I Profess that I Love to Confess!

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Over the past year, I've written more than 100 blogs for dailySpark and have enjoyed every minute of it! Out of these hundreds of posts, I have many favorites, but only a few stand out as important and personal: my confessions. Through these cathartic posts, I've disclosed my weight, my fear of bathing suits, my body image struggles and even my embarrassing failures with all of our readers. In turn, you've shared with me some of the most supportive, encouraging and helpful advice I've ever received from anyone—let alone complete strangers! Today I am going to reflect on the confessions that had the biggest impact on our readers—and me.

Before I became a fitness professional, exercise was a hobby of mine, even when I was miserable and overweight in college. I devoured all the different fitness magazines, looking for the keys to achieving my "dream body." I looked at the models, the fitness experts, the celebrities—and I wanted to be like them. I learned what they ate, how they worked out and how much they weighed, and I tried to emulate them by putting all these little tips and tricks together into the "perfect" exercise and eating plan. It took me several years to realize that none of that really helped me, because I was never going to be just like them. For years I struggled with trying to change myself, to lose more weight, to become more toned, to stop eating sugar, carbs, junk foods, or whatever—and all it did was help me to develop disordered eating and exercise habits and a negative perception of my body. Luckily, I've moved on from most of this and discovered a healthy relationship with food and fitness. In short, I got my life back.

When I started this confession series, my intention was to help others in a way that all those books and articles were never able to help me. I never want people to look for inspiration in all the wrong places (as I did). It led me to so much struggle, self-doubt and disappointment. I wanted YOU to know that you are normal and you don't NEED to change or be like someone else. I wanted people to see that you don't have to go to extremes, that you don't have to be perfect, and that you're not alone in the struggles you have with your body or motivation. Most fitness experts look super fit, and most have to spend serious time in the gym—and careful attention to their diets—in order to stay there. But that just isn't realistic for the rest of us, not even for me. That's why I posted I Don't Have a 6 Pack, because I wanted to dispel the myth that every fitness professional has the perfect fit body or that ripped abs are the true sign of fitness.

Not only that, but I have also struggled with weight gain, obsessive overeating, and the difficulty of accepting my body and challenges of losing the weight slowly...very slowly. I wanted our readers to know that I understand where they are and where they're coming from, so I admitted to my 40-pound weight gain in college in I Gained the Freshman 40. When I was overweight, I was at the height of my disordered eating patterns, compulsively overeating to stuff down all my feelings and fears with food. I was so obsessed with food, my next meal, my next diet or cleanse or detox, and my crazy plans to burn it all off with insane amounts of cardio, that these thoughts consumed me at all times. I think a lot of people have these obsessive thoughts, especially women. But it's no way to live. When I wrote this entry, I wanted you to know that you CAN come out of those patterns and learn to have a normal outlook about food and exercise. I did it and you can, too!

Next, I shared my weight in the post This is How Much I Weigh. I was so sick of seeing actors who weigh 115 pounds and fitness experts who don’t weigh much more. These weights are NOT healthy for everyone, yet they give women ideas like, "I should weigh 120 pounds" for no reason other than the fact that our culture glorifies bodies that size. But you cannot expect to weigh what other people do; we are all different in our shapes and sizes. I have weighed "a lot" by these standards my whole life, and as a teenager, I thought it meant I was "fat." I shared my weight to prove that weight is just that—nothing too important and certainly not anything to be ashamed about. You can't tell by looking at someone what he or she might weigh. And if you weigh more than 140, 160, 180, 200, or any number of pounds—you can still be fit, healthy and happy! I wanted women to stop obsessing with the scale and start focusing on things that truly matter.

