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In this episode, I interview Nicole, who read Thinner Leaner Stronger and used what she learned to lose over 100 pounds while gaining significant amounts of muscle.

After having her third child, Nicole was over 260 pounds and embarrassed by letting herself get to that point. She got fed up and decided to make a change, but she wasn’t sure what to do to get fit.

Like many women, she was intimidated by weightlifters in the gym and ended up spending her time in the cardio section. It didn’t help that she was taught by misguided trainers that she needed to “tone” and lifting weights would make her bulky. She was also following heavily-restricted fad diets, which lead to a lot of binge eating.

She eventually lost some weight, but she still wasn’t happy with her physique. She was skinny fat

Luckily, a google search on building muscle helped her find my book Thinner Leaner Stronger, and after implementing what she learned about macros and strength training, she’s now 156 pounds, wearing size 4 jeans, and has visible abs.

What’s more, her awesome transformation has inspired her husband to join a gym, and he’s also lost 100 pounds!

In this interview, Nicole and I chat about her story and the important lessons she’s learned along the way, including what she was doing before finding TLS, how macros transformed her eating and ability to stick to her diet, how she overcame gym intimidation, how she’s inspired her kids to eat healthier, what she’s working toward now, and more.

So if you’re looking for a jolt of inspiration and like motivational stories, I highly recommend you listen to this episode.


5:23 – Where were you before you met me and my work and where are you now?

12:04 – Before you met me, what was working for you and what wasn’t working for you?

17:01 – How did it make you feel knowing you lost the weight you wanted but you still weren’t satisfied with how you looked?

18:04 – How did you find me?

23:43 – How was the gym intimidation factor?

26:14 – When did you start to feel more comfortable?

29:07 – Since you’ve gained some muscle how has that changed your physique?

35:56 – Where do you want to go next? What are you working towards?

41:49 – How has what you’re doing rubbed off on your kids?

Mentioned on The Show:

Legion VIP One-on-One Coaching

Thinner Leaner Stronger

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Mike: Hey, I’m Mike Matthews. This is Mus for Life. Thank you for joining me today to hear from. Who read my book, thinner, leaner, stronger some time ago, and used what she learned in the book to lose over 100 pounds while also gaining a significant amount of strength lean muscle. As you can imagine, she completely transformed her physique now before thin, leaner, stronger.

Nicole was her heaviest that she had ever been in her life. She was 260 pounds. She had just had a third child and she was embarrassed and couldn’t believe that she let herself get to that point, but she eventually got fed up. With the status quo and she decided to make a change, but she wasn’t sure what do, like many women, she was intimidated by the gym, particularly the weights section, all of the sweaty guys, grunting and groaning, and so she decided to spend all of her time in the cardio section, and it didn’t help that she was taught by misguided trainers that she just needed to focus on.

Toning her muscles and lifting weights would make her bulky, and she also needed. Follow fad diets that rely on heavy restrictions, and which also lead to binge eating, binging purging. Now, because she was doing a lot of starvation, dieting and a lot of cardio, she did lose weight and she even reached what she thought would be a great number on the scale, but it wasn’t the body she wanted.

She still wasn’t happy with what she saw in the mirror. She was skinny fat in her. Terms. And then though she started to search around online for information on muscle building, particularly muscle building for women, and that helped her find my book Thinner, leaner, stronger. And now after following the program for some time, she is 156 pounds and she wears a size four and has visible abs.

She is super fit and she also has inspired her husband to. In the festivities and start his own transformation. And he is also now down almost a hundred pounds. And so in this interview, Nicole and I chat about her story and some of the important lessons she has learned along the way and how she has used what she has learned and experienced to help inspire her kids.

To eat better and be healthier and what she wants to work toward now that she’s in the best shape of her life. And more so if you are looking for a jolt of inspiration and if you just like motivational stories of people overcoming obstacles and achieving their fitness goals, then you’re gonna like this episode.

Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my v i p one-on-one coaching service because my team and I have helped people of all ages and all circumstances lose fat, build muscle, and get into the best shape of their life faster. Than they ever thought possible, and we can do the same for you.

We make getting fitter, leaner, and stronger, paint by numbers simple, by carefully managing every aspect of your training and your diet for you. Basically, we take out all of the guesswork, so all you have to do is follow the plan. And watch your body change day after day, week after week and month after month.

What’s more, we’ve found that people are often missing just one or two crucial pieces of the puzzle, and I’d bet a shiny shackle, it’s the same with you. You’re probably doing a lot of things right, but. Dollars to donuts. There’s something you’re not doing correctly or at all that’s giving you the most grief.

Maybe it’s your calories or your macros. Maybe it’s your exercise selection. Maybe it’s your food choices. Maybe you’re not progressively overloading your muscles, or maybe it’s something else, and whatever it is, here’s what’s important. Once you identify those one or two things you’re missing, once you figure.

That’s when everything finally clicks, that’s when you start making serious progress, and that’s exactly what we do for our clients. To learn more, head over to That’s buly p and schedule your free consultation call, which by the way is not a high pressure sales call. It’s really just a discovery call where we.

