Losing weight isn't easy, but that didn't stop Nicole from reaching her goals. She went from battling depression to working out with a personal trainer and learning to cook her own healthy meals, and now she's down 22 Kilos! She says she feels better than ever, and she assures us that anyone can make the changes she did as long as they stick to their guns. Here's her full story.
POPSUGAR: When did you start your weight-loss journey? What made you decide to?
Nicole Napolitano: I started in April 2017. Even though I've always been somewhat overweight, I reached my heaviest weight ever — 120 kilos — back in February 2017. I was floored. I didn't realise I had gotten that heavy. I felt defeated and fell into an awful depression that edged on suicidal. It felt like I wasn't in control of making any changes because of my anxiety. But Fit Girls Guide made weight loss look fun, so I decided one day, with the encouragement and support of my boyfriend, to just try it out. I had nothing to lose (but weight!).
PS: How much weight have you lost so far?
NN: I've lost 22 kilos so far and plan on losing more.
PS: How did you do it? Did you follow a specific diet?
NN: I followed the meal plan and workout calendar provided by Fit Girls Guide's 28-Day Jumpstart. One night, I'll be making tacos and the next night I'll be making pita pizza. I'm not going to lie, I didn't follow the meal plan to a T day by day – I would just make sure that if I was going to go off the books, so to speak, I was still turning to foods that seemed to be healthy, not processed — low in sugar, fresh, etc. I learned how to cook healthy and make better choices when dining out without feeling like I would be shamed if I went off the meal plan.
PS: Did you do a specific workout type or schedule?
NN: What I usually do is three rounds of a circuit followed by a half hour of cardio, four to five times a week. I have a trainer who comes to my gym two times a week to help me with my back problems, too, since I have a slipped disk in my lower back. He guides me in what I can and can't do so that I don't further injure myself.
PS: What are some non-scale victories you've experienced?
NN: The most exciting NSV I've experienced is wearing a crop top in public which I have never done — and I did it with confidence. I felt hot! Also, fitting into jackets that I couldn't even squeeze my arms into or zip up at the start of my journey. Other NSVs just include how I feel. I don't feel like sh*t every day anymore. I don't feel like I am going to puke after meals anymore. I feel satisfied and energized after eating, not sluggish and on my death bed like I used to. And I actually enjoy the gym now! I see it as a therapeutic experience instead of a punishment.
PS: How do you stay motivated?
NN: I stay motivated through my support system. Fellow Fit Girls, my friends, family, and boyfriend are all there for me when I need them to keep me on track. I have my days where I want to quit and I feel like all of this is pointless. I turn to them when I need help because it is easy to get lost in your own self-destructive thoughts.
I ask myself daily, "What can I do to get closer to my goals today?" Whether it be going to the gym, making all of my meals, or hitting my daily step goals (10,000) on my Fit Bit. Small victories are the only way to keep myself in the now. If you look at the big picture and your desired end goal, it's easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged. It makes the process seem so much more daunting.
Finally, doing side-by-side progress photos helps me see how far I've come. Looking at them helps get me motivated when I'm feeling down.
PS: What does a typical day of eating look like for you?
NN: This is one of my go-to breakfasts: two slices of Ezekiel bread with one egg, avocado, and a little bit of cheese, turkey bacon, and hot sauce. Another one is a protein drink or smoothie. One of my favourites is a wonderful combo of spinach, mangoes, milk, vanilla Vega protein powder, honey, banana, and cashews. Top it off with a huge-ass cold brew.
For lunch, I generally throw together a salad with whatever fresh ingredients are in my fridge or I'll put them in a wrap. Sometimes I'll make quinoa bowls – I created a quinoa bowl that was a spin on the burrito bowl from Chipotle, which is my favourite new healthy lunch.
Dinner honestly can be anything from the Fit Girls Guides' books, like pumpkin-ricotta lasagna roll-ups, chicken parmesan, tacos, pizza, macaroni and cheese, etc. I utilise healthier ingredients and substitutes than what is in the "normal" versions, and I portion them out in a way that keeps the calories down.
Thankfully, I've never been much of a snacker throughout the day, but if I do have a snack I'll usually reach for a baby bell cheese, a banana, or an apple. I do love my dessert, though. My after-dinner go-to usually includes Halo Top ice cream or one of the amazing desserts from Fit Girls. I really like strawberries with almond butter and a melted dark chocolate drizzle. Oh, and red wine.
PS: Any advice or tips for people on their own journey?
NN: If you have a "bad" meal or feel like you have fallen off the wagon, don't punish yourself (mentally or physically). Just accept it and move on. This isn't a diet; this is a lifestyle change. That means yes, you will eat healthy, but you will still be a human being who eats whatever the hell they want sometimes and that's fine. It's called balance, and we need it to stay sane. You just have to get used to picking yourself back up and continuing to push after "cheating." Giving up will give you far fewer results.
Don't rely on the scale, either. Sometimes you gain muscle. Sometimes you're retaining water. Your weight will fluctuate accordingly. Of course, it's good to check in on where you are from time to time, but don't be tied to the scale. There are tons of other ways to track your progress, like taking photos, feeling how certain clothes fit, measurements, how you feel physically, etc.
PS: Anything else you want to share?
NN: I'm not saying it's going to be easy. It was never easy for me. You just become accustomed to the changes in your daily routine. You really have to look at the whole thing less as a weight loss journey and more of a self-improvement thing. It's something to make you feel better — and the weight loss is an added bonus. Regardless of the various crying fits and breakdowns I've had along the way, it was all worth it. I don't regret any of it for a minute.