Three of my posts, I Don't Change in the Locker Room, I Won't Wear a Bathing Suit in Public, and I Have Cellulite and I Won't be Ashamed Anymore dealt with my own body image issues and my fear that other people are judging me when they see my body. I think a lot of women feel the way that I do, which is why I wrote these. But I have to be honest. A BIG reason why I wrote the bathing suit and cellulite posts was that I did NOT have the strength to accept myself and wear a bathing suit, not even after writing that post! I kept telling myself "This will be the day/week/month/year" that I start wearing one, and then summers would go by and I'd miss out on the fun. The comments on that post were some of the most encouraging comments I ever read, and I'm happy to say that, a couple weeks ago, I wore my bathing suit first time in eight years! That was largely because I made my goal public and got encouragement from our positive community—both of which held me accountable to my promise. Before I left for the pool party, I read the comments on my "Cellulite" post to psych myself up for it. I'm so glad I did it, and I have YOU to thank!

In May, I shared the story A Lesson in Failure, How I Picked Myself Up. Although it exactly a "confession" post the way these others were, I view it as one. I don't like to admit when I fail and I do like to be good at everything. (I'm a bit of a Type A personality, I guess you could say.) I was so embarrassed by the event leading up to that post, but I knew that by sharing it, it could inspire others to keep going—including myself. I had the idea for that blog after I failed and it was in my mind when I went to re-test. I knew I had to succeed so that I could share the story with everyone and have a happy ending. Wanting to share my story with others really helped me to succeed! Plus, we can all use a lesson in picking ourselves up from time to time! It was a proud moment and I was happy to share it with our readers!

And last, but certainly not least, my post I May Not Look Perfect but I'm Still Fit and Healthy was one of my favorite posts to write. I won't lie; I was mad as hell when I read that negative comment about the workout DVDs I created to help others. I used that anger to write what became one of the most popular and widely discussed dailySpark posts of the year (nearly 1,500 comments to date as I write this). I was completely overwhelmed by the positive outpouring of support when I wrote that post. And believe it or not, I read EVERY SINGLE COMMENT. What our readers had to say in response was so positive and encouraging. It just goes to show that SparkPeople has the most positive community out there—one that I am thrilled to be a part of.

I really am not as strong and confident as I may appear. Mostly, these confessions help me to process how I feel in hopes of becoming the better, more confident person that I project—someone who isn't bothered by her cellulite or how she looks in a bathing suit. I think we all need a little more help on those fronts. I'm not there yet, but I think we can all get there together by helping each other! And I'm definitely getting closer thanks to the wisdom and inspiration I get from your comments every day! Like an honest and emotional journal entry, these confessions have helped me grow as a person. They help me get things off my chest that I needed to explore and I hope they helped YOU find REAL inspiration, too.

If you don't already journal or blog on your own healthy lifestyle journey, I want to encourage you to do so. The process will help you find solutions and ideas, and when you make it public--you just never know who else you might help along the way.

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Love these blogs because they give a realistic view of weight gain and loss, and the way we see ourselves. Thanks. Report
Thank you so much Nicole, you are an amazing role model! I love that you keep it real and I feel as if you are sometimes right in my living room having a serious conversation with me. Would you like tea and cookies? Report
Just want to add my kudos...you are one of the few fitness experts around who will admit to not being perfect. I think it is because you aren't trying to sell me something! :)

I enjoy your posts and I really appreciate you admitting your imperfections. Another important function of your 'confessions' is that it helps me realize that when I do get to my goal weight I'm not gonna be perfect in body or mind. It is important for me to know this and accept it. I am growing stronger and getting better at thinking of myself as gorgeous now...

Following along with your videos shows me that you are in great shape. Thanks so much for being you. Report
Nicole, What I love about you is that you are real.
By being real, we can trust you want to help us, that you are not just marketing hype out to make a buck.
You encourage us to move forward, your videos are a great example of this.
(((hugs))) Thanks for being you. :) Report
that's why we like you Nicole - you're a great role model without letting us think we have to be PERFECT to accept who we are.
Sparkpeople rule! Report
Thanks for the great blog !!!! Report
As I'm fairly new to SP, I hadn't had a chance to read some of these blogs yet. I must say though that I am impressed and grateful that you are willing to share these personal things with others. It takes great courage and even greater compassion.

