John: Welcome back to another episode of the John Barker fitness podcast. I'm extremely excited about today's guest because she is from Australia now living in Bermuda. She works full time and has participated in over 30 fitness competitions in her life. She's incredibly inspiring and now sharing her knowledge as an online coach. Welcome to the show, Nicole. Thanks a lot Nicole for coming on with me today. I want to go ahead and just get started a little bit with an intro, so if you'll go ahead and just kind of share with us who you are, maybe what you do, whether that's a full time job somewhere fitness, just kind of a little bit about yourself to kind of introduce you.
Nicole: Thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it and good morning, afternoon, good evening, wherever your audience happens to be. My name's Nicole Tovey. I live in Bermuda, but I'm originally from Australia, born and raised. I grew up in Adelaide. If anybody is familiar with the Australian cities. I'm a partner of a global offshore local law firm here in Bermuda. So I've been living here for about 11 and a half years now and I practice in commercial litigation. So yeah, I've been doing that for about 20 years now. But I grew up as a dancer, born and raised in Adelaide, born in Sydney and Adelaide did ballet and modern dance tap dance since I got three years old. Did that for back 20 years until I started working and couldn't really make it to class anymore. So I've always been active. But at that time I sort of tend to the gym and I became a bit of a cardio bunny and dig all the Les Mills classes and you know, quite enjoyed the body pump, doing great when I was lifting 10 kilos, which was quite a change from how things have turned out now.
Nicole: But you know, long before the advent of social media and online training, I actually wanna just started working and I was probably about 24 years old. I took a course to become a personal trainer bat and then we finished it. That was probably about 18 years ago now. And you know, it was always passionate about how they fitness and helping people to achieve their goals. I think it was somewhat in the blood. My mom was, there wasn't a right weeks instructor when I was little growing up. And then she and my stepdad tend to the gym as well and sudden lifting weights. So I'd always sort of seen that growing up and always been fascinated by it. But, you know, I, I, I never completed those certifications because I guess I was scared, you know, I had just finished law school and spent six years in uni and just started working at just got a first mortgage.
Nicole: I had no idea how to make any living as a personal trainer. I thought I'm going to end up broken street. You know, I was worried, I was worried about what people would think of me to, you know, if I test in six years of education and you know aspiring Lord roll a career and to be kind of passed on trainer and that's, I never completed those final exams and settled into the corporate world. Around 2004, I moved up to Queensland and I had the opportunity to go traveling. I went backpacking around Europe for about four months in 2006 and realized at that point that I really wanted to live overseas and I wanted to travel the world a little bit more and seeing more places and Australia just being so far away from anywhere else on the planet pretty much. And so expensive to, to fly anywhere to go on holidays.
Nicole: You know, I just thought, well, the best thing is to go and live somewhere else. So my intention actually at the time was to go London. It's pretty common for Australians to go and work and in London. But I left right at the beginning of the [inaudible] financial crisis. And so work was a little hard to come by and somewhere I landed in Bermuda for, to at us because 11 years later I'm still here. And but yeah, going into sort of fast forward to, I moved to Bermuda in 2008 and I got heavily involved in salsa dancing, dancing, being my background. I just love it. So I started taking salsa lessons here. I was performing songs that are around the Island. I had opportunities to go and perform overseas. It was fantastic. And then my dad's partner incidentally just introduced me to a coach in the gym one day who convinced me that I had a good shape to try bodybuilding competition and me being me, I thought, what the heck?
Nicole: I'll give it a crack cause let me just give this a shot. I've never done anything like this before. And I was 35 years old then. So at that stage I picked up a heavy weight for the first time. Started my, was not turned into a probably an obsession passion. It's guy with buddy, buddy tell them fitness. So my first competition was in 2012 and I did it in the fitness category so that I could meld my dance background with the bodybuilding side of things because with a, with a fitness competition you have to do, one of the components is a routine to music. It's a 92nd routine with some compulsory moves. And so I thought it was a great, great mash from my dance background and the body building side of things. I competed in that category for three years, had the opportunity to represent Bermuda a few times, which was really exciting.