Know you better and see if you’re a good fit for the service. And if you’re not for any reason, we will be able to share resources that’ll point you in the right direction. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you want to see more of it, and if you also want to finally stop spinning your wheels and make more progress in the next few months than you did in the last few years, check out my VIP coaching [email protected]

Hey Nicole. Welcome to my podcast. 

Nicole: Hey, thank you. I’m glad to be here. It’s 

Mike: awesome. Yeah, yeah. I’m glad to have you because you have an awesome transformation and a great story to tell, and it’s been a little bit since I’ve been able to record one of these episodes. I think they got mixed in the shuffle of moving schedules around and guests having to reschedule and stuff.

So here we are. Thanks again for doing this. Oh, thank you. So I generally like to start these like success story episodes with just kind of a snapshot before and after, so people can immediately get a sense of where your journey started and then where it has taken you. So could you just quickly share with us where you were some time ago before finding me in my work and then where you are now?

Nicole: Yeah. So, you know, I got married, got a house and everything, and we ended up having. Three children. My third was the roughest pregnancy. I had a lot of complications for since day one. Ended up having emergency C-section. Um, and this was in fall, uh, 2018. And, you know, The hormones are running. I have, you know, two kids, a newborn, not sleeping, and I feel like in, uh, a blink of an eye, I hit my highest weight yet, and I was 263 pounds and I’m six foot tall.

Just to put that in a perspective. But I ended up, you know, having to wear my husband’s. Because I could not fit into any my clothes and I was still wearing what maternity clothes I could still fit in. I was wearing those. I was just too ashamed to go out and buy new clothes because I was afraid to know what size I truly was, you know, at the time, you know, I was like, I need to do something and.

I found your program today, I am roughly 156 pounds. That’s awesome. Yeah, and I’m in my second year of thinner, leaner, stronger. I’m in phase five. I am now wearing a size small shirt and size four jeans. , I’ve gained a lot of muscle and the one thing I do have to brag about is a few weeks ago I was doing squats in the squat rack and I was wearing a crop top and I looked up and I actually saw abs and I.

I had to do a double take because I wasn’t sure if the mirror was like lying to me if it was 

Mike: like a fun house mirror . 

Nicole: Yeah, exactly. So I did a double take and I was like, no way. I’m like, are those four abs? Like I almost started crying at the gym because all these emotions, you know, just came up from everything from my past and I’ve, you know, what I’ve been through throughout all the years to now I was.

I couldn’t believe it. Like how far I 

Mike: came. Yeah. It’s amazing. I mean, looking at your before and after. Yeah. I mean, you’re super fit now. I think you can say that you have earned your, your place in the squat rack, . . Yeah. So that’s awesome. And in two years too, which may sound like a long time to some people, but I don’t know about you.

I just remember that when I first started making real progress again the first couple of years. It didn’t feel like two or three years just because it was exciting. It was exciting to just like what you’re talking about, seeing real changes in the mirror and seeing real improvements in the gym, and then you stop and look back and you’re like, wow, it’s been two years.

Has it been like that for you as well? Oh yes. 

Nicole: So my big thing is, is it’s hard for me to look in the mirror. I kind of have a distorted perception of myself. So what I do is I take a lot of pictures, so I have these pictures to look back on throughout my journey, and it’s crazy to see and it keeps me, you know, moving and motivated and I keep, you know, doing these small goals to get into my, you know, end goal.

Um, Just, you know, moving forward one step at a 

Mike: time. Those are the two good points actually, that the how much progress pictures can help, because we look at ourselves every day, it’s very normal. We all tend to focus in on what we don’t like about our physiques or what we want to improve the most. And we tend to quickly get used to the improvements that we’ve made and the things that maybe we do like.

So that’s something that taking progress pictures can help with, especially when you can. Flipped back to three months ago, and then three months before that and three months before that, and. See that the trend is clearly going in the right direction. So that’s smart that you do that. And then also this point of setting small goals to achieve that then lead to the bigger goal is, uh, I would say that’s like kind of achievement 1 0 1 in any area of life.

I think any. Individual project or endeavor. It’s important, especially when the bigger goal is gonna take some time to do that. And to get as granular as you need to be, to stay motivated. I mean, that’s what I do. Something to add to that also is I tend to, in the beginning of projects, really just focus on putting in the work every day and, and achieving those.

Small milestones that are in the not so distant future and tend to intentionally ignore how much work is still ahead of me to get to the actual finish line. And then as I get closer to the finish line, maybe after I crest like the 50% mark or something, maybe when I’m like 60 or 70% done, I then find it’s more, I don’t know, emotionally satisfying to look at.

How close I am to being done. So in the beginning, I’m more just looking at what do I need to do in the next day, week, maybe couple of weeks. Maybe also reflect on how much progress I’ve already made, and then as I get closer to the bigger goal, kind of flip that around. Of course, still focusing on the immediate day-to-day that needs to be done, but then I find it is at least a bit more motivating to look at, all right, I only have 30% left.

I only have, you know, two months left on this project, and then it’s done and you can apply. That mindset and that approach to fitness as well. 

Nicole: Exactly. It’s just looking at the. and result that you want. It’s too overwhelming and it can get a lot of people discouraged to know how far they need to go.

