This is my hero. She is the person who helped me take the first step. When I first started waking up early with a goal to go the the gym, we had a rule. Anything said before 6:00 A.M. doesn’t count. (Yeah, I haven’t always been an early riser…) We had some heated exchanges some days. I said some pretty awful things. She was committed though- this is a true partner. She saw a big picture and was willing to get us there. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do.


Hello, my name is Nikki, I’m sure you’ve heard Gary talk about me a couple times. He talks a lot about our journey and how we got to where we are today. I thought it might be helpful to someone out there to hear my story and perspective on things.

I didn’t grow up always overweight. I was a small child and I didn’t start gaining weight until around age 10. I never knew about nutrition and exercise wasn’t a thing that was introduced in our home. I did sports growing up but that wasn’t ever enough to really motivate me to stay in shape. Fast forward through high school and college, I gained a LOT of weight during those years. Freshman 15 (or 30) is a real thing ya’ll. After Gary proposed, I knew I needed to lose weight. I didn’t want to be fat in my wedding photos or feel unattractive. Gary and I worked hard and walked almost every single night, even putting on layers upon layers of clothes to walk in the middle of winter. We also ate a little better which all helped. I lost enough to feel comfortable and cute which is what I wanted.

We got married and found out we were expecting our first son pretty fast after that. I felt nauseous all the time if I didn’t snack. I didn’t know enough about health and nutrition to know that I shouldn’t eat the things I did. I should have eaten cleaner foods, walked more, and took way better care of myself. I gained a lot of weight, as did Gary. After having my son, it took me a year to get in the groove and lose weight, but I did. I hadn’t gotten down to pre-baby size or weight but had been doing great. Then, found out we were expecting again. Same thing, but not nearly as bad. I had been doing hours of research on being healthy and trying to not gain as much weight. I didn’t gain as much the second time around, but also started bigger than the first pregnancy. I always joke that I was as big as a house, but it’s really not a joke. My 5’0” frame was probably as big around as I was tall. I felt massive and completely unattractive. I knew after having my second son that I was going to lose the weight once and for all and live the life I wanted and my family deserved.

About a year after my youngest was born, I started taking action to getting healthier. Right around October 2012, I started my journey. I did before pictures, weighed myself, and took measurements. I was honestly disgusted with what I saw. The hard core proof that I had completely let myself go. I was ashamed and mortified that I was walking around like that. I worked out a lot at home using Wii Active, Wii Fit, and of course getting my butt kicked by Jillian Michaels. I worked on eating less food and eating healthier food as well. Cutting out fast food was one of the top best things I did. I went from eating out 4+ times a week for lunch, to maybe once a week for the next year and then completely cutting it out. We starting researching better foods to make at home and started experimenting with veggies, chicken, and lots of fruits.

I found it was delicious to make food at home and cheaper. One trip to Applebee’s could easily cost us $70.00 in the past because of appetizers, drinks, entrees, and dessert. Walking, light weights, and the Wii really made a difference in my fitness, but I knew I could do more and BE more. I had been reading a blog online of a woman about my age, starting weight, and family size that had changed her life by running. She had many of the same feelings as I did and was so real about her journey and struggles that I was so inspired. I started toying with the idea of running and began researching how to get started. I thought this was insane, because I loathed running in high school and junior high. On April 1, 2013, I took the plunge and said, this is the day. I went home for lunch and quickly changed and turned on Couch to 5k on my smartphone and went to the back yard.

We have a very large and long back yard with a tall privacy fence, so I started running there. I wore a path in the grass weeds and just stuck to the program. A lot of people ask why I ran in the backyard, and the truth hurts. I was embarrassed to be seen in public trying to run. I was so slow. I began at 18:30 min/mile and could only do that slow wog for 30 seconds at a time. It was embarrassing to me that I had gotten to that point. But consistency is key when you’re working out and trying to get healthy. I kept going and I didn’t give up. I didn’t miss one of the C25k workouts and soon, got brave enough to run on the green belt near our house. I remember my first 20 minutes of running and how hard it was. I failed the first time, miserably. I hadn’t hydrated properly, it was hot, I was wearing a heavy cotton shirt. I made it maybe 8 minutes into the 20 and walked the rest of the time. But, I went out the next day and succeeded with my 20 minute run. It was hard, but after that, I was hooked. I started making plans for 5ks, a 10k, and then a half marathon. It was so scary signing up for that first half, but I’m so glad that I did. I worked so hard and trained like it was my job. I loved running outside, it was peaceful and empowering.

