Hey it’s me. Nicole. Being as I’m just starting out with my new coaching business, and getting into the world of writing, I just wanted to share a little bit with you. Well actually I’m about to share a LOT if I’m being brutally honest, because I wanted to tell you about my story. We all have one; some are more exciting and dynamic than others, but we all have a beautiful (and sometimes broken) story to tell in this world. And dammit, they are all worth telling and sharing!
I’ll do my best to try to stick to the big points… I like to ramble and sometimes get off the beaten path, but I know you’re busy and have your own life to get back to, so let’s get down to it!
It was a cold, blustery day in December 1976 when I entered this world…
Juuuust kidding! I’m not going back THAT far in my story. We’ll skip ahead a few years from that…
I was always a healthy and active kid growing up. I was a figure skater and would be on the ice 2–3 times through the week, trying to master my craft (but let’s be honest, I was doing a better job of mastering my gift of gab with my friends). I also grew up playing ball for the booming metropolis that I lived in (Sweaburg, population 700).
All in all, I kept busy with keeping busy, but inside I was not the happy healthy kid that I wished I could have been.
I had developed a real love of food. And I’m not talking about quality, beautifully prepared foods that you see nonchalantly whipped up on the Food Network, but rather the most highly processed, fried, preserved imposters of food you could find. And the exotic combinations that I would create in my mother’s kitchen (when no one was looking of course, because that would be embarrassing!), to this day make me cringe and salivate simultaneously.
Because food and it’s magic and it’s power had secured it’s hold on me. Food became my boredom buddy, my security blanket, my void-filler.
Food was always there for me, and never judged or denied me. That’s the beauty and the curse of our friend Food. That, and the undeniable fact that it is essential to sustaining life (which is a theory I decided to challenge personally… we’ll get to that in a sec).
As my love affair with food grew, so of course did my waistline. And my hips. And my thighs. Toss a dollup of hormones on top of that food lovefest, and there you have an overweight, unhappy, self-conscious teenage me. I had become someone that I didn’t like being. “Food” — my friend and my comfort — had turned it’s back on me and made me hate being in the skin I found myself in. I liked who I was and who I was becoming as a person, but all of that was overshadowed by my hatred of what peered back at me in the mirror. Does that feeling sound familiar to any of you? I’m guessing I wasn’t alone in feeling this internal/external dilemma.
It wasn’t until I was in my senior year of highschool that I decided to start making some changes. And it was strange because I don’t recall waking up one day and saying to myself, “enough is enough!”. I just started making small changes. I started passing on the cookies and milk at morning break (which if any of you know the magic of CASS cookies, you’ll know how hard that really was); I started cycling and being more active in general. And with these small changes that didn’t even feel like too much work, the weight started coming off. And I was feeling pretty darned good about myself too.
I was finally in a healthy place in my life and heading down the right path, all in time to graduate highschool and start off the next phase of life in college. And it wasn’t just the college entry boards that I was gaining attention from — I was suddenly someone that people saw and noticed. I wasn’t used to this as I had spent most of my life fading into the background (praying no one would look at me!), but getting the attention and praise from family and friends (and maybe the attention of some guys I had pined for over the years) certainly made the journey worthwhile. And then, very slowly a thought started to creep into my subconscious… as we McNamara’s tend to say — if a little is good, a lot must be better! If I’ve lost this weight and have gotten such a positive and encouraging response from everyone, then maybe I should lose more!
And thus began the slippery slope I refer to as the dark ages.
Between the newfound praise and attention I had for what I was on the outside (forget about WHO I was, right? Since when does that count?), and the stress of being in a high-paced and competitive college program, my weight continued on that downward trajectory. I was living in residence with limited cooking facilities, which played nicely into my inability to eat healthy, whole foods like most college kids (ahem… right). I began to favour Du Mauriers and coffee over chicken and rice, but not all of the time… so it was okay. I’ve got a handle on this. I’m totally in control.
Until one day I wasn’t.
It was the day of my grandfather’s funeral. He had died very suddenly and quite frankly way too early at age 70 of a massive heart attack. It was traumatic, unexpected and devastating to my whole family. I had been teetering on the edge of being able to keep my shit together, but that event had sent me over the edge. I will never, ever, ever forget coming home from his funeral and heading straight down to our basement to climb onto our old-school stationary bike (you know the one — 2-tone brown with the dials for time and tension? Every family in the ‘80’s had one, I’m sure of it). I got on that bike and pedaled; longer, heavier and more fiercely than I ever had before. My mom — still reeling from losing her own father — could feel her grip loosening on me too, and tried to get me to stop. She stood in front of me and begged me to stop. Just for that day. Just. Stop.
And I couldn’t.
For it was in that moment that the door opened and the devil walked in to claim my soul.
I suddenly realized that I was no longer okay. That I didn’t call the shots anymore. That the reigns had been handed over to this deep, dark lurking shadow. That devil — that shadow — was anorexia.
