Alicia Quinn—who you likely know by her self-described alter ego, Alicia Sacramone—was the team captain for Team USA’s gymnastics team at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where she helped the team earn a silver medal. These days, in addition to coaching gymnastics here and there, broadcasting for the SEC Network, and keeping fit with the help of her side project “The Gympire,” Alicia is also mom to Sloan, who’s 2.5 and Teagan, who’s 8 months.
Those who know me know I’m a bit of a gymnastics nerd… and, you know, also a mom… so it’s probably no surprise to you that this conversation was insanely fun for me. As it turns out, Alicia’s life and my own share remarkably similar timelines, including everything from when we were born to when our sports careers peaked to when we got married to when we had kids. Here, we talk about how Alicia decided it was time to move on from gymnastics and onto quote unquote real life, how pregnancy positively affected Alicia’s body image and self-esteem, how to be gentle on yourself as you try to stay fit as a mother, and some of the things Alicia wish she knew before she was thrown into the thick of things.
- 4:30 – The story of Alicia's comeback to elite gymnastics in 2010
- 10:35 – Alicia thinks she “could've worked harder” before the 2008 Olympic Games (and I tell her that sounds like motherhood talking)
- 11:55 – How her training as an elite gymnast has helped her in these early years of motherhood
- 14:50 – Body image! Pregnancy, postpartum, and the gymnastics body image warp for baby #1 and baby #2
- 18:57 – A tiny snippet of Alicia's birth story with Sloan
- 20:53 – Alicia's experience with surgery as an elite gymnast and how it prepared her for the challenges of recovering from a cesarean birth
- 24:15 – How she makes time for workouts, or more accurately, how she's changed her definition of what counts as a workout these days
- 30:20 – Alicia's top four product recommendations for new moms
- 32:04 – A shared mutual hatred for laundry (you too?)
Linkable Mentions (in order mentioned)
- The Gympire – Alicia and former teammate Samantha Peszek's Instagram account full of fun ways to stay fit
- BabyBjorn Carrier – The carrier Alicia wore Sloan in for treadmill walks.
- UPPAbaby Vista Stroller – It's a worthy workout just pushing a kid or two in this thing.
- Ollie Swaddle – One of Alicia's favorites (ours too!) for great sleep.
- DockaTot – Another favorite for sleep.
- Doona Car Seat / Stroller – Alicia's obsessed.
- YogaGlo (Glo) – Megan's go-to for at-home yoga. (Want me to send you a free class? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!)
- Audible – Megan's go-to for audiobooks while folding endless laundry. Sign up for the free 30 day membership and receive two free audiobooks! Recent favorites include Becoming by Michelle Obama, Educated by Tara Westover, and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
- Blinkist – Alicia's go-to for SparkNotes-style summaries of non-fiction books she definitely doesn't have time to read.
- @asaq3 – Where you can follow Alicia (and also find cute pictures of Sloan and Teagan)
MEGAN: So most of us know you as Alicia Sacramone, Olympic gymnast, second most decorated world championship gymnast (behind Simone Biles by the way, which is—that’s like a really impressive title to hold. [Laughter.] But these days you actually go by Alicia Quinn. So what are you up to these days and who is Alicia Quinn and what are some of the many hats she wears?
ALICIA: I like to think of my former life before marriage and children as my alter ego. So Alicia Sacramone is my alter ego, and I’m now Alicia Quinn, a mom of two. I was coaching gymnastics literally up until this past December, but then I decided to stay home and be with the girls more—because I know I’m never going to get this time with them back when they’re so little, and it’s just—like—very formative years, so I decided to be home with them more. I’m still doing broadcasting for the SEC Network so I’m going to cover college gymnastics which I’m in the midst of right now. And I actually do camps and clinics and appearances here and there all throughout the summer so I’m home more but I’m also still very busy and very involved in the gymnastics community.
MEGAN: Yeah and you also have The Gympire with Sam Peszek, right?
ALICIA: Yes. So The Gympire is our little side project, which we can’t get—seem to get on the same page on what we want to do with it, because I’m in a different phase of life than Sam. But we both know that we want this to be—almost a community where—like—everyday people can come together and be like, look, just because we’re Olympic athletes doesn’t mean we have our shit together and that we’re gonna be working out and being super healthy all the time. Sometimes I just need to drink a glass of wine—and probably eat a bag of popcorn.
Look, just because we’re Olympic athletes doesn’t mean we have our shit together and that we’re gonna be working out and being super healthy all the time. Sometimes I just need to drink a glass of wine—and probably eat a bag of popcorn.
So we just do it more as a way to stay connected ourselves and just, you know, try to be inspirational and get people motivated to work out. Or just—like–have a little better self care if they don’t have that already.
