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Left: Courtesy of Nikki Griggs; Right: Jaquayan Photography
Sometimes tragedy sets us down a dark path from which we’re challenged to bounce back. In 2007, Nikki Griggs unexpectedly lost the love of her life to sudden cardiac arrest—at just 27 years old. “While grieving, I felt that I had lost all control of my life. I was drinking, smoking, and neglecting my health on every front,” she says. In 2010, weighing 151 lbs at 5’4″, “I realized that I needed to start living again, not just existing,” Griggs says. In a little over a year she dropped 30 pounds and is now a certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist.
When she first started to get back in shape, Griggs set a goal of completing a 5K race. Her workouts at the time were split between running, jogging, and light weight training about three days a week. “I started out doing more cardio than strength training, but that began to change when I noticed that the stronger I was, the better and faster I ran, with less aches and pains.” She now hits the gym five to six days a week, for an average of two hours each visit.
At first, Griggs was discouraged because she was running and working out but not seeing much change on the scale. She then decided to heavily alter her diet. “After doing some research, I threw out all processed and packaged food. That’s when I began seeing results,” says Griggs. She now eats five to six clean meals throughout the day. “I also switch up my diet regularly to avoid food aversions, but I don’t really track calories. I pay more attention to my daily macros,” she says.
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At the start of her fitness transformation, Griggs was running either a 5K or 10K every month. But soon she wanted a different challenge, so she signed up for her first NPC bikini competition in 2013. Since then, she’s entered 13 shows, with top-three placings in all but four of them. “I truly fell in love with the sport and the process of sculpting my ideal physique. I recently won a first place and an overall title in the figure division,” says Griggs.
Her advice to other women is, “Be a goal digger. Set SMART [Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound] goals, and as you achieve them, set more.” She also recommends starting slowly. “If you are just starting out on your fitness journey, don’t try to change your entire life overnight. Start out with one or two goals, like eliminating sugary drinks from your diet and walking 30 minutes a day for three days. Once that is no longer a challenge, build upon that.”