By April of 2014 I had lost nearly 80 pounds and cumulatively hundreds of inches from all over my body. From basic running and eating better. I think by then, Gary had lost well over 120 (I can’t keep timing straight). We were doing it! We were happy and healthy and loving our lifestyle. Our kids loved that we would go to the pool and swim and that we could talk walks to the park. I bought sizes of clothes I hadn’t seen in a decade and felt so wonderful. My confidence was beginning to come back and I wasn’t afraid to be in public.

There are always struggles along the way of course. No journey is 100% efficient and easy, or else everyone would be fit and healthy. I struggle a lot with overeating, stress eating, binge eating. It’s a horribly vicious cycle that has been my number one hold back from reaching my goal weight. It’s now almost 3 years from my “Runiversary” and I still haven’t seen my goal weight, in fact, have gained some back over the last year. It’s a constant battle for me. Every single day I fight with myself over food and exercise choices. Some days are a resounding success and other are miserable failures. But, I’m working on having more success days than failures, working out more days than not. I find my schedule is a huge factor in my journey right now. Working full-time, kids, husband, house, school (working on my MBA right now), Crossfit, boys’ sports and activities, etc. All of that plays into my journey right now. I am not perfect. I try to make the best choice and it doesn’t always happen. I have eaten far too much junk and not been running like I should. I know it and I can feel it in my weight. But, I’m trying and getting better. I am doing Crossfit consistently which is awesome and I hope that with added running and cleaning up my diet, I will see results again.

Having Gary here is so incredibly motivating. I see every single day how hard he is working towards his goals, and you can’t help wanting to succeed too. The best thing we ever did was work on things as a team. We failed dozens of times on our own, but together, we have been doing amazing. There is always someone there to help guide better food choices, encourage exercise, and provide never-ending support. I couldn’t do anything I do day-to-day without him here to pick me up when I fall or cheer me on when I reach a new goal. It has brought us closer on so many levels and made our relationship stronger. I feel closer to him and it’s great that we have this extra thing in common, what did we talk about before kids and working out?! Haha!

I hope to write a few more guest posts for Gary, they won’t be nearly as long, I promise! Let him know if you have questions for me about any of my journey and I’d be happy to answer. I know if I can make it through, ANYONE can! Hopefully my next progress pictures will show me much closer to my goal weight!









Published by Gary Stotler

Gary Stotler is a father, running, fitness, weight loss and personal development addict. Formally 400 pounds, Gary has naturally lost 200 pounds, created a coaching & speaking business and has become a 100 mile ultra-runner. Holding a degree in Psychology & Sociology, certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer, mindset & behavioral modification coaching, a certification in DISC personality assessment coaching and he is a certified speaker, coach & mentor with the John Maxwell Team. Gary firmly believes, if we take One Step at a Time, nothing is impossible. He is determined to let his actions show people what is possible and hopes to help you shake up your thoughts, change your actions and create your future.

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1 Comment

  1. This is so great! It’s wonderful to read Nikki’s story. I learned during the podcast interview you did and now in Nikki’s own words about running in the confines of the fenced in back-yard, and that just tore at me. I could not imagine ever feeling that way, but I am positive there are many people out there who feel similarly embarrassed and just never make the first move to even get off the couch…
    You are both such a great team and such a lovely couple and family. How great that you have each other to help with accountability. I am inspired by both of you and know that others are as well, and even others who need to still learn your story. Excited for what the future holds!

    Liked by 1 person

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