MEGAN: Yeah, just kind of normalizing it too. Like even Olympic athletes—this is all part of the normal way of doing things.
We’re trying to be relatable. Where these people on Instagram are putting up like, “Oh, I’m in the Maldives doing lord knows what!” I’m like, “That’s not real life.” You know what I did today? I got vomited on. That’s what happened to me today.
ALICIA: A thousand percent. We’re trying to be relatable. [Laughter.] Where these people on Instagram are putting up like, “Oh, I’m in the Maldives doing lord knows what!” I’m like, “That’s not real life.” You know what I did today? I got vomited on. That’s what happened to me today. [Laughter.]
MEGAN: That is relatable. So relatable!
ALICIA: That’s real life, man.
MEGAN: Yeah. I love how you talk about Alicia Sacramone and Alicia Quinn being kind of like alter egos or different identities. And—so, talk to me about how you thought about moving on from gymnastics, because you had sort of an on again off again relationship with the sport after the 2008 Olympic Games—like, maybe a little unfinished business. And then you came back and dominated. You won a vault title and then—how did you know that it was time to move on? Like what was it in your heart that told you it was time?
So, after the Beijing Olympics—I look at it this way. I have always been a talented athlete. Maybe not the hardest worker in certain cases, but I always kind of relied on my talent to get me where I wanted to be. And I think at Beijing I probably could’ve worked harder.
ALICIA: So, after the Beijing Olympics—I look at it this way. I have always been a talented athlete. Maybe not the hardest worker in certain cases, but I always kind of relied on my talent to get me where I wanted to be. And I think at Beijing I probably could’ve worked harder—which my coach would probably dropkick me if he heard me say that right now because I would’ve never admitted that back then—but I’ll say it now. Now that I can reflect back on my life.
And so I kind of walked away from the sport embarrassed because my Olympics didn’t go the way I wanted. I had two really big mistakes, and it was just not something I was overly proud of. So I literally went into hiding for almost two years. Like, didn’t work out—so I—like—imagine just blowing up—and was consuming a decent amount of alcohol because I had just turned 21. And so I just had a toxic breakup with gymnastics at that point.
And I remember going to see Mihai [Brestyan] at a competition in California, because I was living out in L.A. at the time, and he was there with Aly Raisman, and our national team coordinator was like, “Ooh, Alicia! I didn’t know you were coming!” And I was like, “Yeah, I just thought I’d come over and see Mihai.” And she was like, “Oh, well, you know we need vaulters.” And I was just like, “Yeah, no, thank you.”
And then I had an hour and a half drive back to L.A. after that, and I was getting all up in my own head. Like, “Do I want to do gymnastics again? Can I do gymnastics again?” And then I’m going crazy talking to myself, like, “Woman! You can’t do gymnastics again. Are you out of your damn mind? Yes! You can do gymnastics again.” So it was like a little angel on my shoulder and a little devil on my shoulder going back and forth.
So then I finally get home and I think I called my best friend. I’m like, “Hey I’m thinking about making a comeback.” And she’s like, “Are you serious?” And I was like, “Yeah, man I don’t know.” And so that’s kind of how it all started. And I ended up moving back to Massachusetts, because I decided if I was going to train, I wanted to be with Mihai, because he had been my coach from the time I was a little girl. And I slowly started chipping away at that process.
At that time I also had just started dating my now husband, Brady, and so he was playing football I was training for gymnastics. So we both had very busy schedules, but we tried to see each other when we could. There was just a mutual understanding that we had these goals we were trying to accomplish, so I think that was a good thing for me to have going on as well as this “comeback,” because it was tough. Like—I went from not working out at all for two years to trying to get back in gymnastics shape, and my coach wouldn’t let me do anything besides just conditioning and strength. [Laughter.]
MEGAN: So fun!
ALICIA: Literally for months. He’s like, “No offense you’re chubby.” And I was like, “No offense. I know.” [Laughter.]
So it was—like—this whole deal. And then I was just approaching it more with open eyes. Like I had been to the Olympics, I knew what that entailed to be there, and I was doing it more out of—I felt like I wanted to find the joy of gymnastics again. And that didn’t mean it wasn’t hard getting back in that process and that mindset, but I was doing things a little differently. I was lifting on the side. I was going to yoga. I was doing not just seven hours a day of gymnastics training like I had been. So for me this was a much more enjoyable process in that comeback, and it was just about having fun and going out on my own terms.
And I came back. I made a World Championship team that first year—which—I won my first vault medal which was huge. That was super exciting, and that kind of fueled the flame to keep going—until I couldn’t go anymore, basically.
And then I got to 2011 Worlds, tore my achilles—which was tough because I was—honestly—I felt like I was in the best shape of my life. I was like, ahh, I’m so prepared. I worked so hard! And then it was just like, tear jerker.
