As a 24-year-old graphic-design and art-studio student at Coastal Carolina University, Alicia Rancier went about the final weeks of her college career as any college student would—scrambling to get her final projects wrapped up and paying little attention to nutrition and health.
While walking to class one day and eating a croissant sandwich, Alicia's body finally rang the alarm bells with heartburn, indigestion, and sour-tasting saliva.
She knew that something was terribly wrong.
What was the turning point that inspired you to take action?
Most people underestimate the workload of an art major, but in reality, we were always nose-deep in a wide variety of art projects. I was so busy just keeping my head above water that my health slowly declined. I'd been athletic since the age of 7, but the sheer volume of work made my inclination to be active fall by the wayside.
At the time, I thought myself to be immune to health problems. I exploited my youth and hummingbird metabolism, thinking I could consume all the fast food, desserts, and sodas I wanted without getting fat. For now.
Turns out I was dead wrong.
Just a couple of days before graduating from college, I was heading to class and gobbling up a greasy egg, bacon, and cheese croissant sandwich. Maybe that was the straw that broke the camel's back. Within moments of finishing the sandwich, I felt a painful, persistent feeling of constriction in my chest—indicative of heartburn. I thought was I was having a heart attack, and in response to this realization, it was made worse by an anxiety attack.
Weight: 170 lbs.
Body Fat: 29%
Weight: 152 lbs.
Body Fat: 13%
I visited the doctor the following afternoon, at which point I learned my weight hovered around 170 pounds and I clocked in at 29% body fat. The doctor diagnosed me with gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and several existing ulcers in my stomach. Moments like these give you a fresh perspective on and appreciation of life; it's not ideal to come to this realization with your own mortality staring right back at you, but it was certainly a wake-up call.
After you learned of your condition, what did you do differently?
Well, right after, I simply spiraled into depression and could not eat anything without feeling sick. As a result, I dropped 30 pounds in a very unhealthy manner.
I recognized this was unhealthy and not doing anything for me. In an effort to regain control of my health and life, I decided I needed to kick my depression, my GERD, and my junk-food habits, and then get a gym membership, burn fat, and build muscle. This was a lot to take in at once, so I started to set goals for myself.
After college, I set out to tackle each and every goal. A major component of my success has been identifying my role model. I looked to my idol, my inspiration, and my superhero, Nicole Wilkins, for motivation to keep going. Every time I didn't want to do cardio or lift weights, I would always think of her and all the dedication she had put into her own physique.
I learned that a physique doesn't grow on its own; you as a person have to make the effort to see those changes. You have to want it! She is a nonstop locomotive going toward continuous self-improvement. Nicole's work ethic, professionalism, and kindness keep me inspired and grounded. I even watch her Bodybuilding.com Ms. Olympia documentary religiously every single day to remind myself to never quit, to push through, to be humble, to work hard, and to always remember where I came from.
If you ever see this, Nicole, thank you! I love you, and I will always continue to follow your success!
What surprising accomplishments were you able to achieve?
I went on to compete!
My parents were into bodybuilding back in the 80s and had always wanted to compete but never did. It only made sense for me to dive into it myself. As of now, I am an NPC nationally qualified figure competitor and an ANBF pro figure competitor.
I placed sixth in my first-ever show and fourth in my second show, qualifying for Junior USA nationals. It was at the third show that I placed first at my first natural drug-tested show, which gave me my pro card. That was the best thing that had ever happened to me and the biggest achievement in my life ,next to kicking the bulk of my health problems.
What aspect of competition did you find particularly challenging?
The nutrition part of my contest prep is always the most difficult. Anything with carbs is my weakness, but I've learned to use them at the right times with the right amount of moderation.
Bodybuilding.com was the first place I went for my fitness journey. The workouts and the supplementation and nutrition plans have helped me. Even the clothing store on the site has amazing, comfortable apparel that I wear religiously.
What tips do you have for aspiring transformers?
The most important thing is to keep track of your diet, even if you have a cheat meal (which is OK—it's not the end of the world).
Above all, be patient and don't rush the process.
I have been exercising patience myself, as I hope to get my IFBB pro card as a figure competitor and become a personal trainer to help others with their fitness goals.
Supplements that helped me through the journey
Diet plan that guided my transformation
I drank at least a gallon of water per day and ate every 2-3 hours.