Success Story: Nicole Hill
By Lenny & Larry's. Posted on August 11, 2016.
Growing up, I was an active kid who loved to play dress up or play in the dirt. I loved to fish, but never liked to take the fish off the hook. My childhood was fairly normal, besides the absence of my father and having to move constantly. In fact, I was at 4 different elementary schools before 5th grade. And every time I started to feel like I belonged somewhere, there we were packing our bags and moving again.
It all started in Junior High. Growing up, I was always considered “chunky”, but was never picked on by other kids until the 6th grade. That’s when things started to go downhill.
Eventually, I landed at a small school in a small town. I knew everyone’s name, yet I felt entirely invisible for the first few years of high school. I was 80 pounds heavier then….a shy girl with an acne ridden face, braces, and absolutely no self-confidence…probably because I was bullied for the way that I looked, an easy target. It was obvious that I didn’t look like everyone else. I didn’t wear name brand clothes, or have an attractive body. No, my labels were “the honor student”, “the girl that boys didn’t want to talk to” unless they wanted to copy my homework, the “You’re nice, but we are just friends” girl. I felt lost, unwanted, inadequate. Like an outsider.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can break one’s spirit.
“I’ll never make it if this semi doesn’t move!” said a guy when I was on my way to lunch one day.
“Oh my, she’s huge!” said a girl in my class. The class roared in both gasps and laughter.
I. Was. Humiliated. And these are just the tip of the iceberg. Every school day was a ticking time bomb of anxiety for me. I would wake up two and a half hours before leaving for school just to try and perfect my appearance from my hair, to my makeup, to my clothes. Yet without fail, someone would find something about me to ridicule and make fun of.
One time, my mom bought me an expensive and fashionable hoodie. I begged her to buy it for me because I thought the “popular” girls wouldn’t make fun of me if I wore it. Turns out, because the hoodie was so tight, they still found a way to put me down.
Why couldn’t they just accept me? That’s all I wanted. Still, I would smile. Funny that everyone thought of me as “The girl who always smiled”. But no one bothered to look a little deeper to see the cracks in my mask.
Being fed up with constant embarrassment, I began to cope through self-harm. I would give any reason or excuse to stay home from school. It just became too much. I would be so utterly disgusted with myself for the things kids would say to me, that I began to truly believe in what they said.
Thus became my routine: go to school, cry in the bathroom, come home and eat and eat and eat, go to my room, self-harm, fall asleep, repeat. Day after day, this is what my life had become.
Although high school was mostly a horrible time in my life, there were some moments that gave me hope.
My freshman year, I auditioned for my very first musical. Shaking on stage, I basically whispered my monologue to the director. I didn’t make the cast list, but I didn’t give up, either.
I even tried out for the dance team… and actually MADE it. I barely squeezed into the dance costumes, but slowly, I started to feel important.
My sophomore year, I tried out for the dance team again, but this time… I didn’t make it. I was beyond confused, but then I realized that I only made the team the first time because they felt bad for me. I understood, though. They didn’t want to spend the extra money buying larger sized costumes just so I could match with everyone else.
That same year I auditioned for the Fall musical and I gave it my all. Amazingly, I made the cast list and finally felt like I belonged somewhere. This moment, right here, is when theater became my outlet — my escape. I was no longer Nicole, the smart, nice, fat girl. Now, I could hide behind a mask; I could hide behind a character.
My junior year is when I finally decided to make a change with my health. But I wanted to change for all of the wrong reasons – to be wanted, accepted, pretty, skinny…I had no idea what I was doing, but I started.
I started to eat 800 calories or LESS a day, and ran outside at night so no one would see me. A typical day would look like this: one slice of white bread for breakfast, fruit and a peanut butter jelly for lunch, and then dinner would be half a plate of whatever was being served that night. I started losing weight… but in a VERY unhealthy way. At the time, I didn’t know that it was unhealthy. All I saw was progress. In my head, restricting led to losing weight, and that was the goal. This is also when I became a vegetarian. After continuing on with this for a few months, I lost about 30 pounds while I was still in high school.
Now, fast forward a few years to right now, my final year in college. I maintained that 30 pound weight loss, fluctuating 10 pounds here and there, but also realized an even better goal…
“I want to be the BEST possible version of myself.”
So, in February 2016 I began losing weight for the RIGHT reason. I did it for me. I was no longer obsessed with numbers on the scale, but more concerned about how I was feeling about myself. I started to add more calories to my diet and upped my protein intake. I worked out 5 days a week and lifted heavy weights. Every once in a while, I allowed myself to indulge. If I have ANY tips to give to someone on their fitness journey, it would be:
- Take it one day at a time, and
- Don’t be afraid to treat yourself every once in a while.
Currently, I have lost a total of 80 POUNDS and counting. Honestly, it feels so incredible just to even say that! My weight loss journey has taught me so much about myself and what I am capable of doing. Looking back, I know the old Nicole would be SO proud of who she is today. Not only physically, but with my overall wellbeing, too.
Many of those who teased me for being the “big girl” — they ended up voting me prom queen. Those who bullied me into hating myself — now, they are supporting my weight loss journey. The guys who made me feel ugly for not looking like every other girl in school — now, they are asking me to go get coffee. The girls who judged me for not looking like them — now, they ask for fitness tips.
The truth is, I needed this negativity to help me grow into the strong, independent young woman that I am today. Today, I am 21 years old with a strong passion for performance, fitness, and traveling. I’m a senior, an actress, and a writer.
I’m still not perfect, but I’ve accepted that I never will be. That is true beauty in itself. I have lost a total of 80 pounds so far, but I didn’t lose 80 pounds for anyone else—I lost it for me. I am now three years clean from self-harm and I plan to lose 20 more pounds in order to reach my weight loss goal of 100 pounds. But my overall goal is simply to be happy.
Like anyone else, I still have my insecurities. I’ll be honest, some days I still see “high school Nicole” when I look in the mirror. It has been a slow journey to accept my growth since then, but I remind myself daily of all the progress I have made.
No matter where you are in your fitness journey, it’s YOURS. There is no race to being the best person you want to be. It took me until this year to realize I was worth so much more than what I was settling for within myself. So, I simply started. I made the decision to change, and I make that decision daily. And most importantly, I didn’t change for them — I changed for me.
Check out Nicole's Instagram page
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