But then I made a commitment to myself after that. I was like, “Know what? No more tears. I’m going to get surgery. I’m going to bust my butt to come back.” And I competed nine months post-op, made it to Olympic Trials, and at that point, the way they wanted to build up the team, it wasn’t in my cards to make another one. So I knew at that moment, I was like, “Know what? I came back from this major injury. I did the best that I could.” And I was like, “I think I’m ready for this chapter to be done, because I went out on my own terms—best showing that I could have.”
And I was proud of the work that I had put out there. For me I was ready to move on from that. It just felt like gymnastics had come—you know—played its course, and I was ready to do something different with my life at that point.
MEGAN: Yeah. It’s so beautiful that you were able to do it in such an enjoyable way—that last chapter, too. So it wasn’t—even though it ended in a way that didn’t feel as climactic as I’m sure you would’ve preferred it to be, the journey was at least beautiful in and of itself. So it—it didn’t feel like it wasn’t worth it, you know?
ALICIA: Definitely. It was a bittersweet moment. Like I definitely was angry and upset right after not being picked for the Olympic team, but like I said, for me I can walk away with no regrets. And people are like, “Do you miss it?” And I’m like, “Nope!” [Laughs.]
I got out at the perfect time. And now gymnastics is just—like—way too crazy and Simone is way too good. And I was like, “This old lady couldn’t keep up!” [Laughter.]
MEGAN: Yeah. I keep going back to what you just said at the beginning of this—that you were super talented and you didn’t actually work—you didn’t work as hard as you could’ve. And I wonder how much of that actually ties in to your new role as a mom. Because it strikes me that moms have this uncanny ability to dig deeper—just—like—incessantly dig deeper. You get puked on and you just gotta deal with it. [Laughter.] And like you might be sick too and you just gotta deal with it. And there’s so many instances where that happens.
Did you feel like you weren’t working hard enough then or is that something that you think about now as a mom and you’re like, “Man! I really could’ve done a lot more because now look at how much I can do?”
I think right after [the 2008 Olympics], I thought—I was like, “Oh I probably could have worked harder.” And now as a mom where you’re wearing all these hats—you’re taking care of all these other people—I’m like, “Man if I had this much drive and tenacity when I was competing I would’ve been an Olympic champion!”
ALICIA: I think right after, I thought—I was like, “Oh I probably could have worked harder.” And now as a mom where you’re wearing all these hats—you’re taking care of all these other people—I’m like, “Man if I had this much drive and tenacity when I was competing I would’ve been an Olympic champion!”
I’m way better with time management now. Before I would be like—ugh, like, what did I used to do with my day before I had kids? I used to complain that I never had time. Now I really don’t have time and I still get stuff done. [Laughs.]
So I think it’s a little big of both. Like it’s just getting older and then realizing, “Okay. You definitely could've worked harder.” And then having kids and, like, “Holy crap! You really could’ve worked harder. You had nothing to do with your day besides workout and rest.
MEGAN: Rough life. [Laughter.]
ALICIA: Oh my—I know! Like you didn’t even know how good you had it! I wish I could talk to myself back then and be like, “Girl you don’t even know!”
MEGAN: But you don’t know! Which—you know—that’s the beauty of motherhood is it totally changes your perspective. I just love that we’re able to dig into that space. I wonder what—did anything else from your training as an elite gymnast kind of help you in these early years of motherhood? I’m just thinking—you know—coming back from adversity, training, and digging deep, and having to do things that you really don’t want to do—that must all come in handy.
In gymnastics you have to be very disciplined, and there’s a lot of structure and order. I think for me that was super helpful as a mom, knowing how to keep a schedule and be able to implement that for other people. Because if I didn’t have my kids on a schedule, it would be chaos here.
ALICIA: You know, in gymnastics you have to be very disciplined, and there’s a lot of structure and order. I think for me that was super helpful as a mom, knowing how to keep a schedule and be able to—kind of implement that for other people. Because if I didn’t have my kids on a schedule, it would be chaos here. And—I think gymnastics taught me that because I was like, “You know what? You need to be on time. You need to get this done. You need to get this done. You need to get this done.” So just being task oriented definitely translated over from an athlete to being a mom.
And it’s just—I coached too when I was training, so I got to work with kids. I felt like before I had kids I was like, “Oh, you know, I’ll be fine.” I didn’t realize what it was going to take to have a newborn. I never held a newborn until I held my daughter for the first time.
ALICIA: So for me I was—like—freaking out. I was like, “I’m not qualified for this.” Looking at nurses like, “Are you sure I can take this thing home with me?” And they’re like, “Yes, ma’am. That’s your child.” I’m like, “We need to reevaluate this situation.”