Mike: Totally. So let’s rewind to before. So a couple of years ago when you had just had your third kid and you were having a rough time, understandably so, and you were at your heaviest weight. I’m sure you had tried some other things before. found your way to me and my work. And can you tell us about how that experience was?

What was working for you? What was not working for you? 

Nicole: Oh gosh. I don’t think it really worked for me at all what I was doing in the past. So joined the gym and I knew nothing about the gym, knew nothing about working out. I felt super intimidated by all the, you know, equipment and all the guys that are, you know, lifting barbells and by the dumbbell rack.

I was afraid of what people thought of, you know, a fat girl working. and you know, are they staring at me? And I was afraid to embarrass myself. So I hid in the cardio section and I was, you know, switching between the elliptical and the treadmill every day. I’d go every day. But it was at the cardio 

Mike: equipment, cardio confusion instead of muscle confusion.

yes, . 

Nicole: So I ended up hiring a personal trainer. Because I thought, you know, they must know what they’re doing. They get paid for doing this, and they could, you know, help me and show me the way and get me to the, you know, body that I wanted. I ended up, ugh, gosh, I ended up spending thousands and thousands of dollars on these personal trainers and they would tell me, you know, just to eat under these calories.

And that as a girl that I wanna tone, that I have to do, you know, a mix of cardio, light, dumbbells, and body weight exercises and that I don’t want to gain muscle and I don’t wanna look too bulky as a woman. Personal trainers, you know, that added up got expensive. . So I had to stop with the trainers and I decided, you know, classes are the way to go.

So I started taking the classes at the gym, like one or two classes a day, plus I would do some cardio, like a warmup before, a cool down after, and then my diet at that time. . I was trying, you know, whatever fad diet I heard about, so I was eating only the food that would fit into these little containers for the day, or I tried super low carb.

I tried counting points, like any diet I heard, I tried and did I lose weight on them? Yes I did, but I didn’t like my body and I was constantly, Yo-yoing gaining and losing this weight because I couldn’t stick to these crazy diets. I felt like I was starving all the time. And when, you know, I’m told I can’t eat something specific, it just makes me want to eat that thing even more and I would end up 

Mike: binging, especially when it’s stuff that you like.

I mean, even if you have a very good relationship with food still part of the reason to eat good food is. Pleasure of it and for the enjoyment. So, you know, if you follow, it depends on which fad diet you’re following, but maybe the one you’re following is telling you to eliminate 80% of the foods you actually like to eat.

Well, that 

Nicole: sucks. Yeah. And then I would end up eating the thing I really wanted and it led me into, you know, a binge for a day for a couple days. And I felt like instantly I gained all the weight back and bloat feeling and everything. It just, I felt awful. So then, I gave up on taking the classes and then I decided that I’m gonna start running.

So I got into, you know, running, I was horrible at it at first that I was doing like a half jog, half walk type of thing and ended up running for miles and miles per week towards the end. And I was just making sure I was staying, eating under a certain number of calories a day. And then I realized now is, is.

That diet at the time was mostly fat and carbs and a little bit of protein. I’m a carb girl. Definitely was not watching anything like that. At that time, I didn’t even know what a macro was. My body got really beaten up from running. My knee started hurting, was, you know, so tired. I did end up losing. and I did love the number.

I ended up on the scale, but you know, when I saw myself in pictures, I still looked fat. And I guess, you know what people say that skinny fat, you know, that was me. I had no sort of muscle or anything. I was just, you know, I was skinny. 

Mike: And how did that make you feel? Just cuz the reason I ask is I’ve spoken to.

This is, uh, maybe I would say it’s more often with women than with men, because women have been, I think, indoctrinated more than men to live and die by a number on the scale. But, okay, so you reach a number that you thought, I’m assuming that you had a number in your mind. Okay, if I just get to this body weight, then I should have the type of body that I want.

All right, so you work your ass off to get. and you endure the starvation diets and you do all the running work through the pain, the tiredness. You hit the number and then you’re like, okay, what do I do now? Is that how it was? Is that how it felt? 

Nicole: Exactly. Like I was so happy about the scale, but in the same sense I was so unhappy.

Like I felt terrible. I honestly, I looked terrible. and I thought I looked great in the mirror, but when I saw myself in pictures, I honestly, I looked terrible. And it just wasn’t what I wanted and I thought I did and I didn’t. 

Mike: So what did you do from there? I mean, obviously you, you kept going, you didn’t give up, so that’s good.

But how, I’m curious now, how did you find your way to me and learn that you needed to go about things quite differently? . So like 

Nicole: I said, I got, I got married and I ended up having, you know, my first child in 2000. and my second in 2015, my third in 2018. Oh, 

Mike: got it. So that was after this previous period of losing a bunch of weight, but then not having the body composition that you want.


Nicole: So what happened is, is that every time I was pregnant I got super lazy and sick and I didn’t do anything. Mm-hmm. and all I did was eight. Cause when I. Pregnant. I thought it was an excuse that I could eat whatever I wanted because the baby wanted it and I was craving it. So between eating whatever I wanted and not doing any sort of exercise, I gained a lot of weight each pregnancy, like 50 to 60 pounds every single pregnancy.