Nicole: Great opportunities. Got to travel down to regional competitions at the Caribbean. Gosh, I started gymnastics classes as well at that time. So I guess the first time ever gymnastics, very different from dancing. Kudos to all the gin and is out there. That stuff is hard and it is hard. It 35 years old too. So I was doing, I was doing two or three private classes a week at [inaudible] when I started doing things, competitions, I couldn't even hold a handstand. Yeah, that was, that was an interesting time. A very busy, very tiring but so rewarding. So I then at about 38 years old, 2015, I came to my senses and realized that the Spanish gate was just way too hard on my buddy and I switched to the bikini bikini competition or I didn't have to do not to do everything. So I've been competing in that division ever since and you know, had the opportunities still in that to travel the world. I've probably done about 30 competitions, genuinely placing top five in amateur divisions in amongst all of that and went and did my certifications again and you know, this year in April I got some business mentors invested in myself and started my online coaching business. So 18 years in the making from when I first had him, tons of to leave the corporate world and do this. I have finally started my business as well. Sorry, that's me.
John: Great introduction. And I like that. Cause you actually, you went through literally my whole thought process of what I was really hoping to get out about your story because everybody is in a different place. And I, I like how you went from starting with a certain aspect of your life when you grew up as a dancer, which is really cool because my wife, my wife was actually she grew up as a dancer as well throughout high school, whatnot. So that's kind of a fun thing. Your experience of finding what you really want in life, traveling, going around the world backpacking and ultimately finding that, you know, you wanted to change from weights to refer from cardio to more weights focused, right. And then adding gymnastics. And so it's a really interesting transition and I like hearing that. Now you mentioned that your parents had a pretty big influence when it came to fitness on you. Is that right?
Nicole: Yeah, that's right. So my mom was an aerobics instructor when I was really little, probably not. Gosh, I remember going and joining in her classes when I was probably about eight years old. And had the very sexy long legwarmers and the leotard and the little belts that we used to wear in the 80s, just joining in the classes with all of the ladies and in her aerobics classes. And so, you know, I used to sort of have to go go along with her after school or whenever, you know, just, and she was working. So then we had hours, so I would often tag along and join in on the classes, which was great. And then both of my parents that had got into the weightlifting side as well. So again, that was still when I was quite young. But you know, something that I certainly sore worth event bodies develop, you know, my mom especially, you know, he's starting to grow some muscle and you know, looking, getting out of that aerobics sort of genre of that era I suppose. And then into a little bit of bodybuilding herself. So I guess I've always been in a fit family. It's always been, the influence has always been there to be active and involved in some level of activity. And
John: That's awesome. And I don't think a lot of people have that same influence with their parents. I mean my parents have always encouraged me when I was younger to go on you know, be outside, be active, but I, I don't particularly remember fitness and whether it was weightlifting or certain sports being a huge thing that my parents kind of were into. Now that doesn't mean they didn't like those things, but I, I think it's important that people can try to find that sort of motivation for them and maybe find someone to look up to because I imagine that how you had a huge role with your parents.
Nicole: Yeah, I think it did for sure. And you know, my mom still gets up at the crack of Dawn and goes for a walk every morning and you know, it's just still there. I don't think it, I don't think it ever goes away once you get used to it and it becomes a habit as part of your life.
John: Yeah. I think when something becomes a part of your life like that, it's hard to shake it. It's, it's interesting because I think fin as well, and I'm a lot younger than my parents obviously, but fitness is one of those things where it's just kind of a little more natural for me. And sometimes when I get out of my routine, I find it easier to get back in once I've been gone and, and it'll just like you're saying with your mom that, you know, should go out and walk in the mornings and it's something that just becomes a part of you. And I think that's really powerful when it comes to trying to reach our goals.
Nicole: Yeah, definitely. Definitely it's something that I, I talk a lot about is that, you know, just creating these habits that eventually, as you say, become part of your life is just having the motivation to start with that then turns into a habit that then creates some discipline. Because that's what's really going to drive you in the end. Whether it's in any aspect of your life really. I mean, let's face it, if we're looking at a career goal or you know you're starting a business or whether it's a health and fitness goal, everybody sounds self motivated. We all start off with grand aspirations of what we're going to do and when the mood goes, it's difficult to keep that going. It's hard. It's tied with any of it to keep that sort of motivation going. Motivation eventually dies. So if you can create a habit and make these little daily tasks part of your life, you end up in a space that is discipline rather than motivation. So you'll still go and do it even when you don't feel like it and it is part of your life, then you just get it done.