And my husband and I are like laughing because we’re like, “Nobody knows if we’re qualified for this. We just gotta figure it out.”
MEGAN: Yeah. And you have a lot of life experience to help you do that, which is more than a lot of people have I think. Because at least you have the discipline and the ability to dig into something that might feel scary and foreign and—like—know that step by step you can get there.
I think the one thing that was comforting for me as a new mom—I was just, like, talking to other people—like, nobody knows what they’re doing. Like, we may look like it if we have kids and whatever but nobody knows what they’re doing that first time. So they’re like, “Don’t feel bad. And don’t feel like you’re being judged by other people.”
ALICIA: Definitely. And I think the one thing that was comforting for me as a new mom—I was just, like, talking to other people—like, nobody knows what they’re doing. Like, we may look like it if we have kids and whatever but nobody knows what they’re doing that first time. So they’re like, “Don’t feel bad. And don’t feel like you’re being judged by other people.”
But you have to do what works for you. And I think as a gymnast with always having everything so regimented and like—okay—cut and dry—it needs to be done like this, this, and this—that was a hard pill for me to swallow. I’m like, “What do you mean? I just need like a handbook for telling me that it should be like this, this, and this, and that way I know that I’m doing it right and I know I can be really good at it.” [Laughs.]
MEGAN: Like drills when you’re learning a new skill, right?
ALICIA: A thousand percent.
MEGAN: You just want to know exactly what you’re supposed to do and then you can do it. But unfortunately…
Motherhood didn’t come with a handbook.
ALICIA: Yeah. No. Nobody… motherhood didn’t come with a handbook.
MEGAN: No. So I kind of want to segue into another topic that totally fascinates me with athletes and mother—like moms that are athletes or were athletes and–anyway, that was said very stupidly but… [laughter]… something that fascinates me about women who have become mothers who used to be elite athletes which is—how we think about our bodies as they change from athlete to pregnant to postpartum and kind of the whole world of postpartum—after what people call postpartum. Right? Like we’re always postpartum.
MEGAN: And I’m curious how you’ve thought about body image for yourself through your pregnancies and through postpartum.
I didn’t want to be photographed while I was pregnant, because I just felt like I was fat, which is such a weird gymnastics mental warp to think that but for me that’s how my brain was working.
ALICIA: So I think both my pregnancies my mentality was different. So with my first one I was like, “I’m going to be super active and just have a belly.” And, like, was very anal about only gaining 25 pounds, because that’s what my doctor told me I needed to gain. And I was like, “Not a pound more.” And I was like—such—I was like so anal about that. And I wasn’t—I didn’t want to be photographed while I was pregnant, because I just felt like I was fat, which is such a weird gymnastics mental warp to think that but for me that’s how my brain was working.
And then my second pregnancy, my husband was like, “You’re so much fun when you’re pregnant! You’re nice and you’re just sleepy all the time…” And I was like, “What are you talking about?” He’s like, “No offense. When you’re not pregnant, you’re just—you just go go go but when you’re pregnant you kinda chill more.” And I was like, “Oh, okay.” So then my second pregnancy I was like—well—I was like still kinda concerned about not gaining more than 25 pound, but I ended up gaining more than 25 pounds and it was fine. But I was—at least I would let people photograph me when I was pregnant with my second kid which [laughs] was a huge improvement from the first.
But I felt like after the first one I was immediately trying to get back to the way I looked beforehand—which is ridiculous to think. Because it took you nine months to have a baby! It’s not going to take you a week to get back to the way you looked before.
And then I think just post-baby that time of waiting until you can actually start working out again was tough. Because I remember just strapping on Sloan in a BabyBjorn, walking on the treadmill like a week after—and after I had Teagan I was like, “I don’t even want to think about working out. I’m so tired.” I was like, “My body will eventually get back to the way it was.” And there was no rush. But I felt like after the first one I was immediately trying to get back to the way I looked beforehand—which is ridiculous to think. Because it took you nine months to have a baby! It’s not going to take you a week to get back to the way you looked before.
And then I think I just appreciate the way my body is now. I feel like I’m more of—like—a woman’s shape whereas in gymnastics I was very straight besides having like—ridiculously large boobs for a gymnast. [Laughs.] Now I appreciate like, “Oh I have hips and kinda curves.” So for me that’s nice, but it’s just like, “You grew a human. You grew two humans.” So now I’m like, “I gotta give my body a little bit of credit because that’s pretty cool.” And I think that’s kind of the way I view it now. And I’m like—anything I do is more just to be healthy and so I can have—live a long life and be able to see my kids grow and see their kids (hopefully) grow one day. And I think that’s where the mentality change is. It’s not so much for vanity; it’s more for—I want to have the longest, fullest life possible.
