Nicolette Harper: Personal trainer nicknamed 'Walrus' at school, tells of her incredible weight loss transformation

Harper explained that she often ate fast food twice a day out of sheer convenience usually starting with breakfast at McDonald's and often grabbing a pizza from Domino's for dinner.

Nicolette Harper: Personal trainer nicknamed 'Walrus' at school, tells of her incredible weight loss transformation
Nicolette Harper's weight began to creep up on her until she was 100 kg and wearing size 18 clothes (@nicoletteharper/Instagram)
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Gold Cast's Nicolette Harper has chronicled the immense struggle on her weight loss journey. Harper, who was addicted to McDonald's and reached her peak weight of 100 kg in 2016, describes in detail how she lost 43 kilos and changed her lifestyle. She says it's important to focus on the health benefits rather than the aesthetics or appearance.

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Mother-to-be Nicolette Harper was nicknamed 'Walrus' by her classmates and she struggled to complete her Bachelor of Creative Arts degree because she weighed 100 pounds and ate junk food daily. Harper recounts her poor fast food diet and says she had trouble singing and dancing at the same time while studying creative arts. The then 20-year-old ate McDonald's every day and did not exercise. In 2017, she decided to face her difficult challenges by changing her diet and lifestyle habits and becoming a personal trainer.

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Nicolette Harper said, she "couldn't sing and dance at the same time because I was so unfit, and I realized that if I wanted to excel in my career then I had to change my lifestyle to improve my health," Harper, now 26, told Daily Mail Australia. "There was a group of popular boys who would call me walrus because of my weight, along with other names. It's funny, because after I lost weight many of those people who were not nice to me in high school started following me on social media." After monitoring her diet, Harper realized the extent of her terrible eating habits: She ate McDonald's every morning, greasy food for lunch, lollipops for a snack, and two-minute pasta or takeout pizza for dinner. In 2017, Harper started a personal weight loss program and managed to lose 43 kilos in four years, while training to become a personal trainer.

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During the first four months, she started 'developing a negative attitude and obsessiveness over certain things. "I developed an eating disorder and would restrict myself for six days a week then would binge eat on the seventh day because I felt like I 'deserved a cheat meal,'" she said. "There were days when I was miserable from not going out to dinner with my friends because the scales ultimately controlled my choices in the start." Harper realized her approach to the method was wrong and sought help from a therapist then turned to a sports nutritionist for assistance. "I'm not ashamed of it and I talk about it openly with my clients and on Instagram to make sure others, particularly younger people, know that it's okay to seek help if you need it," she said. The sports nutritionist didn't create a set meal plan to follow but instead provided assistance on how many calories and macronutrients Harper needed to consume each day based on her height and weight. This 'relaxed' type of dieting made it exciting for Harper to plan her meals each week. "There's nothing more boring than eating the same type of food every day, so it was up to me to choose and count my calories," she said.

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To shed the weight, she stopped eating junk food every day, boosted her vegetable and fruit intake, and would eat healthy meals packed with nutrients - but still ate foods she enjoyed eating. "I do my best to make sure my meals look as good as they taste to make sure I'm excited to eat it, I definitely still eat burgers," she said. She also found a passion for strength training using heavy weights and would work out at the gym four to five times a week. Strength training is a fitness split designed to improve strength and endurance by completing sets of few reps using heavy weights. Harper then shifted her focus from weight to understanding how she was feeling about herself and her weight loss goals. "I got to a point where the number on the scale didn't mean anything to me, I just needed to make sure I was happy and feeling good about myself and what I was working towards,' she said.

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By 2017 she graduated from university, dropped down to 75kg, and ensured she had a positive attitude and outlook about her weight. In 2018 she pursued health and fitness before becoming a personal trainer at Goodlife Health Clubs. In April 2020 she decided to take part in a bodybuilding competition and by October she stepped on stage weighing in at 57kg. "I thought I may as well give it everything I had and it was a fantastic, crazy experience," she said. "Now my goal is to educate people on how they can have a healthy lifestyle, maintain it for the long term and achieve the results they desire," she said. She now recommends people treat weight loss as a journey and a long-term lifestyle change. "It's important to understand that this doesn't happen overnight and you need to embrace and trust the process."

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