Once 184 lbs, Nicole Arseneau has lost more than 50 lbs and gained a sense of empowerment through it all
When she was not yet 40, Nicole Arseneau found herself at her heaviest. At 38, she was weighing in at 184 lbs. Six long years of yo-yo dieting she’s now trimmed down to 130 lb at her lightest, and she’s learned to maintain the weight loss. “I would eat whatever I wanted then starve myself. I would eat 500 calories a day for months on end, after which I would go back to eating whatever I wanted,” she says.
But what truly helped her get on the right track was joining a team in May of 2020 . Ever since then she has been working with her trainer “When I started with my trainer I was 153lbs. I went down to 130lbs for photoshoots this summer. And now I am currently in a build and sitting at 140lbs.” The team community was a game changer for her as it gave her a group of like-minded women to bounce ideas off of and share my journey with,” says Nicole. “We have a Facebook group that we post in and have get-togethers often. The Strong lifestyle is all about setting goals and working towards them.” The group balances macros and follows the 90/10 rule. “We eat on plan 90 percent of the time and eat whatever we want 10 percent of the time,” she says, noting that they still get to enjoy family functions and going out with friends. “This program is a lifestyle, not a diet.”
Besides joining team, Nicole was also motivated by having her first professional photoshoot in December 2020. Now she’s hooked and has several more shoots planned. That drive can waver, though. “There are times when I am sick, hurt or exhausted that I want to give up but I have a great group of women in my corner that keep me motivated. They really help push my journey forward,” she says.
Besides illness, injuries and just plain exhaustion, one of the biggest battles when it comes to Nicole’s health and fitness journey is when it comes to food. She says it’s 90 percent of the battle. But now she knows that you need to eat in order to see gains. “For the longest time I thought you had to starve yourself. That is not the case. I eat around 2,000 calories a day. This amount of food helps me feel healthy and strong. I always felt weak with the yo-yo dieting,” she says.
Weak and unhappy with how she looked. That’s how she felt when she was at her heaviest. “My self-esteem was pretty low. Now, I feel so empowered. I love the way I look and feel. I am confident, healthy and strong.” And it was something her sons would say that got her to work on getting fit and healthy. “They would say, ‘Girls can’t eat if they want to be beautiful.’ That statement put me on the journey to change.” And those same boys now? “They say that I motivate them to be the best that they can be. They love that I will do and try anything.”
For those looking to embark on their own fitness journey, Nicole says the secret is to just get started and find your people. “It is so easy to stay on track when you have like-minded people in your corner. Remember that it is all about tiny habits. Tiny habits compound to huge change over time,” she says. Even for herself, she lives by these words and she recognizes that her journey is far from over. Right now she is in a build–”I spend the winter building muscle and lean out in the summer.”
Still, looking back at how far she’s come, her only wish is that she had started on her journey sooner. Because there is no quick fix, she says, and you have to put in the time and work. And for anyone looking for some words of advice, work on getting into the right mindset. Nicole wishes she’s done more mindset work along the way. “The journey is all about transforming from the inside out.”
More about Nicole:
Favourite healthy snack: popcorn
Favourite splurge food: Stuffed cookies
An easy-to-make recipe that you often turn to: I love buddha bowls with all sorts of ingredients.
The best form of cardio: walking at a fast pace
Favourite mantra for when the going gets tough: Correct and continue.
What I eat in a typical day: blueberry protein smoothie for breakfast, chicken, rice and veggies for lunch, yogurt/fruit for a snack and salad/chicken and bread for dinner.
Biggest benefit of my fitness journey: I have had a complete transformation from the inside out. This journey has changed every aspect of my life.
Photos by Leah Smith