I first met Nicole at a race here in Bend, over the last (almost) 2 years now, we have slowly stayed connected and talked over IG. Come to find out we have SO MUCH in common. It was so fun talking with Nicole about all this. I think we chatted for over an hour and could have kept talking about all the things from nutrition to recipes to adventures and recipes. Nicole has big ideas, and a bigger heart. I can’t wait for everyone to read more about this rad lady killing it in business ideas as well as the 70.3 world.
Tell me a little about you. Where were you born and raised? Where do you live now?
I was born and raised an Oregonian, have spent most of my life in the suburbs outside Portland (Tualatin). Currently living in Corvallis, Oregon. I hung around after graduating at Oregon State University with my Bachelors in Nutrition and Minor in Business and Entrepreneurship. I currently work for Willamette Valley Vineyards as a Key Account Specialist, meaning I get to travel the state and the country working with our accounts, buyers, and customers to sell Oregon Wine. It has been a learning curve, but I enjoy the autonomy, relationship building, and working for a very female driven company. Growing up I was a ball of energy! I always wanted to be outdoors. Dancing, running, swimming, climbing up EVERYTHING. I threw myself in the ocean when I was barely walking and ended up learning to swim at a young age. My parents put me in gymnastics at 1 years old and I continued in gymnastics till age 8 and switched to competitive Cheerleading, then competitive dancing in high school, then danced for the University of Oregon my freshman year of college. Throughout that time I also did swim team, soccer, 5 years of water polo, All Star softball, and other sports. Long story short, activity has always been such a HUGE part of my life and well being. The other side of me is my creative brain. I have always loved art, using my hands, and my imagination. I was fortunate to have a mom who encouraged my creativity and helped spark my love for cooking at a young age. From helping mom in the kitchen as a child, to taking culinary classes all through middle and high school (even competing on my high schools culinary team) I fell in love with food. The creativity of it and how it brought people together drew me towards it. I started college at the U of O, but ended up transferring to OSU to pursue my degree in Nutrition, which allowed me to spend a year in culinary school. From there, I actually got a job as a part time pastry chef while finishing up my degree (which was a blast). When I transferred to OSU, I found and developed my love for the sport of Triathlon by joining the collegiate club team. Training with and becoming friends with this group of people was one of the most rewarding and transformative experiences I have gone through. I struggled in High School and early college to accept myself and not feel a constant desire to be “perfect.” It took going through some of the loneliest and darkest time in my life, to really hitting rock bottom, in order to realize “I don’t want to live like this anymore. Constantly striving to please everyone else, but not taking care of myself.” Finding triathlon, a great community of friends, and a passion for health and cooking, reignited my purpose and has made me who I am today.
What would you say is your current “passion project” or what part of your job gets you out of bed in the morning and why?
My current passion project has been my Food and Fitness Instagram. I realized that my love for cooking, fitness/training, and the journey I have gone through to find a balance in my life is a message worth sharing with others. It brings me joy and satisfaction to share and engage in this way, to know I might be able to inspire someone else to take a step towards a healthier lifestyle. The message I preach is that health and fitness does not have to be about labels/perfection/good/bad. Rather that we all have to find our own balance and do what works best for us to take care of ourselves. It is still a work in progress, but I spent way to long not sharing because I thought “someone else is doing it better” or “my message isn’t important.” I have big dreams for where I want to go with this (Working on a product line right now, recipe developing – cookbook? Thoughts of working for a nutritional based brand, Food Network? who knows!) I am taking this time to practice what I preach and take little steps towards my bigger goals. One day at a time, and remembering I don’t have to have it all figured out right now. What get’s me out of bed each morning are my goals. I have a goal to show up race day feeling ready and this gets my butt up early before work to get in my workout sessions and to work hard during them. I have a goal to be a role model to my sisters, friends, and others for a healthy mind and body. This reminds me the importance of self care and balance. I have a goal to have energy to show up for my job and my relationships. This means I need to be eat well, feel good, and prioritize. Lastly, but most importantly is God. Even when I am struggling, hitting a wall, frustrated in work/relationships/etc. I know I have someone greater than I who is in control and that everything will be OK.