Thankfully. I was still healthy through my pregnancy. Like, you know, my blood work, my blood pressure, everything was fine. I just got a lot of yelling from my OB doctor every single time that I was gain too much weight, you know, that didn’t feel good. And every time I went to the doctors, they weigh you and it was just awful every single time I was, you know, so, Between every pregnancy, I did lose some of the weight.

I was fortunate enough where I have a job where when we were working in the office, you know, we have a gym and they bring in, you know, personal trainers to teach classes and everything, and it’s free. So I would, on my lunch break for the hour, I would go to the gym and I was, you know, doing the classes and I was doing, you know, Zumba or kickboxing or anything.

Like that. And between the classes and my diet, which again, I was just eating super low calories. Cause still I was, you know, in that mindset is as long as I’m eating super low calories that I have to lose weight. And again, I was only tracking, you know, the. Because that’s what I thought. You know, I had to do, the scale was the number one thing.

I had to, you know, had to get lower. 

Mike: So you’re doing that and then eventually, did you come across my work online or how did you find it the new 

Nicole: way? . Yeah. So, you know, after I had my third child on maternity leave and I just, you know, I got that to that fed. Fed up state of how I looked and I had, I, I was thinking, I was like, I tried all these other things in the past and they didn’t work.

Like they worked, but they didn’t work in the same sense. They didn’t get me where I wanted. And I was like, I need to do something different. But what is that something different? Like, I don’t know. I’m just, I’m tired of being fat. So one day I did a random search on the internet and I put in how to gain muscle.

Mike: And I’m curious why that, because up until then, it sounds like you had been taught that man building muscle isn’t, that’s not a good goal for women. Cause that makes, that’s for the guys. You know, women get bulky if they build muscle. So 

Nicole: I wanted to try something different and I ran into this girl at work.

and she started weightlifting and she was looking, you know, she was gaining muscles and I was like, wow. Like I saw her, you know, the really skinny before and now she has like these nice, you know, arms and muscles and everything. So literally that’s why I put how to gain muscle . 

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. . And then you found my website or something about a 

Nicole: book?

No. Like a random forum popped. and I was like, okay. You know, I just start clicking into all these websites just nosing around to see if I could find any information. And I landed in this forum and I was, you know, reading through the comments and someone mentioned thinner, leaner, stronger, and how they lost fat.

They gained muscle and how they felt so much better, not just about themselves, but like their body, you know, and their mind felt so much. and I thought, why not? Like I gave everything else a try. I was like, let’s give, you know this one a go. So I downloaded your book and I started reading it. I downloaded a macro counting app, bought a food scale, you know, I bought a new weight scale CS tape measures, calculated my macros.

Oh no. All in cuz that’s how I am. I’m like, I’ve always had that mindset of, you know, all or nothing. And so I was like jumped in with, you know, both feet. And, um, I even also set up an Excel file so that I can track all my workouts. So even now I have it. So I have it from day one, every exercise, every phase, you know, every rep, every weight, every date.

I did it so that I can look back on it and see how far I came from day one for that certain. 

Mike: That’s great. And how was the gym intimidation factor that you had mentioned earlier? Like when you got back into it, did you still feel that when you were starting the program and how did you deal with it? And then how did it pan out?

And often it’s not what people expect often. The gym is a lot more of a. Inclusive or accepting environment than, than people first think. Even the rough looking guys with all the tattoos and muscles and stuff. 

Nicole: Yeah. So I was still super intimidated, but you know, I put on my, you know, big girl pants and I was like, I’m gonna do this.

I don’t care about anybody else. Let them think what they want. I’m just, you know, gonna do 

Mike: this, which is the right way to look at it. Because, I mean, when I see somebody who is out of shape in the gym, I’m happy to see that. I think that’s great. They’re there working and a lot of people are not. They don’t even show up.

So the fact that they’re showing up and doing something, even if it doesn’t quite make sense, even if they don’t know what they’re doing, it’s still commendable that they’re there doing something. So, you know, it’s also one of those things. I think it’s important that we can look at ourselves, not only as we are right now, because we all tend to, again, pick ourselves apart and we’re, we’re very quick to criticize ourselves and come down hard on ourselves, much more so than other people.

So I think it’s important to be able to maybe acknowledge. Where we’re at and what needs to improve, but also be willing to look at ourselves as we are going to be, to be able to envision ourselves as what we are going to become. So that is, I think, just a, a useful little mental trick, if you will.

Especially if you feel like you’re starting. in a, maybe in in a bit of a rut. You know, 

Nicole: I did feel like a fool when I first started out. You know, I’m with all these guys. They all let them know what they’re doing. You know, they’re lifting all this heavy weight and, you know, I’m here, you know, trying to figure out the correct form.

Super using super low weight in the beginning. Some exercises I couldn’t even do the barbell. Um, I had to use dumbbells in the beginning and, you know, work my way up and I was trying to, you know, figure out the starting weights for every exercise. So I’m picking up these weights. Doing a couple reps, I’m like, Nope, too heavy.

Put them back down. You know? So it was kind of, it was kind of, you know, all over the place. 

Mike: But then at what point did you start to feel more comfortable? Did you start to like find your 

Nicole: groove? So, just going, honestly, just going to the gym every single day. It just, I got more and more comfortable as I was able to get better and better, you know, at my form.