MEGAN: Yeah! No, that’s amazing and that’s very similar to what I hear a lot of athletes say as well. They go through this—like, almost everyone has that moment where it—sometimes it’s in their first pregnancy sometimes it’s not until after they’re long into postpartum, but so many women have that transition from, “I must be this way” because that’s the way they’ve been their entire life through competition to like, “Oh wow I—my body did this thing and it’s actually beautiful the way it is.” And—what a relief to be able to feel that way, finally, about your body.
I think with gymnastics I didn’t have good body image in my own mind, and so for me to get to this point—I’m really proud of that and it definitely—it’s crazy. I feel like some people wouldn’t necessarily feel like getting pregnant and having a baby gives somebody more self-esteem, but in my case it definitely did.
ALICIA: Yeah. I think with gymnastics I didn’t have good body image in my own mind, and so for me to get to this point—I’m really proud of that and it definitely—it’s crazy. I feel like some people wouldn’t necessarily feel like getting pregnant and having a baby gives somebody more self-esteem, but in my case it definitely did. I’m more confident in myself, the way I look, the way I carry myself.
Maybe it’s just because I don’t think some woman would ever be able to take—to step into my role and do this job as well as I do. Because my husband is like, “You used to feel way more insecure and now you’re just super confident.” And I’m just like, “Yeah, nobody can do what I do.” And he just starts dying laughing. He’s like, “It’s true.” Not that I would ever be in a situation but it’s like when I tell him he’s like, “Whatever it takes to get you to this point works for me.”
MEGAN: Yeah. Yeah… and you had cesarean births with both girls, right? Is that true?
ALICIA: I did. So with Sloan I actually—I was induced, because I was leaking fluid. So I had to be induced and I tried to go natural. I didn’t—I had like a 36 hour labor, finally get fully dilated—oh my gosh it was brutal—finally get fully dilated, push once, and my doctor was like, “Alright we’re just going to do a C-section. Her heart rate is dropping a little bit so we’re just going to cut this thing out.” And I was like, “Okay.” And at that point I had been pretty much having contractions from the Pitocin for that whole duration of time. So it was crazy, and I was like—just exhausted. And then when they pulled her out, the cord was wrapped around her neck so that was unfortunate, but she turned out to be healthy and fine.
And my doctor played it so cool. It was technically an emergency C-section, but she’s just like, “You know what? We’re going to cut the baby out.” She like—she put her scrubs on. She’s in wedges. She’s like, “Alright, let’s do this.” And my husband was like, “You realize that was—like—a very intense situation that she just totally played off?” And I was like—after the fact—I’m like, “Yeah I guess so. I didn’t realize that in the moment because I was so doped up from being in the hospital for like—three days!”
And then I just opted for another C-section for Teagan because there’s only one doctor who does VBACs here, and I was like, “You know what? I like the idea of going in. I’m going to have the baby at this time. There’s no laboring. There’s no what if.” So for me that was more of a mental decision. And it worked out great.
MEGAN: Yeah. And you’re definitely a woman who’s had her fair share of surgeries in your lifetime. With gymnastics and everything.
ALICIA: Yes. [Laughs.]
MEGAN: But how has that recovery from a cesarean been different from—not really different—but, like, how has it been? How has the physical recovery been for you? You also have a baby as you try to recover, so that makes it challenging.
ALICIA: Definitely. So the first one—I felt like it was painful but it wasn’t too bad. And then with the second one it was—like I was—the second day—everybody, every athlete knows that the second day after an injury or a surgery is the most pain you’re going to be in and then it gets better. That second day I looked at my husband and was like, “We’re having a VBAC if we have another kid. I cannot.” And he’s like, “Are you out of your mind?” And I was like, “You have no idea the amount of pain I’m in and then once I got…
MEGAN: Like, “I’m absolutely out of my mind!”
ALICIA: Like I was like, “Yeah! I feel like I’m dying right now.” And so then the next day I was like. I looked at him and I was like, “Scratch what I just said. I feel much better.” And he was like, “Yeah I thought so.” It’s just like forgetting that you literally had everything taken out of your body to get this baby and then put back in and sewn up is so ridiculous—because you go to get up fast if you hear the baby crying and you’re like, “Nope. My abs are no longer there.” And you just, like, cripple to the side because you’re in so much pain. You just, like, log roll off the bed. But just remembering that is the toughest thing.
I stayed active during both pregnancies—working out—so I think it was easier for me to get back and recover and be able to bounce back right from the surgery to be functional as a mom and as a new mom with another baby.