What is your favorite way to move? (mountain bike, ski, the gym, run, hoola hoop) and why?
It’s so funny to me to say this now because had you asked me in middle/high school the answer would be the opposite. I love running the most. There is nothing for me that compares to being outside, breathing in fresh air, and just escaping. My runs are where I reflect, plan, dream, talk to God, work through emotions, etc. Biking is a close second for similar reasons, plus you get to go fast and travel a larger distance. I also am a weirdo and love riding inside on the bike trainer (Go Zwift is a game changer). Weight training and circuits are fun and I incorporate regularly and I enjoy stretching and yoga as well. Walking outside when the weather is nice is also great. My boyfriend and I have done Country Swing and Cuban Salsa lessons, so we love to take classes and go dancing with our friends. Hiking and skiing I definitely love, but don’t get to do as often.
Where is your favorite place on the planet to do said activity?
Wow, hard question. What I love about running is that you can do it anywhere. I love traveling and exploring a new place by running around. Portland and Corvallis have great trail running. Bend is fun as well, but running in Hawaii is rewarding because I get to jump in the ocean after!
if you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
To “Show yourself compassion and remember that every set back and obstacle is just redirecting you to your path.” I have always been my own toughest critic and a very “dramatic” all or nothing thinker. It took me a long time to wrap my head around the idea that it’s OK to do your best and not get the result you hoped for. Failures tend to be more helpful than success.
What is your favorite go-to dinner recipe, snack idea, or food item? (you can share a full recipe or just fav food)
Favorite go-to dinners: 1. Veggie loaded meatballs. So versatile, and you can sub blended chickpeas/lentils/black beans for a meat free option. I do ground turkey + grated carrot, zucchini, and onion. Add in some coconut aminos, garlic powder, and S & P. You can change the flavor profile to make it “Mediterranean” by adding chopped parsley, kalamata olives, and sun dried tomatoes. Or go “Italian” with basil, oregano, thyme, etc. I usually serve with my favorite red sauce, pesto, balsamic, peanut sauce, or or even in a coconut curry. 2. In the Summer, nothing beats grilling on the BBQ. My go-to spread is Greek chicken kabobs (marinated in yogurt, oregano, lemon, garlic, chili flake, S&P). Plus grilled veggies (Portobello mushrooms, summer squash, bell peppers, onion). Watermelon and corn on the cob on the side. I am a sweet potato fiend, so will also bake some sweet tater “fries” or make a flavorful quinoa salad. Another crowd pleaser is when I whip out my home made Naan or Rosemary Focaccia. Favorite snacks: 1. My energy balls! (I have spent hours in the kitchen making different versions/recipes and make weekly for pre workout snacks or a mid day pick me up – can you say new product launch?) There is a recipe on my instagram for my favorite Snickerdoodle Balls. 2. Dark chocolate: I eat it 6/7 nights of the week. It is like a fun hobby my boyfriend and I have where we collect and try different types!
Are there any other people you look to for inspiration? Could be instagram accounts, pro athletes, bloggers, or actors
1. Abbi! I was lucky to randomly meet you right before the start of a triathlon in Bend and briefly chat about ourselves and realize we had a lot in common (Even though that was the triathlon a car ran me off the rode and I crashed my bike…yay). We have’t gotten to spend as much in person time as I would have liked, but I LOVE that we are able to connect over social media and stay in touch. It is so empowering to see you pursuing your passion and we bond over our love for movement, food, community, and the outdoors. 2. Pro athlete inspiration: Colleen Quigley(Pro runner/Steeplechase) and Gwen Jorgenson (2016 USA olympic gold medalist in triathlon) These ladies make me so motivated when I see how hard the work day in and day out at their sport. 3. Bloggers: Rachael Devaux (@Rachaelsgoodeats) graduated from OSU with her nutrition degree as well and was just posting her healthy meal ideas on instagram and it took off! She has managed to grow her entire business through the platform and I am very inspired by her. Also, Monique (@AmbitiousKitchen) has such great recipes and inspiration for every preference and is very in line with my own food philosophy. 4. My mom and step dad: Both are Ironman athletes who got me started in the sport, have supported me mentally and financially, and inspire me to keep working hard and finding joy in the sport we all share (plus for taking me on many training adventures) 5. My Coach and friend: Kevin Le (@bikesandfood). He became one of my best friends and really took me under his wing when I came to OSU. We spent almost every day together training (teaching me to ride me bike and where to go) and cooking meals. He developed a passion and desire to coach others while in college and I started working with him about a over a year ago. He helps take all the guess work out of training for me and I love pushing myself in workouts and having someone to guide me through the process.