But, mm-hmm. , it came to the point where I felt like I was the only one in the gym, and I still feel like I’m the only one in the gym when I’m lifting weights. I just, I get into the zone of just me and the weight and feeling, you know, how my body’s reacting to the weight and everything else like, I just don’t pay attention to everybody.

I put my noise canceling headphones in. I could care less who’s in the gym. I do, me and I do have, you know, some people, and some guys that come up to me and be like, oh, how are you doing? Are you, how are you progressing on your weights and everything? Like they’re checking up on me and I’m like, oh, it’s going great.

It’s just awesome because. I was, you know, so shy and felt like such an outsider to now I’m like one of the guys. There’s only, I think right now there’s only me and maybe one other girl that are right in there with the guys working out and you know, we’re one of them now. It’s 

Mike: awesome. Yeah, that’s a, a common experience for many women.

Just what you described is starting off intimidated for one reason or another for the same reason and understandably so, where it’s a bunch of guys and they’re all grunting and throwing weights around, and it doesn’t take long before women realize that. The majority of guys in gyms are not creeps.

They’re not assholes. They’re actually quite supportive and they love seeing, not for weird perverted reasons, but they love seeing women getting in there and working hard just like everybody else. And so you, you inevitably kind of develop a bit of camaraderie. You get your own, you get your little group, and you know, everybody, I wouldn’t say as holds everybody else accountable, but it becomes part of the routine that you see your workout buddies and you chat, you know?

Usually fitness related things and I think it adds to the experience a little bit so long as it doesn’t get distracting. Some people like to socialize more than others, but 

Nicole: yes, that’s why I like my, uh, noise canceling headphones cuz when they see like those in, they tend to not talk to you as much. 

Mike: Yep.

And you gotta avoid eye contact too if you don’t wanna be bothered. Yes, yes. That’s also part of the key. You just kind of always are looking down at the ground or like off into the distance or whatever. Oh yeah, let 

Nicole: me fix, you know, this on my barbell or

Mike: If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my v i p one-on-one coaching service because my team and I have helped people of all ages and circumstances lose fat, build muscle, and get into the best shape of their life faster than they ever thought possible. And we can do the same for you.

So you’ve gained, uh, quite a bit of muscle and how, how has that changed your physique? And I’m just curious how that experience was versus maybe what you expected. Like did you, were you a little bit hesitant early on? Because even though I do address it in the book, I mean, it’s one thing to just hear a guy talk about it and it’s another thing to experience it firsthand.

You did not end up bulky at all, even though I’m guessing that your body weight now is a bit higher than you would’ve anticipated a couple of years ago before you went through this transformation. Like, is that the case? Yes. 

Nicole: I have this love-hate relationship with the scale. Oh, and 

Mike: I don’t say that in a bad way, by the way.

I’m just saying the reason why I bring it up is many women that I’ve spoken with over the years, they are surprised. , what they see in the mirror and how much they like it and how that translates to the scale. And in a way that usually is positive in that they do realize that the scale isn’t the grand orbiter of their physique or their fitness.

And that muscles very dense. And when you combine, call it probably most women, I would say the look that most women are after is right where you’re at, you’ve probably gained, I’m guessing, 15, 20, maybe between 15 and 25. It’s hard to say exactly pounds of muscle in the right places on your body, and you brought your body fat percentage down to probably around 20%.

And so you look athletic, you look very fit, but you still look feminine. And the only reason I ask is again, those questions is because I just know that many women are quite surprised at again, how that transformation looks. In the mirror versus on the scale. 

Nicole: Yeah. So I always had that mindset, you know, from doctors and trainers at the scale was everything.

And that number had to be super low. I had to be, you know, this certain B M I percentage. It’s almost like the lower the better. Exactly. And I learned that’s not true at all. I like myself at, you know, a heavier weight than I ever thought. You know, I would be, but I’m smaller in the same sense. It’s, it’s odd because even when I did weigh less, , I was in bigger clothes because I didn’t have muscle.

Mike: And that’s that point of density. If you were to see a picture of like a pound of muscle versus a pound of fat muscle is a lot denser. It takes up less space. And so for many women it feels like an optical illusion though. Step on the scale. , they’ll see a number and they’ll remember what that number looks like.

Before they had a fair amount of muscle, but now that number looks totally different. 

Nicole: Yeah. And I learned, you know, scale isn’t everything that is just one tool to use as progress. So I have, you know, a caliper. I also measure my, you know, waist and everything. Cause I don’t like the. . 

Mike: Yeah. And then you have the mirror, you have your, how your clothes fit.

I mean, those are also perfectly valid indicators of where things are at and where they’re going. Yeah. And I guess to your point, you had also brought up progress pictures. So when I say mirror, that’s actually, I think it’s more useful and accurate to say taking pictures. Cause if you just look at yourself every day, it’s gonna be hard to really know what’s going on.

But if you take regular pictures, then it’s real easy. Look through a little slideshow and quickly see like, oh yeah, look at that. This is, look at, look at the muscle definition coming in in my arms. Look, I have abs . Yeah, 

Nicole: I feel like the, yeah, the mirror lies to me, and then I’m looking at the mirror and then I start seeing like, oh, well this doesn’t look good, or this doesn’t look good.

