, OK =)
One More Thing We Forget to Mention…
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