John: So I want to go into that a little bit more, but first I wanted to ask you with this story that you've told of going from, you know, your earlier years to where you are now, what would be one of the biggest challenges for you along that journey and how did you overcome it?
Nicole: Probably one of the Buddhist challenges I think that sticks out in, it's not too, it's, it wasn't too long ago. It was, there was a period of time. I mentioned that, you know, I've been competing for quite a few years now. There was a period of about three years straight probably around 2015, 16 through two 17 ish that I competed year round. I didn't give my body a break. I was obsessed with getting my pro card. So for, I do if anybody's familiar with it. I FBB competitions. So I compete in bikini division of the, I'm actually I was doing quite well. I was almost at my pro card. And so that mentality was just one more competition, just one more competition that will be my time. And it just kept on going for three years straight. Now being in that sort of an extreme of a diet, which is necessary to get into that shape, to be on stage was very unhealthy to put it at the mildest my family, my hair started to fall out.
Nicole: I had thyroid issues. I didn't have my cycle for months on end. I had a terrible relationship with food. Didn't know what or how to be a normal human being when I came out of this phase in terms of what to eat, like what do people do? How do we socialize? I pulled myself out of a lot of certain situations because I had so much anxiety around food and around drinking social situations where, you know, God forbid if I had to stay up past 10 o'clock because I'd be hungry again and I'd eaten all my food for the day. I just didn't want, I didn't want to be there, you know, I needed to go to sleep so that I can ignore my stomach and you know, it's not a healthy place to be. And I was really not a very fun person to be around.
Nicole: So you know, that that was that was tough to actually realize that I needed to not let my dream go because I still have that aspiration. But to take a step back from it and realize that I needed to look after myself first and foremost. And either from that take a break from competing schedule my competitions and just really learn how to rebuild my relationship with food such that I didn't have these anxieties. And you know, I wasn't obsessed with the scale and knew how to function as a normal human being, get back into social life and, and all of that. So that's honestly at NSC, not to this extreme necessarily with people about people who getting the cycle of, you know, some sort of extreme dieting when they're on their way to their fitness goals, which I think is unfortunate when they're going to extremes and experiencing on some level some of the things that I went through and they don't know what to do afterwards. And so that is a challenge to, to really learn to recreate some habits and, you know, learn that it doesn't have to be that way, that you can actually have a sustainable lifestyle. You can function as a normal human being. You can actually be happy and still reach your goals. So that I think is an ongoing learning experience, I think, for me.
John: So I feel like there's, I feel there's a lot of similarities with that experience and others in the competing area. Now. I don't know if that may be more with women than men or if it's sort of equal, but how did you really rebuild that relationship with, with food? Because that's something that's really hard. That's a big mental aspect.
Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. And you know what, I see, you know, air quote, the 10 regular human beings, we owe a lot of people experienced that. You don't have to just be a competitor to have gone through this. That was, that was my experience and how it sort of happened with me because of my competing and because of the extreme extent that I took it too. But you know, it happens a lot with people who go into a diet phase trying to lose 15, 20 pounds, but they're so restricted either in foods or with calories or taking certain foods out of their diet or their got extreme exercise regimes. And you know, when they come out of the other side of these things and I don't know what to do because there's been no education, they've not been given the tools to sort of implement a healthy, sustainable lifestyle going forward in which they can, you know, keep the benefits of all of their hard work.
Nicole: Because a lot of the things that we do, certainly in my experience getting onto stage, it's not sustainable. It's not realistic. You can't keep this stuff up forever because there's so much restriction and it's just not real live for the kids might have a play date. You don't have your food with you, you don't, you know, something comes up at work, you forgot your, to bring your package food to the food that you made to take the lunch today. You forgot it. Or what do you do? Do you not eat? You know, I don't know what to do if I don't follow this plan, the meal plan that I've been given, what do I do outside of that? And life happens, you know, learning to get there in a different way that doesn't involve that kind of restriction is really hard. And so getting back, getting back to your question because I've digressed a little bit.