Thank you. Report
I have learned in the past year with Sparkpeople that it is all about self acceptance. I have lost 60 pounds and still have another 130 to go, but I love myself as I am and I like the way I look. I am healthier and have more energy to chase the 3 yr old and 10 yr old around. What others think and feel are just that what they think and feel and those thoughts have no power over me unless I let them. Your blogs have assisted me in getting to this place in my life and I thank you for that. Report
I hadn't read all of these, so thanks for pointing me towards them. As always, thanks for the reminder that we're real people and should set goals that work for us! Report
I am totally with you all about those first few paragraphs, well, all of what you are saying, really. I have also obsessed over fitness magazines, the next detox, the next diet, then next workout plan. I stopped working out with personal trainers because I felt like they are not advocating a healthy lifestyle, but an extreme lifestyle, all the while making my self esteem and binge eating even worse. I fired my personal trainers, have gained almost 40 pounds, but you know what? My mind is healthier and I'm getting back into working out and treating it like therapy, not a drug. I don't need to look like a fitness model, I don't need to be "skinny". I need to be healthy, in my body AND mind. Thank you Coach Nicole for being honest. We need more people like you in this industry! Report
I agree, journaling is great. I journal often about many health, fitness, and nutrition topics, and it helps not just me, but the people who read it. That's why Sparkpeople.com is so fabulous. Report
You are indeed the realistic role model so many women need - thanks for your honesty! Report
Nicole, you say on so many occasions exactly how I feel. Your tenacity, to go above and beyond to reveal the truth. Inspires and motivates me to do better for myself and my body. You Rock! Thank you! Report
Your blogs and honesty and openness and ... well everything are always inspiring. When I have slipped off track and see one of your blogs on Spark or a link to it on Facebook they always help redirect me back to my course of a happy healthy life. Report
Nicole, self-confidence is something we recognize in others, but not ourselves. It's that illusive "something around the corner". When we finally get there, it's a disappointment the feeling is "Is that all there is?".
What I'm trying to say is you are way more confident than you are giving yourself credit for.

Thanks for writing all of those "confessionals". I saw myself in some and learned from others. You're the younger sister (or maybe even the daughter) I've always longed for.

Margaret Report
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Perhaps it is through your open honesty in the way you share some of your most vulnerable moments, that you are truly one of the most beautiful people I have come to know. Nicole, may you continue to be inspired by the SparkPeople community.
We can relate to you because of your transparency! Thank you, I plan to wear my bathing suit next month on vacation! Report
I hope to be able to "let go" of many of these same issues one day. I admire you for doing this so that it may help people like myself. Report
I love your blogs Nichole. It's wonderful to know that even fitness coaches are real! Your honesty about your struggles and feelings help keep me going and I can see you are an inspiration to alot of others.
I used to buy all kinds of magazines also and try to look like the "stars". LOL LOL . Proud to say I have stopped doing that and thanks to the people here on spark have learned to eat alot healthier. But I have my moments of failier when it comes to certain foods and lazy days. I just count it as a stepping stone and do better the next day.Keep up the great work. Report
I needed a realistic role model. Thanks for being that and for making really fun workout videos.

