Confession: I May Not be Perfect, but I'm Still Fit & Healthy

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Last week, I was excited to tell everyone about my Cardio Blast DVD. We received a generally positive response from our readers, most of whom are familiar with the online workout videos that I've done.

Now I know that I don't have the perfect body. I used to weigh a lot more than I do now, and I probably have a good 20-30 pounds on most of the fitness models (yes, they're usually models, not trainers) who lead the workout DVDs that you see in stores. But does that mean that I can't lead YOU through a good workout that will help you reach your goals? I sure don't think so! But then I saw this comment, below my post about the DVD release:

"You need to get those arms toned and get a makeup artist if you want to sell those workout videos in today's competitive market! People aren't going to buy your product if you don't embody the ideal. Hate me if you want to, but it's free advice a marketing professional would charge you money for."


That stung more than a little bit...and then I deleted it! (hehe, the power of admin privileges!) I've seen hundreds of comments on my YouTube workout videos, and this isn't the worst thing someone has said about me my body and appearance. Does it hurt? Sure. Each time a YouTube viewer calls me "thick" or "fugly" (yep, I've gotten that one, too), it doesn't feel good, but I like to think that I get many more positive comments than I do negative ones, so I try to focus on those (and remind myself that anonymously tearing someone else down over the Internet isn't something that a very secure person would do).

Last week's experience inspired me to share some thoughts with all of you.

I consider myself a fit person. I exercise five or six days a week, usually for over an hour per session. I lift weights and I'm not afraid of heavy ones, either. I do cardio 4-5 days per week, ran a 5K last year without training, and I've mastered some of the challenging Pilates moves that I couldn't do a year ago. I live an active lifestyle, and I choose activities that are fun so that I don't dread working out. I'm sorry if others who look at my body don't think I'm fit enough for their standards, but you know, I'm fit enough for me. A healthy lifestyle and a fit body comes with moderation—not obsession. There was a time in my life when I obsessed over calories, exercised way too much, and ate way too little. I looked very much like the fitness models you see on magazines and DVDs then—defined shoulders, abs and legs. I tanned, too. But you know what? I was obsessed. Although my body looked "ideal" in terms of fitness and just the right amount of definition, I was not healthy. I had an eating disorder. And it took me YEARS to really understand the concept of moderation and to find peace with my body and the food I ate.

I used to look at photos of celebrities and other fit models and be jealous. Today I look at them and, while I'd love to look like that, I realize that—for me—it's not worth it. It's not worth not eating cake on my birthday; feeling hungry all the time; dragging myself out of bed at 5 a.m. to exercise for two and a half hours, and then again for another hour before I went to bed; choosing exercise over other fun activities with my friends; or losing my period for months at a time. Is that really the picture of health and fitness? Hardly.

I'm not saying that every person who "looks" fit is obsessed or unhealthy. Some people have excellent genetics that allow their bodies to respond favorably to a healthy amount of exercise and a moderate diet. But for the rest of us? To be honest, it might not be in the cards for you unless you're willing to go to extremes.

I don't want you to lower your standards or think that you'll never look good or be happy with your body, but I do think that there is much more to life than achieving what others consider to be the perfect body. I want to be the NEW picture of health and fitness--one that isn't about perfection.

For too long, we've been bombarded with images of "beauty" each day and felt bad about ourselves. Most advertisers try to make you feel bad about yourself so that you'll buy a product, service, or even a workout DVD to make yourself better. Well, I'm not going to be a part of that. I'm a busy working professional with a house, a garden, a boyfriend, friends and a life outside the gym. I don't have all day to exercise, and even if I did, I'd probably choose a different way to spend my time. To me, exercising and eating right are just one—important—part of my life that allows me to live and enjoy my life to the fullest.

I'm just like you. I'm a real person. But I'd like to think that I can still be an inspiration to others, even if I don't have a perfect body. Do I really need a makeup artist and more defined arms to help people feel empowered, motivated, and successful? I sure don't think so. When you see me, you can feel good about yourself instead of never feeling good enough.

