Lifestyle Prior To Change
I worked out on and off my whole life. My mom taught aerobics so I took her classes as a kid, and I started lifting in high school. I did go through periods when I didn't work out at all, I was naturally thin when I was younger.
What was your low point or turning point?
I had my first daughter at 25 and during that pregnancy I thought I could just eat whatever I wanted, since that was pretty much what I did before anyway. That was not the case! I ended up gaining 60-70 pounds and after I had the baby I was just really fat. It took me a whole year to get that much weight off just dieting. I didn't start a workout routine until my daughter was about nine months when I finally went to the gym and signed my daughter up at the gym's daycare. It was fantastic! I didn't know what I was missing, 2 hours of time all to myself, and the daycare was so inexpensive. I was hooked!
I began getting in better and better shape and then started competing in figure by the time my daughter was a year and a half. I competed for a few years, my last competition was the USA's in '09. We decided we wanted to have another baby. Learning from my past experience I knew I needed to do things different this time. I trained through my pregnancy and after I had my second daughter I knew I wanted to get back to competing ASAP! It was time to get to work!
Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?
Pregnancy, however I was in great shape before, maintained a work out routine and diet during, and got right back to my training after.
- Transformation Start: During my pregnancy I only gained 16 lbs, but I lost muscle.
- Milestone: 1 week after baby I started light cardio, gradually increasing with intensity and adding weights.
- Milestone: 2 weeks after baby I was back to my pre-baby weight, but with less muscle.
- Milestone: By 3 months after baby I was down to 14% body fat and working out at full intensity.
- Milestone: Started increasing calories a bit to put on lost muscle before I started contest prep diet.
- Transformation End: Currently 8 weeks out from contest at 12% body fat.
Alissa's Training And Cardio Approach
What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?
I continued weight training with slightly lighter weights 5 days/week. Most of my upper body strength was the same. I did a lot of upper body movements seated to isolate the muscle and avoid unnecessary pressure on my pelvic area. I modified my lower body work-outs when it was uncomfortable, and I made sure I was always in a stable position to avoid injury. I kept up on my cardio as well. Most days I did two 30 min cardio sessions one first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and after lifting. I decreased the intensity, using the elliptical, spin bike, and walking on an incline.
I worked out, with the Doctor's ok, right up till my delivery day. I got up early and did legs and cardio before heading to the hospital to be induced. I knew it would be my last work-out for a while. I had an easy delivery, only 45 minutes! I went home with my healthy daughter Dylan the next day.
I felt pretty drained for the first week, which I wasn't expecting because with my first daughter I bounced back really quickly. It turned out I had mastitis and I had a really bad fever for a few days. Once we figured out what was going on I got an antibiotic and I was better in no time. After the first week, I started working out slowly. Just walking at first. I gradually increased my intensity and weights. At about 2 weeks I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but like I said, my body composition was different, so I was by no means back to my old self. By my 6 week check up I was back to my old training routine.
I was running 5-6 days per week doing HIIT for 30-45 minutes once a day and lifting 5-6 days. I was working out at home for the first 3 months, since I didn't have a daycare option for my newborn. Once I was back in the gym I was ready to go full force and I noticed a big change since I was able to vary my work-outs with more movement options, heavier weights, and incorporating the step mill back into my daily routine. I think the step mill is the best cardio equipment for me, It is intense and good for building up the legs.
- Monday - Legs, glutes and calves.
- Tuesday - Shoulders and abs.
- Wednesday - Biceps and triceps.
- Thursday - Back and abs (I always do abs after back to loosen up my lower back muscles after my work-out).
- Friday - Legs and calves.
- Saturday - Shoulders and abs.
