Nicole Nichols, more commonly known as Coach Nicole, is a fitness expert and the editor of the #1weight-loss and fitness website in America, SparkPeople.com. Coach Nicole provides us with tips on fitness and health. She is also named America’s “Top Personal Trainer to Watch” by ACE and Life Fitness in 2011. Coach Nicole has also made a fitness DVD called SparkPeople: 28-Day Boot Camp, which is a best seller in the fitness genre. Fit Celeb had the privilege to talk with one of the top fitness experts of our time.
Fit Celeb: What is your favorite exercise?
Coach Nicole: I’m a person who loves to move so it’s hard to pick just one thing. If I could only do one form of exercise for the rest of my life I’d probably pick running. When it comes to strength-training or toning moves that really pack a punch, I love using kettlebells. The basic swing is such a great full-body move that I never get tired of it.
Fit Celeb: What’s your biggest fitness secret?
Coach Nicole: My secret to staying fit is simply staying consistently active. The more active you can be throughout the day and throughout the week, the better off your health will be. Moving burns calories—even when it’s leisurely. I try to move for at least an hour a day. Most days I am actively moving for at least 2 hours. It’s not all intense—sometimes that’s an hour of Spinning, 30 minutes of Pilates and 30 minutes of walking the dog. But the biggest key is to stay consistent in whatever you do. I hardly ever take a day off from moving.
Fit Celeb: Are you a calorie counter/do you believe in calorie counting?
Coach Nicole: I personally am not a calorie counter, which I think surprises a lot of people. I think calorie counting does work, and it’s the basis of the SparkPeople.com program—which has helped thousands of people find weight-loss success. But for me, a person who formerly dealt with disordered eating and exercise habits, counting calories only makes me go crazy and obsessive. I’ve learned to rely on my own hunger and fullness cues, and I simply try to eat healthy most of the time. I do not look at calorie labels or track calories burned—and that works for me.
Fit Celeb: What advice do you have on a healthy diet?
Coach Nicole: The best and simplest advice I can give is to cook more and eat fewer processed foods. Whole foods are lower in calories, higher in nutrients, and take more time (and energy) for your body to digest. Don’t obsess over it—just try to eat well MOST of the time. You have to indulge every now and then or else you’ll never stick with your healthy diet.
Fit Celeb: What’s your favorite body part/most proud body part?
Coach Nicole: To be honest, I don’t really dissect my body this way. I don’t focus on how it looks or doesn’t look or try to change it. Overall, I guess I’m just proud to have a fit and healthy body, regardless of how it looks. I don’t have chiseled abs or defined shoulders like a lot of other trainers—and I’m OK with that. I’m just a regular person trying to get and stay fit in a way that doesn’t involve deprivation in my diet or endless hours in the gym. But if you would ask my husband, he’d probably say my butt is my best asset! That’s thanks to lots of running, squats and lunges!
Fit Celeb: Which area of the body is hardest to get in shape/lose weight in?
Coach Nicole: For most people, probably the stomach. This tends to be the last place people lose weight—and where those last few pounds tend to stick around. It’s not going to be possible for everyone to get a super flat, toned stomach, but with consistency, you can definitely improve this area if you’re watching your diet and sticking to a good cardio routine. Remember—cardio burns ab flab, not crunches.
Fit Celeb: How do you motivate yourself to work out when you’ve had a bad day/just don’t feel like it?
Coach Nicole: Honestly, I almost never have to motivate myself to work out. I want to every day. But when my alarm goes off early in the morning and I’m still tired—that is when I have the hardest time sticking to it. In those cases, I remind myself that even with the best intentions, I know I will miss my workout if I tell myself “I’ll just do it later.” Life just gets in the way during the day! So typically, I think about how I WANT to exercise (which is true), and how I’ll regret skipping it or missing it in order to sleep in. It works—and I get out of bed about 90% of the time.
Fit Celeb: What food do you like to indulge on?
Coach Nicole: I believe all foods can fit into a healthy diet within moderation, so no foods are ever off limits for me. I love sweets, especially ice cream. My go-to sweet treat when I want something is Twizzlers, which I’ve loved since I was a kid!
Fit Celeb: What’s your best health advice?
Coach Nicole: Health is the sum of many actions at once. You can’t just diet. You can’t just exercise. You have to incorporate smart, health-promoting habits throughout your life to achieve optimal health. Think about not just diet and exercise, but other things you can do to benefit your mind and body: getting enough sleep, taking time for yourself and to reduce stress, having good relationships and friendships. All of these things matter for good health. If you neglect one area, you’ll definitely feel it in your body (or mind) over time.
Fit Celeb: How did you get into your fitness career?
Coach Nicole: I actually started out in the design field in college, but the crazy schedule of all-nighters took such a toll on my health. I was depressed, overweight—unable to exercise or eat the way I wished I could. I realized this was a career and life that I could never be happy with no matter how much I liked the idea of it. So after three years in college, I switched gears completely, majored in Health Promotion (specializing in Fitness) and honestly, I knew I did the right thing. Health has always been a priority to me, and I wanted to not only be able to focus on my own health and fitness but to help others do the same. I started working as a trainer and fitness instructor in college, writing health articles for the school paper. That’s how SparkPeople found me—and I’ve been with them ever since! It’s led to so many amazing opportunities to share a fun, safe and sane message about health and fitness with millions of people. I feel really fortunate to have landed a job that is such a great fit for me personally, but also has such a big impact on others.
Doesn’t Coach Nicole just motivate you like no other? To check out and more lifestyle, fitness, and wellness, go to www.AcaciaLifestyle.com
Photos courtesy of: Acacia