**Video** Nicole Boretz Tips For How To Lose 50lbs and Keep It Off!

I gained something no one could ever take away from me, which was respect for myself.
— Nicole Boretz

This week's Transformation features our beautiful Nicole Boretz. After years of being considered "chubby", Nicole finally took a stand and transformed herself into one of the strongest and most dedicated women we know! 

 Before starting her journey, Nicole viewed being "chubby" as part of her identity. Nicole felt victim to this image, and it soon became the biggest contributor to her low self-esteem. After getting out of a very unhealthy relationship, Nicole says she stood at a cross-road..."I could continue down the path of self pity, or I could choose to turn things around." Nicole chose to stop being that scared girl she once knew, and never turned back. 

Nicole started her weight-loss/fitness journey in a strong way! "I decided to create a self-improvement project that I titled 'The Lion Project'. The name was inspired by a picture I received from my aunt when I was just a child. The image was of a kitten looking in the mirror and seeing a lion. At the bottom there was a quote, 'What matters most is how you see yourself'." Like Nicole, her aunt too struggled with self image. With her aunt passing away when Nicole was only 16 years old, the image of the kitten and lion only meant more to her. "The project lasted a full year, and consisted of 12 goals that had to be completed at the end. One of those goals was to finally get the body I never thought I could and to start being truly healthy. I no longer saw myself as this chubby, insecure girl. I saw the lion I wanted to be in the mirror."

For the first 6 months of her transformation, Nicole focused on her eating habits. Nicole cut out all fast food and all processed foods, red meat (which is an inflammatory meat) and started eating more fish and chicken instead, she switched from dairy to almond milk, and from butter to coconut oil. Along with these changes, Nicole also stopped eating anything with excessive sugars or breading, increased her fruit and vegetable intake, and made water her primary drink. "I made sure I wasn't 'drinking my calories'." Besides her incredible diet change, Nicole dedicated herself to working out 4-5 times a week, with a focus on cardio in the beginning. Once she noticed that she had less fat percentage, Nicole was able to start using weights to create more definition. "Once these new diet and exercise habits became well established in my life, I was able to be a little less strict." Not only was she going through physical changes on the outside, Nicole also noticed that her metabolism seemed much faster and was actually able to take in more calories without gaining weight! 

Nicole's 3 Golden Rules for maintaining a healthy lifestyle: 

  1. "Before I eat something, I try to ask myself...'Will this hurt or help my body?' After I cut out fast food, I couldn't go back. It tasted like GARBAGE! I could taste the grease and artificial additives." Nicole admits that she too falls victim to delicious temptations. However, when she asks herself that question and thinks about the fact that one cookie requires 30 minutes on the treadmill, it's easy for her to put that temptation down. 
  2. "It doesn't have to be all or nothing."  Nicole reassures us that we don't have to ruin the whole day if we splurge at some point. You can always turn it around and make healthier choices for the rest of your meals. Also, if Nicole is only able to make it to the gym for 30 minutes, she makes the most of it and always stays consistent with her habits. 
  3. "You must truly think of it as your new life style; not a 'diet' or a 'challenge'...no temporary fix will work. Your results are not permanent and need to be maintained. You have to change the way you think of yourself, and the kind of person you are. Don't attempt to make changes you can't stick to, so be reasonable with yourself. When I first cut out butter, I didn't know how I would work around that. I committed to the change though and discovered so many healthy options that I had never considered. Now I love cooking with coconut butter, and avocados work great as a spread on bread. It has been 3 years since I have purchased butter, and I'm never going back." 

Despite her dedication, Nicole did have a few set backs and times where she wanted to give up. During her journey, she managed to switch jobs and moved to a new place, which made her whole routine fall apart. Nicole gained about 15 pounds back temporarily, after a year of keeping it off. Seeing how her results were dwindling away, Nicole regained her motivation. Nicole received so many compliments on her transformation and got used to her new found confidence, there was no way she was going back. "At that point in my journey, I had already changed how I saw myself. I saw myself as someone who eats clean and loves to exercise. So when I realized that my habits were not keeping up with my new self image, I kicked it into gear and got back on track.  

Nicole kept focus by keeping track of her progress through journaling, taking measurements, and photos. Nicole would also set small goals on a daily and weekly basis. Those little successes helped her keep her momentum towards her ultimate goal. To reward herself for her progress, Nicole makes sure to still make the healthier choice; "since there are still times when I crave something sweet or salty, I decided to find snacks that are healthy, but still hit the spot." Also, if Nicole has a really great workout and pushes herself in weight lifting, she allows herself to eat whatever she wants for dinner...as long as there is plenty of protein; "I can eat it guilt free since I know my hungry muscles earned it!"

Throughout her fitness journey, Nicole has lost a total of 50 pounds! Once she started doing more strength training, Nicole gained 5 pounds of muscle. In all, Nicole has learned one very important thing about herself: "I learned that I am capable of so much more that I could have guessed. I gained something no one could ever take away from me, which is respect for myself. I gained faith in my strength and abilities. I made a promise to myself, and I kept it." 

Going through this change in lifestyle, Nicole now sees herself as the strong, beautiful person she always was. "I wish I would have known this version of me was always available and waiting to bloom. I wish I had not spent so much time as the kitten, and that I had known I was ALWAYS the lion. Perhaps I would have started sooner, and I wouldn't have spent another moment as anything other than my best self." 

*To follow Nicole's progress and fitness journey, follow her on Instagram: @findyourlion_fitness **Link to >>> "Find Your Lion Project"

Nicole, Congratulations On Your Weight-Loss/Fitness Journey!