Because then I think—I stayed active during both pregnancies—working out—so I think it was easier for me to get back and recover and be able to bounce back right from the surgery to be functional as a mom and as a new mom with another baby. So it took a little time adjusting to the body changes of, like, not having that core strength to sit up—which I’ve been able to do, like, my whole life [laughs] and then realizing how to do those quick changes and—you know—to make it work. But I was very patient with coming back, because I didn’t want to have to have any ab seperation or hernias or worry about any of that, so I healed pretty well, thank goodness. So it is an adjustment. Definitely probably the most painful recovery from a surgery that I had.
MEGAN: Yeah I love how you kind of approach it with the lens of going through all the other surgeries you’ve gone through. Like, the second day is going to be the worst, and you have to take it slow or it’s just going to make it worse. And I think a lot of women who have cesarean births—it’s their first big surgery. It’s the first time they’re doing this and so they don’t have the experience of what it actually means to recover well.
ALICIA: Oh yeah. I don’t think they have a frame of reference, so they’re just like going into this blind—which is unfortunate for them, because if that was my first surgery ever I’d be like, “Oh my God this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Pregnancy and childbirth is the craziest thing. It can be so terrible in that moment, but you forget that the moment you have the baby and you’re like, “I want to have like eight more kids.”
But it wasn’t—I mean it—it’s technically a trauma for the body, but it is such a joyous moment that your joy and happiness kind of overshadow the pain. So that’s the only good thing about it. Pregnancy and childbirth is the craziest thing. It can be so terrible in that moment, but you forget that the moment you have the baby and you’re like, “I want to have like eight more kids.”
MEGAN: Let’s keep doing this! [Laughs.] Exactly.
ALICIA: And then they’re the terrible twos and you’re like, “Nope. We’re done.” [Laughs.]
MEGAN: Speaking of… Sloan is two and a half—a little over two and a half—and Teagan is six months? Seven months? Eight months?
ALICIA: She's eight months on the 6th of March. So they’re 23 months apart.
MEGAN: So how are you making time for workouts? Like what does “in shape” mean? How are you doing this?
I used to workout for like an hour every day or every other day. Now it’s like, I’ll literally walk up and down the stairs holding Teagan because I’m like, “She’s 25 pounds. This is a workout in my mind.”
ALICIA: I used to workout for like an hour every day or every other day. Now it’s like, I’ll literally walk up and down the stairs holding Teagan because I’m like, “She’s 25 pounds. This is a workout in my mind.”
MEGAN: She’s essentially a kettlebell.
I just try to be flexible and not get too down on myself or have like workout envy from people who don’t have kids.
ALICIA: A thousand—like there’s no doubt about it. That kid is so heavy. Compared to Sloan when she was this age—she is a full blown weight vest. So I’m like, “You know what? This counts.” So now it’s like I just try to do something active at least three, four times a week, whether that be a quick workout or just going for a walk with the girls in the stroller—because that’s kind of a workout pushing that thing too. Two kids is not easy in this UPPAbaby stroller— which is already heavy!
I just try to be flexible and not get too down on myself or have like workout envy from people who don’t have kids. My friends who call me and they’re like, “Oh we’re going to go workout and do this.” And I’m like, “Cool, I don’t have a babysitter…” [Laughs.] “I’m going to workout at my house. I can’t. Sorry.” And also I don’t really want to. I’d rather hang out with my kid right now. So nap time workouts are the only way it gets done really.
MEGAN: Yeah, well I see you doing some pretty cool stuff on Instagram still. And the conditioning that you’re doing is still—like—over and above what even normal athletes can do, so—you know—give yourself a break. Are you just doing these little conditioning exercises while you’re playing with your kids? I imagine you just stretching and doing a few V-ups, like just—you know—whenever…
ALICIA: [Laughs.] Basically. Like they’ll be watching TV in our living room and I’ll be messing around with them using them as weights, like trying different stuff. I actually got my pre- and post-natal fitness certification, so I actually train a group of my friends that are all moms…
MEGAN: Aww so fun!
ALICIA: … one day a week. So now I just use my kids as test dummies. I’m like, “Alright come here! See if this works.”
MEGAN: Let’s try this exercise. That’s awesome.
MEGAN: Do you get—you just you mentioned babysitters. Do you have help sometimes that you can get out by yourself and not have to use your children as weights?
ALICIA: Yes. So we have a few good girls in rotation for babysitters. We—when I was still coaching we had a nanny and once I decided to stay home more I was like, “Look, I can’t give you the guaranteed hours that you’re looking for, so I had to let her go. But she was fantastic. But now we have some girls that come and help me out so I can go run errands or go to the grocery store without tugging around two kids or go on a date night which is nice for Brady and I.
MEGAN: Yeah so how do you guys make—how do you think about parenting together? Like how do you think about the types of things that you each choose to do in the parenting relationship in your own relationship in the household like how do you guys make that work?
