Restarting Her Motor With MOTR!

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The Pituitary Gland is the master gland of the body, its “motor” if you will. My motor ran out in 2018 but it was a long time coming. For years I had suffered from different maladies. I experienced extreme fatigue, dizziness, headaches, low blood sugar, easy bruising, slow wound healing, weight gain, depression, piercing eye pain, brain fog, and so much more. Little did I know I had Cushing’s Disease which is caused by the pituitary gland producing ACTCH. This makes the body over-produce cortisol, the stress hormone. I was misdiagnosed for many years. I was told I was depressed, fat, in need of psychiatric help, diabetic, and so on.  All the while I pretended that I was ok. Only those close to me knew my true struggle.

I believe everything happens for a reason. During this time, I pursued my love of fitness. The human body and its’ ability fascinates me. I dove into teaching 10 classes a week and performed personal training. I pursued the Pilates path to better assist my clients in prevention and recovery from injury.

Remember I said everything happens for a reason?  In 2018, I discovered I had a tumor on my pituitary gland that needed removal. I’d thought I was learning rehab-focused Pilates to be a better teacher, but my knowledge also benefitted my reemergence from cortisol-induced trauma. The surgery was frightening. My endocrinologist informed me that was the easy part.

The neurosurgeon explained that an indication of a successful surgery would be that I felt crappy. Headaches and pain where holes had been drilled into my head were the worse. Next came insomnia. When I believed it couldn’t get any worse, I awoke one morning to my entire body aching. Every joint was stiff and weak. I felt as if I had been run over by a truck. I experienced great weakness and it was difficult to sit down and get up. The most humbling and heartbreaking moment was when I realized I couldn’t get out of the bathtub without help. It was difficult for my husband to assist me as hooking my arms was painful.

My body was going through Cortisol withdrawal. It’s like going through drug withdrawal. The road to recovery was long and hard.  I’m still dealing with the effects of Cushing’s on my body. I slowly began using my knowledge of Pilates rehab to find my way back to health.  At first, the victories were small and I had to learn to be ok with incremental progress. It’s taken me a long two years to build strength.  I am still battling with many things related to Cushing’s, and I will never be the same.

During the virtual Momentum Festival, I attended a Balanced Body MOTR class.  Initially, I thought I would just watch. However, it looked like so much fun, I had to try it. I was so ecstatic that I was able to squat and lift my body, with resistance, when a year ago I could not even get down and up without pain or assistance. I felt empowered and reassured that my hard work was paying off. Through all of this, I realized I am stronger than I thought. I look forward to sharing with my clients the truth that strength comes from the struggle. Where there is struggle, change is happening.


Nikki is owner of Nikkifit Pilates and Fitness, a home studio near Denver, Colorado. Continuing education requirements for NASM personal training and AFAA group fitness certifications brought her to Pilates and it was love at first sight. Nikki worked as a Fitness Assessment Center monitor for the United States Air Force during which time she was responsible for training and testing military members. Her heart beats for all things fitness, leading her to teach everything from Prenatal Fitness to Pilates. In order to have a broader reach with her clients, she acquired certifications in AEA water fitness, ACE group fitness, Tabata Bootcamp, PIYO, and Silver Sneakers. She is comprehensively trained through Pilates Sports Center and Polestar Pilates. She acquired her certification with the NCPT in 2017. Her emphasis is on rehab and she desires to empower individuals to thrive in the midst of chronic illness and injury. Find her on Instagram: nicole.peterson.775



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