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CECELW 11/12/2020
Sometimes it seems like people are just getting dumber Report
USMAWIFE 11/5/2020
thank you Report
YMWONG22 11/3/2020
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CATNAP6291 7/9/2020
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It astounds me how warped some people's idea of a healthy body must be to say those things about you. I've followed along to a lot of your videos and always thought you seemed totally healthy, slim, and fit. Depressing to realize that even once I've reached my goal weight, people are still going to judge. Just sickening. Report
Awesome article on what normal people look like. Thank you!!! Report
Thank you for a great article. Report
Thanks Report
Thanks for sharing! Report
True! Report
Great article. I’m working towards fit and healthy. Report
Definitely a refreshing read. I'm a lot lighter than I once was too (40lbs) and I do have extra skin and stretchmarks from that time which I feel self conscious about. I also get conscious about the extra 10lbs or so I'm carrying since my body has decided that 147-152lbs should be its new set point despite my initial goal being much smaller.

But like you, I have hiked for several hours and felt fine, ran a 5k without training, do HIIT workouts here & there and can keep up plus I can hold a plank for longer and finally do a full pushup (15 in a row in fact) despite not having the body depicted as fit by the media. I guess it's up to us to rewrite the status quo for what fit looks like. Thanks for sharing and stay strong above the negativity. You're one of my fitness role models. Report
Thank you for demonstrating a healthy self-confidence. Great article. Report
Some people just are not happy unless they cut others down. Just keep doing what you are doing and delete those type of posts. Report
Why would you care what other people think? Don't wait until you're my age to realize that other people's opinions of me are irrelevant. Report
Anyone that makes a negative comment about you, in my opinion has NEVER worked out with you. I love your videos and you keep me challenged and motivated because your workouts are doable for me a beginner. YOU are wonderful and it has nothing to do with your weight. GO COACH NICOLE!! and THANKS for EVERYTHING YOU DO FOR US IN SPARK!!! Report
Thanks for all you do for Sparkpeople! I love that you are a real, down to earth person! Gives the rest of us hope! Report
If you were 200 pounds and lead a good workout, I would still appreciate you. You are awesome as are your videos for fitness workouts that I follow all the time.............big Hugs Report
You are perfect just the way you are. You have inspired me to get off the couch and do things I never thought I'd be able to do at my age. I love your workouts and do them several times a week! Report
Perfection is a myth. This blog post completely inspired me. Thank you for standing up for regular, every day women who want to live healthy, fit lives but know they'll never look like the fitness models in magazines. I'd buy your workout DVD in a heartbeat! Report
What an AWESOME blog. Thanks Nicole! I believe in being strong and being fit. I don't believe in being skinny. So what, my tummy pooches out a tiny bit, so what, I've got some bat wings. But I am so healthy and I am working on being stronger! I look great, have been deemed healthy by my doctor, and I feel awesome! I will never look like a fitness model but that is not my goal! Report
You are a gift for us girl. You are just what needs a real person, who has a real life. Report
Coach Nicole, you are an inspiration to women everywhere. We all need a good dose of reality, and to realize the smoke and mirrors and unhealthy behaviors it takes to get to our media's new standards of "perfection". When I see fitness models I'm mostly grossed out by the ribs sticking out, the pointy collarbones, legs so skinny I wonder how they don't break in half when they attempt to run. I'm nowhere near a model, but I can run for 30 minutes straight, I can climb a mountain, dance with my boyfriend, play volleyball with friends, bike to work. Thank you for speaking up for real women with real bodies who are perfectly healthy and happy. Report
Coach Nicole, you are an inspiration to women everywhere. We all need a good dose of reality, and to realize the smoke and mirrors and unhealthy behaviors it takes to get to our media's new standards of "perfection". When I see fitness models I'm mostly grossed out by the ribs sticking out, the pointy collarbones, legs so skinny I wonder how they don't break in half when they attempt to run. I'm nowhere near a model, but I can run for 30 minutes straight, I can climb a mountain, dance with my boyfriend, play volleyball with friends, bike to work. Thank you for speaking up for real women with real bodies who are perfectly healthy and happy. Report
You are a beautiful vivacious girl and that is the thing that stands out. I have a BMI of 23.5 and sometimes feel too big at a considered healthy BMI because I used to have a BMI 21. I remember when I had a BMI 21 I was starving all the time though which like you say was not healthy!! I exercise for around 40 minutes a day to varying degrees so I know I am active. Mostly when I look in the mirror I see someone 'healthy'. People who use the internet in that way to be cruel are bullies and they are probably jealous you have so many fans and you are motivational to others. Report
If it helps you at all Nicole (and I realize this is an old blog), I wish I could look like you. I know even when I'm at goal weight my body won't look like yours, but, like you, I'm all about moderation and getting healthy, not being a model. I've been overweight all my life. I am going to have excess skin and things that sag. Well...I'll cope. As long as I'm healthy and fit and have the possibility of extending my life and making it a more quality life. I find you very inspiring. I'm so GLAD you look and act like a normal adjusted fitness professional. Not too many of those out there. Thank you Nicole and thank you SparkPeople!! Report
I can not believe that someone would call you thick or fugly. You are so small and petite and in great shape. You are absolutely adorable and you can obviously see from all the positive comments to this article that you are of help to a great many people. It's so hard to be in the public eye in a world where anonymous internet comments allow people to be on their worst behavior and say the most vicious things. I'm really proud of the your attitude and how you are handling the negative feedback. Thank goodness there are lots of people out there that just love you and give you tons of positive feedback. Congratulations on creating a much healthier relationship with your body and having balance in your life. You are lovely and beautiful inside and out. Report
Nicole, you are amazing! You are the reason I stick with it, you are healthy and motivational and make it fun. Keep up the videos! And you look GREAT! Report
Great self image. Great role model. I'm passing this on to some teenage girls. Report
I absolutely love your workouts and Sparkpeople.You are such an awesome trainer.
I have most of your workouts because I don`t feel intimidated by them .A lot of workout dvd`s are way too hard for an older,larger woman like myself. Report
what a great blog! And fugly? Really? Somebody needs their eyes checked...just sayin'. I may be a middle aged happily married guy but I'm not blind (yet!) and fugly is decidedly not a descriptor for you.

