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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I have a friend who looks like a model, but she can't keep up with me (at close to100 lbs over weight) on a walk. You can't judge a book by its cover. Report
I think you look and are fabulous! Report
I pretty much love every post that you write. Thanks for being so open and honest, and for bringing us kickin' workout videos too. You don't need a slick workout video to inspire passion in people and change lives. Report
You are a fitness ideal that real people can aspire to. I don't look at models and think "I can look like that someday" or even "I WANT to look like that someday." but you, I can imagine saying that about (if, you know, I were a lot younger...LOL!) I think that anyone that has a criticism about your looks, is probably very unhappy with their own, and can only make themselves feel better by finding flaws in others. Report
Just wanted to thank you for this blog! I agree with everything you've said here. For whatever it's worth, I think you look healthy and fit and I love your attitude. Keep it up!

Sheri Report
This was a wonderfully open and honest blog--filled with inspiring and motivating thoughts and ideas. One comment that caught my attention was: "A healthy lifestyle and a fit body comes with moderation—not obsession." That comment is well worth remembering. Thank you for sharing. Report
You are great and beautiful, you are a real woman not only a doll. Report
I think you're adorable and very pretty, but what I like most of all is that you're an incredible fit, healthy person who's real and got that way realistically. So thank you. Report
Wow, I can't believe that someone could be that cruel and hurtful. I think you look great. And truthfully, I love workout videos where I see women who look more like me than a super cut, no fat on their body at all. Don't get me wrong, I have major respect for the Chalene Johnson's and Jillian Michael's of the world, but that isn't realistic for me. So, continue to do YOU! Continue to inspire and motivate those of us who want to be inspired and motivated. Most of all, remember that you are a beautiful and well porportioned woman who is an inspiration to many. You don't need to look like anyone else to be an inspiration....JUST YOU! Report
I will choose normal looking people over the size 0 people any day. I have more trust of a person who looks closer to my size than to what I will never be and do not want to be. Keep doing the videos, I love them. Report
"I want to be the NEW picture of health and fitness--one that isn't about perfection."

My jaw dropped reading some of the comments/things people have said. I remember the first time I saw you, I thought, "Oh good, an exerciser leader who looks healthy and fit!" Some people's children...

I appreciate trainers like you and Cathe Friedrich because you look healthy and muscular, not like an anorexic on steroids. I would love to look like you, Nicole. :)
I love your philosophy. After having twins 4.5 years ago, it's all the more critical for me to focus on health and fitness and accept my imperfect body for the amazing job it does taking care of me and getting me through every day. I admire the work you do--it's an important service. Keep up the good work! Take in the positive comments and delete the rest! LOL! Report
I would rather be led through exercises by a real person and not a plastic one. I have seen exercise videos where *nothing* bounces.
Thank you for not being obsessed, and helping us along our journey. Report
God ppl can be such a-holes. I think you're a beautiful girl and your body looks fit to me. You look healthy! Which is what most of us are aspiring to!!! Good for you for taking a negative thing and making it positive. Go girl! :) Report
This is the real reason most of us hit overweight. Glad to hear you deleted the comment. It's very hard to escape the influences out there even knowing what they are. Poor woman. Yeah us! Report
You're amazing and inspirational! (And a great writer, to boot!) I love the idea of The NEW picture of health and fitness. :) Keep on helping thousands of people every day! How awesome is that??! Report
I would rather follow someone with a real image than a fake presentation of what someone else believes is perfect. Your DVD's are great. They present someone who can inspire us to move forward and show realist goals.

I am so glad to hear you fighting back against the negative critism. Thank you for being the voice of reason. So many are willing to put us down for not having a body that fits the unrealistic perfect image. As a society we need to focus more on a realistic healthy self image. You have given us a good start in that direction. Keep up the good work. Report
I looked at a few videos, thinking I must be looking at the wrong video. You look great. As for the fitness models, my friends and I actually do laugh at those pictures a little...who looks like that? Probably not even them. Report
You are beautiful. Our society is sick. Report
I actually feel like I can relate to your body much better than to those annoying, overly tanned, bleached and boob-jobbed fitness models. There's nothing fake about you, and that's what I like. I prefer your videos to any ExerciseTV fitnessbunny in a heartbeat. Keep it up! Report
Um... maybe I'm missing something here but I don't see anyone on this video that needs to tone her arms. While you may not be carrying "the big guns," you certainly have arms that look fit to me! I thought I was going to see someone who had the old "Hi Helen" going on.... nope. Just a woman with arms... regular arms. Arms that I'd like to have.
Then I thought I was going to see some woman in need of a make over..... um.... nope. Just a woman. A woman who looks like she's maybe 23 years old. I don't personally know how old Coach Nicole is.... but if she's over 23, I'd like to know what her secret is because she has no wrinkles.
So I guess what this whole thing leaves me with is the knowledge that no one can live up to everyone's ideal. And you shouldn't try. The only person you need to be good enough for is yourself. Period. Report
Awesome blog - kudos to you!!! Report
I like your workout videos because you look like a real woman, not some unrealistic anorexic model! I would never buy a book or video that features so-called ideal people. The hateful commenter was doing nobody any favors. PFFTTTT. There is no single ideal body shape.

