Nicole Donaldson is a woman that wears multiple hats all while being a wife and mother of 4. She has been involved with fitness at different levels since she began running track and cross country in middle school. As a former Track & Field standout and mother of four, she understands the important role that health and nutrition play in their lives. She stays active by competing in 5ks, ½ marathons, triathlons and fitness competitions.
Nicole holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Tennessee State University and holds certifications in personal training, sports nutrition and CPR. Some of her other accomplishments include: USATF certified official, Got Chocolate Milk Team – sponsored athlete, Country Music Marathon 1/2 pacer and finisher, NPC Fitness competitor, Health and Wellness speaker, Track and Field Symposium speaker.
No matter how busy Nicole’s days get, her primary focus is to encourage others to live the lives God created them to live by taking care of themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually. One way that she does this is as a Fit After 40 Fitness encourager.
Nicole provides in-home group training. Email her for more information at FamilyFitMom@gmail.com You can follow her on Instagram at Family Fit Mom.
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Rolita: Hello Nicole. I am honored that you will give of your time and allow me to interview you. So, for my first question, “When you were a little girl, how did your environment – whether your home, school or your church affect your view of beauty?”
Nicole: Well, as a young girl, it’s funny I don’t even remember thinking about whether I was beautiful or whether I was not. Growing up, I grew up in church. I had a wonderful family and didn’t really think about it much until my parents divorced when I was 11. We moved to Seattle – totally different environment. And it wasn’t until we moved, and someone said something about me being African-American and not liking the way I look– Just really not being very nice to me that I realized, oh maybe I’m not cute. Maybe I’m not beautiful. Maybe there is something wrong with me. Maybe what makes me different is not good because it was predominantly a white area at the time. And that was the first time that I really even thought about being beautiful or not being beautiful or not being accepted. And I didn’t really get a grasp of it until I got introduced to track and field. And I began running track and didn’t think about it anymore until we moved back to Nashville when I was a teenager in eighth grade and began being compared to other people in my family. And being asked, “Well, why don’t you do what they do? Why don’t you wear what they wear?” Because of that, I really started to take notice again of beauty means that I have to look a certain way. I have to do a certain thing. I have to dress a certain way. So, my self-esteem took a nose dive between the ages of 10 and 14 based on other people’s perceptions.
Rolita: Ok, so when that first incident happened, you were 10 years old?
Nicole: Yes, I was 10 when we moved to Seattle.
Rolita: When you moved back to Nashville, how old were you then?
Nicole: Between 13– I’m trying to think. I was in the eighth grade. So, between 13, 14.
Rolita: So now, during that time did you compare yourself to others or was it more of the other people doing the comparing? Like you said, “Why don’t you look like this? Why don’t you do that?”
Nicole: Absolutely. It was both. It started out being other people. I grew up in a family of mostly women who in my eyes were beautiful and who did great things, who dressed to the nines all the time. We were all cheerleaders. You know, what you would consider the popular crowd or the popular kids or the cool kids. And I remember I ran track. I was a cheerleader, but track was my heart. So, I had ponytails all the time. I wore my hair pulled back. I liked jogging pants. I liked tennis shoes. And I remember distinctly a time in high school that my aunt who is two years older than me, we both had the same pair of pants. And she wore them what was considered more stylish– in a more stylish fashion than I wore them. And I remember being compared by other people. Not by my family, but by other people. And I remember how I felt. And I immediately thought, “Oh, so I’m obviously wrong or my style is obviously wrong. So, I need to emulate what they’re doing or what they think is right.” And from that point on, I started comparing – not just myself to my family members, but myself to what other people wore, how they wore it. If their hair was a certain way, did my hair have to be like that? And it became kind of a cycle of comparison in trying to keep up with what everyone else was doing so that I could be validated and accepted by others in the wrong way.
Rolita: So, what I heard you say basically was you had enough self-confidence before other people started saying things. First, when you moved to Seattle and they said the things that they said. Then, you moved to Nashville and there became this comparison to your family members which caused your esteem – like you said – to actually go down.
Nicole: Yes. That’s right.
Rolita: So, how did your view about beauty in the past affect your relationships with other people that said those things, and even your family member? Did it suffer as a result of your view about beauty changing and even your esteem changing?
Nicole: My relationship with my family member didn’t change at all. It was just more of how I viewed myself and how I wanted to emulate what other people were doing. My family unit stayed great. But, it was more of me being in situations and feeling like in order to fit into this crowd, I need to dress this way. I need to do things this way. And so, my relationships all became really superficial and not really true relationships. People didn’t really get to see who I really was. And honestly, I didn’t really get to see who I really was because I was so busy trying to be what other people said was beautiful for a point of time.
Rolita: So, those were the people outside of your family like you said?
Nicole: Yes. You know the peer groups in high school? You know there are so many different groups. They’re always kind of the cool kids, the popular kids, the trendy kids. You know how high school is set up. There are so many different facets of high school life. I can say that I was able to flow through many different areas because I was a cheerleader and because I ran track and because I did well in school. That allowed me to have several different pockets of friends. But, I don’t feel like I allowed myself to be completely true to myself in any of those pockets because I just learned how to navigate life being what other people told me beauty should be or who I should be in every different area.