- Sunday - Cardio only or rest day.
|Monday - Legs, Glutes and Calves|
|Leg Extension (Increase weight each set)||3-4||8-10|
|Bulgarian Split Squat||3||12|
|Lying Leg Curl||4||8-12|
|Bent Over Cable Kickback||2||15|
|Cable Lateral Leg Raise||2||15|
|Seated Calf Raise||3||15|
|Standing Calf Raise||3||15|
|Tuesday - Shoulders and Abs|
|Machine Shoulder Press (Warm up)||3||15-20|
|Seated Arnold Press||3||12-15|
|Seated Cheerleader Press||3||12-15|
|Seated Lateral Raise||3-4||12|
|Bent Over Reverse Flyes on Bench||3||12|
|Reverse Pec Dec||3||12|
|Cable or Barbell Front Lateral||3||12|
|Hanging Leg Raise||3||12|
|Decline Bench Crunch||3||15-20|
|Ab Crunch Machine||3||15-20|
|Wednesday - Biceps and Triceps|
|Barbell Curl (Warm up)||2||15-20|
|Heavy Barbell Curl (To failure)||3||8-10|
|Cable Rope Curl||3||12|
|Wipe Grip Machine Curl||3||12|
|Tricep Extension (Warm up)||2||15,-20|
|Tricep Extension (Heavy)||3||8-10|
|Closegrip Bench Press||3||8-10|
|Reverse Grip Tricep Extension||3||12|
|Dips or Machine Dip||3||12|
|Dumbbell Tricep Kickback||3||12|
|Thursday - Back and Abs|
|Wide Grip Pull Up||3||6-8|
|Close Grip Lat Pull Down||3||8-10|
|Reverse Grip Iso Lateral Row Machine||3||10-12|
|Wide Grip T Bar Row||3||8-10|
|Bent Over Dumbbell Row (Increase weight)||3-4||6-12|
|Decline Weighted Sit Up||3||15|
|Decline Weighted Twists||3||15|
|Lying Leg Raise||3||15|
|Friday - Legs and Calves|
|Leg Extension (Warm up)||2||15-20|
|Leg Extension (Heavy)||3||12|
|Stiff Leg Deadlift||3||12|
|Ankle Weight Kick Back (Various leg positions)||6||12-20|
|Seated Calf Raise||3||12|
|Standing Calf Raise||3||12|
|Saturday - Shoulders and Abs|
|Machine or Smith Press (Warm up)||2||15-20|
|Machine or Smith Press||2-3||10-12|
|Lying Incline Bench Side Lateral Raise||3||12|
|Cable Lateral Raise||3||12|
|Barbell Upright Row||3||12|
|Alternate Front Dumbbell Raise||3||12|
|Seated Cable Crunch||3||12-15|
|Hanging Leg Raise||3||12|
|Decline Bench Leg Raise||3||12-15|
Please detail your cardio approach during your transformation?
I was running 5-6 days per week doing HIIT for 30-45 minutes once a day, and once back at the gym I was doing the step mill or the stair master 30-40 min a day up to 7 days per week after starting my contest prep.
Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- I had to adjust to my pregnancy and change my training slightly. I modified movements when they were uncomfortable or avoided them all together. I did not do abs, and I did most exercises seated to keep my body stable and isolate each muscle I was training.
- I realized I know my body better than anyone else. I went back to what has worked for me over the years. For example, I Know I have to train abs and glutes with heavy weight and more frequently to get them into shape.
- As for cardio, I learned higher intensity for less time works better for me.
How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?
I don’t think that any transformation is ever really complete, I am constantly trying to improve. My training is pretty much the same all year with the exception of minor changes to my cardio frequency and duration, and my diet.
Alissa's Diet And Nutrition Approach
What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?
My lifestyle had changed so much from back when I was pregnant the first time, many of the things I used to eat regularly (pretty much tons of chocolate) I wouldn't even think of eating now. Since I was already on a good diet, I needed to maintain that, but I added a few extra calories from nuts and coconut oil to my diet. During pregnancy you're really eating for 1.1 not 2 like most people think.
I ate essentially the same as an off season diet, not bulking, just maintenance. I gained only 16 pounds during my pregnancy. My Doctors said I was doing a good job maintaining a healthy weight and my baby was growing at the appropriate rate. I did however lose volume in my muscles and gained fat and water so my body composition did change quite a bit.
Can you provide us with a sample eating plan (please be specific):
- Meal 1: Healthy pancake which consists of: 5 egg whites, 1/3 cup oats, 1 tbsp. chia seeds, cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 2 stevia packets, and 1/2 banana mixed together and cooked in coconut oil or olive oil cooking spray over medium heat. I eat it with sugar free pancake syrup. It satisfies my sweet tooth.
- Meal 2: Post work-out Dymatize Elite whey isolate chocolate 1 1/2 scoops, 3 tsp. dextrose, 1 tbsp instant coffee, and NOW Beta-Alanine powder 2 g.