Congratulations on feeling strong enough to wear your swimsuit. I'll bet you looked great! Report
Coach Nicole,
Your honest and inspiring blogs have helped me to start blogging about issues I am and have been dealing with for a very long time. I no longer have to hide from myself or life. I stopped dieting when I found Sparks and now aspire to lead an active and healthy life. With this has come freedom and movement on the scale as a side effect.
Thank you for being so open and helping me while helping yourself.
Live healthy, live strong!
Cyndi Report
I absolutely love your blogs!! I always make sure I read them, even if I don't comment! You're one of my heroes here on Spark and it truly does help knowing that real people struggle and can be fit and healthy at any weight or size. And you don't have to be 115 or 120 lbs to be so!!! Thank you for everything you do on here....and for being a great rold model and inspiration!! Report
Nicole, your confessions are my favorite blogs. Knowing that someone I look up to has the same fears and insecurities makes me feel so much better. We can't all weigh 120 pounds, nor do we need to! Report
I just want to tell you that I LOOK FORWARD to reading your blogs. You are SO real.....a permanent reality check for myself when I read your blogs. They are insightful thoughts, and I think you should be proud that your struggles and "wow" moments are having such an impact on our community! I look forward to more! Thanks!! Report
Thank you, Nicole, for sharing your struggles with us and being honest about who you are. It is a real challenge in this day and age to accept what we see in the mirror and I really appreciate all that you do and say to help dispel the myth that we must be "perfect". I hope that someday, I can join you in accepting myself as I am. I am working on it! Report
I was so nervous meeting Coach Nicole at the convention in May, but the minute we met in the airport in San Diego, I found out she is as 'real' as they come. She, Coach Jen, Coach Dean, Dietitian Becky, Nutritionist Tanya, and Chris 'SparkGuy' Downie have been the icons from the time I joined in December 2005. To finally meet many of them (and soon the others come Cincinnati in September) was a DREAM COME TRUE!!! Report
I enjoy reading your blogs because you stay true to yourself! Report
Thank you for sharing all this with us, Nicole! It's encouraging to know that there's something "like us" cheering us on all the way!

I love blogging. Especially when I've hit a blogging/exercise/diet slump. I'm a little embarrassed at first, but it helps give me the pick-up I need to get back into the game- especially when I read comments from my friends! Report
Thank you for sharing with us! It is nice to know that people share your struggles and reading your posts has led me to be more open among friends also, finding that a lot of us have the same insecurities. Thanks again, and I will always look forwards to your posts!
~Ang Report
This has been a great series Nicole! I admire your public honesty and willingness to "keep it real"! Report
I like the way you use your experience--and think about it--to communicate with everyone. As a p.p. has put it--thanks for expressing yourself as a real woman--and being real about that, too. Report

You are a jewel and we are lucky to have you as our Fitness coach!!

Have a great day!! Report
Thank you for sharing your confessions with us. It's nice to know that the Spark leaders are real people! Report
Thank God you do confess! It really encourages me to tease out my own erronous thinking and choose again. It's scary how many millions of us are so pumped full of "not good enough" crap and obsessive thoughts about how to achieve a better body. Another a great free site is www.ditchdiets.com which focuses on thoughts/feelings to use your "mind over fatter". Cari in that says the best way to get over body image issues is to go to a clothing optional resort. She says once you see real bodies which are all imperfect with rounded bellys and dimples you're cured! Kinda scary but boy it would be so nice to be cured of worrying what I look like. Thanks for everything you do and share. Much appreiciated! Report
So young and so wise already. Nicole, you're a treasure. Report
Thanks for being open and honest. While you hope to help yourself, you are also helping many others by telling the total truth about these facts. Report
Coach Nicole, it is your down to earth honesty that makes you the best coach and inspiration ever! I am flat out sick of celebrities who are held up as our examples. They do not live normal lives! I haven't been around all that long but your videos and blogs have been a mainstay of my day since the beginning. I am even trying Pilates again thanks to you. :) Thank you for being real and for all you do to guide and encourage us to be our best selves!! Report
Coach Nichole, thank you for being a REAL WOMAN. This is who we need to see and become. We all have our own limitations and achievements and need to be happy with ourselves. Great role model! Thank you (and I love your dvds) Report
I want to thank you for each and every one of your articles. I have gained so much inner strength knowing that I am not alone in my weight journey. I have been a member of Sparks for 2 yrs and manged to gain 75 more pounds in the 1st year and a half. Some of this is from an accident that left me with numerous broken bones and the rest is from my roller coaster eating pattern. Since March of this year I have managed to take off just around 60 pounds with the help of articles and support from the Sparks Team. I have a long road ahead to get the rest of the weight off but this time I I view it differently, now I only focus on one pound at a time. I also have quit dieting, I now just tell people I eat healthy and I feel healthy. I love your work out videos as you are with me everyday during my lunch time workouts. Exercise and eating healthy has become a welcome addition to my life. Thanks Nichole for being you! Report
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