Needless to say, I'm a guy and I enjoy guy things - which workout videos are typically not. A while back though I started having some foot issues and needed alternatives to the treadmill and I bought a couple of your videos. I won't go so far as to say I'm "comfortable" doing them, but I'll do them and I like your approach. You make it as comfortable as possible for a man with NO rhythm and terrible balance.

Thank you! Report
Reality vs Photoshop pictures of starving models - hmmmm, which do I identify with better? YOU of course! You are amazing. Thanks for all you do to help us reach our goals. Report
Hi Coach Nicole! I love this about what you wrote: "there is much more to life than achieving what others consider to be the perfect body. I want to be the NEW picture of health and fitness--one that isn't about perfection."

For me, this says you aren't into this to become the next big celebrity trainer/tv personality/product endorser. You're in this because it's an advocacy, one driven by your own struggles and triumphs.

That's the kind of coach we need. :) Report
All I have to say is, if I look HALF as awesome as you do when I reach my goals, I'll be AMAZINGLY fine! Nicole, you're one of the most beautiful people I've ever seen, and I know that you're HEALTHY! Report
BRAVO! I commend you for your healthy outlook. You're healthy inside and out (way more than the individual who left you that stupid comment). Truth be told, I would much rather buy a DVD with a real fitness instructor and with fitness models than one with regular I'm-starving-to-stay-skinny models. I would much rather be toned and trim than skinny. So yeah, I look up to you, not them. Report
Thank you for another great blog! And yes, you are a great inspiration!

