Nicole Nichols (COACH_NICOLE)

SparkPeople Editor in Chief and Fitness Expert

With certifications in personal training, group fitness, Pilates and more, Nicole is SparkPeople.com's fitness expert and editor-in-chief by day and a fitness instructor by night. She is always expanding her fitness knowledge by attending workshops and testing new workout trends. When reviewing the latest fitness products, safety and efficacy are her top priorities—but fun is a very close second. Outside of work, her dream day would include sleeping in, eating blueberry pancakes, running with her adorable pitbull Ginger, and shopping for vintage furniture. You can learn more about Nicole and her workout DVDs here.

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More from Nicole:

Total Body Sculpting DVD 28 Day Boot Camp DVDThe Spark Solution: A Complete Two-Week Diet Program to Fast-Track Weight Loss and Total Body Health


Read More of Nicole's Blogs:

Jawbone UP Now Syncs with SparkPeople

We are excited to announce that we have partnered with Jawbone UP, a popular activity and sleep tracker that wirelessly tracks your distance, steps, calories burned and more.

Posted 6/9/2014  9:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 23 comments   11,354 views

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People 'Half Their Size' Issue Features SparkPeople Member's 177-Pound Weight Loss

People magazine has just released a new "Half Their Size" issue, and this one is bigger and better than ever. The entire publication is dedicated to weight loss and featured some amazing success stories along with various diet plans, workout plans and healthy recipes for ideas and inspiration.
 
We are thrilled to announce that a long-time SparkPeople member, Brandy (BBANGEL1214), is featured in the issue. Brandy credits the supportive online Community at SparkPeople as making a big difference in her 177-pound weight loss. Way to go, Brandy!
 
We recently caught up with Brandy to celebrate her magazine debut. Here's what shared some tips from her journey to losing more than half her weight.

Posted 6/6/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 32 comments   18,785 views

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New & Improved SparkRecipes App for iPad

Several weeks ago, we released a much-anticipated update to our Healthy Recipes app for the iPhone. Today, we are excited to share that these same improvements are now available for the iPad version of our app! We are particularly thrilled about this update because iPads are such great tools to use in the kitchen when searching for and following recipes.

Posted 6/5/2014  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 5 comments   5,204 views

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Contest Closed: Win a Full Year of Access to Streaming Workout Videos

This giveway is now closed. The winners are: CAHUAU, MJOHEMME, DDHEART, REESE76, and MACANBEFIT. Winners will be contacted directly from a representative at Acacia TV.

A couple months ago, I told you about a new low-cost workout option called Acacia TV. The service offers access to more than 75 different full-length workout DVDs, set up for online streaming from your PC, laptop, iPad, Roku or internet-enabled Smartphone for a super low rate that allows you to exercise with world-class instructors anytime, anywhere.
 
Today I'm excited to tell you about a special giveaway Acacia is offering to SparkPeople members!

Posted 5/30/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 5 comments   5,977 views

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Get in Shape with a New Workout Set from SparkPeople

Good afternoon, SparkPeople!
 
I hope you are enjoying this spring weather as much as we are here in Cincinnati! I love the changing seasons because it always inspires me to change lots of things in life: my wardrobe, my attitude and even my workouts.
 
If you're looking to change up your exercise routine, I've got some great news for you!  

Posted 5/19/2014  12:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 7 comments   13,733 views

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SparkPeople's Diet & Fitness Tracker App: Now Free At Last!

UPDATE 5/6/14
Today we released all of these awesome updates for the Android version of our app. Click here to download the brand new app on your Android device. (Original blog post below has been edited to reflect this.)

UPDATE 4/9/14: It's here!

After months of teamwork, SparkPeople is thrilled to offer you an improved version of our popular Diet & Fitness Tracker app (now renamed Calorie Counter & Weight Loss App)--for FREE. Our mission has always been to SPARK millions of PEOPLE to reach their goals and lead healthier lives, and we believe that offering our best food and fitness tracking tools in a free app will help more people than ever before.
 
As of today, our app is free for all Apple (iPhone and iPad) and Android users. You can download the app using the links below (or search for "SparkPeople" in your mobile phone's app store). And to sweeten the deal even more, you'll get 250 SparkPoints* just for downloading the app!

Posted 5/6/2014  4:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 67 comments   26,656 views

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Get 'The Spark Solution' in Paperback—and Get in Shape for Summer!

Great news! Our popular book "The Spark Solution" is now available in paperback, which means you can snag what U.S. News & World Report named one of the "Best Diets" around at an everyday low price! (And when you purchase the book, you'll earn 500 bonus SparkPoints—WooHoo!)

Posted 5/6/2014  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 2 comments   15,048 views

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Check Out Our New SparkTeam Features!

Update: 5/1/14 at 3:45 p.m.
We appreciate your feedback. Today we added back links to recent blogs posted by Team members since so many of you commented about regularly using that feature. Enjoy!

Update: 4/30/14 at 10:10 a.m.
Good morning! We are happy to announce that the new SparkTeam features we allued to yesterday (see below) are now live for you to use. Read the original blog post to learn more about these updates. Thanks!

Original Post:
Good afternoon!
 
Everyone at SparkPeople has been working hard to improve the website (and mobile apps) these past few weeks to enhance our members' experience. Today we wanted to give you a heads up about some changes coming tomorrow (April 30, 2014) to SparkTeams.
 
SparkTeams are one of our most popular Community features because they allow members to meet and interact with others who have similar goals, interests, geographic locations, lifestyles and more. These new changes will make SparkTeams easier to use based on input from members and Team leaders, plus data on which Team features are used the most and the least. It also comes with a visual redesign to clean up and simplify Team pages.  