But then if I, you know, I see it in pictures. I’m like, no, I look really good. So I don’t know what the mirror is talking about. 

Mike: Well that’s good. And again, it’s good you’ve discovered that for yourself. What has it been like getting strong? Cuz you had mentioned when you started out you couldn’t even use the barbell, I’m assuming on like the bench press for example, and the overhead press.

You probably had to start with dumbbells, many women do. And how has that process been over the last couple of years? 

Nicole: I feel so empowered. I never thought this was something I would ever do or. Like, I was like really naive where I didn’t even think that like women could do this in general. I always had that thinking that weightlifting was a, you know, a guy thing, A man thing.

You know, that’s what they do. But it makes me feel so empowered as, you know, a woman that. I can be strong and I can do anything that I set my mind to. 

Mike: Totally. I think it is not cheesy to say that resistance training in particular, and there’s probably something even a little bit special about handling weights against gravity.

It’s like a, a form of therapy. I think that’s a perfectly valid statement. Personally, . 

Nicole: Yeah, weightlifting and the gym definitely got me, you know, through some, you know, tough times just in life. Like a year and a half ago I lost my grandma and my best friend within three days of each other. And you know, never thought in a million years that would happen, but I did take the time for me and I went to the gym.

It got me through. Things like that even, you know, kept 

Mike: me going. Yeah. I mean, I understand totally because no matter what’s going on, you may not look forward to a workout. You may not even particularly enjoy. A workout, but you always feel better having done a workout, right? You always feel better when you leave the gym regardless of what’s going on.

At least that’s always been my experience. Oh yes. 

Nicole: So I lift first thing in the morning. I wake up at 4:00 AM and the first thing I do is I go to the gym before. Anybody in my house wakes up and I have to do that. I lift five days a week. That’s how I like starting my day. And if I don’t do that, I feel like my day is off.

Mike: Totally. I’ve trained it many different times, but that’s one of the things I’ve always liked about first thing in the morning is it just gives a great. Start to the day, it sets the tone for the day. And I mean, there’s even research that shows that the mood that you’re in in the morning does actually set the tone for the rest of the day.

That if you can get yourself into a better mood early in the morning, you’re more likely to be in a better mood later in the day. And that’s one of those things we don’t really need science to tell us that we’ve all experienced it, but there is research on that point in particular, and I think that’s one of the kind of hidden benefits of doing.

Just that waking up as early as you need to to get your workout done first before you start doing other things. That’s always been from a, I guess, maybe psychological perspective and just scheduling perspective, that’s always been my favorite way to do it. Even though you might be a little bit stronger, you might have a little bit better of a workout doing it later in the day.

You do get that added little benefit if you do it first. Where do you want to go next? Like what are you working towards? Is there a bigger long-term goal you’re working toward? And then what are you looking at in the more near future, maybe over the next several months, three to six months rest of the 

Nicole: year?

So right now I’m in a cutting phase till I think it’s like the second week of April, and then I wanna move on to a maintenance phase. I have not leaned bulk yet. I’m kind. I’m nervous. 

Mike: You don’t want to gain fat. I understand. Yeah. Especially when you get lean. I mean, it’s, yeah, nobody, Well, maybe not nobody, but most people don’t look forward to it.

They do it for whatever reason they do it, but that’s normal to feel like that for whatever reason. Especially like the leaner. You get the leaner. You just want to stay, and so, . Sometimes you have to kind of force yourself to stop being weird, but that said, there may not be a good reason for you to lean.

Bulk maintenance may work just fine for you because you can still make progress on a maintenance diet. It’s just not gonna be the same. You would make faster progress in terms of muscle and strength gain if you lean bulked or lean gained, or whatever term you want to use. But if that’s not that important to you, if you are.

Let’s say progressing at maybe 50% of the rate or maybe a little bit less than that, and that’s not a very scientific estimate. I’m just kind of throwing a number out there that is probably more right than wrong by just eating at maintenance and then not having to deal with unwanted fat gain. Then, That’s okay.

Like you don’t have to lean bowl, you know? Yeah. 

Nicole: So once I’m done with cutting, I’m gonna go into maintenance and I kind of wanna, you know, reset my body and I want to eat more. I’m getting kind of getting fed up with cutting. So I wanna go to maintenance, and then I wanna, you know, give maintenance like 12 weeks.

I’m also supposed to go on vacation. That was, you know, rescheduled. So, but I wanna see. Maintenance goes, and then I wanna decide if I wanna try lean bulking, cuz I do wanna gain more, gain, more muscle and strength. Like for example, like, uh, squatting right now I’m squatting my body weight. Which Nice. Yes.

Which is awesome. And then, you know, my deadlift, my weight’s out 165 pounds right now, so I Nice. I just want to, I don’t want, you know, cutting to, you know, affect that any longer. I really want to see what I can do weight wise and what my body can do and, you know, push my body. So that’s where I’m, I’m getting at right now is I just wanna see how far I can go weight.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. Then I would recommend eventually getting around to a, a lean bulking phase, and it sounds like you’ll do just fine. It sounds, I mean, you just kind of treat it similar to when you’re cutting and that I would recommend making a meal plan and sticking to it more or less. Of course, you don’t have to be perfect with any of this, but not having.

