Finalists / Nicole H

Nicole H.

Burr Ridge, IL

The past week marked the completion of the Life Time spring 60day. It was not my first and honestly, I can’t even remember how many of these 60days I’ve participated in since the beginning of my fitness journey. But with every single one, I learn so much about health and fitness and my own personal strength. It has not always been easy, and I struggled to get my head together at times, but when I felt like quitting, I remembered why I started in the first place. I didn’t do this to lose a few more pounds or reach a certain number on the scale or on a little tag in the back of my jeans. I’m doing this to prove to myself that I can. I’m doing this to show my 5-year-old son what you can accomplish when you push yourself and persevere through hard times. I’m doing this for all the big girls out there that don’t believe that they can ever lose the weight and get healthy. And I’m doing this for all the people that are cheering me on and believing in me.

I had been struggling to get back on track after several months of dietary neglect and this 60day was the perfect opportunity to review and make some positive changes. Meal prepping became the foundation upon which I built my nutritional structure. I learned how important it is to properly plan ahead to be successful and to help prevent cravings. The tips and recipes sent every week from the 60day coaches were great and helped to broaden my usual food repertoire, and I loved trying out new recipes that I found online. Most importantly though, this 60day has helped me change my relationship with food. I no longer view myself as being “on a diet” but simply in a caloric deficit. This has been life-changing for me. I don’t feel like I am restricted or unable to eat the foods that I love. I just make them work for my meal plan. If I want pasta or a donut, I don’t have to say no! There are no longer “good” and “bad” foods. I just change up the way I eat for the rest of the day to make sure I maintain my deficit. For the first time in my entire life, I have no anxiety about food and I have the 60day to thank for that!

Through Life Time Personal Training, I met my trainer who I have been with for over 7 years. He has been by my side through thick and thin (literally) and has helped me get over so many physical and mental hurdles. Every time I felt like I couldn’t do something because I was too big or too weak, he would remind me how far I’ve already come in my journey and convince me that my fear was only in my head. He believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself and I can never thank him enough for that. He showed me that I belonged in the gym. He taught me how to lift with proper form and pushed me beyond my own self-imposed limits. Every time I started to feel comfortable with the progress I had made, he pushed me harder and further away from that comfort zone until I learned to feel okay with being uncomfortable. This was huge for me. I had spent my entire life trying to assuage any tiny amount of discomfort with terrible coping mechanisms and self-destructive behaviors. As a child, I turned to food to make me feel better when I was upset and then as I got older, I used alcohol and other substances to provide myself with the same comfort. I didn’t know how to handle feeling uncomfortable. Now, I use the gym as my coping mechanism. I go in there, lift heavy, run a few miles, and walk out feeling like I own the world. I truly wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t been for Wes.

While my main focus these past 60 days has been on my nutrition, I also set out a goal to improve my cardiovascular health. Generally, I’m not crazy about running or using ellipticals, but I really love functional strength training which inherently incorporates cardio. I stepped back from weightlifting for the past couple of months and began including 2 days a week of functional training. I absolutely love flipping tires and throwing wall balls and training with kettlebells. To me, this is so much fun and my favorite way to train. I leave the gym drenched in sweat and feeling like a beast! It is so effective, in fact, that I was able to lower my resting heart rate to 58 bpm for the first time ever! I am so lucky that Life Time has the equipment necessary to allow me to train this way.

Life Time has been the vehicle that has enabled me to change my life. From personal training to group fitness to the Kids Academy that provides my son with a multitude of opportunities to grow physically and socially, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without the club in it every day. This has become a way of life. As a single mom, it is up to me to set an example for my son and every day that we step through those doors, I hope that I am laying a solid foundation for him to build a healthy and active life for himself. This is not the end of my fitness journey. There is no end. This is a lifestyle now and one that I am so grateful to Life Time for helping me achieve.