People every day face huge challenges; losses of loved ones, career changes, marriage breakdown; physical impairment. I will speak for myself in saying that in reflection of all the challenges I’ve faced in life thus far, anorexia was by far the hardest fight I’ve ever encountered. Waging both a physical and mental war on myself, and one I could never actually escape from, was all-consuming and exhausting. So much so, that I ended up failing out of college in my second year.
Although I managed to pick myself up and carry on from the outside, I spent years fighting the battle and working on the inside. But I’m pleased to say that I won that battle — the devil doesn’t own me and hasn’t taken up residence here in 15 years. Admittedly he comes knocking every one and awhile — sometimes does a late night drive-by — but I chose not to answer. He isn’t welcome here anymore.
Fast-forward ahead a few years — life moved on pretty quickly with work, marriage, motherhood, the usual daily grind that we all experience. I remained physically active and loved being in my happy place — the gym — because it allowed me to move my body and challenge it in positive ways, but also quickly became my social network. However, I was noticing that I was working hard but getting nowhere fast. I once again started to have hints of feeling uncomfortable in my own skin (which was also a little less resilient than it was in my highschool days!). I felt so much frustration over my lack of progress, and began wondering if I was just wasting my time going to the gym day in and day out.
Yes, you did just read that correctly. I did in fact think that.
The self-proclaimed gym-rat and fitness instructor.
It was a fleeting thought.
I may have been feverish.
Now, please don’t tell anyone about it and we’ll just keep that tidbit between you and me.
At about the time that these delusions were rolling around in my brain, I came across some information on a coaching program — Precision Nutrition. Huh, nutrition… all coming back full circle to my friend Food. The one piece of the puzzle that I still had a love/hate relationship with. Maybe I needed to look at fixing that part of my life in order to see the results I was expecting and longing for.
I did some research, read some reviews and even had a one-on-one chat with one of the program’s co-founders, Dr. John Berardi. I explained my current situation to him and expressed my frustration with feeling like a hamster on a wheel. He told me about PN (Precision Nutrition) and the programming they offer. This wasn’t going to be a quick fix, lasting results take time. Like 12 months of time at least. But I also wasn’t going to be asked to starve myself, or eliminate entire food groups or macronutrients. In fact, I wasn’t going to be asked to eliminate anything.
What. The. Fork?
How was I going to make any changes if I wasn’t asked to make any changes?? What kind of circus is this “Doctor” running here? On one hand, I’m thinking “this is awesome, he’s going to teach me how to lose weight and I won’t have to give up any of my bad habits!”. But then I wanted to smack myself and say “Get a grip woman! Of course you’re going to have to change — this is a trick!”. Annnnnd I won’t lie to you, it was a trick.
JB had sold me enough to at least give his program a shot. I would receive daily lessons, a little bit of homework, and new habits that taught me how to eat and live better. There was accountability. There was support when I needed it. There was a wholelotta truth that I was forced to face. But it was done ever so slowly, and ever so sneakily, that I didn’t even realize that I was making real, sustainable, life-long changes — both inside and out.
He was right, it didn’t happen overnight, but it happened when I wasn’t looking. And it was the best, most rewarding and empowering changes I’ve ever made in my life. Honestly. I felt whole. Confident. Happy in my own skin (and damn it’s a good feeling to have!).
But mostly I felt grateful. Grateful to have had the opportunity to learn this real yet healthy and sustainable way of life. Of living. Of not fearing food and allowing it to control me, but learning to live in harmony.
2014 has become known for me as “my year of therapy” (and I’ll admit there have been other years of therapy, but none as truly effective as this). I took that year to work on myself — both inside and out — and those results have stayed with me to this day. And even though I decided to do this program for myself, I also gained the praise of PN, earning a spot as a finalist in their program that year. To have been chosen out of thousands of women — across the world — was like winning the lottery for me. Except I didn’t buy the winning ticket on chance, I created the winning ticket out of love and respect for my body and soul.
Without question, my time as a Precision Nutrition coaching client had a profound impact on my life and the path it’s taken ever since. Following that year, I became a Level 1 Nutrition Coach, obtained numerous Life Coaching certifications, became a Certified Personal Trainer, and am currently working on my PN Level 2 Nutrition Coach certification. The client became the coach and the circle continues. I now coach people who have their own stories to share, teaching them how to have a healthy and real relationship with food — and themselves — that will last a lifetime. No fads. No quick fixes.
So if you managed to stay awake during my story, firstly kudos and thanks! I’m glad you made it. But secondly, you can see that my journey wasn’t pretty, wasn’t easy and wasn’t a stroll down the primrose path. I’ve seen many aspects and struggles with my own weight, body image, and especially my relationship with the “F” word (meaning Food… me and the other “F” word have always been BFFs). I know how difficult change can be, which is why I chose to become a nutrition and wellness coach. I want to help people overcome their own struggles and live their happily ever-after.
Maybe you’re debating change yourself, or maybe you’re unsure of where to start. I’m here to help and can guide you on your way. If finding a better way to live is something you’ve had on your mind lately, let’s sit down and chat. And if you’re just stopping by to learn more about me and about what I do, that’s cool too. I appreciate that you’ve taken the time out to do that.
Thanks for listening,