This world is full of people pushing themselves, unlearning harmful beliefs and behaviors, following their curiosity, and just trying to do their part to love life and leave the world better than they found it. If they can do it, so can you, so can we. Because we’re all in this together, and we’re tougher than we think.
In this week’s Outsider Interview, we’d like to introduce you to Nikki.
It’s your birthday and you get to have anything for dinner you want. What are we eating?
Homemade stuffed shells with cannolis for dessert. I sincerely miss a good cannoli since I moved away from Chicago. Mmmmmmm
Where did you grow up? And where are you now?
I grew up in Crystal Lake, Il and now live just north of Baton Rouge in a tiny town called Clinton, Louisiana.
Are you a Minimalist/Generalist/Enthusiast?
Usually, Enthusiast but when I don’t feel like lugging out the equipment, I will do Minimalist.
What’s your typical workout environment?
I workout at home in my home gym. We have a three car carport and started adding pieces to the gym years ago. It all started with a squat rack and a barbell I bought my husband for our anniversary. A few trips to Home Depot got me a pull up bar out of galvanized pipes and a set of homemade jerk blocks. In just four short years, we have created our own dream gym.
What’s been your best workout gear investment?
Hmmmm…that one is tough. I LOVE my GetRxd barbell because I am a weightlifter at heart. But, I also think the gymnastics rings from Rogue and Titan soft boxes are awesome to have. Mostly because it gives our daughter, Ella Rose, her own toys to play with while we work out! Oh, and the old tractor tire that was a gift to me from my husband. I love odd objects!
If we took a look at your workout playlist, what songs would we find?
I could honestly do without music while I workout. I don’t really hear anything when I am in the thick of things. But, when I lift, I like everything from 90s Alternative to Hard Rock. For a WOD, I have been known to listen to Rap or Trap music.
What’s your workout routine like?
I generally workout on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday around 5:30pm. On Saturday, I like a midmorning workout and late afternoon on Sunday. Mostly, I work my workouts in around my family and job. During the work week, I have to get home and get started within an hour or I will sit down and never get moving!
Which movements make your body smile? And which ones do you wish you could banish from the program forever?
I absolutely adore anything odd object — tire flips, sledge hammers, atlas stones. I also love the Olympic lifts. I just really enjoy picking up heavy things. I despise wall balls and rowing and all the things that those of us with little legs struggle with! Oh, and running is of the devil!
If you could workout with anyone, who would you choose?
A long time ago, I probably would have named some Games level CrossFit athlete. Now, I want to workout with my people of Outside the Box. Daniel Hooper makes me crack up in his blog about OTB and I am fairly certain I would just laugh the whole session but I would love a sweat sesh with him, And Cheryl, and Pat, and Taz, and pretty much everyone else because they all bring something awesome to the table.
What’s your biggest obstacle to consistently working out? And how do you overcome it?
My job as a high school teacher is extremely demanding. It is not uncommon for me to work 50-60 hours a week so that I can make sure my kids (the ones I teach!) are getting the best experience I can offer. These kids are “my other babies,” whom I love dearly and I want to make sure I am giving them every opportunity to succeed, which often takes a lot out of me mentally, emotionally, and physically. I have been teaching for 16 years and I now know the weeks when I will be extra stressed and tired, so I go into each school year knowing when I will be able to workout more and when I may need to step back.
By Friday afternoon, I am often wiped so I usually ask myself what I need more in that moment, sleep or movement. Sometimes it is one and sometimes the other. I have learned that fitness is not an all or nothing thing for me. I may have periods of time in the school year when I am more consistent and times when I am less consistent and I forgive myself and move on. I have found the key to my consistency is just being “flexibly rigid.” I am rigid enough to have my routines and procedures but flexible enough not get flustered when my routine is interrupted. That “flexibly rigid” state of mind has helped tremendously in my classroom, in my workouts, and as a parent.
We believe fitness is about what we can do with our bodies. What do you want to do with your fitness?