- Meal 3: 6 oz. Chicken breast or tilapia with salsa 1-2 cups veggies usually broccoli and cabbage steamed every few days I'll have carbs at this meal usually 1/2 cup quinoa.
- Meal 4: 4--6 oz. Chicken breast or tilapia with salsa 1-2 cups veggies usually broccoli and cabbage steamed.
- Meal 5: 6 oz. chicken, 99% lean ground turkey, or flank steak 1-2 cups veggies small salad with tomato and avocado and Galeos salad dressing.
- Meal 6: Protein Pancake/cookie (sort of) Gaspari Myofusion vanilla 1 scoop and 2 egg whites, splash of vanilla, 1 stevia packet, 2 small squares of 90% cacoa chopped into small pieces mix together and cook in a pan with small amount of coconut oil. It makes me feel like i'm eating dessert every night!
Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?
I was eating too much protein! An excess of protein still gets converted to fat, so I started really weighing all my portions.
Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Portion control.
- Keep it clean, I NEVER eat fast food, EVER. In fact, I had a nightmare that I had to eat at In-N-Out and I couldn’t find anything healthy to eat, I thought that was pretty funny, considering that was not unusual for me to do back in the day.
- If you really want to eat something bad cook it yourself so you can make it healthier. For example, we would make bison burgers once per week with Ezekiel buns (they were so yummy and SO much healthier!) Instead of going out.
Did you allow yourself cheat meals?
While I was pregnant and after yes, once or twice per week. However once I started my contest prep at 14 weeks out, no. I do, however, have a higher calorie day every 4th day with extra calories mostly from carbs. Always keeping it clean.
What supplements did you use during your transformation?
- Morning: Nature Made Pre-natal Multi-Vitamin, Nature Made Immuni- C fizzy drink, MRM CLA 1250 1 gel cap
- Pre-work-out: NO Shotgun grape bubblegum 1 scoop (I love this product!!!) it has everything you need in it - fat burner, L-arginine, Beta Alanine, Creatine, and 18 grams of protein!!
- During work-out: Scivation Xtend grape 2 scoops, MRM L-carnitine 1000mg pre cardio.
- Post work-out: As I am leaving the gym I drink one more scoop Scivation Xtend grape. When I get home I make a protein shake with: Dymatize Elite whey isolate chocolate 1 1/2 scoops, 3 tsp. dextrose, 1 tbsp instant coffee, and NOW Beta-Alanine powder 2g.
- Mid day: MRM CLA.
- Evening: MRM CLA.
- Before Bed: Gaspari Myofusion vanilla 1 scoop or Magnum Quattro Vanilla 1 scoop (The Gaspari Myofusion bakes very well so it's good for protein pancakes or other recipes, they don't come out rubbery), NOW ZMA 2 capsules.
Alissa Parker Prep For The USA
Advice For Others
What are your best tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?
- Set a goal for your self to keep you accountable.
- Get a nutrition expert to create a diet for you. Once you learn the right way to eat, and do it for a while it becomes routine.
- There is no substitute for healthy eating and exercise, there are no magic pills.
Also, LIFT HEAVY!!! Building muscle is the only way to see major changes and speed up your metabolism, so drop those 5 lb. weights!!! Girls just don’t get bulky especially if your not eating to bulk up.
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?
It may be hard at first, but this is a lifestyle, once you stick with it for a while it begins to get easier. After eating healthy all through my pregnancy and post pregnancy, this contest prep has been my easiest one yet. I have less fat to lose so I don’t have to spend hours and hours killing myself doing cardio. I’m not as tired and I have more time for other things in my life. My point is if you stay consistent it is much easier than going up and down all the time. Your body and your mind will thank you.
More From Alissa Parker
What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?
I’m feeling really strong again, and I can’t wait to compete this year! I Have begun working as a certified sports nutrition specialist and I am helping others to meet their fitness goals, whether it’s losing weight, gaining muscle, training for a marathon or sport, or preparing for a bodybuilding type event. I am also a posing coach, I love helping people get ready for competitions!
What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?
Competition, I hope to get my pro card in the IFBB.
How can people contact you?
- Email: AlissaParker@hotmail.com
- Website: www.AlissaParker.net
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/fitAlissa
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alissa-Parker/185311851507259