Anytime it has to come to giving medicine or doing things that the girls don’t like, I’ll take that role because he [Brady] hates to hear them [the girls] or see them cry. Me, unfortunately, from coaching—I’m like—I think I’m a little bit dead inside! [Laughs.] The tears don’t affect me. I’m like, “Get over here, man. We gotta get rid of this ear infection.”
ALICIA: So we both believe that—the one thing that we—I’m mostly the bad guy. Anytime it has to come to [laughs] giving medicine or doing things that the girls don’t like, I’ll take that role because he hates to hear them or see them cry. Me, unfortunately, from coaching—I’m like—I think I’m a little bit dead inside! [Laughs.] The tears don’t affect me. I’m like, “Get over here, man. We gotta get rid of this ear infection.” So he lets me play that role.
And he’s a really involved dad, which is nice, because he wants to have that one-on-one time with them. And if it ever comes to a disciplining situation, he’s probably going to have to be the one who does that because—I laugh. Like whenever they do something wrong or they know they’ve done something wrong… I laugh. Like I can’t help it. It’s my first instinct. Like Sloan swearing and I’m like trying to tell her not to do that but I’m cracking up. [Laughs.] So she doesn’t really take me seriously.
MEGAN: It is so funny when they swear. “You said ‘frog,' right? You said frog. Definitely.”
ALICIA: She said, “ohhhh F” in the car today when I was going to get her a donut and I was like, “What did you—what did you say??” [Laughs.] I was like, “Don’t laugh. Don’t laugh. Don’t laugh!” And then I called my mom and I was like, “You won’t believe this!” And she was like—and then my mom actually dropped like three F-bombs in that conversation, and I was like, “I do believe this now. It’s because of you, mom!” And she was like, “Oh don’t do that!” [Laughter.]
But he’s great. We’re on the same page. I think—we have discussions, whether it’s about vaccines or how we want to raise them, where we want to send them to school—public or private—you know, I think when it comes to the point where we have to make decisions like that, we have—we usually go to dinner or open a bottle of wine and try to make our most rational decision at least one glass deep, where we’re not so anal about it and going to be a little more open minded.
MEGAN: That’s awesome. I love it. You have date night discussions.
MEGAN: That’s awesome. So… just one kind of last fun question before I ask some quick ones. What would it be—what is it about motherhood that’s been most surprising to you? Like what is it that you never expected and here it is and wow?
I never thought I could love somebody or something more than I love myself and my husband. And so it’s just—I was taken aback by how much I love my kids.
ALICIA: This is going to sound kind of selfish of me but I never—like I love my husband—I never thought I could love somebody or something more than I love myself and my husband. And so it’s just—I was taken aback by how much I love my kids. Which sounds terrible, but I didn’t realize that type of love until I had my own children. And just that it is very real. Like when people say moms would do anything for their kids—like I almost fought a little eight year old on the playground the other day because she wouldn’t get out of Sloan’s way or pushed her and I’m like, “I’m going to go to jail for drop kicking an eight year old kid who’s not mine.”
MEGAN: Mamabear coming out!
ALICIA: So strong! And it’s like all of a sudden, out of nowhere you’re like, “Where did that come from?”
MEGAN: Yeah. I totally know it. So okay, I just have a few fun, kind of fun fast quick questions. You don’t have to answer them quickly. But what are the… what’s the baby gear or products or gadgets or books or any of that sort of stuff that you swear by? Like what do you always give your mom friends when they have a new baby or what’s your go to?
ALICIA: Okay. Best things for sleeping… the Ollie swaddle, the DockaTot, those are my two for that. The Doona car seat stroller combination is a game changer. It’s amazing. You can bring it on an—it's FAA approved—you can bring it on the airplane, put it on a seat. It folds up into a normal car seat but it also works as a stroller.
MEGAN: Do you guys do a lot of travel?
ALICIA: Not right now, but when we only had Sloan I took her everywhere. We went out to Ohio to see my husband’s family. We went out to Boston to see my family. We just traveled a ton with her and now it’s a little bit harder with two.
MEGAN: [Laughs.] I feel you.
ALICIA: I’m just like, I don’t want to leave my house, because it’s so much crap you need to bring with you. [Laughs.]
But that thing is amazing. Like, if you haven’t seen it or tried it I highly recommend it. Let me think what else… the Nest cameras are great. That way you can see them from your phone, you can talk through your phone to the camera. So I think those are probably my four main go-to products.
MEGAN: Yeah, you’re like you guys need these things. Perfect. Favorite thing to do if you’re gifted a little extra free time? You get a free babysitter for three hours… what are you going to go do?
ALICIA: Oh my gosh. I’m going to get a manicure and a pedicure because my hands and feet look like talons. [Laughs.] Yeah, it’s gross. And then maybe—just like, I don’t even know. I don’t even know what I would do with this free time. Definitely the manicure and pedicure and I’d probably go to the grocery store without a child. [Laughs.]