Rolita: On that note, I have another question because I’m looking at what you’ve accomplished through the years. You are heavily into fitness. Just to name a few, you are a Got Chocolate Milk Team sponsored athlete. A Country Music Marathon pacer and finisher for several years. You finished as a NPC fitness competitor. Health & Wellness speaker. Track & Field Symposium speaker. I mean, oh my goodness! Come on Nicole. So tell me at what point – there had to be a turning point – and when was that?
Nicole: There have been several turning points in my life for sure. And the entrance of track and field into my life definitely gave me a place to really become all that I was supposed to be or what I think God purposed in me. I really believe my senior year of high school is really the first point that I kind of started to change the way that I thought and began to realize that even though I’m a member of my family, just because I’m not like everyone in my family doesn’t mean that God didn’t have a purpose for me. My purpose was to reach people in a different way. And that was at that time through track and field. I began to see that although other people are saying that I should dress up more and I should do other stuff, my family is supporting me through everything. My family is here. My family is not critical. My family loves me. And because of our foundation in Christ, they helped me realize that I was made for a purpose. I’m a different puzzle piece of our family that just happens to do something different. That I should celebrate that and be happy about that. And I think that was really the turning point to continue to excel in track. Getting an athletic scholarship. Being successful enough to be able to go on to college by doing something that nobody else in my family did, as far as being an athlete. And it’s just kind of carried on from there. At different stages of my life, I’ve realized that I’m supposed to reach people through fitness. So even though I went on through college and I’ve graduated, God gave me an opening in order to begin to encourage women through fitness and through running and creating running groups. But while I’m helping them train for the running groups, I’m also encouraging them in other areas of their lives to do things that they didn’t think they could do. I encourage them to be beautiful just the way they’re made, and to continue to excel in those different areas and not think that they have to be just like me or anybody else.
I’m a different puzzle piece of our family that just happens to do something different.
Rolita: So, what does beauty mean to you now?
Nicole: Oh, beauty is totally different to me now. Beauty does not mean clothes. Beauty does not mean the latest hair style. Beauty means learning to accept yourself instead of only accepting yourself when you receive acceptance from others. Beauty – I believe – totally radiates from within. No matter what I have on, I get the most compliments from people when I smile and say, “Hello.” I mean I can be coming from the gym, sweaty, stinky, hat on and I can smile at someone and say, “Hi. How are you doing?” and get a great response. I can be dressed to the nines, smile and say, “How are you doing?” and I’ve gotten more compliments on my smile than I’ve gotten on my clothing. And I think it’s because of what radiates from within me and I really believe that it comes out through my smile and confidence and personality when I present myself to another person.
Rolita: Yes! Great! What do you think about society’s standard of beauty today and how it affects young girls and women?
Nicole: Well, now I have my own daughter. And the things that she deals with already through social media and different things just surrounding beauty and what you need to look like – if you’re thin enough or if you have the right name brand on – is very alarming to me. She has a natural small frame. I’ll never forget she had a young lady over at the time, who was probably 8 ask her, “How do you stay so slim? I am so fat. I want to be slim like you.” And the 8-year-old wasn’t even close to being fat or anything. You know. But they look at beauty now so early and think beauty is a shape or clothing or something else. And that’s really disheartening to me.
Rolita: She was 8-years-old at the time. Wow! Do you know what your daughter’s response was? Did she tell you?
Nicole: She was so young. And I was actually in the room when it occurred. I was just kinda eaves-dropping – kinda listening. She said, “That’s just the way I’m made. You know people are made different.” Then I stepped in and said, “You know we’re all beautiful – all different shapes, all different sizes, shades. You know everything about us is different.” I just went along with what my daughter said, “We’re all made differently and you’re perfect just the way you are.”
Rolita: Wow! That’s amazing. I know you probably read a little of what I wrote about the overwhelming focus that is on our young girls and our women. It’s not just the young girls. It’s not just those that are 8-years-old or even 18-years-old. There are women who are in their 20s, 30s, 40s and even 50s who struggle with beauty. They struggle with the way society looks at us. You know the standard that society has set with beauty and what they measure it against with the entertainment industry and with the fashion industry. I say it’s really almost an impossible standard to live up to like the 8-year-old was measuring herself.
Nicole: Yes. Well, it’s definitely an impossible standard when you think if we’re looking up to people in magazines and people on TV. They have been styled and especially in a magazine. Some of the clothes that they have on are pinched in the back. They’re pinned up. They’re duct taped under. I mean the finish product that you get, if they turned around or if they did something different, you’d be shocked about how it really looks. The make-up. They’re sitting in the make-up chair for hours just to get the right look. Lightening skin. Contouring their noses. Different things with all the different make-up techniques. And then it goes so far as on print images, they’re distorting the images after the picture has been taken. So, we’re holding up a false since of reality and then thinking that we’re supposed to look like something that isn’t even real. It’s impossible to emulate because the person on the picture didn’t even look like that before they put the make-up on, before they put the clothes on or before they were digitally imaged. So they don’t even look like the false picture that we’re trying to look like and that’s disheartening.