And for the record, your arms look great and you have killer legs :-) I don't know what comes over some people that causes them to make such negative, off-the-wall comments, but don't buy into it. You have it all and I for one appreciate your fitness guidance! Report
You are a great role model! You are real!
Hey Nicole, You are so adorable and beautiful inside and out! I am in the process of going to a 1 year school to become a NASM certified personal trainer and my teacher told us the same thing. It was insulting but it won't stop me! I lead the same lifestyle you do. I believe in you. Congratulations! Report
Dorothy Parker once said that beauty is skin deep but ugly goes clear to the bone. Have you ever found that skinner gals are meaner, or is it just me? I'm not perfect but I'm happy with me. I'm working on my weaknesses and learning to love and use my strengths.
As a Christian I know there's so much more to me than what meets the eye. I'd rather be a kind and gentle woman being the most beautiful one on the planet. You? Report
Thank you so much Nicole for posting this. You are beautiful, very fit and a role model for me. I love your videos and dvd and use them alot.
You are beautiful inside and out :-) Report
Thanks for being an excellent role model! We have such a skewed version of beauty and we think we're ugly if we don't measure up to that "standard." That standard is perpetuated by celebrities who give up way too much money, time, energy, and happiness for it, as well as people, as you said, who stand to gain from our desire to measure up to that elusive false image.
You look great! Your workouts kick my butt! Report
Hi Nicole,
Way to go! I mean I am so glad you feel the way you do.
I love your videos and you always look great doing the exercises.
People who think otherwise are the ones with the problem.
You are right to say that many of the people in the videos are not healthy.
So many people who look like that have eating disorders or are simply
underweight and definitely not fit.
Thanks for doing your videos, thinking about picking up one or two.
Keep up the great work! Report
If the picture at the top of this article is you then you look amazing, in my opinion. I'm going to check out your work out videos as soon as I get a chance. I would be much more motivated to watch REAL normal size people doing a video than stick skinny models who probably only ate nothing but carrots all day. Report
I have some videos that have "real" women in them of all shapes and sizes. Those videos do more to motivate me then the models used in many. It is a shame that we have become so obsessed with a certain look and shape that we get so many negative comments. When I can watch people with weight issues do the moves and adjust them for their current shape, that inspires me and lets me know I can do those moves also. Report
I hate workout video covers with workout models on them. That isn't real. I don't need to be Twiggy, I need to make MY body as healthy as I can to live a real life. I hate fake cheerleader workout voices too. I like real, and happily found spark people, and YOU coach Nicole. I would rather have a real friend with the same struggles I have than a fake example to follow. You look like a REAL person, not some doll I feel the need to compete with. Report
I think it's much better to have someone who actually looks normal than to have someone who looks "perfect".
When I was younger and only saw those "perfect" people, I would feel bad about myself and for many years thought worse and worse of myself (which led to overeating, stress, and of course weight gain).
Suddenly seeing a normal, real person who is still fit and healthy made me feel like its okay not to look like a tanned bag of bones.
Sometimes, on the days when I don't exercise, I still start to feel maybe I'm not good enough.
But, after exercising, and especially after hearing my boyfriend tell me he thinks I'm pretty or beautiful, I feel like... who cares what you look like as long as you're healthy?
The thing that helps me remember it is to think about love and relationships....
When you fall in love with someone, they are the most beautiful/handsome person in the world - even though someone else might think they are ugly.
An ancient Chinese philosopher once said "If there is beauty, there also exists uglyness"
So, maybe we should stop focusing on beauty, and start focusing on healthy instead^^ Report
I personally think you look, healthy and yes, beautiful. What woman would not want to look like you? People who make comments like that are usually jealous. Report
Great article!! Like alot of the other comments I read...I would much rather work-out with a "real" person rather than an "ideal" person with a body that I could never attain! Report
When I read what that person said, it infuriated me. First of all, fugly? You are a beautiful woman! And more importantly, you are REAL. I would rather work out with you any day than Fashion Fitness Barbie.

You have helped me a lot. I'm always using your videos here on Sparkpeople to mix up my fitness routine. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Report