Keep on keeping on, Nicole! I admire you and apparently, from the comments I've read here, so do many others! Shrug off that ridiculous comment. Report
Coach Nicole,
Don't let the words of some anonymous idiot get you down or cause you to change who you are! Looking at your pictures I see someone who is real, who is healthy, a person I can relate to and someone who can inspire me to keep moving forward. I heard an interview on the radio once that included "fitness model" spokespersons for those seen-on-tv "miracle" products and every model they interviewed said they never used the products they advertised. Even some of Kate Middleton's wedding photos were recently "adjusted" by a magazine so she would appear even thinner on their cover - although the magazine tried to deny it. Nicole, you are real and you are honest. Some fitness models on the DVDs don't seem to break a sweat during a "full" workout and rarely do I ever hear them even breathing hard. Today's fitness standards would have me be almost anorexic in order to fit in. I work as a nurse in critical care (which involves a lot of heavy physical work and stress) and there is no way I could meet society's standards and still do my job effectively. Keep up your good work and keep on being true to yourself. You are an inspiration to more people than you may ever know. Stay strong! Report
I love your videos and think you are very insirational. Do not ever listen to people like that. You impact more people than you know
No doubt these fitness models believe that we all aspire to be just like them. Wrong!! Most people I know either realise we can't look like that with an hour of exercise a few days a week OR they don't want to look like that. You are 'real' Nicole, people can aspire to look and be fit and healthy like you. More importantly, you don't look intimidating to someone new to exercising, and you're workouts are easy for people to follow o and build up their fitness levels
. I've put a few 'I just can't keep up with he video, so I don't bother any more' people onto your 10 minute workouts. Keep up the good work. Real people appreciate you. Report
Wow. Some people are so cruel. I have to tell you that I love your work out videos, think you are beautiful and have an amazing body. Just the way you are. Your down to earth realistic look is what pulled me in to your videos to begin with. I've done some exercises with the "model" videos and would either feel bad because I wasn't getting to their level of fitness or laugh the whole time because no one in their right mind can realistically exercise in those outfits! I'm glad you wrote that you would stay true to yourself. We have enough people who have sold themselves out. Its time the world accepted HEALTHY in all sizes and shapes. Report
I'm guessing those haters have been bitten by the jealousy bug. You are a beautiful person - inside and out. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. You are my "go to" person when it's time for some activity. Coach Nicole rocks!! Report
First of all, I'd like to say that you are awesome!! Don't listen to the haters...they have nothing better to do than spread misery. I was looking at your photos on facebook the other day and the first thing I thought is that you are my hero!! You look fabulous and even more importantly you look healthy. Keep up the positivity and inspiring us to be healthier! Report
HI first , have to say thank you because you helping a lot of people to change their life's, you are an inspiration to me , I dont believe in perfect bodies and we have to be realistic it's a torture to be starving the hall time , and also it;s almost impossible to live to the extremes and having a regular life's , when you're been criticized it's because your doing something good, keep doing such a nice job you look BEAUTIFUL and in really good shape THANK YOU again. Report
If I looked like you. . .wow. I can't believe people are mean enough to say that! And even if it were true! You are BEAUTIFUL and I love watching your videos because I trust you and feel like you are a real person! Report
I looked and looked and just can't see what the haters are even talking about. You go girl. Report
You look fantabulous to me and you are definitely a role model for a reasonable healthy lifestyle. You do more that the average person to stay healthy...someone most of us need to work on! Report
Thank you so much. I am sure I read this when it was posted originally, but reading it now as really inspired me. In fact I made a blog thanking you :-) You are beautiful, inside and out, and screw those who don't think so. Report
I said this as a Facebook comment, thought it was food for thought, so repeating here: Re: "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. " Don't be sorry for that! Maybe feel sorry for those who feel the need to make those comparisons and who have no idea what a healthy body looks like, and thus don't know what goals to put into place for themselves. Report
Great article! Thanks for posting it again. I think you look amazing. I would be so happy to be even close to where you are. I look up to you. So don't worry about those jerks! Report
What's that they say... haters gonna hate. I think comments on YouTube shouldn't even be allowed. The vast majority of the times I look at them, I lose a few brain cells. Report
Good timing on this: Just yesterday I received my first issue of a subscription I'd earned to a national fitness magazine. I hesitated to subscribe because I knew in with all the good, healthful tips were going to be a million pictures and messages that said "you're not good enough." Just looking at the cover model was enough to have me second guessing my choice to subscribe! Your blog is a great reminder to pull out the good stuff and take "administrative priviledges" to delete those other messages that aren't doing anything to encourage healthy lifestyle choices. Thanks for being a "real" inspiration, Coach Nicole! Report
Your arms look good to me. I can tell they are strong and fit. Report
Oh Nicole, I am glad you are where you are now!! You are fit and healthy and beautiful and showing us all how to do it. I need to show your videos to my daughter to give her some reality. She is gorgeous and strong and healthy but strives sometimes for something that is js not attainable with her genetics (hee-hee, my genetics :)). Keep doing what you do and ignore those nasty comments! Report
Hey I like videos with more everyday people. Having the perfect body is an not a realistic goal. We all know about airbrushing and lighting!
One of the reasons I like Denise Austin and Leslie Sansone's videos is they have done videos at normal weights. The background participants are average size as well and really aren't what I would call glamorous. I like that. I do my workouts to workout! Report
Look at it this way. You work for a site that inspires many people around the globe to live a healthy life style. Your impact is far more reaching than some of the videos that sit on the shelf collecting dust. You help ordinary people everyday in an extraordinary way. You've helped many of us achieve our goals or simply just get moving. For that you should be proud! I do wish you much success as you continue to pursue your work in the industry in your own way. Report
I was insulted yesterday on a blog I wrote and a friend sent me the message "Think how sad of a life that person leads that they felt the need to sit at their computer and write that". My friend couldn't have put it in better words. You are awesome for putting yourself out there. Report
I completely agree with you Coach Nicole!

