Most of us will remember Survivor SA castaway Nicole Capper as one of the people who was part of the biggest blindsides (in this year’s season) against Steffi. But Nicole is a lot more than just a Survivor SA castaway. She’s a mother of two children, former Mrs South Africa and CEO of Luxuria Lifestyle SA, amongst other things.
We caught up with her to find out how she does it all and manages to keep in shape while raising two children. Interestingly, Nicole attributes her love for fitness to her children.
“My journey to fitness began when my second child was born and diagnosed with a rare life-limiting disease called cystic fibrosis,” she tells us.
“Her battle for lung function taught me that my body, my health and vitality are a gift that I should not only celebrate but use to advocate for others.”
Why she loves CrossFit
She admits that before her second child, there were very few things that she hated more than exercise — particularly because her idea of exercise included the gym.
“I’ve learned that to get the most out of exercise, you have to do something you’re passionate about,” she says. “I’m passionate about CrossFit because it is functional fitness, it uses your body strength and is the most intense exercise that I can fit into an hour.”
We all know that CrossFit is big on community and family, and that’s what Nicole fell in love with. But CrossFit is not all she’s concerned with — Nicole also enjoys trail and road running, rock climbing and bouldering.
Overcoming self-loathing self-talk
“I still fall into the trap of self-loathing self-talk when it comes to my body. Often, I catch myself looking at my love handles with judgement, poking my stretch marks and being critical of my physical appearance,” Nicole confesses.
“I make a deliberate effort, every single day to stop that negative self-talk and I am fortunate enough to have a reminder at home: my little girl.”
Her daughter constantly reminds her that her body is something to be celebrated; that it is a gift.
“If there was one thing I could advocate for, it would be that as women we should love and celebrate our bodies just as they are right now, not as you want it to be tomorrow or like it was five years ago.”
How she has stayed in shape as a mother
Nicole has managed to stay in shape as a mother for two reasons. “Firstly my kids keep me in shape because they give me a busy and active lifestyle,” she says. “But I also deliberately look after my body as a mom because they are watching me. I need to be an example of how to look after my body, my health and I need to show them that I love my life.”
She also believes that having other activities that don’t necessarily feel like exercise, but are exercise — like mountain climbing and bouldering — are important to have outside of your exercise regime.
“If I didn’t have those peaks and adventures to look forward to, I probably wouldn’t be that active. It never feels like exercise – it only ever feels like fun!”
How she eats
While she will have the occasional pizza or doughnut (because completely depriving yourself of nice things should never be on the menu!), Nicole’s food philosophy is centred around balance. She admits that the bad food choices do come with their own set of consequences, but they’re consequences she knows how to work off.
“It’s about living a balanced life and enjoying every minute,” she says.
“I make sure I get healthy fats, healthy grains, lots of fruits and vegetables and a good balance of proteins from animal and plant sources. That’s my personal choice and it works for me.”
The impact of Survivor on her body
Survivor SA is a gruelling challenge and the longer you’re on the show, the harder it gets. Nicole lost a whopping 13kg on the show. “I now know what it feels like to be starving for weeks on end.”
The biggest lesson Nicole got from that experience: self-awareness matters! “I now know what my body is capable of and I’m more conscious of what I put into my body, how I feel [about] my body and how I train my body,” she says.
“After Survivor, I see my body as a weapon that I can optimise with appropriate love, care and nurture.”
Nicole’s top 3 fitness tips
- Be accountable. “Find someone or a team you can be accountable to on your new journey. Whether it’s a coach, trainer or team of people waiting for you to show up for practice on a Tuesday night. You are part of a collaborative fitness experience where you will be able to stay more motivated.”
- Be generous. “Fitness can be a very selfish journey and also a hollow one. The moment you start to care about the team around you or the people in the class or the person who you train with, your fitness becomes more of a lifestyle than a chore. It’s about relationships and helping other people reach their fitness goals, not just yourself.”
- Have a childlike outlook. “Have a childlike wide-eyed wonder at the world and that includes exercise and nutrition. When you’re looking at an activity, challenge or workout ahead of you, just remember it’s a privilege to be doing what you’re doing. Not everyone has the body and health that you do.”
Nicole’s top 3 diet tips
- Don’t eat for a body type. “Eat for health, eat for lifestyle, eat for responsibility, eat to be an example for your children, eat because you want to be the best possible version of yourself and fill yourself with the best possible nutrients. Don’t eat because you want to be skinny or want to look toned. That’s never a good enough reason to design your diet. It’s not a motivating factor and it’s a very negative motivation if anything.”
- Indulge once in a while. “Let your hair down, enjoy the finer and sweeter things in life without being hard on yourself. Tell yourself you deserve it and then train harder the next day. Life is about balance and sometimes the family braai on a Sunday and ice cream on the couch on a Sunday night is all the motivation you need to get stuck in for a fierce week of exercise on Monday.”
- Food is not enough. “You need to get enough sleep, you need to have good self-talk, and (if necessary) you need to see a therapist. You need to be supplementing with the right things because intense exercise zaps your body and regular food is not enough to replace those losses. Make sure you are supporting your body from all angles and support it with some self-love as well.”