I couldn’t wait to share the transformation story of my long-time friend, Allison Carter, mother of 4. Yes, the stunning woman above with the incredible body has 4 children! I’ve known Allie for over 13 years and before either of us had any children. I couldn’t be more proud to see first hand what Allison has accomplished in the past year. Having never been a gym rat, she has found her way to the weight room and has never looked back. Since finding an interest in bikini competitions, she has completely transformed herself and has an all new perspective on health and fitness. Overcoming years of unhealthy habits and poor body image, she is now one smoking hot mama. If her story doesn’t inspire you, than I just don’t know what will!
Have you always been fit and healthy?
Honestly, I haven’t. I am a junk food addict by nature. I love sweets more than any person I know. Exercise was never a passion for me. I played a variety of sports growing up, but I never spent much time in the gym. I struggled off and on with my weight, and have done some extreme things over the years to try to get my body to look the way I wanted. Sadly, as so many young women do, I struggled with body image from the time I was in 5th grade. I was anorexic and played games with my food from 5th grade through high school. At 18 I tried the diet drug Phen-fen. And at 19 years old I had liposuction to try to get rid of those “problem areas” I always struggled with. And yes, it all came back. I have been certain my entire life that my cellulite was genetic and something that I would never be able to get rid of.
How/when did you first get into fitness?
After I had my 3rd son, some of my friends were going to run a Ragnar relay race. With a lot of convincing, I committed. I had never run in my life. I could hardly run around the block. I stuck with it and ironed out all my running injuries and was hooked on the endorphin rush I got, but never loved the actual act of running. I never saw change in my body, mostly because I never changed my eating habits. About a year ago, frustrated that my 15-18 miles a week weren’t helping my body, my husband and I made a bet. He hired a trainer for me and told me, the first one to reach their fitness goal would win a trip to anywhere they wanted for a week. For the first time in my life, I started lifting weights. Heavy weights. I stopped doing the hours of cardio and started doing interval training for short periods of time along with the weight lifting. I cleaned up my diet a little bit at a time. Little tweaks at first, but gradually going to a very clean diet with one weekly cheat meal. I noticed changes in my body in 8 weeks that I had never seen before.
What are your short-term goals in fitness?
Other than my fitness challenge with my husband, I never really set a goal per se. My trainer that I began with suggested that I try to compete in the bikini division of the NPC. I am a goal driven person and like having a finishing point. Signing up to compete gave me something to work towards. The best part is, you can do competitions over and over and there is always room for improvement and always something to work harder towards. At the current moment, I am working toward putting on more lean muscle mass and working toward being ready to compete in a national show.
What are your long-term goals in fitness?
For me, I would love to become an IFBB pro, but I am in no hurry. I have a family and that comes first to me, always has and always will. I have no expectation that I ever will get my pro card, but that is a tangible goal that I can put on paper. Between now and then, my goals are to just do better each and every time I compete.
How many shows have you competed in and placings?
I have done 4 NPC shows. I did 2 shows back to back in March of 2014. I did Tucson (Natural Outlaw) as a warm up and then did the bigger show in Mesa (Natural Western) the following weekend. I placed 4th in Jr Masters and 5th in Open in Tucson, and 5th in Jr. Masters in Mesa. I had no intention of doing another show after those, but I was hooked. I competed in the Phoenix Europa in October and placed 4th in Jr Masters, and turned around and decided at the last-minute to enter the November Felicia Romero Classic 3 weeks later. I placed 1st in Open, 1st in Jr. Masters and also took home the Overall.
Any major milestones with regards to your fitness, training or competition you’d like to share?
Being qualified to compete in a national show was a big thing for me. I am 36 years old, I have 4 children and have only 1 year of lifting weights under my belt. I have never had any expectation when it came to placing at shows, but winning the overall at the last show is still a very surreal moment to me. That was something I could never have dreamed of.
How does being a mother of 4 impact your training and diet?
Being a mother of 4 forces me to be more organized when it comes to my diet. Food prep is key for me. I am always on the go with my kids, so if I don’t have my food made, it becomes very hard to eat the foods my body needs if I’m not prepared. Although I do IIFYM dieting, it is harder to find food 6 times a day, out and about. Also, I have to plan my training around my schedule. Every night before bed, I look at my calendar and decide where my gym time fits in to my day. In the last year, I can count on both hands the number of times I have missed the gym. It isn’t an option anymore. I never say I don’t have time. I make time. There is no other way.
Are most supportive of your goal to compete?
Actually, I don’t think most of my friends or family understand my desire to compete. Thankfully the most important person, my husband, is very supportive. Competing keeps me focused. Just like for runners, races give them the focus and drive to clock the miles they need to be prepared for a race, competing gives me the extra push in the gym. I don’t love the stage. It is very nerve-wracking and intimidating to me, but it is part of the process.
Any suggestions to other mothers interested in getting fit or in competing?
Getting in shape can seem overwhelming. Especially if it is new to you or you feel like you have a long way to go. My two biggest suggestions would be, hire a trainer to show you around the gym. Stick with it until you feel confident on the machines and with the free weights that you could go and feel confident working out on your own. Secondly, find a good diet plan. You don’t have to change your life completely overnight. For me the gradual changes made it easier to follow. I started by just taking cheese and milk out of my diet. I replaced my morning milk with a protein shake. That simple change made a huge difference. But, changing things slowly didn’t make me feel so overwhelmed. Another suggestion that I would make, would be to find a buddy. Husband, friend, co-worker, it doesn’t really matter who, but someone to hold you accountable. It is a marathon, not a sprint. We all have our off days, and even off weeks, but the most important part to being successful is to continually get back up after you fall. Lastly, take progress pictures and be patient. Change can be slow. My husband reminded me that the first 6 weeks of me starting my diet and workout I was frustrated that NOTHING was happening, but somewhere between weeks 6-10 everything started to fall in place. I started losing weight, pictures showed change in my body and I began to notice change in the mirror. But, it was really hard to stay motivated until I saw that change. I’m so thankful he kept my head in the game.
How has competing impacted your life and family?
For me, getting fit is the single best thing I have done for me and my family. It has given me confidence and purpose. Being a mom is the most difficult thing in the world. It is also the most rewarding. But, in all honesty, it is one job that has no finishing point. The laundry and cleaning are never finished, you start one meal and you hardly get it cleaned up and they are ready to eat again. There is always a demand or need to be filled. Having something to call my own, has helped me find sanity among the insanity of raising 4 small children. I love that my children are seeing me achieve things that I thought were impossible. I love that I am able to show them that hard work is the only way to achieve the things you really want in life. I am passionate about being fit and although I do not force my kids to eat clean, they are aware of what they eat and want to be fit like me.
Have you discovered balance in terms of fitness and family life?
Balance is something that I am always working on. Thus far, fitness has never had a negative impact on my family. I don’t feel like I have missed out on celebrations or meals out or altered our life for it. But, there are days that I am tired and have a lot on my plate and the gym doesn’t seem like it will fit in, but I make it work and I have never regretted a single workout. Even if I’ve had to make it a short one.