As told by Nicole Hill
When you’re poor, you buy the food that’s cheap. So my childhood dinners consisted of pasta and ramen noodles.
I was always a little chunkier as a kid, but in middle school the weight really started to pile on. I dipped anything and everything in ranch dressing and loved Mountain Dew. My classmates bullied me because of my size, and I began to binge-eat and self-harm in failed attempts to cope. By the time I started high school, I had spiraled into a depression. My weight continued to creep up and I entered high school at 260 pounds.
The Initial Spark
Thankfully, theater helped me find my place in school—and helped me discover that my weight didn’t define my worth. As I started to love who I was on the inside, the more I got the itch to take care of my body and my health.
I first set out to lose weight just before college, though I really didn’t know where to begin. I started running—even if it was just for 15 minutes a day—but my relationship with food still needed work. I limited myself to 800 calories a day and never, ever treated myself. Sure, I lost some weight, but my food restrictions were just a new form of my old self-harm in disguise. I felt exhausted all of the time.
The more research I did online, the more I realized my strict approach to weight loss couldn’t last. Then a college upperclassman, I upped my calories and decided to focus more on eating natural, whole foods like vegetables and brown rice. I learned about macronutrients—carbohydrates, protein, and fat—and realized my vegetarian diet seriously lacked protein. I started incorporating meat-free proteins like hard-boiled eggs into my diet, and it worked for me.
As I started to love who I was on the inside, the more I got the itch to take care of my body and my health.
The more I fueled my body with healthy foods, the more energy I had to exercise. I set a goal of hitting the gym five days a week, mostly focusing on cardio and doing a little strength training on the side. I didn’t love long bouts on the treadmill, so eventually I switched gears and spent most of my time lifting weights. When I allowed myself to do workouts I actually enjoyed, my gym time turned from a chore into a treat.
With every weight I lifted and every healthy meal I cooked for myself, I felt my confidence and pride grow. My physical transformation reflected the ways my thoughts and self-worth changed.
After almost two years of changing my lifestyle, I’m down 80 pounds. I can’t believe how far I’ve come. I no longer think about how I want to look, but rather how I want to feel. I know that I will always be a work in progress and that I have the power to make decisions every single day to feel my healthiest.
These days I share my story and post photos of my favorite meals and workouts on my Instagram account. I’ve even started my own online health-coaching business!
I can’t believe how far I’ve come.
A few years ago, I would have never thought I could turn my life around. But by focusing on eating one healthy meal at a time and losing just that next pound, I chipped away at my goals and ended up infinitely stronger.
Advice for Others
Think of exercise and nutrition as celebrations of your body, not punishments. I tell myself that I “get” to go for that walk or run, not that I “have to.” It’s a blessing to be able lift those weights. Embrace what your body can do!
Nicole’s Go-To Products at The Vitamin Shoppe
Even before I became an ambassador for Quest and Lenny and Larry’s, I was obsessed with the Quest Raspberry White Chocolate protein bar and Lenny and Larry’s Chocolate Chip Complete Cookie. They’re so delicious and I feel like I’m indulging, but I know I’m eating a snack that will help me reach my goals.