Rolita: Mmm. Now you’re talking close to my heart right there. There is so much enhancing that is going on. That is why God has put it in my heart to use this platform to reach out to the young girls and women to let them know there’s another standard in which we have to live up to – radiating inner beauty. That’s why when you touched on that, it blessed me because I understand your faith. As a matter of fact, Nicole and I attended the same church at one time. She is actually one of my sisters in the Lord. So, I want to ask you what does radiating Christ beauty mean to you.
Nicole: I think radiating Christ’s beauty – what it truly means is radiating the love of Christ. Radiating all that God has placed in you. Taking what He has given you and giving that back. And that can mean different things to different people. That can mean– For me, I am a natural encourager. I think that I need to speak and smile to everyone I come across because they may not have gotten a hi or smile for the day. That’s how I radiate Christ. It’s just to naturally do that. There are other people who may radiate the love of Christ by buying someone a meal, by buying someone some clothing, by serving somewhere. I think it’s different for everyone and that’s why it’s so crucial that everyone finds their place in the body of Christ and figures out what their purpose is. For others it may be speaking, doing several speaking engagements a year. You know, it’s different for everyone that’s why everyone is needed. And that’s why everybody has to figure out what their purpose is, what they’re put here to do and not be so bent on fitting in and trying to be like other people. If you’re trying to be like so many other people, you’re going to miss the people that you’re supposed to touch because Christ put you here to touch a particular section of people. And without you figuring that out, that whole section of people may be missed for a time until someone else takes on your assignment because you were out of place. Because you were not walking in your purpose and not radiating Christ’s love through you to reach others.
Rolita: Yes! Right. I know you had the sons first and your daughter is the youngest. So I know the dynamics of the house shifted once the little girl came. (Laughing)
Nicole: Oh, mightily. (Laughing) Very different.
Rolita: Did you find yourself, now as the mother of a daughter, maybe you had to change some things? Do you know what I mean? Because now you are a role model to a little girl.
Nicole: Oh! You know what? I can’t even tell you how much my life has changed in these years as I’ve watched her watch me. And realized that – oh my goodness – I do that? Oh, I might need to not do that. She watches me so closely and wants to do everything that I do. That’s given me a heightened sense of awareness that even if I’m not speaking anything, my actions speak volumes. Like even to putting on make-up or perming my hair or doing different things. She’ll ask, “Why are you putting on foundation? Do you not like that about you?” “Why are you putting on eye shadow today? You didn’t put it on yesterday. Where are you going? Why do you need to look better today than you did yesterday?” And it made me think, oh why am I putting it on? And when I put on make-up it still looks natural. But, I’m more aware now. I’m like, can I go to the store without make-up on? Thankfully I can. I mean it doesn’t bother me, but she’s made me more aware. And even to the straightening of our hair. She has beautiful curly hair. And I use to have a perm. It’s grown out now, but I always kind of say, “You know what? I think I want my hair straight again.” She’ll say, “Well, I’m never perming my hair because my hair is beautiful curly and I like it just the way it is.” There’s nothing wrong with a perm. There’s nothing wrong with curly hair. But, I felt so good with her not feeling like, I need to have straight hair or I need to have hair a certain way. She’s really embraced her curly natural hair and likes it that way. She’ll have a choice to do either way, but she doesn’t feel like she has to become a certain thing to fit in. And I love that. I wish I could say everything I do is perfect and affects her that way. But I can’t say that it is. But, I do feel that she has a true sense of self and what she thinks is beautiful. But, I have to be very aware of what I say. If I say, “Oh, my goodness. Do I look fat in this? Or, do I look too skinny?” I have to be very conscious of all of that especially being in the health and fitness industry. I tell her, “You know we work out and we stay in shape to be healthy. We don’t want to be sick.” You know my mom died before she was 50. My grandmother died early. So, we work out to be healthy not just to fit into a swimsuit or to be a size 2 or a size 0. You know it’s not about the size. It’s about how you feel. So I have to be very cautious in all areas with her.
Rolita: I have one last question. This is for my own personal knowledge. Where can we find the “Got Chocolate Milk?” Do they have posters? That was a big thing with the “Got Chocolate Milk?” campaign. I personally love that photo. When I found out that you were picked, I was shouting, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” I was so excited that I didn’t know what to do. (Laughing)
Nicole: (Laughing) Thank you. You know what? They don’t have a particular poster or anything of me in particular. But, I will be wearing “Chocolate Milk” attire when I do have marathons and things. They have tents and booths at the marathon that we meet up with for that. There may be a few pictures posted on my Instagram, which is Family Fit Mom, whenever I do things as a Chocolate Milk sponsored athlete. You can find me there. Family Fit Mom is probably the easiest way to find me because it is not a private Instagram. You get to see all of the crazy different stuff and clothing that I put on there from time to time.
Rolita: Ok. Great! Thank you so much Nicole Donaldson. You are a fabulous, wonderful, fit mom. This has been a joy for me and I am inspired. ♥
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