The internet trolls are everywhere - no matter what site, video, or artcle you click on; if there's a place to leave comment - there's some negative anonymous person (with probably a very low self-esteem) writing in to cut down the person, the idea, or the story. Those people aren't worth the time and are probably just miserable people in general.

I have your work out video, and when I first started with it - I thought you looked like me - a normal person (who was very obviously in a lot better condition that I was cardio-wise and strength wise!)! I aspire to be in such good shape and am well on my way now (Thank you!). :)

I am working my way to a good healthy weight for me. I'm happy to say that with the help of SP, your video, and some other exercise routines I have worked out... I will be about 20-25 lbs heavier than I was as a teen; but I will be in better shape (with more strength and endurance) that I ever was at age 16. I'm proud of that, happy with that, and will not need to fully obsess over calories or workouts in order to maintain. Honestly, if I had to obess, I wouldn't be happy.

The idea is to be HAPPY and HEALTHY!!

We're doing it the right way! :) Report
You certainly inspire me to do my best . You are healthy, happy and nice looking. You are real .Thanks for being YOU . Dottie

I feel the same way, healthy is much better than hungry. I was obessessed with getting to the "perfect" size and weight for years. But now that I'm living a healthier lifestyle, I feel and look so much better. Your lifestyle and positive attitude motivates me so much more than a skinny model. Report
omg some people are just rude, and by the way nicole, you are adorable and fit as a fiddle as far as im concerned and i've done your workouts here at spark and i love them, keep em comin and thank you Report
you are definitely an inspiration to me! forget the gym rats on DVDs who try to paint this false illusion of what healthy looks like. most people like myself don't buy their lies anyway... a healthy life isn't toned arms, plastered tan abs or whatever. it's the joy you see in someone's face. and many of them just don't exude that... but you do. Report
we've all been conditioned by the media to believe that a certain body size and shape is "ideal".

I've come to realise that even the fitness models/actresses/singers on the cover pages don't look like like that in real life Report
You are so totally inspiring, I think your body is wonderful and real. I am glad to hear that you do not let negative comments put you down for long, there will always be people willing to bring you down.

You are an inspiration tome!!! Report
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