Too many very high calorie days because you’re lean bulking and enjoying the extra calories and understanding that yeah, you’re gonna gain a little bit of fat. But what you are going to really like is what happens in the gym. You’re probably gonna be a little bit surprised how much of a difference once you’ve been in a steady.

Slight surplus for, I think in most people, I think it’s fair to say it takes probably two or three weeks for them to really start noticing a difference. And you mentioned that you like carbs, and so I’m assuming you’re gonna put a lot of carbs in your diet, which is just gonna help you more, more than more fat wood in the gym.

And after a couple of weeks though, it can be surprising how much more energy you have in your workouts and how much faster you’re able to progress. There’s definitely. a big silver lining too. I’d say it probably is. It’s more silver than gray. Uh, the little bit of fat gain is like, almost feels like a small, it’s just kind of a nuisance.

But at least you are gonna have probably some of your best workouts during that time. And then of course, you know how to cut. You know that it’s very straightforward. It’s not particularly pleasant, but if you’re doing it right, it’s not particularly unpleasant either. You just do it. And if you. , I would say have normal genetics, like if you’re a normal responder to training.

This would also apply to men, just for men listening. If you’re doing a good job on your lean bulking, you should be able to gain probably like one to one muscle to fat. And if you respond particularly well to training, you might be able to gain a bit more muscle than fat. So you know, you can stretch that out four months, five months, six months, and have great workouts, gain a considerable amount.

Muscle and gain some fat, and then just, you know, a couple of months of cutting and at that point, look at what you have and just be like, okay, well I’m gonna maintain this for a while. Now, you know, you, you may not even need, do another round of that. You may want to though at that point it, it’s whatever makes sense to you.

Whatever seems most interesting and most fun. Yeah, 

Nicole: definitely looking forward to, I don’t know, I like to read and I like to do research. And so I’ll have to do a lot of, you know, research and reading before I would start a, a lean book. Cuz I guess it’s gonna be more mentally challenging cause it’s seems scary, but 

Mike: Yeah, yeah, I know.

I understand. Mechanically it’s pretty simple. You don’t have to know that much. I mean you already know all the fundamentals. It’s just a matter of eating more food. Yeah. Truly like, you know, consistently being maybe 10% over your estimated total daily energy expend. and if you wanna bring that down on the weekends, for example, cuz you’re not lifting on the weekends, even if you’re maybe doing a little bit of cardio or like walking or just being a little bit active, you could bring your calories down a little bit on the weekends if you want or not.

It doesn’t make that big of a difference either way. I have one other question for you. So how has what you’re doing rubbed off on your kids? Have they noticed it? Has it helped them eat better or have you noticed any positive effects 

Nicole: there? Oh, yes, and just not with my kids. It’s, you know, my family in general, so my.

My husband joined a gym and cuz he saw, you know, what I was doing and he wanted that. So he joined the gym and he’s lost about, you know, a hundred pounds and he’s, you know, weightlifting and doing everything that you know I’m doing. And he’s not so much good on the. The eating part. So I kind of have to rein him in on that.

So I do all the cooking and I’m kind of showing him, you know what, he should things. He shouldn’t be eating things he shouldn’t be eating. 

Mike: You’re his trainer, you’re his coach, , but hey, you’re, he’s down a hundred 

Nicole: pounds. So yeah, and he wants it, so it’s not like I’m even forcing it on him. It’s something he’s asked me to do.

And of course everything is moderation. So if we wanna have something we don’t normally have in a day, we just make sure, you know, it fits into, you know, fits into our eating. I, you know, I don’t deprive myself of anything, cuz obviously in the past that hasn’t worked. And then with my kids, my kids right now are two, five, and nine.

And they’re seeing everything that, you know, we’re doing. And when the daycare was open in the gym, they were going to the gym with us on Saturday, so they would, you know, be in the atmosphere. But we’re teaching them about nutrition and about staying active because that’s not something I was ever taught as a kid.

So I feel like it’s very important and maybe if I had not more knowledge back. You know what I mean? It’s like kind of like the what if type of thing. So I’m just trying to, you know, teach them nutrition, staying, you know, active. We also limit their technology, so we limit how much TV they’re watching, you know, their iPad, their video games, things like that.

Because I want them playing. and being active and it’s nice outside. I kick them all outside. I’m like, get outside, go play, get fresh air. Cuz we live in the mountains, in the country and it’s just so beautiful to be outside here. So I’m just like, you know, 

Mike: go. Yeah. Yeah. It’s smart. I do the same thing.


Nicole: thing I, I do with my kids is I feed them every single fruit and I feed them every single. You know, it was a fight in the beginning. I was like, you know, try it, at least try it for me. Or I would put the vegetables in something more fun for them to sneak it in. But my kids today will eat every single vegetable, every single fruit they eat, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, my two-year-old eats, you know, avocado off a plate and it’s just awesome to 

Mike: see.

Yeah, that’s totally awesome. That’s great. I mean, my wife and. Tried to do that with our kids and we got them to find fruits and vegetables they like, but we didn’t get to where they would just eat any fruits and vegetables. But we got to enough of a variety that I was like, okay, this is fine. Like they’re willing to eat four or five, six different fruits and three or four.