MEGAN: Life is so simple and beautiful these days, isn’t it?
ALICIA: Right? I’m like just going to Publix—by myself!
MEGAN: I just want to be present with, like no one else. [Laughs.] Out in the world, just with no one but myself. That’s so good. Favorite mom hacks? So like my favorite mom hacks—my two favorite mom hacks are YogaGlo, which is like an online yoga situation, and Audible. I listen to a ton of audiobooks, because I fold a shit ton of laundry. So like what are your…
ALICIA: How much do you hate laundry? I hate laundry.
MEGAN: Okay, wait—this is the realization that I had about laundry. So like, if you have a basket full of—your husband’s probably—my husband is 6’4. I imagine yours is also large since he was a football player…
ALICIA: He’s 6’4. Like literally. Exact…
MEGAN: Okay, so if you have a basket full of your husband’s and your laundry—like you’re small, but you’re not that small—it’s probably going to take you—like, not that long to fold it, because there just aren’t that many pieces. But when there’s a basket full of toddler laundry, and they’ve changed their clothes like—how many times in that day? It’s just—a lot of items that you have to fold.
ALICIA: It’s like a never ending pile! You’re like, “I’ve been folding this for 35 minutes. How is it that there’s still a half a pile on this bed?”
MEGAN: How is it still happening? Yeah, anyway. Audible. So what are your go-to mom hacks? Your genius things?
ALICIA: Hmm that’s a good question. I just recently started doing Blinkist. So basically it gives you like ten to fifteen minute summaries of books—because I can’t ever just get through a book anymore, because I don’t have time. So they can be self help books, they can be fictional, they can be—kind of—they have this whole library in the app. And it’s cool, because then you can just get the CliffsNotes version as an adult. And I like that.
MEGAN: That’s awesome.
ALICIA: It’s really cool! It really—I’ve been doing one about setting goals, like as a mom, because I feel like—what am I going to set as my goals? So that has been a whole transitional thing like trying to figure that out—like what I want to do now? And then—I’m a big believer in music, so we have that family plan on Spotify and I that’s constantly going in our house.
MEGAN: What is next for Alicia Quinn?
ALICIA: That’s a great question. Probably another kid. Actually not probably. I know we’re going to have—try for another kid in a couple of months, so I don’t know why I made it seem like that wasn’t true. [Laughs.]
Um, we are—I’m probably going to be doing a little bit more broadcasting. I’d love to be able to work in the Olympics in some aspect, so that’s one of my goals, and honestly just kind of trying to spend as much time with my kids before they don’t want to spend time with me, because I know that is going to be rapidly approaching.
MEGAN: Oh you have a few years. You’re good. The way it works…
ALICIA: Days are long but years are short. Motherhood is so crazy how fast and slow it goes.
MEGAN: That’s true. I know—you think back to like 2006, or those early years when you first were competing you’re like, oh.. “That was was over 12 years ago. Okay.”
ALICIA: Someone tweeted at me about, like, “This day 14 years ago, you won a medal at American Cup.” I was like, “That was 14 years ago? My gosh!”
MEGAN: Yeah… that—that happens I guess. It’s scary.
ALICIA: I mean it goes so quick. Makes me feel so old.
MEGAN: [Laughs.] And then just lastly, what, what’s your number one recommendation for moms to be, either about like pregnancy, postpartum experience motherhood itself? What’s something you tell people that you wish you had known yourself?
It’s okay to—I mean—you’re never going to be a perfect mom or what you think is a perfect mom in your head because that doesn’t exist. I—being a gymnast and obviously always striving for perfection, that was like the strangest thing for me to expect—that there’s no perfect way to do it. And I wish somebody would’ve told me that.
ALICIA: It’s okay to—I mean—you’re never going to be a perfect mom or what you think is a perfect mom in your head because that doesn’t exist. I—being a gymnast and obviously always striving for perfection, that was like the strangest thing for me to expect—that there’s no perfect way to do it. And I wish somebody would’ve told me that. Like, nobody tells you like the ugly side of parenting, motherhood, pregnancy, delivery—and I think somebody needs to write a book about that being like, no, no, no it’s great, but—dot dot dot—then kind of bullet points that nobody tells you. Like you’re going to bleed for four weeks after you have a baby whether you have a C-section or a natural delivery, like all these things people don’t tell you and then you’re in the moment like, “Wait, what’s happening? Nobody told me this!”
MEGAN: Right. That’s what I’m hoping to do with Also Mom so eventually that’ll be a resource… in theory hopefully.
ALICIA: Perfect. I will tell everybody to go. I’ll be like “Look, this is what you need to realize you’re getting yourself into.”