Posted 4/29/2014  3:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 199 comments   9,225 views

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Download Our New & Improved 'Healthy Recipes' App for Free!

On the tail of our recent announcement about the new, free Diet & Fitness Tracker app, we are very excited to share that a brand new version of the SparkPeople's Healthy Recipes app is here, too!
 
Today we launched our new and improved recipe app for the iPhone! Now you can take the best features of SparkRecipes.com—top-rated recipes, cooking videos, nutrition facts and more—wherever you go. With the free Healthy Recipes app, it’s easy to plan healthy meals and shop for nutritious and delicious foods that will help you reach your goals.

Posted 4/22/2014  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 4 comments   10,390 views

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Health Magazine Shares 3 'High-Tech Diets That Work'

Good morning everyone!
 
A few weeks ago, we announced some major upgrades to our Diet & Fitness Tracker app—as well as a new price: free! So far the reviews and comments have been overwhelmingly positive. Thank you for downloading the app and sharing your thoughts with us.
 
Last week, we were happy to find a story from Health magazine that put some of the most popular weight-loss apps to the test. We are proud to say that SparkPeople's app was ranked in the top three and got some great praise from testers and experts alike:

Posted 4/21/2014  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 6 comments   7,312 views

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SparkPeople Radio Is Taking a Pause

Good morning everyone! I hope today is a lovely spring day in your region!
 
We wanted to give our members a quick SparkPeople Radio update. We launched SparkPeople Radio about a year and a half ago as a fun experiment—a new way to Spread the Spark and reach both our members and a new audience with the SparkPeople message. We've had some great hosts along the way—Lily, Karen and most recently, Bettina, as well as some awesome guests, from your coaches or inspiring members to outside health and fitness experts from around the country.

Posted 4/16/2014  1:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 36 comments   12,012 views

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Getting Started with Strength Training in 5 Easy Steps

You know that strength training (also called resistance training) is good for your body. It can help you maintain and build muscle mass, rev your metabolism, make you a better recreational athlete, strengthen your bones and reshape your body. But unlike cardio, where you usually just pick an activity you enjoy and get out there and do it, strength training can be a lot more complicated to a novice. Most people don't just walk into a weight room, stare at the sea of weights, and know how to begin.

If you've never lifted weights before (or it's been a long time since you have), it can be intimidating to know how to start. There are so many weights, machines, classes and options. Which ones are right for you and your goals?
 
While the idea of strength training can be complex, hopefully these basics will point you in the right direction so you feel comfortable starting a training program.

Posted 4/8/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 2 comments   27,013 views

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Watch HSN April 10 to save $15 on a SparkPeople Fitness Bundle!

Update (4/10/14, 12:45 p.m.)
Thanks to everyone who tuned in to watch me on HSN! Because live TV programming is subject to change, we wanted to let you know right away about a scheduling change. The planned 4 p.m. segment will not be airing today. We apologize for the inconvenience. (P.S. If you missed the special on-air announcement I alluded to in this original blog post, click here for the news!)

Original Story
Hey everyone!

I'm very excited to announce that I will be appearing on HSN this Thursday, April 10! This is going to be a big milestone for SparkPeople—a chance for us to get in front of many new potential members. And it's also a great opportunity for you, as we are offering an exclusive deal on a fitness bundle that you won't want to miss!

Posted 4/7/2014  11:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 14 comments   14,288 views

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Which Is More Important: Cardio or Strength Training?

This is a loaded question! If you ask 10 different trainers, you'd get 10 different answers. One trainer's answer is likely to be based on what they've seen help clients get the best results or their own personal preference for one type of exercise over the other.
 
There isn't a ton of research on this topic, but we know that people who do both cardio and strength training tend to have better outcomes in terms of weight loss, fitness and even improved blood sugar levels. These two modes of exercise each do very different things. If the issue is time, my answer would be to find a way to fit in both, whether each workout is a little shorter (and maybe more intense) to maximize your time, or you are doing both but doing each thing occasionally (such as just once a week each). Anything you can do will help. Another solution to fitting in both cardio and strength training is to seek out workouts that combine both efficiently. There are many workout DVDs (including SparkPeople's best-selling titles), fitness classes (including CrossFit) and workout options (including kettlebell training) that give you the best of both worlds. Circuit training, which involves lifting weights in a circuit of exercises without resting in between, is another good way to add an aerobic component to your strength-training workouts
 
Now let's look a little deeper at each exercise component and the role they might individually play in your fitness and weight-loss plan.

Posted 4/2/2014  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 6 comments   26,455 views

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Why You Should Have an Affair at the Gym

You put on your sweatpants and baggy T-shirt. Throw your hair up into a ponytail and wipe the make-up off your face. You fill your water bottle and head to the nearest elliptical. Headphones in, you tune out the world, focusing on the show you're watching or that new song you downloaded. You set your sights on the console and the clock, watching the numbers—calories, time, and distance—tick up until you've hit your goal on one (or maybe all three). Get in and get out, that's what the gym is to you. You're not there to talk or make friends. You're just there to get through your routine and go home.

But what if I told you that going to the gym could—and should—be a little more fulfilling? The truth is that having an affair at the gym happens more than you might think. It can change your mind and your body—and how you feel about yourself. If you've been going through the motions lately, feeling uninspired or tied down, then break free from monogamy and bring the excitement back with an affair!

Posted 4/1/2014  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 70 comments   60,543 views

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