Against the Odds: The James Nicholson Story

To celebrate Men’s Health Week, I would like to share the amazing story of how my colleague, James Nicholson, changed his life. James is a certified Fitness Trainer, a Licensed Massage Therapist, a distance runner and a TRX/Kettle Bell enthusiast at the NYHRC Whitehall location. 

Before James committed to regaining his health, he was 70 pounds overweight and had a 40-inch waist (too much belly fat). By the time he was 19 years old, he had had two hip surgeries and one knee surgery. When men let their eating habits slide, claiming lack of time or no interest in cooking, they tend to overindulge in fast food. Excessive poor eating habits lead to weight gain and belly fat, which can result in cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome (more common in men than women), certain cancers (colorectal and colon) and benign prostatic hyperplasia. 

James told me that up until the day he decided to commit to his health goals, he was misinformed about what a proper diet entailed. He skipped meals (the #1 dieting approach for men) and suffered from lack of energy and mood swings. The little exercise he managed to squeeze into his day gave him physical pain. So James turned to a personal trainer and dietitian for the help he needed to make the biggest change of his life. It took him 7 grueling months, but James lost the excess weight. As a result, his body started functioning better, he had more energy, and he looked as great as he felt.

James’s personal tips:

1.      See a dietitian/nutritionist. Strategies are good but a specific eating plan is the most effective way to achieve your personal goals. A dietitian/nutritionist tailors your meal plan based on food intolerances, preferences, and existing health conditions.

2.      Drink water, not coffee.There is no end to the benefits of drinking more water. Water thins the blood and lowers blood pressure naturally. It facilitates liver and kidney function and aids in digestion, and it improves circulation, which aids in mental focus. Fresh fruit (with ~90% water content) aids hydration and also increases vitamins, minerals and electrolytes.

3.      Eat frequent, small meals. Our bodies are not designed to go for long stretches of time without nourishment. Avoid waiting more than 4 hours between balanced meals consisting of a variety of lean protein (turkey, fish, chicken), healthy fats (avocados, olive oil, nuts) and complex carbohydrates (whole grains, vegetables – raw or cooked). This combination will leave you feeling satiated and energized.

4.      Have a game plan. You need to schedule your meals and snacks ahead of time if you want to succeed. Make sure you have fresh fruit, nuts and/or vegetables available at your desk for snacking. This will keep you from reaching for candy or coffee.

5.      Be your own activist. Create a support group and strive to be an agent of change for those around you. See if you can have the office vending machines offer healthier options!

6.      Get your significant other involved. You are more likely to accomplish your goals if your partner is on board. Making healthy changes together will help you not only reach your targets but also maintain that healthy lifestyle.

7.      Sleep, sleep, sleep.

8.      James’s tip for the win. Your body is the first gift you receive in life. Just like a luxury car that runs on a specific type of fuel, your body will perform to the best of its ability if you fuel it properly and regularly.

James’s powerful and encouraging experience is one of many ways to take back your health. Remember, we are all unique and our needs vary from person to person. If you have specific questions for James, feel free to contact him. If you are interested in making dietary changes, take advantage of the 20-minute complimentary nutrition sessions at NYHRC

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr. 

Inspired by  James Nicholson.

Written by James Nicholson and Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD

Edited by TCabrarr.

References: The Perils of Belly Fat. Today’s Dietitian June 2013.