Nicole: You know, trying to rebuild that relationship with boots and when I was competing I was on a restricted meal plan and I didn't sway from that for months on end. And even when I was off competing, I didn't really know what to do or how normal people ate afterwards either because I've been so restricted for so long. So for me it was about educating myself and I think that's really what it has to come down to taking responsibility for where I was recognizing that it was not a healthy place to be in and really starting to recognize the triggers for my anxiety around foods. For example, if I was going to be out in a social situation, not knowing what food was going to be there, not feeling like I had to take my food with me or eat beforehand to make sure that I could control that situation.
Nicole: I had to learn to let go of that little bit and educate myself enough to realize one meal is not going to make or break me. One meal is not going to make me fat. Just like one gym session is not going to get you in shape. One salad is not going to make you healthy, that you just have to educate yourself and buy. That from me ended up being learning how to flexible diet and learning how to bring in regular foods that weren't restricted to, you know, bodybuilding diet of chicken and fish and rice and sweet potato so that I could learn to incorporate other foods in my life without feeling that anxiety. And I think, you know, it's like I said, it's an ongoing journey I think. And it just came back down to education and taking responsibility for myself and where I was and learning what works for my body.
John: I liked the, you bring the education fact into there because a lot of people, I feel try to find these tips or tricks or tools or, or hacks that help them to get back into where they need to be, whether it's with food or any other aspect of their life. And I think education is really powerful and that's not to say that, you know, they go back to school, but I think like what you're getting at is, is really that they give themselves the knowledge to be able to figure out what's going to work best for them in their current lifestyle and their current situation.
Nicole: Yeah, exactly. I mean there's, I think it does come down to you just there's so much, there is so much information available to us these days and so many options for health and fitness and to reach your goals and whether that's, you know, fat loss or maintaining or just general health goals or gaining muscle, there's so much available to us, which is great, but there's also so much misinformation and there's so much extreme rich sort of, you know, for from my perspective can tend to cash in on and target our tendency these days for wanting immediate gratification, quick results. And so, you know, these extreme processes are put into place an extreme programs, extreme diets that aren't realistic. And I think, you know, in amongst all of that information, you really have to sift out and educate yourself with what's available there that is realistic and is the stainable and that suits your lifestyle. And also appreciate that this is a journey. There is no right or wrong answer for you necessarily. It's your health and fitness is here for life. It's a journey that needs and demands patience and consistency. And I think that has to come into it as well.
John: I think that's really true that there's a lot of, a lot of moving parts and I think that if people can just kind of capture each of those and not to take all of that on at once, but just kind of capture that, then that'll help each of us be able to succeed. Now you've been able to do that with your busy life being, you know, a full time a business woman in the law field. I mean that's, I've, I'm not in that industry, but I know that there's a lot of, you know, time constraints that go on with the different things you have to do with that job. So one of the things you talk about on your Instagram is that you help busy career women. And I, I believe that we'll tie over into men as well to be able to live better lives and achieve the fitness goals they want, whether that's just to be healthy or whatnot. So explain a little bit about your philosophies about really overcoming that busy lifestyle or working within that busy lifestyle.
Nicole: Yeah. And I think, I think the second thing that you said probably hits it more accurately, is working within that busy lifestyle. I don't think that we can necessarily, or I become it whether where, you know, professionals are, you know, parents running our own business, we all have the same amount of time in a day. And I think it's more about working efficiently. You know, balance is something that, it's a nice word sometimes. Sometimes I think it's not necessarily possible. I know I still struggle with it. It's something that I'm absolutely still working on. That it's, it's really about a little bit about cutting yourself some Slack, a little bit about going back to that patients that I was talking about. A little bit about not expecting unrealistic results and punishing yourself when you don't get to that goal in record speed because it's not realistic.
Nicole: We have to work with what we're given. And I think, you know, for me it's that's been a lot of my learning is that we just have to do what we can and except what we can do. And then on the flip side of that, when I go back to balance, you know, I think at some, at some points now live, whether it's we've got a very demanding period of time at work or we really, really, really want to just go for this fitness goal or we're starting in business. I think there are certain periods of time where you have to be all in or all out and sometimes balance is just not going to be there. And that's okay. You know, I'm probably going against the grain saying this, but I think it's more realistic than saying we all should aim for balance.
