One of my favorite things about having such an awesome community is getting to know more about all of you. Following your health and fitness journeys, seeing you challenge yourselves and reach your goals is so inspiring for me!
One person who caught my eye recently is Lindsay Wooten. Lindsey has entered four (yes four!) of my Transformation Challenges this year. I first came across her social media posts often when searching the hashtags to select our Weekly Prize Winners and really enjoy following her journey.
She has lost an incredible 20 pounds since entering her first Challenge in January, so I’m very impressed with the physical transformation she has made. But what inspires me even more is how she has used the Challenges to enhance her personal fitness goals, which you’ll see below 🙌
Lindsay is an editor and a self-professed “word nerd” – check out her story and her top transformation tips below!
I will be on the lookout for all of you other Goal Getters out there, so we can share your story with the rest of our community here. It’s tough to keep track of everyone, so if you have an inspiring story to share send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d love to hear it!
Written By Lindsay Wooten
I was NOT an athlete growing up. Instead, I did what many women do to lose weight: I under-ate, tried every fad diet, took every conceivable “magic pill,” and put my body through hell. I was a slave to the scale.
Then I had my first “aha” moment in my 20s when I signed up for personal training. I found that I loved weight training. 🏋️♀️ I couldn’t run a mile to save my life, but I sure loved to lift. I had found something I was passionate about that I was sure I’d do regularly. Then life happened.
After I finished university, my husband and I did what we were supposed to do. We got good jobs we felt trapped in, bought a house that felt like a financial noose, and got fat and unhappy. We created a life around eating and drinking, and an appearance that everything was okay. It wasn’t.
In 2013, I was in a car accident. Nothing major — but bad enough that I cried from pain just getting out of bed and going up stairs. Bad enough that my weight skyrocketed. Bad enough that the neurosurgeon’s diagnosis scared me: “You’re fat. If you don’t lose weight, your discs will continue to deteriorate, and you will be in pain for the rest of your life.” 😟
So the cycle of fad and crash dieting began again. Everything changed, and yet stayed the same. I lost some weight (gained it back); started training again (not consistently); I was so unhappy. By 2015, I couldn’t do it anymore. My husband and I sold our house, he left his job, and we moved to California. 🚗
We had to completely start over; financially, professionally, personally. We talked about reinventing ourselves: If we could be anyone, who would we be? We would be healthy. Happy. Successful, in jobs we loved.
As part of this reinvention, my husband signed us up for a Spartan Race. Like I said, I was NOT a runner, and I certainly wasn’t ready for 20 obstacles on top of that. I was terrified, but I was also motivated. So we switched gyms and did weights, functional training, hiking, even running. Completing that first race lit a fire in me. I realized that most of the things I feared, most of the things I had convinced myself I couldn’t do, were all in my head. By 2017, I was much healthier, but still not where I wanted to be.
Enter Nicole Wilkins. For 2017, my husband and I set a goal to run nine Spartan races to get a triple trifecta, but we were nowhere near ready. So we signed up for a Challenge at a UFC Gym that was associated with Nicole Wilkins. When I heard Nicole’s opening address, It. Just. Made. Sense. 💡 I gained so much respect for her, her message, and her approach.
We were getting a blueprint for success from a world-class athlete. I remember talking to her one-on-one about our goals for the Challenge. My goals were specific, measureable, but not at all realistic in the given time frame. I think I told her that, too. In hindsight, my goals were ambitious, yes, but also achievable – if I was willing to grow into them.
These Challenges are helping me do just that. I signed up for my first one in January 2018, the 60 Day Transformation Challenge. I was 144 pounds. The 10-Week Photo Shoot Ready was my fourth consecutive Challenge. I finished this one at 125 pounds.
I wasn’t an athlete before, but I am now. I eat like an athlete, train like an athlete, set goals like an athlete. All thanks to what I’ve learned and gained through Nicole’s Challenges. I’ve also found my happiness. Not just in the gym or on the race course, but in my body, my marriage, my job, and life in general. 🙋
Bonus Q & A With Lindsay!
What was your favorite meal or food on the menu?
A: On the Photo Shoot Ready Challenge, I loved the breakfast burrito. 😋 Overall, I really like all the food on the plans. There’s a wide variety of choices so you can change things up, try new options. I love that there’s options for busy people who don’t have time to cook complicated recipes.
What was the most surprising thing you learned about yourself?
A: I am only scratching the surface of discovering what I am truly capable of. I surprise myself regularly: stronger lifts, faster runs, better placement in my races, and bigger losses and gains in body composition. Before, my own mental limitations of what I “think” I can do have been keeping me from reaching for bigger goals — goals I now know I can achieve.
Were there times when you felt like giving up? If so, how did you deal with it?
A: I remember we moved cross-country in the last two weeks of my first Challenge. I lost access to my kitchen, my gym, my support network. That was rough. But I used the Challenge as a way to keep myself on track. In the weeks up to the move, food prep kept me from eating based on my emotions, and the workouts ensured I took time for me and dealt with the stress in a positive way. 💪 I even packed a lot of my foods for the four-day car drive and worked out in hotel gyms along the way. I wasn’t even close to doing the Challenge to 100%, but I didn’t completely quit. I did the best I could for that time, and didn’t beat myself up about the things beyond my control.
How do you stay motivated every day?
A: I set short-, medium- and long-term goals. The Challenge is usually part of a short- or medium-term goal. Then there’s a BIG, long-term goal that goes beyond the Challenge. I like to set goals that have high stakes. For Photo Shoot Ready, the big goal is to run a Spartan Ultra Beast (which I completed! 🙌). The race is 30 miles with 60 obstacles. There is no “faking” your way through that. My advice is to commit to something big beyond the Challenge: schedule a photographer, sign up for a bodybuilding contest or a race, book that bikini beach holiday. Your goal should excite (and maybe scare) you, and it shouldn’t be something you can easily back out of. That will help you stick to the plan, even when you don’t feel like it.
What’s the most important piece of advice you can give to others doing a Challenge or trying to change their bodies?
A: Your mindset goes a long way in determining your success. Most of the time, we are our own biggest obstacles. We bring a lot of baggage to everything we do: what we think we can and can’t eat; what we think we can and can’t lift. Get out of your own way, trust the process, and don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is an important part of learning where our limitations are. If you never fail, you’ll never know what you are capable of — you might always be stopping short of greatness or a huge breakthrough.