It is silly, but I just want to be able to walk on my hands, purely so I can walk on my hands past my co-workers doors while they are teaching to mess with them. That is a goal that is five years in the making. It may or may not happen because I don’t pursue it enough to make it a reality but may try for one day. Also, the ability to be challenged to a push up contest by high school boys and win earns me both bragging rights and respect. I have been challenged by many kids and I can usually win because my body can do lots of silly “tricks” like pistols and double unders. Heck, half my classroom management is that my kids (again, students) think I am some superhuman with working out. I am not, but the kids don’t have to know that! Seriously though, I love just being able to move and move well. My long term goal is to stay fit enough to be an active, involved momma and, maybe, one day grandma. My health will decline, but by improving it now I will be able to stay healthy and active for my family.
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
I stopped trying to impress anyone and don’t really care about what others think about me anymore. Don’t get me wrong, that is not an excuse to be a jerk. I just mean that I try to be kind and compassionate and if someone still doesn’t like me, cool. I have a small group of amazing friends from all walks of life who are the most accepting people I have ever met and they are all I need. So if someone doesn’t like who am I or the things I do, I can accept that and move on. Life is very freeing when you just accept yourself and others for who you/they are.
What have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)?
I absolutely will not do things that do not bring joy to my life and my family. My husband and I made a promise to each other before Ella Rose was born to always put our core family first. We will say no to family gatherings and such if it isn’t in the best interest of one of our family members. Saying no is still hard, though, because I want to help other people and don’t like to disappoint the ones I love – its the teacher in me- so I can sometimes spread myself too thin. I have gotten better at it over the years. Usually, I try to help the person find an alternative when I can’t help.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
I tend to be a very solutions oriented person, so when I am stressed or overwhelmed at a task, I will try to figure out a solution and attack it. Having actionable steps helps me to focus and relax. Each night, I pray with my daughter and we recount all the blessings God has given us. It is hard to feel too badly when I look back and see all that I have in life.
If you could re-experience a book/movie/tv-show/song/album for the first time, what would it be?
Oh my goodness! This actually just happened! Growing up, Aladdin was my favorite Disney movie. I just loved how sassy and strong Jasmine was and the humor of Genie; so when the live action movie came out I was able to experience it all over again. I am not going to lie, I may have teared up a bit getting to share this experience with Ella Rose. Watching the movie through her eyes made me feel like I was experiencing it all over again. And, much like momma, Aladdin may be a new favorite for Ella Rose!
We’re all weird. What’s one unusual habit or thing you do?
Personally, I don’t think I am that out of the ordinary, but if you ask my kids (students) they think I am weird for working out like I do and tracking my nutrition. Mostly, I think they are used to adults in their lives pursuing other interests so I am the oddball. I keep telling them that I am the normal one in my family and they always laugh. Most people find it surprising that I was a cheerleader for many, many years and was once in a beauty pageant. No, I didn’t come close to winning but it was a unique experience. And I am happy to break the stereotype I hear about cheerleaders in general.
What made you go Outside the Box?
My life is hectic. I live thirty minutes from where I work and when Ella Rose started PreK this year in the same 30min away district, life got even more crazy. My work day starts with a 6:30am report time and officially ends with kids at 2:20, but I usually have kids stay after for tutoring or just a quiet place to study with their friends until 3:30 and I am on campus until 4pm, waiting for Ella’s bus to drop her off from her school day. By the time we load up and make it home, it is close to 5pm and I am wiped out. The closest box to my house is in the town I teach in, but there were no class times when I could make it and help my students/be there to get Ella off the bus. I started working out at home but struggled to find focus by myself. When i heard of Outside the Box from a friend, I wanted to try it out and have been in love ever since. I love how well planned out the warm ups and work out prep are and that I can choose whichever track I want to follow that day, based on how much time I have left. It is great to be able to pop supper into the oven and let it cook while I workout. I still get to spend time with the whole family, dogs included, while I am outside working out and not feel guilty for taking time away from them. The flexibility to fit working out into my day instead of my day around working out is really the biggest reason I needed to go Outside the Box. Now, I have found an awesome online community that I refer to as “my people” because we all get it. We are all in this for the long haul and having fun.
Where can people find you on the interwebs?
FB: Nikki Harvey
But I’m a high school teacher so I keep that on lock down. lol
Get to know this community a little bit better by reading through some of our Outsider Interviews. We’re a wolf pack. A band of misfits. Peas in a pod. And we stay gold.