Nicole: Cause I just don't think we get sometimes. But you know, it's about managing those periods of time and accepting that there are during those periods of time that are going to fall by the wayside that maybe don't take priority. And it's about prioritizing those things during the period of time that matter most to you and working with the time that you have to reach those things. So that's sort of, I guess my philosophy on, you know, managing ourselves within the time of a busy career. You know what I mean? I get up at 5:00 AM I'm in a prep at the moment, so I'm sort of transitioning still. You know, it's one of my challenges at the moment, transitioning between being a competitor and a coach because I'm sort of one foot out the door of competing and two feet in. We've become, you know, building my business and becoming a coach.
Nicole: And it's difficult in terms of time. You know, my day starts at five, I get off, I go do my cardio, I come back, I have to cook my foods for the day because I'm in prep. It has to be very precise. I go to work all day, I come back, I usually train again at nighttime cause I'll do my weight training then and I work on my business now. I'm not sleeping much at the moment. So I'm not sure that you would call that balance, but you know, it's what has to be done to achieve the goals that I want to achieve. So would you consider yourself with, with all that going on, would you consider yourself to be happy with where you're at? Oh, absolutely. But I think you know that also, you know, that's a really good point. You have to, you have to assess your happiness level with all of that to what's making you happy.
Nicole: Is the goals that you're chasing gonna make you happy and is your procedure to get that making you happy? Because you know, your Jannie on a visit, Johnny, it's, it can either be miserable or it can be happy. My goal is to help people make it happy and to set realistic expectations and to guide them along the way and to, you know, I help a lot of my clients with time management, we figure out where they can chop and change a little bit of time to fit in what they want. I have some, some clients who I think fit in more than what I do in my life and it just boggles my mind. But they managed to get through it and we worked through that together. And then, but it may be that, you know, I have a client for example, who is really keen to be getting back into performance dancing sells their insists also friends of mine.
Nicole: And so she recognizes that perhaps her weight loss might take a little bit longer than she initially might've thought. We've talked through that. You've just got to, that's a priority right now. She wants to dance. So, okay, the, you know, the scale, although the weight loss goal that you have might just take a little bit longer, but that's okay because you have realistic expectations set. Now we can make that journey incredibly miserable and bring that weight loss goal right up. You know, and very swiftly. But you know, she's already been in the program. She came to me out of a program where it was all or nothing and extreme and she was miserable. Happiness absolutely comes into it.
John: Yeah. And I think that's one of the biggest measures of whether or not we're really doing the right thing because you can try to find this quote unquote balance between work and personal life or business and whatnot. But I think that when it comes down to it, you said you don't sleep a whole lot right now and you know, some people might just dread that and it might make them miserable, but you're able to find the happiness because of the other things you're doing. So I think that ultimately when people have these busy lives, it comes down to, well, you know, at the end of the day when you put your head on a pillow or in the morning when you wake up, like how are you feeling? How do you feel about yourself? And I think that's really the biggest answer.
Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. And it does take a little self reflection to get to that stage as well. And yeah, it's, it's learning to prioritize what is best for you, your family as well. Obviously, you know, that has to come into it. What sort of level of, of support do you have for the things that you're trying to achieve at home? And you know, when I talked before about balance and you know, you're either, sometimes you have to be all in or all out, does everybody around you also support that because that can be quite challenging or it can make that whole journey very easy for you as well. But everybody needs to be on board. I think because it impacts their daily lives as well. So if your parents will have a significant other, you know, having that support at home it's going to contribute to reach new goals, but also that level of happiness and working out what works for not only yourself but your whole family unit.
John: Yeah, there's, it's a huge impact on everyone and everyone's involved too, right? The people you live with, your friends that you even mentioned that your social life had changed when you were going through certain phases. And it's just interesting how everything ties together. And I know we've talked about a lot here and we're probably going to end up repeating a little bit here, but if you could, if you could pick one main message that you would just deliver to the world, what would that be? A behind you know, you as a person, what's your main message?
Nicole: Yeah. gosh, there's probably a few. You know, it's never too late to start and there's never going to be a perfect time to start. It's a bit of an oxymoron. I think that, you know, I, I'm really started seriously on my journey at 35 years old and I was still going at 43. I've just started a business. You know, there's, and it's never a perfect time. There's always stuff in life. There's always gonna be stuff that, you know, you can use it as an excuse or you can just take one step forward and, you know, do a little bit more than you did yesterday and measure and celebrate and recognize your daily successes because they all success. Success is not when you get to the end goal. Success is every single day that you do just a little bit better than you did yesterday. And you know, you can't mess it up. You can't miss it out unless you quit.
