Several years ago, Alicia Roark (formerly Alicia Fields) was just your average, everyday elementary school teacher at Williamsburg Independent Schools. A wife and a mother, she unfortunately began facing many health issues after being diagnosed with both hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia.
Roark experienced significant weight gain during this time, forcing her to make drastic changes to her lifestyle in order to get her overall health back in check. Little did she know, however, that this was only the beginning of an incredible journey that eventually led to her becoming the epitome of fitness as a champion bodybuilder.
“The journey was very slow, and very painful,” said Roark, 32, who decided to enter the world of competitive bodybuilding after her sister-in-law suggested that she give it a shot. “I started out just trying to get my diet right. Then I got into running, and eventually weight training.”
“It sort of materialized unexpectedly,” Roark said of her transformation. “I didn’t expect to become a competitor. At first I thought it would help build up my self-esteem after gaining all the weight, but then I started setting goals for myself. One thing led to another, and now I’ve nationally qualified 4-5 times, competing in the figure and bikini divisions.”
Despite qualifying for national competition on several different occasions, Roark has not made any trips to participate. When asked why, she explained, “I am content with what I have achieved. I’ve done so much more, and went so much further than I ever expected I would. This was mostly something that I’ve done for myself. I have surpassed my goals, and am content to leave it where it’s at.”
Roark also said that, as a wife and mother of two, her time is better spent closer to home. In addition to that, she does have some health concerns when considering what it would take to compete at the next level. “With my health diagnosis, and the lengths that I would have to go to in order to achieve any success at nationals, I just don’t think that it would be the best decision health-wise for me,” she said.
Even if Roark never competes on a national stage, she has still achieved her main goal, which is to inspire others to improve their own lives by adopting healthier lifestyles like she had to do all those years ago.
“A big goal for me was to inspire people, even if they’ve have had issues and problems with their health in the past, to take control and do something about it,” Roark said. “You have to be determined enough to do that, and I want to encourage others to make those changes.”
Speaking about that determination, Roark said that she remembers waking up in the wee hours of the morning, going to the gym and waiting for them to open the doors so that she could go in, get her workout done and make it back home in time to pack lunches and send her children off to school. “Family life is one of the most difficult things to juggle,” she admitted. “There were times when I asked ‘Is this completely selfish of me,’ because it does require a lot of time. I didn’t want it to take away from my kids and my family, but you just have to find the time and make some sacrifices, whether that be sleep or something else.”
Roark typically has a much easier time striking that training/family time balance these days, as her children are old enough to accompany her to the gym, or sometimes play at a park while she gets in a jog. She also now works as a stay-at-home wife and mom, so her life outside of training and competing is not as consumed with responsibilities away from home as they once were.
As for Roark’s most recent bodybuilding achievement, that came just this past weekend, when she placed sixth in the “figure open” division of the Kentucky Derby Festival’s fitness competition in Louisville. She said this was the culmination of another personal goal that she set for herself many years ago, explaining that this particular event is one of the bigger ones for competitors living in our region. “It was always my goal to compete there,” she said. “It is very prestigious for this area. I have appeared in many other competitions, but I had never stepped on that stage until now.”
Roark said that she probably wasn’t at her best during the Kentucky Derby Festival, saying she had to cut 20 pounds between January and April in order to qualify, and explaining that her normal training routine was disrupted due to the timeframe that she had to work in. Still, she remains upbeat, saying, “Considering everything that was going on, I was pretty pleased. It wasn’t a national qualifying finish, but I still got an award.”
The award, which Roark was very excited to receive, was a sword that she has sought to add to her trophy case for quite some time. “I wanted that sword,” she exclaimed. “Getting other trophies is great, but I really wanted that sword!”
With this chapter of her life complete, Roark will continue the work of maintaining her overall fitness while also working to earn a master’s degree in health and human performance from the University of the Cumberlands. A native of Williamsburg, she currently resides with her husband and children in the Corbin area, and has plans to one day soon use her advanced degree to promote living a healthy lifestyle, and motivate others reap the rewards of making positive changes like she has.