If someone was visiting the town you live in now, what three tips would you give them? (what restaurants, places to explore, juicy local details)
If visiting Corvallis, OR 1. If you like to run or mountain bike, head to the McDonald-Dunn Forest! 20 miles of trails, plus more than 60 miles of roads, open for hiking and biking. It covers 7,250 acres. 2. Best fun/casual restaurant: Taco Vino. eclectic joint with the BEST Margaritas (changing all the time) scratch made tortillas, and they source from all the local farms. Curry Chicken Taco is a must have. Then they have weekly specials that are always fun and different. Get the DIY guac (they bring in a huge mortar and pestle for you to smash). Oh and go early, the place is tiny an gets slammed by 5:30 pm most nights 3. Home to some of the best craft beer in Oregon (along with Bend of course) Check out Block 15 – Sticky hands IPA, or if you’re more of a cider fan – 2 Towns Ciderhouse has so many fun ciders and hard seltzers.
What does you current workout/training/yoga schedule look like? What are some tips you have for younger athletes/wellness gals just getting into your sport/practice?
Right now I am fully in my training season for Ironman 70.3 with my goal race in August in Victoria BC, Canada (Depending on the current health crisis resolving for travel to occur) That means on average I have 11-13 hour training weeks (some more or less depending on the week/phase I am in). Not every day is the same because I have to make my training fit in with my work schedule (plus the weather – hello Oregon). I would say during the week I usually am training first thing in the morning. I will typically have either one workout anywhere from 45-90 mins, or often I will have 2 sessions and will do them back to back or split to do one in the am, other in the afternoon. EX: 60 min run in the morning, 60-90 min bike in afternoon). Weekends I usually have a longer bike ride one day (2-3+ hrs and a longer run 90+ mins). My tips for younger athletes or anyone getting into the sport would be to find friends/groups to train with! It keeps you motivated, it’s more fun, and you often push yourself more if you are with others who are more experienced. I got faster by training with people who were faster than me. Also, I know the sport can be very intimidating, but don’t let that stop you. The triathlon community is very approachable and is good at being inclusive to all ages and abilities. Start by just getting in the pool, getting outside on a bike, and going on runs. I think setting up a training plan that you can stick to (Letting you gradually progress) is key. Most importantly, have fun! My first triathlon was a shit show! I crashed my bike, rode an extra 5 miles off the course, and missed the run turn around. Now I can look back at all my races and laugh at all the mistakes I have made (and continue to do so).
What tips do you have for female entreprenuers that are just starting out in their business career?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and take the first step. I think we tend to believe we have to have everything figured out before taking a “leap.” As in, we have to have a perfectly planned out business plan, action steps, finances in order, take x,y,z online certification courses, do X hours of research, yada yada. Then we end up being paralyzed and afraid to even take a step. The best advice I received on this topic from the Podcast “Don’t Keep your Day Job” is to stop over analyzing everything and thinking it has to be perfect. Just take one step towards it. Want to start coaching people in health and fitness? Make a phone call to someone who does that and they would be happy to share with you how they got to where they are. Call a friend and offer your services for free as a test run. Spend 1 hour researching fitness coaching certifications you can sign up for, etc. Little steps in the right direction are better than nothing. This is something I have STRUGGLED with for years. I am working at this every day (not easy) to just take one step (even if thats 10 minutes a day) to work towards the end goal, even if it seems far away. Keep chipping at it.