John: Those little successes that are really what that journey is, is success. Right? It's not a destination that we've talked about this in other episodes where it really is just the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. And that's a quote. You know, I I don't recall off the top of my head, but that's not from me, but that is powerful. Right? And it's, it's those little things that make a difference and quitting is the only way that you fail.
Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. And I think so many people are, you know, we're hard on yourselves these days. We have a lot of demands and we are generally as human beings focused on the goal. And I think if we can learn to appreciate that it really is a journey that doesn't have an end date. And if we can exercise patience around that and find ways to enjoy it, then you know that longterm success is easy and enjoyable
John: And that that's ultimately going to leave to lead to the happiness that, that we were going to be able to have throughout that whole journey. Yeah, I really liked the way that this kind of unfolded. I do want to have you share with everyone how they can get in touch with you cause I know you do online coaching and some of the things that you've talked about today might inspire someone to reach out cause they might feel like you're a good fit for them. But where can people reach you?
Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. It's, you can find me on Instagram at Nicole TV. My name is spelled N. I. C. O. L. E. T. R. E. V. E. Y. I'm the school fit life or on Facebook. It's Nicole, Toby fit life or my email is Nicole email@example.com.
John: Perfect. I'll go ahead and put those in the, the show description so people can find that easily. Now, as far as the coaching is concerned, they just reach out to you and that's something you work out through there. Do you have a, a website perhaps they can see what kind of plans you have?
Nicole: Yeah, so my, my application form is an, a link on my bio is on both my IgM, my Facebook pages or you know, if people just DM up, email me, then I can send that link on over. My program is a hundred percent online, so I'll just give you the really brief run down of what it involves. I do customized everything as a a hundred percent customized. I teach, teach people how to integrate healthy eating into their lifestyle so that they can still have that glass of wine on a Friday night and still have the pizza and Oscar and me, the kids, you know, it, flexible dieting, if people are familiar with that term out there is what I teach. So focusing on whole nutritious foods bar with the wiggle room to have the fun stuff as well. So I do customized workout programs. Now they can be in a gym or they can be at home.
Nicole: A lot of my clients actually have home gyms or just need to do a, B, they're getting started with a fitness regime. And so they're looking for things that they can do at home. So I can do anything that suits a client's lifestyle. And, you know, I do check ins weekly so that we can make adjustments and and check on how things are going and looking at things like I've been talking about today and things like, you know, you stress the other factors that are going on in your life, you know, how's your sleep, how's things going with work? Because all of those have such a massive impact on our progress. So that's what agenda in a nutshell of what the program involves. I just, I don't have different packages at this point in time, but I do tailor them to people's needs. So usually the best thing is to jump on the phone and I have a chat with people and see what they're actually looking for and how I can help.
John: Okay, perfect. And that's good. I'm glad you went through that because that's not something that I was actually thinking of asking but I, I really like being able to share that cause it does show people exactly what you're able to offer them, that everything's customizable. So I just like to invite anybody who is interested or you know, has even enjoyed listening to this conversation to go ahead and check your information out on Instagram or through Facebook because I definitely feel like you have a very good background and a good experience that can help people be able to change their lives.
Nicole: Oh, thank you very much. I appreciate that.
John: Yeah, of course. And I really appreciate you coming on today. I know that you've got a busy schedule again, we've talked about that, but this has definitely been great and I hope that people will be able to listen to this and be able to obtain as much as I did out of this conversation. And I just want to thank you again for your time.
Nicole: Oh, thank you. And thanks to everybody out there listening when you're driving, working out, cooking. And it's been nice chatting.
John: Thanks again for listening to this episode of the John Barton fitness podcast. I hope you enjoyed Nicole's message and I thoroughly enjoyed having this conversation with her and hope that you were able to get as much out of it as I was. Her contact information will be below in the show notes. Also, if you do like this show, please subscribe and share this episode with your friends and don't forget to check out our affiliates because your purchases through those links do help me get a small commission, which helped this show, helping my website and helping me be able to produce the best content for you. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you on the next episode.