Maybe five different vegetables, depending on how they’re prepared. And they’re willing to do that every day. And they’re willing to eat some whole grains as well. You know, they like oatmeal and they like Icelandic yogurt, which is, I just prefer that over Greek yogurt. And they’ll eat, you know, chicken, so they’ll eat protein.

And I think we have all of our bases covered, even though there are some things that, yeah, it would be, it would be like a force feeding session to get it down. . Yeah. So we’ll just leave those ones out. . Yeah. 

Nicole: And of course, you know, they’re kids. You know, we let our kids be kids, so if they want ice cream during the summer, yeah.

We let them have ice cream. I’m not gonna, you know, deprive them, you know, of their childhood. It’s a balance. And you 

Mike: also know you don’t need to, they, it’s just not necessary. Mm-hmm. , I mean, they have a very nutritious diet and as you know, , I mean, the principles that you know, they apply to kids as well.

We’re just talking about amounts. I mean, for the average adult, it’s recommended that we don’t go over, I believe it’s about 30 grams, maybe a little bit less or a little bit more. I don’t remember the exact number. 30 grams or so of added sugar every day. Might be 35. . So that’s an adult. Of course, it would be different for a two year old kid, but it’s not zero.

It’s not like on average your two year old has, if you were to average it out, a few grams, five grams of added sugar because you let them have a little Popsicle or something. But they’re eating fruits, they’re eating vegetables, they’re eating whole grains. They’re getting, it doesn’t take much protein, obviously, for.

A small little body, but they’re getting some protein. They’re getting their bodies, getting all of the nutrition that it needs, then adding some sugar or adding some non-nutritious foods into it. There’s just no health oriented reason. To not do that. Mm-hmm. , and I don’t know about you, but I, I remember, uh, a couple of friends growing up and then I guess I’ve seen some now kids as an adult who have parents who would be very restrictive, not allow any sugar, any quote unquote junk food.

And so what did they do when they got older is they just went to their friend’s house and binged on it. . Mm-hmm. , you know, it’s just not. Practical strategy to try to re heavily restrict the foods that your kids eat. I think what you’re doing makes a lot more sense. Teach them how to nourish their bodies and then let them have some stuff that they, some treats as well.

And I dunno about you, but I’ve been doing that again with my kids and my kids are happy to have some ice cream here and there. Have something here and there. They also could just as easily not, they don’t really care that much about having non-nutritious foods because it’s never been something that is taboo, something we’ve just allowed them to have a little of consistently, and that has worked out.

Same thing with technology, because that’s been like that from the beginning. I guess they’re just used to no TV during the week, for example. And no iPad will let my son read books on the tablet if he wants to do that. But no, you know, just watching YouTube videos or playing games or anything. And we let them do some of that on the weekend and it’s been like that since the beginning.

And he’s happy to go out and play. And even on the weekend when it’s time to get off the screen, it’s not a big deal. Okay, fine. Just, uh, commending your parenting. Thank 

Nicole: you, . So my nine year old’s a girl and. I guess from, you know, seeing me and my husband and everything else, like she’s excited to like, potentially when she’s older to, you know, work out and everything else and it’s really cool to see, you know, that rub off on her.

And a couple weeks ago I started actually taking yoga classes once a week. I realized that I need to work on more on my flexibility. From working out it, um, from lifting and stuff, my flexibility is not so great. So I started doing yoga and they have a mini yoga class on Saturdays. So I take my nine year old and she’s doing the mini yoga and I’m doing the, you know, regular yoga and that helps her cuz.

She does dance since she’s been dancing since she was two, and she’s been in the competition dance program for the past four years. So the yoga, you know, helps her in that aspect. So it’s just really great that you know that the whole family’s just involved in two and it’s like a great family activity is what I wanna say.

So we’re not just, you know, sitting on the couch watching TV as a family work, eating food, . Yeah, exactly. Like we’re getting out, we’re having fun, you know, we’re going to the park. We’re, you know, walking outside in the mountain. It’s awesome. I don’t know. I just, I love it. 

Mike: Yeah, it’s a nice life. It’s a good lifestyle, for sure.

Well, this was great Nicole. I really appreciate you again, taking the time. Love your story, love what you’ve done so far, and not that it needs to be said, but keep up the good work and definitely keep me posted on how your first Lean Bolt goes. Send me an email when you’re a couple months into it. Well, let’s say when you’re at least one month when you start to notice the difference.

Let me know what you think, . I 

Nicole: definitely will. And, uh, thank you so much for letting me, uh, be on here. I listen to the podcast all the time and it’s just great that you know now I can put my story out there and hopefully this helps at least even one person where, you know, their stories have helped me.


Mike: Yeah. I always enjoy doing these and always get good feedback. I think of one woman, I believe her name was Maria, that I interviewed some time ago, and. Similarities in your stories. I believe she also had three kids and busy, but made it happen and a lot of women reached out just to let me know they really liked it and so I’m sure this one will resonate as well.

I’m glad to hear that. Awesome. I look forward to hearing the updates. I look forward to the lean bulk update in particular. I will. I’ll definitely 

Nicole: be reaching out to you. Cool. 

Mike: All right. Well, that’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or.

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And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.

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