Spotlight Sunday: Nicola Hinton – “I have lost 3 stone to date and feel strong, lean and incredible. I love feeling fit and long may it continue.”

I have a background in endurance triathlon, competing and coaching and have always been healthy and happy with my weight/clothes sizing being fairly constant for years. Training had started to stall approx. 6 years ago when my husband became ill with various issues. He was my main training partner at the time, and as time progressed he unfortunately became less able to train with me.

Initially (because I was heavily involved in a triathlon club) this only had a slight impact on my ability and desire to train, however 4 years ago we had an additional move from Wiltshire to West Sussex to an area where we knew nobody. This had an additional impact on my training and I started to lose confidence and performance and eventually the training dried up. Weight started to creep on and earlier this year I found myself 4 stone heavier and 3 dress sizes up.

At the end of last year I was asked to be a bridesmaid for my friend’s wedding due at the end of June and when in April I tried my dress on, I hate to say it just felt wrong – not the dress but me. I felt very down about not feeling the love and confidence for my body, I wasn’t used to being unhappy with what I looked like so it actually caught me by surprise and was quite depressing.

I immediately thought I would get back into what I know, so I started (4 stone heavier than before) to try and get back into running which unfortunately resulted in a bout of runners’ knee which stopped me in my tracks. I was devastated but realised I needed to shift the weight and do some strength work if there was any chance of running again, I knew it was time for action.

A friend had introduced me to more strength and conditioning training and I wanted to learn more. I saw an advert on Facebook for the PW Sexy Summer Slimdown Challenge starting at the beginning of June, emailed a few questions and then went for it. I had no idea really what they could do for me, or what it involved (i.e. what were Metabolic Xcelerator sessions? Etc.) but it could only help? Surely!? Hence signing up.

I am competitive (I am not going to lie!) so the challenge format worked amazingly for me, I lost 8 lbs prior to my friend’s Wedding which made such a difference to how I felt about my appearance. I felt confident on the day and was able to enjoy the day with them rather than trying to hide myself away as I wanted to previously. And at the end of the 6 week challenge I had lost 18 lbs in total and felt amazing.

I then spent the next 4 weeks maintaining my loss, still getting in my MX sessions and watching what I ate, before I contacted Anthony to say I wanted to go again. I meet with him, I discussed that I did not want to join a competition this time but felt I wanted a focus.

We set a specific target for myself that actually made me very scared and excited at the same time – it was to get back into my wedding dress in approximately 10 weeks’ time just in time for my Wedding Anniversary… I was about 35 lbs off the weight I was back then (5 years ago) so this seemed a little mad – but do you know what I had changed body shape incredibly since joining and I decided to trust Anthony and the plan and followed the steps to get there.

At this time I received one of Anthony’s emails asking this question, “What is your why?” I.e. ‘Why’ do I want to train, ‘Why’ do I want to get healthy, etc. This I thought would be a very easy exercise to do, but to my surprise I found it incredibly difficult, a very personal and challenging question. I think perhaps this was the first time I had honestly genuinely explored (warts and all, especially the warts) why I found myself needing help as well as why I wanted help. It was a revolutionary moment for me and I think pivotal to the success of getting back into my wedding dress.

I am very proud to say we achieved this goal, Anthony arranged a professional photo shoot at the end of my 10 week challenge, and unbeknown to me, the resultant picture had been framed and posted so it arrived at the hotel we got married in, just in time for our Wedding anniversary afternoon tea celebrations! How proud was I?

I had dropped 20 lbs in those 10 weeks or so and, although still over a stone heavier than I was on my Wedding day, the muscle tone gained meant I fitted into the dress. This was quite revolutionary for me, with more muscle on board I was heavier and yet smaller… OK I get it now! 🙂 Don’t worry about the scales. How liberating!

Food (my absolutely favourite subject):

Now, I love food. Am obsessed with it really. My relationship with food includes thinking about the next meal whilst eating the current one. My favourite pass-time is spending hours in the kitchen making a lovely meal from scratch and trying out new techniques.

In practice that previously meant I would have an amazing meal that evening and for the next 2 days (when out of the house on long shifts) I was visiting the garage, corner shop and chippy to make up meals.

Since starting with PW, I now plan, shop, and cook 3 days in advance at least. I cook using healthier techniques and make simpler food so that I can prep all of those meals within the same time used to cook one, so no need for a chippy visit.

One very important thing for me though is to put strong, exciting flavours into the food to prevent me getting bored of it, so this is what I do. I then run the details through My Fitness Pal and shop and cook food accordingly in advance; it is so much easier and sustainable.

Exercise (my second favourite subject):

I had really missed exercise, and I needed to get back into it. The running experiment showed me that I couldn’t just get back into what I had done before but needed to be smart and get muscle tone back.

Well I have more than exceeded my expectation. I have lost 3 stone to date and feel strong, lean and incredible. I have so much more energy than before. I love feeling fit and long may it continue.

The most important things I have learned is to be:

  • Consistent,
  • Honest with myself about everything – nutrition, drivers, sessions planned vs done, etc.
  • Open to new ideas, techniques and experiences

I would recommend this approach to anyone who is prepared to explore, learn, have fun and enjoy healthy living.