She Lost Weight AND Quit Smoking – Nicole’s Success Story!!

She Lost Weight AND Quit Smoking – Nicole’s Success Story!!

Hi Everyone!

I want to share an incredible and unique success story with you.  Nicole Pickering is a Commercial Assistant Property Manager for McKinley who has made some significant changes in her life.  These changes that have led her to lose 15 lbs, drop 5 bmi points and go from a size 8 to a size 4 in the last 30 days!  One of the best parts of Nicole’s story is she accomplished her weight loss and body transformation all while QUITTING SMOKING!!  Wow!!  Read on and get inspired!!  Way to go Nicole!!

What motivated me to change?

I really made the decision based off of our wedding coming up this fall and making sure that dress fit. But then after I started seeing the results of being in the gym, it pushed me even more. I worked out even harder and I even started to dislike how I felt if I missed even one day of the gym. I printed up signs that hang on my fridge that say “Shredding for the Wedding” and “Hot Mess to Wedding Dress”. It definitely helps remind me when I want to reach in the fridge for some ice cream. I think I’ll post an old picture of myself up there once the wedding is over. It’ll remind me who I don’t want to be again.

What about the smoking?

I’ve been an on again / off again smoker since I was 16. Yes I hate to even admit that. I think the longest stint I’ve been without smoking was when I was pregnant with my children. Over the last two years I’ve really tried to focus on quitting completely. I would get very close and then jump back into it. I realized when I started working out again that I just couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t even walk 2 miles without needing to stop for a breath. Now, I can do full exercises without being out of breath. My skin has brightened up and I overall just feel more alive and in control. In all honesty, I think I swapped out addictions. I went from being addicted to smoking and nicotine to being addicted to working out. That can’t be bad right?  You would think my stress levels would have increased due to the lack of nicotine but with the additional workouts, the stress is being relieved.

What exercises do I do and how do I fit it in with my crazy work schedule?

Let’s face it, we all want to have the excuse that we “just don’t have time”. I realized that I needed to make time.  I asked myself what was more important, going home after work to have dinner and sit on the couch watching TV or going to the gym and fueling my body. Instead of sleeping in, I get up an hour earlier and start work earlier than the normal 8am time. It also helped knowing the 320 office had a gym and that employees were taking their lunch hour to work out. It made me realize I could do that too working from outside the 320 office. Now that I have this crazy “2 a day” routine, if I don’t make it one day or I miss a Zumba class, it makes me slightly thrown off for my day. Yes I am in the gym two times a day. I found taking that break mid-day to relieve stress, use your body and get your muscles flowing really helped my productivity.

I do travel a lot for work here at McKinley. I found the best way to work around this is to have a membership to a gym that is national. I am a member at LA Fitness (McKinley has a corporate rate with LA Fitness, ask Meredith for details) and I can go to ANY of the locations in the state of Florida at no additional cost.  This has allowed me to visit my properties and still be able to fit in a workout somewhere else if I’m staying more than one day. When up in NY, it only cost me a $15 fee to work out at the LA Fitness locations up there. It was better than the hotel gyms that didn’t really cut it for me. Personal choice.


My normal day to day routine is as follows:

Awake and up at 6am

Have breakfast and start working around 7-730am

Take early lunch for my 11am class at the gym (either Zumba or Cardio)

Back to work and leave typically around 5pm and head back to the gym

Evening routine is strength training (Alternating – Back & Biceps / Legs / Chest and Triceps)

Home around 630p-7p and have a healthy low cal, protein dinner.

On the weekends, I still am at the gym. My next goal will be to get myself into Yoga classes. They offer them at LA Fitness and I just haven’t fit them in. I’m thinking of swapping out my weekend workout with the Yoga class.

A big accomplishment for this year?

Back in 2010 I got into an accident which tore 3 ligaments in my knee. Since then, I have had the hardest time with exercise. I never thought I would ever be able to run again. There are still things I am unable to do to this day. I realized that I needed to build up and strengthen those muscles that support my knee. Just last week, I was able to run a straight mile without stopping. The first time in 5 years. I was so excited over this accomplishment and felt that I was finally getting my old pre-accident body back.

How I increased my water intake?

I used to be so dehydrated due to my lack of H2O intake. In addition to other obvious ways of knowing you’re dehydrated, I would get dizzy and lightheaded just sitting at my desk. Once I started forcing myself to drink more water, the changes became dramatic. My skin is much healthier, my body temperature is more controlled and I don’t get the hunger pangs anymore from being dehydrated. I found a water bottle that is exactly 23 oz and I make sure to drink at least 7 of them a day.

From chips to veggies?  I can’t lie, a huge part of my transformation was my eating habits. I am a junkie for junk food. I love anything that is unhealthy for you. I would eat an Airhead or a bag of chips everyday if I could. I knew that my diet was what was going to hold me back. As much as I love sweets, I changed up from eating candy to eating grapes and bananas. Those fruits gave me the sugar to curve my craving on more a healthy side. I started eating breakfast in which I hardly ever used to do and I was really strict on my dinner. A typical daily meal plan looks like this:

  • Breakfast – one piece of 100% whole grain toast with fat free peanut butter topped with bee pollen particles, piece of skim milk mozzarella cheese and a hardboiled egg
  • Post Workout – Protein Shake
  • Lunch – Salad with additional protein (kidney beans, seed mix, hemp seeds, chicken breast) with a homemade dressing
  • Post Workout – Protein Shake
  • Dinner – Grilled Chicken Breast. Sometimes I will throw in some veggies, depends on the mood. And when I start to feel too low on iron, I will stop at the Fresh Market and get a grass fed steak and have just that for dinner. That’s rare though, usually only once a month.

I do allow myself one CHEAT MEAL a week. Not a full day of cheating, just one meal to help with the urges to eat badly.

One more piece that has helped in my transformation

My physical transformation wasn’t the only item I was working on. I really wanted to work on a mental transformation so back before the holidays I started meditating at night. I thought it was super weird at first. I didn’t know with my over active brain if I could do it. I started (and still use) the guided meditations. I lay in bed (no, I don’t sit like a lotus) turn off all the lights and put my headphones on. What it has allowed me to do is release all the negative energy that I may have built up from the day. It allows me to wake up the next morning with a fresh mind. I don’t let any “worries” from the past day carry over into the next.  Each day is brand new just like it should be. A positive mind can ONLY lead to positive results!


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